For many project teams, virtual design and construction and BIM are opening up a whole new world where products and materials are specified in models and clashes are detected before ground is even broken. The ability to design and share instructions in 3-D is making teams more efficient. However, as firms transition to BIM with enhanced coordination tools for early clash detection and issue resolution, communication among inter-disciplinary project partners remains challenging.

Design teams are often decentralized, and project schedules are usually constrained. Design decisions from all project partners are needed much earlier in the process, yet modeling skills and access are limited to the architect and designers. All team members must have access to critical project documents, but ensuring that everyone is referencing a single, up-to-date master document set can be difficult at best.

The goal of BIM is to tie together valuable information created, distributed and gathered during the project life cycle, remove process inefficiencies, and change the way information is shared and utilized. More and more, teams are implementing electronic plan rooms and BIM rooms so all stakeholders can interact with project data, documents and each other to get on the same page at the start of a project.

The Power of the Universal File
But what happens when project partners don’t have access to or technical knowledge of solutions leveraging BIM? How can teams make sure that all members—including consultants, engineers, contractors and clients—can contribute to the conversation as early as possible?

For many project teams, the answer is to leverage PDFs. Owners, engineers, architects, contractors and facilities professionals are transforming industry workflows by using PDFs to go digital. Users electronically create, redline and share 2-D PDFs for design reviews, estimates and RFIs through punch lists, closeouts and facilities management. Easily navigable digital document sets are created with assigned user access and document management permissions to ensure that the right team members receive the right information at the right time. And, robust PDF solutions track all annotations for built-in accountability.

The most innovative teams also are bridging the gap between those who typically have access to BIM and those who don’t via 3-D PDFs. All team members can contribute to and greatly benefit from the ability to view, navigate and comment on portions of 3-D models exported from Revit, Navisworks Manage, Navisworks Simulate or any IFC file.

Advanced Functionality
Invaluable content is more accessible than ever before with the ability to slice 3-D models, paste 3-D views onto RFIs, isolate 3-D model regions and manipulate objects within 3-D assemblies—all to get answers more quickly.

Once exported into a 3-D PDF format, users can manipulate and navigate 3-D PDF models and add industry-standard or customizable markups to 3-D views. The 3-D functionality in some digital solutions makes it easier to clarify questions and resolve issues more accurately and earlier in the process. For example, in addition to simply adding markups to 3-D views, users can copy and paste specific 3-D objects from one PDF to another to more clearly document questions about a particular building element, essentially creating the next generation of RFIs.

Advanced PDF solutions include sectioning tools to expose interior details of a model and tools to explode and reanimate parts within 3-D assemblies. Project team members can isolate specific rooms or elements, pull apart elements to drill down to details, and provide a better visual explanation of complex issues or how pieces should fit together. Users can create exploded views of typically hard-to-reach places and then smoothly animate the re-assemblies. Then, these new 3-D views can be saved and shared to communicate how elements fit together for immediate field issue resolution.

These 3-D document-based conversations can take place onsite or among remote project team members in real time through collaboration solutions built into PDF software. Cloud-based PDF technology brings multiple project partners together online to coordinate and resolve issues in real time.

Leveraging 3-D PDF technology bridges the BIM gap among project partners so teams can facilitate better communication throughout the design and construction process. The combined powers of BIM and PDF enable designers, contractors and owners to minimize the risk of costly rework, communicate issues clearly and concisely and, ultimately, finish projects faster.


Sasha Reed is director of strategic alliances for Bluebeam Software. For more information, visit www.bluebeam.com.