Improving Collaboration on BIM Models Using Cloud-based Platforms
Marc Howe posted on July 06, 2017 | 7192 views

Cloud computing is playing an increasingly vital role in facilitating BIM-based collaboration between the multiple stakeholders and disciplinary groups for complex AEC projects.

Autodesk’s Collaboration for Revit is just one example of how BIM software developers are using cloud computing to drive cooperation between team members, firms, and across disciplines.

A360 Collaboration for Revit facilitates collaboration between various parties by giving them access to Revit models on a cloud-based, centralised platform. (Image courtesy of Autodesk)
Collaboration for Revit facilitates collaboration between various parties by giving them access to Revit models on a cloud-based platform in BIM 360 Team. (Image courtesy of Autodesk)

The software package is a subscription service that supports and builds upon Revit, enabling it to store BIM project data models in the cloud on a centralised platform in BIM 360 Team. The core advantage of cloud-based collaboration with respect to BIM is the ability to provide all team members with access to key models and projects that are housed in a single location.  

Users can manage Revit models that are part of a BIM 360 Team project from within Revit by means of the Manage Models tool, allowing multiple users to jointly create Revit models on the cloud platform, as well as subsequently amending or modifying them, irrespective of where they happen to be situated physically. Users can work in the same model at the same time, with local versions saved to their computer. Changes are synched to a central model regularly, once everyone’s work has been reconciled. 

Users can publish the latest versions of Revit models to the central model in BIM 360 Team, so that even team members who don’t use Revit can examine or search them.  A new version of a model is created each time a user synchronizes with the primary one, building a record of progress that can be viewed via the selection of previous iterations.

Because users are working on the same models siloed in the cloud, all team members possess the same accurate and up-to-date data, which is a tremendous boon for collaborative efficiency as well as error reduction.

Given that one of the chief advantages of a cloud-based platform is its ability to provide access to data to multiple parties situated in different physical locations, it’s also of critical importance–for collaborative purposes–that these team members are able to communicate quickly and effectively with each other.

To that end, Autodesk Collaboration for Revit comes installed with its own online chat system called Communicator, so that all parties accessing cloud-based data can engage in instantaneous communication with one another. Communicator appears in a floating window once Revit is opened and is available for use whether the application is opening, updating, saving or synching a model, and even once Revit has been closed.

The mobile app for BIM 360 Team is another feature that improves the collaborative process by making it easier for team members to access, view and share project data using their tablet computers or smart phones.

For instance, throughout the LAX Midfield Satellite Concourse project, architecture firms Corgan and Gensler and construction companies Turner and PCL used Collaboration for Revit in tandem with BIM 360 Team to enhance cooperation and coordination during the geographically disaggregated project. That complex undertaking covered approximately 1.2 million square feet and involved the creation of a new passenger tunnel and gateway building, in addition to the concourse itself.

Chad Speas, Design Applications Manager for Corgan, said that BIM collaboration software played a critical role in enabling the architecture firms to function as a seamless team during the highly challenging project. “We used Collaboration for Revit on a daily basis to simultaneously work on Revit models,” stated Speas. “We have folks in all of our offices in Phoenix, LA, Dallas, accessing the models at any given time.”

“Collaboration for Revit allows us to be flexible about how we access our data,” added Tim Sullivan, Senior Associate, Gensler. “If I need to pull in an expert in Houston or New York, I don’t have to go through the process of sending them files or do all those gymnastics we used to do in the past.”

Collaboration for Revit has a yearly subscription price of $800.00. BIM 360 Team has a yearly subscription price of $120, but is sold in user packs, the most popular user pack for 25 users available at $6/user/month*. You can also get 5+ subscriptions of either software in a special promo offer here.

*USD pricing based on an annual subscription

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