ACO Technologies was the first surface water management manufacturer to launch a BIM offering that targeted civils and infrastructure projects. The company’s BIM offering, which has objects available in REVIT, CIVIL 3D (Water Management only) and IFC formats, covers products manufactured by both ACO Water Management and ACO Building Drainage.
When applied to SUDS, BIM provides the opportunity to explore the space and produce better design decisions – with the ability to enter into a joint planning process, where multiple iterations can be virtually ‘tested’ before ground is broken and every change of plan becomes costly. It also allows the creation of realistic renders and images that can capture the imagination of client, designer and the public.
Commenting on the company’s key drivers to adopt BIM, Gary Morton, Head of Business Development from ACO said, “Initial drivers came back in 2012 from specifiers in the retail sector – with our first enquiry from one particular large supermarket chain. This was soon followed by requests from the rail and airport sectors too.”
ACO recognised a number advantages of introducing BIM to its business; this included specifications becoming harder to break, making it easier to identify where to fit and install spares and replacement parts not to mention allowing clients to gather feedback from facilities managers about what was successful and what wasn’t on a project. Most importantly, by offering BIM objects, ACO is able to provide full support throughout the entire product lifecycle, which further supports its high quality offering.
After recognising the need and the benefits to start on the BIM journey, ACO conducted further research with key consultants. For this, the manufacturer created a questionnaire. Gary continued, “We really wanted to gain an in-depth understanding of our clients’ requirements when it comes to BIM before going ahead and creating the objects. One of the key areas that was identified was that for some of our clients, particularly those on the transport sector, they were more driven by the data side of BIM than the model side. This was an important piece of research since it resulted in us creating objects for some sectors that were more data rich.”
The creation of the BIM objects presented some challenges. Although the initial research proved invaluable, gaining a more detailed understanding of the workings of BIM took some time. In particular, for the software platforms themselves, we found there was a need to upskill and therefore time and resource was needed to train members of our team. We also needed to upgrade our computer systems.
From initial instigation, ACO has advanced considerably in the area of BIM and is now well on the way to being able to deliver data as well as objects which are valuable throughout the entire lifecycle of an asset. Gary said, “The success of our objects is really dependent on how you measure success. If we look at areas such as opportunity to engage with specifiers and brand building, then to date our BIM objects have certainly given us an ROI.”
On talking about what advice ACO would provide to other manufacturers looking to start their BIM journey Gary commented, “The key starting point is to understand the sector / market requirements and the only way to do this is to speak to your clients. It is also important to have a view beyond the design side so taking into consideration the operator’s requirements too – therefore it’s not just about the graphical element but the functional element in terms of providing rich data. Lastly, always take on board feedback – BIM objects are an ongoing project where it is key to listen to those that will be using them.”
All of ACO Technologies BIM objects are available to download from the company’s website – www.aco.co.uk/BIM.