Tips and Tricks for Autodesk® BIM 360 Field™

It’s easy in our busy world of project deadlines, client meetings, site visits and project planning sessions and everything else we need to balance on a typical day in construction, to take the tools we use every day for granted. Sometimes we miss that one thing that could save us hours of work, or suffer the frustration of just saying “there has to be another way”! Here are some tips and tricks for your that I hope can save you time, enable a new workflow you weren’t aware of, or maybe avoid a couple new grey hairs from cropping up.

Figure 1.1 – Viewing a model with an iPad using Autodesk BIM 360 Field; Figure 1.2 – Isolating an object in a model with an iPad using Autodesk BIM 360 Field

Figure 1.1 – Viewing a model with an iPad using Autodesk BIM 360 Field; Figure 1.2 – Isolating an object in a model with an iPad using Autodesk BIM 360 Field

1. Leverage a Model with you Autodesk® BIM 360 Field™ workflows.

BIM 360 Field enables several Field Management programs to be implemented and managed, one being commissioning of equipment. The traditional workflow for commissioning leverages mainly 2D information, and the creation or importing of project information into an Equipment Database. This can be time consuming, or even manual, if the data you need is coming from paper specifications or detail sheets in a plan set. Instead, consider using a model! Using a model means that we can use great tools for adding and synchronizing BIM data and objects to our equipment database for use in the Commissioning and Handover programs with our favorite “do-everything” construction management tool; Autodesk® Navisworks®! For those that haven’t seen this capability yet, you are missing out on a huge benefit of leveraging your BIM in the field via the equipment database (more on that in a moment) and of course, Mobile viewing of models on the iPad. It goes way beyond just viewing though, so let’s take a look.

Ok, first the really cool stuff; here is a Navisworks 2014 model loaded on the iPad in BIM 360 Field. Here we have a great suite of measurement tools that work in three dimensions, allowing us to pull or verify field measurements with intuitive gesture based commands. Also note all the “I” from the BIM is there for us to consume in the form of all the object properties that make Building Information Models so valuable. We can do other cools things while we are here; need to quickly see a piece of equipment in context, say another pump that’s a bit hidden from the current view by a column. No problem, just select it and choose the isolate object shortcut:

Easy to orbit around and see that pump in context without all the other models getting in the way. It’s a quick and smple way to get the BIM to the field personnel who need it the most, and it’s a valuable asset, not just a pretty picture.

2. Digital Notepad

Figure 2.1 – The Notebook in Autodesk BIM 360 Field

Figure 2.1 – The Notebook in Autodesk BIM 360 Field

We are finding less and less reasons to use paper on the modern project sites we work on today, and taking notes while you are in the field isn’t any different. For any Autodesk BIM 360 Field user, they have all the tools they usually need to perform QA/QC inspections, track Safety programs, and Commission equipment. But what happens when you just need to jot down some thoughts, or need to take some notes from that impromptu meeting with the supers during a coffee break? Well that’s what the Notebook in BIM 360 Field is for! Simply select the Tools button from the bottom margin and open the Notebook.

Quickly tap out your notes and take advantage of the save and Open In functions to quickly email them or share with project stakeholders as needed, or simply keep on file for recall at the opportune time!

3. Manage Site Photos

With the prevalence of more mobile and digital devices on building sites today, and many of them with built in cameras, it’s inevitable that great (and sometimes not so great) site photos will be taken with a digital device. A newer feature on Autodesk BIM 360 Field allows you manage these photos more easily, as well as connect them to your daily workflows for issue tracking and quality inspections. Using the built in camera on the iPad, we can quickly take a photo of a site condition, and manage it with all of the project photos in one simple interface.

We can easily see the photos that have been taken and saved to the project, as well as take new ones with the built in camera on the iPad. Once we have a photo, we can easily attach it to a new issue, and track the appropriate information for action. Here we have an issue with the vinyl cladding that was delivered, and the spacing for the mounts. We can quickly snap a picture of the material, mark it up to communicate the exact problem, and then save it to an issue for management within our BIM 360 Field workflow.

Figure 3.2 – Markup and attach photos to BIM 360 field issues

Figure 3.1– Manage photos taken on site with Autodesk BIM 360 Field Figure 3.2 – Markup and attach photos to BIM 360 field issues

4. Using Barcodes to track equipment and locations

With the complexity of projects today, and just the sheer number of “moving parts” most building project have, more companies are implementing tracking systems to better manage materials and project components throughout the construction process. BIM 360 Field has enabled these systems via a barcoding workflow. This enables a project stakeholder to attach a 2D or 3D barcode to an object, and then assign that barcode to an entry in the equipment database. Very useful for tracking the delivery and installation of equipment, but did you know that you can also assign a Barcode to a physical location too? This means that when inspecting rooms or specific areas of a building during construction, you can use a barcode to manage all of the information for that location with a simple scan. Here is an example of a use case. Say you are inspecting for room close-outs, and need to work quickly through a floor of rooms. When performing the inspection for room 2-398, all you need to do is scan a barcode that is attached to the wall, and a list of all the issues that are associated with that specific location automatically opens. Now you can review what’s been done, what’s outstanding, and easily re-inspect of approve the issues. Then just move to the next location, say 2-399, scan its location barcode, and the list for that rooms will open, and you can carry on quickly and efficiently.

5. Sketches in BIM 360 Field for Web

Figure 5.1 – Sketch tools in BIM 360 Field for Web

Figure 5.1 – Sketch tools in BIM 360 Field for Web

The iPad application for BIM 360 Field has some very easy to use yet powerful sketch capabilities for documents, pushpins and photos. When sketching on attachments in BIM 360 Field for Web, you can use the same sketch tools as seen on iPad and in Pushpins view. The sketch window is also larger, allowing you more room to work.

The improved Sketch is available in Internet Explorer 9 and 10, Firefox, Google Chrome, and other modern browsers.

I hope you find these tips for Autodesk BIM 360 Field useful, and we at least save some grey hair for a more worthy cause. For more information on BIM 360 Field and it’s capabilities for Field Management, please visit today!

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