One of the projects the Association of the Wall and Ceiling Industry has undertaken with the National Institute of Building Sciences is the WALLie project. WALLie stands for "WALL information exchange.” Its purpose is to provide a basis for object-oriented files to be use in BIM projects. AWCI will develop files for the different types of wall systems commonly found in most projects. Each wall type will contain every item needed to satisfy the needs of the construction specifier and the construction estimator in completing their respective tasks. When completed, the files will be made available in an open platform to developers of software used to produce BIM models.
This is a somewhat daunting task but also a task that is quite achievable and most helpful to the end-users of BIM in the construction of a building. By using an open platform, users can be assured that the information is correct and complete. As users, contractors need to be able to trust the information when preparing to bid a project without having to delve deeply into BIM model and thereby lose precious time.
Most CADD and BIM software have the capability to produce automated quantity take-offs. The big question is, how were the quantities derived? For the most part, the decision was made by a software programmer without taking waste into consideration. Waste is not a big factor in some trades. However, in the wall and ceiling industry, waste is a huge factor and is usually determined by experience on an individual basis.
The Waste Factor
At a recent BIM seminar, a representative of the General Services Administration commented that he didn’t understand why estimators did not take advantage of automated quantity take-offs. I responded by saying it was a matter of trust. He seemed confounded by my remark. I further explained that we, as wall and ceilings contractors, did not know how the quantities were derived and what waste factor was used.
The WALLie project will require more than just the inclusion of materials such as screws, mud, tape, shot pins, etc.; the file will also have to include the orientation of the board along with the openings in the wall. This may also have to define the waste factor used to determine the overall quantity. This is the daunting part of the total task. All of the estimators I have worked with over the years each had their own way of applying a waste factor when dealing with walls and ceilings.
The world of BIM is entirely new and has some pitfalls, but it will be come into use on more and more projects in the future. As your association and voice in the marketplace, AWCI needs to take a proactive role in the development of the tools you and your successors will be using.
Carpenters Take the Lead
Several years ago AWCI added another committee to the Construction Technology Council. That committee is the Construction Management Technology Committee. The committee is co-chaired by John Rapaport, Nancy Burley and Mike Heering. These individuals and their firms have made the long-term commitment to using the latest technology available to our industry. In many cases the technology does not exist in a finished form and must be developed from scratch and nurtured along the way to make the technology viable.
In our discussions we have made to point many times that we, the walls and ceilings contractors, need to be involved in the beginning of a project. While BIM allows the ability to review the project in a 3D model to resolve conflicts prior to a given segment being built out, we are often not in the room when these sessions are first held. Generally this is because our work does not start until well after the project is started. We, however, are bound by the decisions made in these early conflict resolution sessions. These early sessions usually involve the MEP contractors. We all know what happens when these contractors get into the job first. It usually means that when fire-rated partitions are specified, it is impossible to obtain the fire rating needed, and work in place has to be torn out and redone.
So how do we as a segment of the industry correct this situation? Under the leadership of the Construction Management Technology Committee, the proposal is to inject ourselves into the fray under the mantra of "Carpenters First, We Push the Job!” It is well recognized in the industry that the journeymen carpenter is the leader when it comes to pushing a job forward to completion. He or she must be aware of what all of the other trades are doing or what is supposed to have been done before their work can be completed. Your part in this is to insist that your management personnel be a part of the design and scheduling decisions made early in the job.
Donald E. Smith, CCS is AWCI’s director of technical services. Send him your questions: firstname.lastname@example.org.