Unleashing Document Access to Unlimited Users
Marc Howe posted on June 22, 2017 | | 4664 views

Augmented document management has the potential to greatly facilitate the process of collaboration and coordination on complex, data-rich construction projects with a large number of team members.

With this potential in mind, Autodesk developed BIM 360 Docs as part of its BIM 360 package of construction management tools in order to make project documents available from a centralized, cloud-based platform that is accessible to all stakeholders.

The platform provides unlimited storage for all file types in a single, cloud-based project repository, where documents can be created, viewed, assigned and modified by any approved party.

When it comes to document modification, users can make 2D and 3D markups with thumbnail views and notifications, as well as assign custom attributes and properties.

Because they are all stored in a single, centralized location, the huge volume of data and documentation generated by modern construction projects can be kept accurate and up to date, thus saving time and cutting down on errors and risk.

In order to shore up the security and control of project information, BIM 360 Docs comes equipped with four separate permission levels and can define access to projects and folder levels on the basis of specific roles, companies or users.

Given that the project repository is sequestered in the cloud, the body of project documents can be accessed via Web browsers, smartphones and tablet computers, irrespective of the user’s real-world location.

A single viewer optimized for Apple iOS enables users to view 2D and 3D files, while the platform provides for navigation between documents without the closing of the viewer as well as the extraction of document sets from design files. 

Organization of documents is facilitated by a project activity log, lists and thumbnail views for navigation purposes, as well as version control and rollback.

In order to facilitate access to files, BIM 360 Docs provides just the one app for access to all documents, irrespective of type. This app is available for Android devices as well as Apple phones.

According to Bryce Finnerty, CEO and founder of Texas software consultancy HingePoint, the enhanced information management provided by BIM 360 Docs played a critical role in resolving a potentially costly client issue.

A real estate developer thought that a building information modeling (BIM) error would cause him to lose thousands of dollars in money on custom security rolling doors that were the wrong size.

Finnerty was able to use BIM 360 Docs to access key 3D models on his smartphone during a meeting with the client at a Starbucks and thus get to the bottom of the issue.

“When we do BIM models for our clients, we deliver them here on mobile apps,” said Finnerty. “While at a Starbucks, I was able to drill down [and] use the tool right there to facilitate a meeting with an important client. This is a very easy way to show off your designs and your work and collaborate on your data.”

Finnerty was able to determine that the source of the problem was the metal fabricator, which veered off course during the project.

“The moral of the story is that while everything was connected to the BIM model, everything was going great,” said Finnerty. “The first person to get disconnected from the BIM model made the first big mistake.”

BIM 360 Docs is part of the BIM 360 construction management package, which Autodesk is promoting as a full suite of cloud-connected tools that can be used at any time or location during the lifecycle of a building project. It sits alongside a slew of other software applications that fall under the BIM 360 penumbra, including BIM 360 Field, BIM 360 Glue, BIM 360 Ops, BIM Layout, BIM 360 Plan and BIM 360 Team.

Autodesk is currently providing users with both free and paid pricing tiers for the product. The starting price for the fee-based tier is $29 per user per month.

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