Cutting Edge Technology
Pickering Associates approaches Building Information Modeling (BIM) as a tool for quick design concept generation that will continually add detail throughout the project and even beyond the construction phase. The ability to visualize a design early on via the 3D model allows high level decisions to be clearly identified and addressed during the beginning phases of the project – typically where potential impacts to project cost/schedule is greatest. Defining specific expectations is critical for key stakeholders and BIM allows our design teams to address those expectations much earlier in a project than a traditional 2D workflow.
Efficient visual communication and an in-depth design understanding are the greatest assets that BIM brings to the table at Pickering Associates. The composite model allows our team to accelerate project development and simplify conversations during design reviews. Having the capability to visualize all of the design models together in a single review session aides both inter- and intra-department collaboration like never before. Capturing all client and designer comments and feedback within a 3D model live during a review session saves countless hours of paging through “redlines” generated from traditional 2D physical paper reviews. The added capacity to search and export reports of these virtual comments allows our team to capture and track design communications more efficiently than ever before.
Scheduling and construction visualization also receive huge boosts from a virtual model. The capacity to assign 3D model elements from each of the disciplines’ models to specific tasks in scheduling software such as Microsoft Project aides in our design team’s understanding of construction phasing and logistics obstacles earlier in the project. This 4D modeling process allows design considerations and conversations around constructability that are happening among clients/contractors throughout the project to reach a more comfortable level of clarity long before construction documents are issued. We utilize these aspects of BIM and elevate them with in-house 3D Scanning and 3D Printing technology to provide exceptional professional services.
Pickering Associates uses BIM to help assign model management responsibilities, quality assurance tasks and to properly align Level of Development (LOD) criteria with the appropriate phases of design. This allows our staff to narrow our focus and compile better work plans for model components linked to specific schedule milestones. Analytical studies, collaboration tools and clash detection all become more efficient and effective throughout the project development process as we continue to develop our BIM workflows.
Many of our architectural and engineering leads, designers, and drafters are trained, proficient, and up to date on BIM software. Our in-house BIM coordinator routinely provides multi-discipline training and updates to our staff to ensure that everyone has the proper preparation and understanding to perform the work we do. Each department includes a dedicated BIM Specialist to facilitate effective software and workflow integration among their teammates.
BIM allows our design team to build a clearer picture of their designs much earlier in the project timeline. Clarity early on in the project lets our clients and design teams make higher value design decisions from the start where they have the most potential to save time and cost. This BIM Workflow is one way Pickering Associates is offering clearer communication of goals, deeper conversations around the design itself and ultimately accelerated project delivery. We are proud to be a technology leader in the valley and continue to look for innovative ways to build our design teams’ efficacy!
Recently Pickering Associates has invested in state-of-the-art 3D Scanning technologies to more quickly and accurately document existing site conditions. This helps our design teams capture existing site data in more detail and in a format the blends well with our 3D modeling and BIM workflows. This tool allows us to send a small scanning team into an existing building/space and virtually document the conditions of the area in three dimensions, including detailed color photographs throughout the scanned area for design teams to reference throughout the project. This data capture implementation is safer and more efficient for our designers. It reduces the time and equipment needed for traditional hand-measuring that our industry has been accustomed to throughout the years. Granting our designers the ability to virtually measure items directly on a 360 degree image to an accuracy within 1/8” right from their desk, where they have the greatest access to design tools is unprecedented in our region!
Our goal through adding 3D Scanning to our services is to consolidate much of the up-front bulk documentation time for each department into a single scanning team that captures all relevant design data across all disciplines at the same time, allowing our departments to focus resources on specific project design elements sooner. 3D Scanning is not a complete replacement for all designer site-interaction – there will still be instances where designers will require site visits to collect very specific detailed information such as structural framing and piping/electrical classification data. However, access to a virtual 3D Point Cloud aides verification of general existing conditions and empowers our team to visually check drawing/model consistency more effectively.
Capturing a site/building in virtual 3D has benefits beyond the Pickering design team as well. Increasingly, our clients ask for copies of the 3D Scan “point cloud” data for their own maintenance and facilities management teams to reference and capture notes in. The ability to attach notes and information such as drawing numbers, technical documents, quotes, specifications, and even service process/frequency procedures directly to items in the 3D scans enables our clients’ staff to find relevant data on rooms and equipment much more efficiently than traditional methods.
In addition to utilizing BIM, Pickering Associates has an in-house gypsum-based 3D printer that allows our team to use full-color physical models to illustrate conceptual design, create fundraising materials, and problem solve complex arrangement challenges. Our printer has the capacity to print anything from building plans to complex piping and structural components and even detailed equipment models for space planning or constructability reviews. The possibilities are virtually endless, so the team chose a robust printer that could handle a variety of jobs across all of our disciplines.
Our build bay is 10”x15”x8” and the printer can render a model at the speed of ½” per hour. The largest single-object build we’ve printed to date was completed in just under 15 hours. The ability to print multiple components simultaneously is a huge advantage to our system. This scenario is commonly seen in site planning or equipment arrangement and can be easily accomplished in multiple colors in a single pass using our machine here at Pickering – something that might take multiple steps and reconfigurations with other 3D printing technology.
We chose Gypsum as our printed media for a variety of reasons including RGB color-mixing allowing for vivid, full-color rendered 3D prints. Additionally, un-bound gypsum powder serves as a support medium for complex shapes in our 3D model and can be recycled back into the raw powder storage of our printer after a print has finished, virtually eliminating the waste that is typically generated through complex prints in more common plastic printers. The shape and color flexibility offers endless opportunities for our clients to generate creative 3D objects for a variety of solutions.
Pickering Associates has recently obtained certification through the FAA’s Part 107 Remote Pilot process to operate Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) commercially. As cutting edge technology continues to evolve, Pickering Associates is able to fulfill client needs further by providing high-quality aerial imagery and three-dimensional aerial mapping.
Currently, Pickering Associates is capable of employing the use of two UAS: the Yuneec Typhoon 4K and/or the DJI Mavic Pro to fulfill client needs of high quality imagery and 4K video. In addition to imagery and video, the DJI Mavic Pro allows for the capturing of 3D point cloud data to be incorporated into CAD design files. In addition, the data obtained by the DJI Mavic Pro has the capability of being integrated with the Faro 3D scanning system, and ultimately be intertwined with our firm’s ability to 3D print models. The functions of these images and videos can range from Pre-Construction documentation of large scale projects to construction progress documentation to As-Built documentation. They can also be used as marketing and inspection tools.