February 21, 2013 in BIM Blog
It is about one and a half year ago since I first got introduced to M-SIX’s VEOTM©. At that point it was quite a mysterious piece of software, that based on the first glimpse, could seem to revolutionize the AEC (Architectural, Engineering and Construction) industry on the same level as Graphisoft did with their BIM-platform ArchiCAD© and Autodesk with Revit©. It would be truly awesome if I could deny or confirm this in my review, but the demo that I could get my hands on, together with the written material, is not enough to justify that statement seeing that it would require continuous work with the program.
So, in the following I’ll explain to you what kind of program VEOTM© is, what core features it has and what potential great use I see.
M-SIX’s VEOTM© is a cross-collaborative BIM-platform designed for the AEC industry. By cross-collaborative is meant, that the programs’ purpose is to join or link together the different disciplines and their very different focus areas on a project during the design and construction phases. Furthermore, this program takes into account that we, at some point, have to hand over the physical building and the virtual building model (if desired) to the owner for him to facilitate. This is also thought into the processes of working with this program.
VEOTM© is created to be used together with Revit and M-SIX has developed an API to be installed so that you can export directly from Revit© to VEOTM©, which means: no use of IFC or other open formats. That eliminates possible risk of lost data during export/import via these formats. During the export you will have the opportunity to setup the VEOTM© project such as the Model Stream Structure. It is possible to export both single- and linked Revit© files all at once, or separate divided up in Model Streams.
API’s for other BIM-platforms such as ArchiCAD© and Vectorworks© will also be available in the near future.
VEOTM© uses tags to organize many of the parameters to corresponding values in VEOTM©. These Tags gets organized according to the Revit© files Family Category’s and Type names, Material parameters, Level parameters and Object Categories. This require that you, as a Revit© user, know how to structure and organize your parameters, which again is needed to succeed in controlling a decent sized BIM-project.
Of course you also have the possibility to share your VEOTM© project just like Revit’s© central file-system, so you can work together across disciplines. Issues regarding scalability are unfortunately unknown to me.
VEOTM© deals with four core aspects of the AEC industry on a cross-collaborative level: Visualization, Time Scheduling, Quality Control and Data Gathering plus Documentation.
Visualization – VEOTM© LUX:
Video – The program’s rendering machine. Here you have the possibility to create real-world renderings in real-time. This means that you can set the render settings for a preview in the active BIM-model, and then render it. But the rendered view of the model remains active so you can press and interact with the model components like in the live views. This technology is called Intellipixel© and seems very useful to me during design work.
Materials that get imported from your Revit© BIM-model is in VEOTM© called Styles that can be organized and gathered in Style Sets.
The quality of the renderings is in the demo very grainy, but it has nice illumination settings and seems to have the potential to create good renderings. Though the time consuming and technical parts cannot be tested in the demo due to its restrictions, so how much time it takes to make a smooth and real-life looking rendering, is unknown.
Time Scheduling – VEOTM© Time:
Video – This holds a Visual Sequence feature that gives you the possibility to create sequenced model displays, showing how the building and it’s constructions are put together. Sequencing can be used actively in the cross-collaborative workflow during the whole project duration. Either in teams, including different disciplines such as Architects and Engineers, or as separate units creating their own sequences and link the results together in the end to evaluate issues such as constructability.
Creating sequences involves associating object in the VEOTM© BIM-model with a desired time based sequence placed in the preferred order. In relation to this VEOTM© also have bi-directional links to MS Project© and Oracle Primavera P6© which are well known time scheduling programs.
Another cool little feature is the Slab Slicer which at the moment is a work in progress. Basically what it does, is allowing you to “slice” bigger objects into smaller and more real-life sized objects. Image having a roof or floor construction drawn up in Revit©, but you want to sequence individual parts of these objects such as roofing and flooring. Then this little feature can do that for you, and you as a designer, then have the opportunity to use bigger and more overall-descriptive objects during your Revit© designs without losing the possibility to overcome issues with constructability and such. All this is done without destroying the original objects.
Quality Control – VEOTM© Logic:
Video – This feature is very much like Solibri Model Checker©. It has the ability to coordinate clashes between objects, both in relation to geometry and proximity. The clash detection is formed around Rules organized in Rule Sets. It is very simple to setup different rules, you simply just describe the rule and then apply the Tags of the different objects you want clash detected. It is as simple as that, the only barrier is your own organization and structuring of the Revit© parameters and VEOTM© Tags.
When the clash detection has been run, it is vital that the discovered information is passed on to the respective disciplines for correction. This is done by grouping the results and then assigning each of the detected issues to the respective group.
Data Gathering plus Documentation – VEOTM© Archive:
Video – This is where the program gets really interesting, because this is one of the features, I think, we lack in the AEC industry at the moment. Also because it’s a feature that is not well documented and developed enough in other BIM-platforms.
The Archives feature is basically a relational database integrated into the program. This database contains all documents such as PDF, Excel and alike, relevant to the project. These documents can then be linked to different objects in the project such as doors, windows, technical installations for Operation and Maintenance purposes. You also have the possibility to associate one specific document to a specific Tag in the project. Remember that VEOTM© categorizes your objects in Tags. This means that: if you associate one document to a Tag, all doors with that specific tag become associated with the Operation and Maintenance document.
The reason why I find this specific feature very interesting is because: during the construction phases of a project, we have to gather, categorize and store tons of information from the contractors and their suppliers. This process, in relation to the modern BIM-oriented workflows, has been raising a lot of new problems and actual barriers for a successful cross-collaborative implementation of BIM in the AEC industry, in my opinion. We can always go into a more technical and cultural discussion about this, but that’s for another blog post.
What VEOTM© contributes with, in this relation, is that it gives the project managers an opportunity to categorize and store the Operation and Maintenance information directly in the model, associated with the object that it relates to. This is insanely smart when we think about the handover process and the upcoming BIM-oriented Facility Management period, which usually have a span of 100 years. Because, if the Facility Manager decides to use programs like ArchiFM or ArchiBUS, they would want to link the Operation and Maintenance information to the respective objects in the Facility Management program, so why not do this during the construction period so it’s ready for handover?
Potential and personal opinion
I have covered some of this in the above text, but I want to add that my personal opinion on this program is overall positive. It is, if not the program, then at least a step on the way to what the AEC industry needs in relation to the modern cross-collaborative BIM-workflow. There is especially a great potential in the Archives feature, which I think a lot of project managers and contractors could have a great use of in terms of control, data gathering, quality assurance and optimization.
One thing that I don’t quite like about this new program is the user controls: why not keep the same control settings as used in ex. Revit©, seeing that the users of VEOTM© would be mainly Revit© users, until other API’s gets developed. I got frustrated when trying to navigate in the program.
So what you’re getting, if you buy it, is basically a cross-collaborative BIM-platform that includes the capabilities of a viewer, a model checker, a scheduling program and an Operation and Maintenance database. If it is as good as the other stand-alone solution cannot be determined here, only user experience and time can tell.
Written by: Nis Boile Christensen