Nicola Zanca and Alessandro Giovannini, Valsir technical directors and supervisors of the BIM development team, talk about building design evolution and the opportunities for technicians.
One of the most important suppliers of plumbing and heating systems on the worldwide market, Valsir was selected to participate in the annual BIMobject Awards 2016 as the most innovative Italian company in the development of BIM (Building Information Modeling) models by BIMobject®, the European portal for BIM objects management, in recognition of Valsir’s continued commitment to technological development and research. Valsir was the only company in the plumbing and heating sector to participate in BIMobject LIVe 2016 in Malmö, Sweden, a meeting of 666 building and interior design companies from all over the world, producing a total of 50,000 parametric BIM objects.
In your opinion, which technical innovations are changing the design techniques in the building sector?
Nicola Zanca The construction and installation industry has historically worked through bidimensional models (usually in CAD), working in sectors (architectural, structural and installation) and in phases (design, realization, management and maintenance). This has led to information inevitably used in a differentiated and distorted manner, with the consequent need to revise the project, or even worse, to make in-process variations, with a grown in realization costs and time. A good design integrated between the different players, cancels those problems but entails the use of a shared model. For those reasons the future of design is tightly bound to the use of BIM (Building Information Modeling) technology which is becoming increasingly established as a new and innovative working method, in which the 3D digital representation of the whole building is shared by the all the design team members in order to make digital information exchange easier.
Which are the main advantages of BIM?
NZ The first advantage is the real time visualisation of the building and of the development site with realistic planning scenarios. This allows decisions to be taken in extreme advance and, usually, the earlier a planning decision, the smaller the impact on the whole working costs.
Another advantage is the reduction in the mistakes made by the design team members: BIM allows the detection of interferences between parts and systems inside a building and modifications and reviews to be made directly in the model (and not on the building site), thus reducing costs due to in-process variations. This is possible because BIM works on a single digital database, so any modification carried out during construction or maintenance of a building on the structure, quantity, materials or any other element is automatically shared by the whole plan, avoiding duplication of data.
How widespread is BIM design in Italy nowadays?
NZ In Italy BIM started to be known some years ago, but only since 2013 it has become widespread and the designers who got in contact with BIM production, have usually never left it. Today especially the main construction companies and the most important engineering and architectural design societies have adopted BIM, while the majority of small engineering firms, which are so typical of Italy, have not invested in tools allowing BIM designing. As opposed to other nations, in Italy public and private customers have not aligned yet with this technology and its advantages. Now Italy is still one of the last countries in Europe in terms of BIM design adoption.
BIM is often associated to large and complex projects. Is it possible to use BIM also for medium and small institutions?
NZ BIM technology can definitely be used for small projects too. BIM design allows to have 3D models with low realization costs thanks to products databases created by different companies like Valsir and available to software users.
How did you come in contact with BIM technology and why did you choose to create your BIM models in Revit?
Alessandro Giovannini For 30 years, Valsir has been operating in more than 90 markets worldwide and has established strong relationships with international design studios and building companies. Those solid relationships allow to identify in advance market trends and requirements deriving from introduction of new technologies such, in this case, BIM.
In some countries – like Great Britain, Austria and South Africa - BIM is more widespread, and these experiences have brought us to come into contact with BIM technology and allowed us to grasp its opportunities and advantages. We chose to develop our models in Revit because Revit® is now the more widespread software, used by the majority of professionals operating in this sector. Surely, there are many other solutions in terms of good software, but they are spread on a smaller scale and this is why we gave the highest priority to Revit models.
Let us talk about Valsir activity in the BIM sector: how long has Valsir been oriented in this direction?
AG Valsir started developing its first BIM models in 2012 and, since then, has been constantly enlarging, updating and developing its BIM families to the point of being able to complete the majority of the range of its products. Optimization of Valsir BIM objects features has also been made possible also by the excellent relationship between Valsir and the most important international design studios. They are the main model users of BIM models and the developers who worked with our design models suggested improvements to us and this has allowed Valsir Revit suitefor the plumbing and heating sector to become the best now available on the market.
Which are the characteristics of the Valsir Revit suite?
AG We developed our models considering users’ needs in order to make design activity easier and at the same time quick and flexible. Valsir BIM models are created to ensure autorouting solutions allowing to automatically insert fittings and other elements between the pipelines. Moreover, Valsir BIM models allow to pass, with a click only, from simple line drawing to 3D models and to formulate bills of quantities, tables and reports. The quality of those models is proved by the numerous downloads from BIMobject.com and from the fact that during 2016, Valsir has been included between the seven best companies in the world as far as BIM models developing is concerned.
From the beginning, we have decided to create user-friendly BIM Revit models, since in our opinion the designer should work easily and quickly without giving up quality or information. Therefore, we have developed a suite focusing on some essentials aspects:
- Quick use, guaranteed by templates pre-set settings, by “auto-routing” characteristics and by a high parametrization level.
- Flexibility: with a click only, it is possible to switch from simple line drawing to detailed drawings, without losing time, quality or information.
- Geometry accuracy: our models faithfully reflect the product, thus ensuring precision during the study of any eventual interference in the project.
- High level of details: every project is “searchable” thanks not only to geometric accuracy, but also and especially to the information carried by the models.
- File dimension: we worked to reduce files dimensions to a minimun. This allows to easily manage every type of project, from the easier to the most complex.
Ing. Nicola Zanca and Ing. Alessandro Giovannini
Ing. Nicola Zanca and Ing. Alessandro Giovannini
Why BIMobject.com portal?
AG AG We should first ask BIMobject.com why they chose us! Joking aside, we decided to cooperate with a partner like BIMobject.com for three simple reasons. First of all for their far-sightedness: BIMobject has believed in BIM methodology since the beginning; BIM in fact has been deeply developed and tested in their homeland, Scandinavia. Secondly because of their knowledge of BIM sector and its huge potential, and lastly for the seriousness of the service allowing producers like Valsir to provide users with BIM models which are tested, verified, constantly updated and rich of information and “searchable” data.
Many users from all over the world use BIMobject.com as the research database for BIM models and this is for us an important network for spreading our brand. This is proven by the fact that in the first month of partnership in 2016 we observed 63,000 views of our models, with an unexpected download rate.