DDS-CAD secrets discovered by Prosfera

Source: Prosfera UAB

It seems that construction design professionals quickly jumped on the fast moving train of Building Information Modeling (BIM). However, some in the industry still do not consider the BIM modeling process a higher standard. Therefore, we decided to make up our own mind and gather more experience as to why BIM has not made it into the top design league. Yet!

Interview with: Mantas Kreivys, CEO of Prosfera UAB



It appears, that in Lithuania answers to the latter question are similar to those of our fellow Europeans. In 2015 the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) carried out a research defining the major obstacles of using BIM:

·    Lack of experience (74%)
·    Lack of training (67%)
·    Low customer demand (63%)
·    Expensive to install (56%)
·    No time for training (51%)

Why are we listing these findings? Well, because we were not much different from those who encountered the above mentioned obstacles.

Our turning point

For our engineering design company Prosfera, the year 2014 was a real turning point: After a painstaking series of tests and preparations to start working with BIM tools, the dream finally came true. After the implementation of a tool that met our requirements, we saw great results in no time. Admittedly, the initial steps were hard and we were not as fast paced as we hoped for. However, after we trained and gained experience on the job, we were able to develop two big engineering projects in a period of merely six months by adopting the BIM method: a hotel in Zarasai city and a recreational apartment building with innovative architectural structures in Palanga city.

Source: Prosfera UAB

Both projects were designed using the Open BIM platform DDS-CAD. We did not choose this particular tool coincidentally – it is rapidly gaining popularity in the designing community because it allows for working with three-dimensional (3D) files even if they were created with other BIM software. The architectural building models of the projects Palanga and Zarasai were modeled using the programs Revit and ArchiCAD respectively. Next, the projects files were exported to a standardized IFC format, which enables seamless data exchange between different software programs. Hence we could import the IFC files into our program DDS-CAD and plan the MEP systems. Even the client had access to the 3D model. He only needed to install a BIM model viewer, which is available online for free (for instance, Tekla BIMsight). That way, he could monitor the entire design process, check progress and leave comments or other notes directly within the model.

Source: Prosfera UAB

Busting Myths

At the early stages of working with BIM, we ourselves had to bust some urban myths:

BIM saves time. In fact, it turned out that by working and learning how to use BIM at the same time, our time consumption increased at first. However, it was only a short curve on our time management schedule – after getting more adept at handling the modern tool, time consumption for the same work decreased gradually. The software supplier did not hide this fact from us and we were prepared for the time consumption curve to take off. Higher time consumption is inevitable while learning and getting used to a new way of designing. Therefore, in our thinking extra time should be considered as an investment in further projects.

BIM is only beneficial for the customer. It is believed that clients get a much better quality project while all the additional workload solely rests on the designer’s shoulders. This turned out to be only partly true. Yes, of course the customer receives significantly higher quality projects on account of the more complex and comprehensive labor invested in the projects by the company. On the other hand, it is common sense that it is in the company’s interest to deliver the best possible result. BIM programs offer better design solutions, examine and reduce errors and allow for faster project documentation – in our opinion, the company receives even greater benefits than the customer does.  

Minor set-backs

Source: Prosfera UAB

Initially, the fact that the BIM design process needed to comply with stricter and more predefined rules, bothered us a little. Unlike working with regular CAD programs, working according to the BIM method made it impossible to combine the elements in the same order that we were used to. At first glance, the strictly integrated order looked complicated. Later we realized that only correctly and fully connected systems could be calculated, optimized, checked collisions across all disciplines and so on. Once that penny dropped, our work has become easier.

The essential key of correctly exploiting BIM advantages is teamwork. It is the core philosophy of the method, starting with the correct preparation of architectural parts to completion of all other engineering systems into a single model. Everyone involved must strictly adhere to the rules. To ensure the mentioned teamwork, a coordinator that is well versed in the BIM modeling strategy is required.

Unfortunately, while designing the earlier mentioned buildings we did not have such a coordinator at our disposal. As one can predict, this led to some errors during the design process. For example, the IFC file was not properly synchronized with DDS-CAD. We had to complete some of the operations manually, which ideally would have been completed automatically. These issues likely occurred due to the incorrect design of the model in the first place. However, according to our architects everything seemed in order. These “hiccups” could have been avoided if we had a BIM savvy professional supervising the design process and ensuring efficient workflow between all team members and disciplines. Thus, to us it makes perfect sense to think about an overall BIM coordinator.

Major discoveries

As I have mentioned earlier, after being introduced to BIM, time consumption increased at first compared to our conventional way of doing things. However, by the second project, we were already picking up pace – our knowledge and skills increased quite rapidly. Field experts predict that the time consumption will decline continuously. Bottom line is that the results definitely exceeded our expectations. We have learned that the finished project can be analyzed in several aspects; the easily transferred data is visually understandable to the customer and lets him comment quickly or come up with the solution if a problem occurs.

What is next for Prosfera?

In 2015, only 15% of our projects were completed using BIM – but we are just at the start working with 3D models and applying the BIM strategy. In 2016, we expect that BIM projects will take up 40-50%, and in 2017 already 70-80% of all our ongoing projects. It is safe to say, that the current engineering market has a great demand for new level high-quality projects. BIM can surely respond to those needs – and so can we!

User Cases

Our customers having their say; learn more about a number of striking projects and how they use DDS-CAD daily to achieve optimal results.

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