Fast, Accurate BIM Classification with Kreo
Few people involved in the architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) industry would dispute the value of the idea behind Building Information Modelling (BIM).
Put simply, it means everyone working on the project must work to the same standards and information in one single model. BIM should be making construction project scheduling, cost estimating, tendering and execution quicker and more efficient.
But it isn’t.
Because there isn't much time given to the whole project from the very beginning, 3D BIM models often lack essential information. This totally undermines their value.
Take quantity surveyors or cost engineers, for example. For them, there's one problem with 5D BIM: not knowing if the quantities taken from a BIM model are reliable, complete and accurate.
The problems with BIM:
- Errors in BIM element attributes (missing names; clashes between names, family and class attributes; missing materials; geometry errors). These mistakes make the elements 'invisible' for quantity take-off tools and software. Finding and fixing these errors is a difficult and lengthy process, making BIM-based quantity take-off not worth it for most professionals. In our recent survey, only 27% said they used BIM for quantity take-off. This, despite the fact that all BIM software solutions include a quantity take-off feature.
- Extracting measurements from the BIM model. Assuming that you have all the BIM elements correctly identified, you then need to get the measurements for construction quantity surveyors. The measurement must follow certain professional standards, such as the New Rules of Measurement in the UK. This is difficult because most architects and engineers create BIM models without much regard to how contractors and quantity surveyors will use them. In other words, BIM authoring tools provide element-based take-off at best, whereas contractors require construction quantity take-off.
- Most BIM professionals know little about classification systems and why they are important. According to a recent poll, only 15% of AEC professionals knew about Uniclass. The main benefits of any BIM classification system, and Uniclass in particular, is to make the data understandable to both machines and humans. Information should transfer easily between different parties and software tools. When you adopt a single classification system, you and your software can easily find information and use it for a variety of applications.
In most BIM tools, you have to select from a long list of likely System and Product combinations to which a particular BIM element belongs. Most experts do not do the classification because they:
- Know very little about it
- Don’t have time, resources or expertise to classify the entire BIM model
The above factors severely limit the adoption of 4D Scheduling and 5D Cost estimating by construction professionals.
A human expert evaluating a BIM model can see, at a glance, that there are a certain number of doors, walls, windows, and so on. It’s easy for us to classify elements manually because the human brain knows the properties of these elements.
But, while computers can do this too, they need to have the information in a format and structure they can ‘read’.
For a computer to recognise a door, wall or window, someone would have had to properly classify it. In short - a computer can only recognise a window, because a human has told it: ‘here is a window’.
So, when you subsequently run a quantity take-off using BIM software, the quantity take-off only includes elements that it knows exist. You can’t rely on the accuracy of your bill of quantities unless you spend hours manually identifying BIM elements. Even then, we have to weigh in the fact that humans, by nature, make mistakes and get distracted. The impact of human error can lead to significant over or under-ordering, even after weeks of correcting errors in the original model.
This means that it takes longer than a week to create a bill of quantities for 90% of typical construction projects. And, for over a third, it takes longer than 3 weeks.
This problem has many knock-on effects, with the main being:
- It increases the time and cost of bid preparation. Bidding cost is the single most important factor behind low gross and pre-tax profit margins.
- It prevents us from being able to experiment on projects during the bidding process. We’re so busy manually preparing cost estimates that making additional recommendations is out of the question.
BIM classification with AI
That all sounds pretty gloomy, but we believe the solution is at hand.
With Kreo, you can automatically generate an accurate bill of quantities in a matter of minutes instead of weeks. How do we know it’s accurate? Because we use a range of AI algorithms to teach and train Kreo to ‘read’ and interpret the data, regardless of errors or missing information. Kreo can analyse the geometry and topology of BIM model elements to better identify what they are. It accounts for all BIM elements in each model, with classification to Uniclass or Masterformat standards.
You’ll only have to weigh in on the classification of an element when Kreo's confidence level is below a certain threshold. Kreo remembers your answers, and uses that data to teach its learning models. This is machine learning in action. Machine learning is a field of computer science which allows computers to 'learn' with data without the need for explicit programming.
The data used and stored by Kreo combines to provide the most comprehensive machine learning framework ever seen in construction scheduling and cost estimating. The more quantity take-offs you perform in Kreo, the more intuitive the platform will become. This reduces the need for manual input from human experts.
Kreo performs a BIM model audit to identify issues affecting constructability, helping you improve the accuracy of the estimates further. The purpose of the audit is not to perform a standard clash detection between design disciplines (architecture, structural and MEP). Rather, it is to find errors in the model that affect the quantity take-off process. Below is a diagram of one of the errors that affect both the constructability and quantity take-off.
With Kreo you can spend more time on value-adding activities, such as improving cost budgets and project schedules, cost planning and value engineering. This boost in productivity will help reduce bidding costs and increase the number of bids you can participate in - ultimately making your business more profitable.