How BIM + a CDE Helps the Construction Industry Collaborate & Capture Data

4 minute read
Asite_Blog_How_BIM_+_A_CDE_ Helps_The_Construction_Industry_Collaborate_&_Capture_Data

Just like in any industry, projects in construction require teamwork and keeping everyone on the same page pushing forward. Whether you’re working on a large capital infrastructure project or overseeing a major retrofit, it's nearly impossible for your team to achieve its goals if data isn’t organized, managed, shared, and stored efficiently. 

If team members are unclear or are simply going in different directions, your project is more likely to face expensive rework and delays. Being able to access, share, and store key data—including BIM models, contracts, and documents—in a central location is key. 

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Now, think of how a Common Data Environment (CDE) can be used as a digital information platform. While a CDE can include all relevant design and build documents, it can also include BIM data and information.  

Let’s take a closer look at how a cloud-based CDE and BIM can work together so everyone knows they’re working with the most up-to-date plans and models—plus enable BIM compliance.

CDE Serves as a Digital Hub 

In today’s construction industry, data is the secret sauce that many turn to for gleaning insights. Businesses want data, so they can study it and learn, grow, and improve their work. Studying the data can help a business with current and future project delivery—learn what to do versus what not to do. 

As data is so valuable, more construction firms are compiling more of it. More data is, however, not necessarily better data.  

Data is only useful when it's organized in a cohesive and clear manner. If each component of relevant data for a single project is in a silo, its usefulness is minimized. The data is also referred to less if stored on incompatible systems or completed in programs that don't work together. 

For data to be most useful, it needs to be organized so that it is easily accessible to all the key players in your project—from the contractor on the jobsite to the asset owner. Without easy access to data, information and valuable insights are lost.  

A CDE helps make data more useful. Documents, drawings, photos, and files can be published and shared at any time and from any location. From architects in the office to engineers on-site. 

To clarify, a CDE is a digital hub that serves as a repository for data and information. When used in construction, a CDE serves as a single source of information and is used to collect, manage, collaborate, and share project information with the project team.

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Hello Collaboration, Goodbye Inefficiencies  

On a construction project, which can include many different stakeholders, fostering collaboration is challenging. It’s easy for each stakeholder to focus solely on completing their share of the work and being satisfied with that. However, wires can get crossed, causing project delays. 

Collaborationis more likely when a CDE is part of your project.  

Fully utilizing a CDE means all relevant and up-to-date information is maintained together. The CDE serves as a single source of truth for a project. Team members know where to go to get the most up-to-date information. They can also make changes and know everyone will see it in real time. This can be a major time saver and keep everyone on the same page. 

Keeping all the data together makes it more likely that issues and inefficiencies will be discovered. If data is siloed, the chance of finding potential conflicts is minimized. The earlier in the process the conflicts are found, the faster they are rectified, resulting in a savings of time and money. Data can also help teams save on their labor and material cost.  

A CDE also allows for the reuse of information that supports downstream activities such as construction estimating, planning, facilities management, and cost planning. It can also help capture anaudit trail

 Keeping information together within a CDE also strengthens security. With everything in one place, administrators can easily regulate and determine who gets access to what. Since the flow of visitors is limited and regulated, information is more secure. If a breach occurs, there’s a greater chance of tracking the culprit and how it happened. 

BIM + CDE: A Power Duo  

Its well-known collaboration is King when it comes to BIM.  

 BIM and a CDE can be used together to improve collaboration and ensure compliance.  

 As a reminder, BIM offers many benefits, including the ease of creating an easily shareable model. With the shareable model, one can design electronic blueprints and other building instructions. BIM also helps the team find design errors. With BIM, teams can measure actual versus expected progress. It also leads to money being spent more wisely. 

 One of the biggest benefits of BIM is that it promotes and improves collaboration among various professionals, typically engineers and architects. With a CDE allowing all team members—designers, contractors, subcontractors—to access and share all data and information relevant to the project, including BIM models, collaboration is bolstered even further.  

Utilizing BIM and a CDE also acts as a building block for further digital development in the construction industry. Think digital twins.  

Digital twins are revolutionizing the construction industry as we know it. And BIM is at its heart.  Digital twins allow construction projects to visualize the invisible.   

 By utilizing data stored in BIM models and within the CDE, the tech transform data into something you can see through models, VR visualization, and dashboards, improving decision-making, reducing risk, and enhancing performance.   

During construction, this innovative technology allows project teams to work together seamlessly. They can show real-time project status, track key project deliverables, take them to the project team, monitor progress, visualize issues, respond to unexpected events, and hand usable models over to clients.   

Ultimately, when BIM works within a CDE, management can apply more oversight, which leads to increased efficiency. 

Why? A team working based on one set of plans inevitably makes fewer mistakes and proceeds as expected. Team members know what they are supposed to do and what those before and after them are to do also. This is important since, on a construction project, the work of each contractor impacts the next.   

To get the most out of BIM, it needs to operate under common standards. This way, it unites various teams on a project and empowers them to work together based on the shared standards. 

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The Asite cBIM Solution  

When it comes to BIM, Asite provides the collaborative solution. 

The cloud-based Asite Platform gives projects and their team visibility, security, and control across the entire collaborative BIM process with Asite cBIM. 

 The Asite collaborative Building Information Model (cBIM) solution facilitates secure communication between those working on a project. 

 Teams can view, search, and coordinate issues around objects within individual and federated models, enhancing collaboration and visibility throughout the project lifecycle. Additionally, while managing models, users can reference documents and electronic forms stored within the Common Data Environment (CDE) to enrich communications further. 

 So, how does it work? 

 Asite cBIM offers a whole host of benefits to project teams, including: 

 - Creating a Single Source of Truth—All model versions and their associated data are stored and updated in the Asite CDE, creating a single reference point 

 - Supporting Open and Native Formats—The federation of IFC files is supported, as well as over 50 native formats, including Revit, Rhino, Solidworks, Sketchup, and Point Cloud. COBie data can also be exported to facilitate the management of assets. 

 - Ensuring Auditability and Version Tracking—A clear audit trail is created as all revisions are timestamped and stored in the CDE 

 - Easy Storage of As-Built Information—As-built information, which can be associated with model objects, is stored in the cloud to make project handovers easier and faster at any stage in the project lifecycle or after 

Want to discover how you can use BIM and a CDE to drive success on your projects? Learn more here. 


Larry is a New Jersey-based writer who specializes in construction and construction technology.

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