Volume 44, Issue 8 - August 2009


Is BIM Still Big?
It’s Slow and Steady, But BIM is Still Growing in the Glass Industry

Megan Headley is the editor and Ellen Rogers is a contributing editor for USGlass

“This is definitely the biggest thing to happen in my career and I’ve been in this business almost 30 years.” That’s what Steve Jones, senior director for McGraw-Hill Construction, said about building information modeling (BIM) when he talked to USGlass last year (see April 2009 USGlass, page 36). Not long after, it seemed the majority of companies felt that BIM was the one thing that would revolutionize the way construction projects are specified and built. Now, a year later, does the industry still feel the same way about BIM?

One Year Later
For the uninitiated, BIM is a tool that allows planners, designers, manufacturers, contractors, glazing subcontractors and owners to work from the same object-related database. Instead of project drawings of lines, arcs and texts, everyone involved with the construction is able to visualize the entire building with a 3D model representation. While glazing contractors may still be learning the relevance of this tool for their job, BIM seems to most manufacturers to now be a slow and steady inevitability.

“BIM is absolutely becoming more relevant as more and more construction professionals are adopting it,” says Deep Bhattacharya, vice president of development and technology for Oldcastle Glass®. “Fundamentally, constructing a building from beginning to end is an inefficient process, which has lead to billions of dollars in wasted costs.”

Bhattacharya says the industry is starting to realize that these inefficiencies can be solved through tools such as BIM. “As we move up the learning curve I expect the use to increase,” he adds.

“Expect it to increase” was a common refrain from many of the manufacturers now invested in BIM, as it is not yet widely in use.

“It’s still not widely adopted in the majority of projects being constructed,” says Mike Turner, vice president of marketing for YKK AP America in Austell, Ga., “but the larger architectural firms are integrating it into their practice pretty quickly.”

Tom O’Malley, vice president of sales of Doralco Inc. in Alsip, Ill., adds, “We’re hearing that more [architects] are going toward using it, just not as full-throttle as we maybe thought they would.” Doralco has been involved in BIM for about a year and a half, O’Malley says—as has Traco in Cranberry Township, Pa.

“I know from some of the tracking within the door and window industry that there have been more manufacturers listed with BIM in the past year,” says Joshua Early, product manager for Traco. “We don’t have very much yet, but I can tell you we’re aggressively doing it.”

The hopefuls already online (and for a full list of those companies, see the BIM Resource Guide on page 32) trust that by getting involved early, they’ll have perfected their role by the time BIM is the “only” way of modeling.

“We knew … that people weren’t going to hit the ground running, that it was going to take some time and it’s continuing to build on itself,” says Joanne Funyak, market manager and BIM coordinator for all of Pittsburgh-based PPG’s construction businesses. “I think we’re still a couple years away from it being ‘full-blown,’ but I think a lot of the building product manufacturers are positioning themselves to be part of it. That’s what we’re trying to do.”

Funyak also points out that by getting involved early, PPG has become a resource to its customers that are just learning about this online universe.

“It’s such a new concept out there,” she says. “People are starting to look for folks that have gone through it, asking, ‘how can you help me’ or ‘can you point me in the right direction?’”

And Funyak notes that it’s not just product manufacturers jumping on the BIM-wagon.

“We just had a message that Wisconsin now mandates BIM (see page 33) … If it’s going to start being required we have to make sure we definitely are participating and have the right information available,” Funyak says.

AAMA Forms BIM Task Group
The American Architectural Manufacturers Association (AAMA) is taking building information modeling (BIM) seriously; the organization’s new BIM Modeling Task Group met for the first time during the AAMA summer meeting in June.

Mike Turner of YKK AP America in Austell, Ga., serves as chair of the task group. He explained to USGlass that the group hopes to create a standard.

“I think the biggest goal is to start to develop some sort of standard so that manufacturers, when we’re investing in the BIM models, we can display the information in consistent manners, so that when the industry is using BIM models, whether it’s for manufacturer A, B or C, they’re familiar with what they can do with the model,” he said.

How this potential standard will play out has yet to be determined.

“I would imagine that there’s some sort of sliding scale with how detailed the models are—is it just a model I can use for space planning and rendering or is it a model I’m going to be using for thermal analysis and HVAC planning and daylighting and take-off and things like that? Some architects may want a very heavy model while other types of architects may want a very light model and just a rendering. So that’s our goal: to really provide some type of standard so manufacturers can be consistent. It would benefit the industry as a whole because they know what they’re getting and how the data’s organized,” Turner said.

Cost Versus Rewards
Those non-BIM-believers out there point out that there is a cost for manufacturers to have their products listed in a BIM library. Those manufacturers that have gotten involved say this isn’t a major hurdle—but the return on investment (ROI) is yet to be quantified. Funyak says the cost, thus far, of being listed seems to be worth the benefit, “from what we can tell at this point.”

“It’s difficult to say right now,” Turner says. “We get demand, we get inquiries about whether we have BIM models, but trying to equate that to sales revenue … it’s probably more branding than anything right now.”

Early agrees. “I’d say that [ROI] is to be determined … I think it’s still too much in its infancy to see what the return on the investment is going to be.”

According to O’Malley, “There’s that initial cost but after that it’s really not a huge.” He explains, “You spend what you want to spend. You put as much money into it model-wise as you can and go from there … So far we do not have all our products on there—we started with our sunshades and the products that we felt would be most relevant or easiest for the architect and their client to see how the product looks on the building.”

BIM’s Limitations
Turner points out that because the technology is still relatively new, “There are some limitations with the BIM models themselves. For instance, where mullions start and stop. Some things have to be manipulated a little bit to make the model seem more realistic. And sometimes you have to compromise on the technical accuracy of what the product actually does.”

O’Malley points out that getting involved with BIM does take an upfront commitment. “It does take some time to put all the stuff together for [the BIM libraries].” He adds, “But the initial time and effort will be worth it in the long run.”

Early points out that the new system does have some complexity to it. “We’re still learning, even though we’re involved in it you still learn about it everyday,” he says. While it may be straightforward to use, he says that the only real challenge, if it can be called such, “is making sure you have the right information in there.”

Knowing which service to become involved with is usually the big question for new users, Funyak says. “There are BIM providers everywhere, like there are spec providers everywhere.”

Are Contractors Signing On?
While more architects are perusing BIM libraries, glass industry manufacturers and suppliers still see their customers, the glazing contractors, as having a ways to go.

“I don’t think they’re really integrating,” Turner says of glazing contractors. “The general contractors are using it for planning their equipment placement and their project flow, and manufacturers are supplying the models for architects to use in their renderings or space planning and possibly some daylighting analysis.”

“It’s mostly still the architects,” O’Malley agrees. However, he adds, “We’re pretty aggressive in going out and seeing our customers and letting them know we’re doing it. They’re happy because they’re starting to hear it more.”

A few contractors that engineer and design curtainwall assemblies are already involved with BIM and appreciate where it is headed.

“BIM is still a truly revolutionary product that will eventually change the way projects are designed, estimated and project managed,” says Jerry Kern, vice president/division manager for Trainor Glass Co.’s location in Riviera Beach, Fla. Kearn adds, “My feelings are that for the glazing industry, there are some instrumental changes that need to be made in the way the models are virtually constructed for it to be a more accurate representation of the product. However, even in its current level of development, it is a tool that will help efficiencies in design and budgeting of projects.”

Nick Bagatelos, president of Bagatelos Architectural Glass Systems in Sacramento, Calif., had no choice but to dive into BIM to land the glass installation on Cathedral Hill Hospital, the 26-story hospital in downtown San Francisco on which the company is currently working.

“We actually negotiated a project about two years ago and they demanded that we do the BIM modeling. We have jumped into it—and it’s actually helped the project and been a good learning experience,” Bagatelos says.

The company wound up committing a number of resources to understanding the ins and outs of BIM.

“I realized it was something that I wanted to do for my company, so I ended up hiring a BIM manager,” Bagatelos says. Under the direction of the engineer, the company invested in the necessary software programs and, further into the process, two more drafting professionals. All of which leads Bagatelos to comment, “All in all, for the industry it’s a good thing—but it’s expensive.”

Because of the expense, he recommends that, contractors pursuing large, complex mid- to high-rise buildings make the investment while glaziers after smaller work steer clear.

For those complex projects, Bagatelos says the advantages quickly become clear. “The advantages are the ability to communicate in a clearer way with the architect’s intent. There’s less chance for repetition-type error.”

Year of the BIM?
While last year it may have seemed like BIM models would quickly become the norm, now users are learning that this process will be slower than expected, but still steady.

Bagatelos notes that since undertaking BIM, “The rewards have been unexpected. I did it because it was demanded of me but I’ve learned a lot and it’s opened my engineering staff’s eyes to a lot of possibilities with it.”

Early adds, “I think it’s going to be there, it’s just a matter of getting more architectural firms onboard, getting more users, getting more manufacturers to come in. It’s a process to get that done.”

“Eventually all the projects will be done in BIM,” O’Malley says. “If you’re not part of it you’re going to be running on the sidelines.”

USGlass BIM Resource Guide
In 2008, USGlass published a list of the glass companies that were participating in the BIM libraries created by BIMWorld (now Autodesk Seek) and Sweet’s Network (see April 2009 USGlass, page 30). That list totaled 24 companies. This year we updated it—to include nearly 200.

As PPG’s Joanne Funyak pointed out, many of PPG’s customers turn to them with questions about getting involved with BIM simply because they plunged in first, so if you’re thinking about diving in you may want to speak with the experts at the following suppliers.

Advertisers have received an enhanced listing. For additions to next year’s list, e-mail mheadley@glass.com.

Who’s On Autodesk Seek (formerly BIMWorld)

3M Films
AGC Flat Glass
AGC Interedge Technologies
American Shower Door
Bullet Guard Corp.
Ceco Door
Century Bathworks
CHI Overhead Doors
Crane Revolving Doors
Dorma Automatics
Dorma Glas Inc.
Dow Corning Corp.
DuPont Glass Laminating Solutions
EFCO Corp.
Firestone Building Products Co.
Glass Fusion International
Global Security Glazing
Guardian Industries
Hafele America Co.
Halfen Anchoring Systems
Hansen Architectural Systems
Hirsch Glass Corp.
Hufcor Inc.
IBP Glass Block Grid Systems
Ingersoll Rand Security Technologies
Innovative Structural Glass Inc.
International Revolving Door
J. Sussman
Kawneer North America
Kwik-Wall Co.
Livers Bronze Co.
Llumar Window Film
Nabco Entrances
Nana Wall Systems
Oldcastle Glass
Overly Door Co.
Patio Enclosures Inc.
Peerless Products Inc.
Pemko Manufacturing Co.
PGT Industries
Pittco Architectural Metals
PPG Architectural Glass
Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics Co.
Soundproof Windows
Solutia Inc.
Southwest Metalsmiths Inc.
Standard Bent Glass Corp.
Suntech America Inc.
Super Sky Products
Technical Glass Products
Thermique Technologies
Trainor Glass Co.
Tubelite Inc.
Vetrotech Saint-Gobain
Vista Window Film
W&W Glass Systems
Wagner Companies
Wasco Products
Wausau Window & Wall Systems
Weiland Sliding
Doors & Windows
White Aluminum Fabrication Inc.
Winco Window Co.
YKK AP America


Who’s On Sweet’s Network

AGC Flat Glass North America

AGC Interedge Technologies
Air Louvers Inc.
Airolite Co.
Alcan Composites USA Inc.
All Seasons Inc.
American Railing System
American Shower Door
Atlantis Rail Systems
Avant Art
Architectural Glass Inc.
Avanit Systems Inc.
Besam Entrance Solutions
Boon Edam Inc.
Bostik Inc.
Bullet Guard Corp.
Butler Manufacturing Co.
Century Bathworks Inc.
CHI Overhead Doors
Construction Services Inc.
Couturier Iron Craft Inc.
CPFilms, a Subsidiary
of Solutia Inc.
CPI Daylighting Inc.
Crane Revolving Doors Co. Inc.
C.R. Laurence
Delta Doors
DeSCo Architectural Inc.
Dorma Group North America
Dow Corning Corp.
DuPont Glass
Laminating Solutions
Duratherm Window Corp.
EFCO Corp.
Ellison Bronze Co.
Technologies Inc.
Firestone Metal Products
Fox Fire Glass
Glass Fusion International
Global Security Glazing
Greco Aluminum Railings
Guardian Industries
Handrail Design Inc.
Hafele America Co.
Halfen Anchoring Systems
Hansen Architectural
Systems Inc.
Hiawatha Hardware
Hirsch Glass Corp.
Hufcor Inc.
IBP Glass Block Grid Systems
Ingersoll Rand
Security Technologies
Inkan Ltd.
Innovative Structural Glass
J. Sussman
Kalwall Corp.
KwikWall Co.
Livers Bronze Co.
Mapei Corp.
Modernfold Inc.
Monglass Inc.
Nabco Entrances Inc.
Nana Wall Systems
Ohio Gratings Inc.
Oldcastle Glass
Optimum Window Manufacturing Corp.
Overhead Door Corp.
Patio Enclosures Inc.
Peerless Products Inc.
Petersen Aluminum Corp.
Pittco Architectural Metals
PPG Architectural Glass
Precision Hardware
Protective Structures Ltd.
Ready Access
Safety Technology
International Inc.
Rated Glazing Solutions

Sapa Fabricated Products
Solar Innovations
Solutia Inc.
Soundproof Windows Inc.
Southern Aluminum Finishing Co.
Southwest Metalsmiths Inc.
Standard Bent Glass Corp.
Suntech America
Super Sky Products
Thermique Technologies
Tormax Technologies
Trainor Glass
Tri Tech Inc.
Unicel Architectural
Velux America
Vetrotech Saint-Gobain
W&W Glass Systems Inc.
Wagner Cos.
Wasco Products Inc.
Wayne Dalton Corp.
Weiland Sliding
Doors Windows Inc.
Winco Window Co.
YKK AP America


Megan Headley is the editor and Ellen Rogers is a contributing editor for USGlass.


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