Making a CAD and BIM catalogue in house can be costly. Here are a few questions you should ask yourself before embarking on such a project:
1. Do you have the right team to create a CAD and BIM catalogue in house?
It’s likely you have a team of technical experts at the heart of your business. This team is probably made up of experienced engineers who design and process your products. The question is do they have the specific skills necessary to develop a professional CAD and BIM catalogue in house?
Most product and industrial engineers are well versed in PLM computer design but are not architects. None of them have previously worked in architectural firms or specified products in an architectural design. Only an architect can create a high quality, professional CAD and BIM catalogue because only an architect has the specific experience in BIM or CAD software and the understanding of the proper functioning of an architectural practice.
2. Do you have the required software licenses to create your CAD and BIM catalogue in house?
A professional CAD and BIM catalogue needs to make your objects available in as many formats as possible. In order to maximise your return on investment, architects and prescribers must be able to download and manipulate the 3D versions of your products in to the software they habitually use. Today there are four BIM software versions in use as well as dozens of CAD and rendering programs.
Converting objects between one BIM program and another is quite simply impossible (this despite the claims of IFC and IFD’s so called “interoperability”). Converting CAD objects from one format to another is possible(in most cases) but it can be tricky.
The upshot is, if you fail to produce your catalogue in the maximum number of formats (at least 10) you will be limiting your business to a very small number of architects and prescribers. (i.e only those who use the few programs your objects are available in)
3. How long would it take your employees to master the software necessary to create a CAD and BIM catalogue in house?
CAD architectural programs, and to a greater extent BIM programs, are far removed from the programs used by your designers and engineers. They really are distant cousins and converting an object from PLM to CAD (for example from .igs format to .dwg format) will more often than not produce monstrously large files with too much detail, in the wrong scale and may contain sensitive information you don’t want out of your premisses.
Converting an object from a PLM format to a BIM format is simply impossible today. (.sat to .gsm for example) Even if you manage somehow to make a “geometrical conversion” of a PLM object into a BIM format (i.e – you manage to convert the 3D form from one software format to the other) – you will end up with a heavy “dummy” object that has none of the attributes and parameters necessary for a proper functioning in a BIM project environment.
If you want to create your CAD and BIM catalogue in house, you will need to think about acquiring a number of BIM and CAD software programs. Consult our cost analysis below for more detail.
4. Have you really considered the workload associated with creating a CAD and BIM catalogue in house?
Creating a 3D catalogue can be immensely time consuming without the aid of technologies specially adapted to the task. Even if you do manage to hire top notch architects, they will still have to spend time mastering the programs they’re not familiar with. Once they do, they will then have to learn how to create an object using this software. After all, these programs are designed for the purpose of architectural design, not creating objects for catalogues.
Your architects will need to learn how to ‘divert’ or ‘hack’ to properly create your objects. A lot of these programs come with a ‘catalogue object creation mode’ but its rare to find someone with the know how in this domaine because very few architects pass their time creating catalogue objects.
At the bottom of this article you’ll see how it will take two excellent architects 19 years to create 1000 catalogue objects in all the necessary formats – don’t underestimate the time it takes!
5. How do you intend to distribute and promote your CAD and BIM catalogue once it’s finished?
Creating a CAD and BIM catalogue is good, but getting it to the people who will use it is even better. If you have managed to create a professional catalogue you will now have thousands of files, some in 2D format, some in 3D, others in BIM. Some will be purely textures or ‘shaders’ that can cover polygonal surfaces etc. How do you intend to get all of this out to architects and prescribers? Remember, each uses a different software program and perhaps different methods within a program.
-If you wish to distribute these files online, you will need to think about a costly web upgrade for your site. Aside from the distribution you’ll have to think about costs associated with hosting and downloading these objects.
– If you’re thinking about sending your catalogue via email, how will you go about managing a group of files that might totalize 8Go and how will you ensure your mail isn’t flagged as spam? Do you have a good list of contacts when it comes to architects and designers?
-If you want to hand out copies of your catalogue at trade fairs and other events which is the best format? A QR code? A DVD? a USB key? All of these need to be properly designed and thought of.
Let’s imagine you produce a range of 1000 different products and you want to create a CAO/BIM catalogue
– You will need to find and hire the services of two experienced architects who are content to abandon their career in architecture in favor of designing catalogue objects (no mean feat!) Assuming you manage to negotiate a salary of £2500 for each per month, you’re looking at an annual cost of : £60,000
– You’ll need to buy software licenses for CAD and BIM for 2 desks + any other essential software (Adobe creative suite, pack office, etc) That’s 12 software packages X 2 at an average cost of £3700 per license = £88,800
– An architect who can master several CAD and BIM software is a rare thing. You will need to pay for training. It takes around 5 days to properly master each program at an acceptable level. On top of that each architect will need to learn how to use the object creation mode of each software package. A day’s training costs around £250. £250 X 5 days for each program X 10 programs = £12,500
– 2 workstations properly adapted to high level 3D creation = £5000
The time it takes to create a professional CAO/BIM catalogue will also have an impact on costs… There are about 230 working days in a year (52 weeks X 5 days a week less 30 days of vacations / sick leave / bank holidays etc)
The time it will take to train your two architects will end up at around 50 work days. Add to that around 30 days each to learn how to use the object creation mode in each program. So each architect will need 150 days of training in the first year.
A very good architect who is also an expert in CAD and BIM will create, on average, one complex object per day. In just one format. Remember, you need to create objects in 10 – 15 formats. So let’s imagine your architects are particularly efficient and they manage to produce all the formats for one object in 10 days. At the end of the first year you will have 30 finished objects for your catalogue.
So the first year’s cost: 60,000 + 88,000 + 12,500 + 5,000 = £165,500
That’s £5,500 per object
The second year will cost the architect’s salaries + the software updates. Let’s assume your architects produce around 50 complete objects in all of the required formates each year. You will be looking at a cost of about £2,600 per object.
It will take your firm around 19 years and cost you more than £2,6 million to create a professional CAD and BIM catalogue in house covering your range of 1000 objects. That’s with two architects. If you hire 4, you will of course halve the time and double the costs. If you hire 6 architects and a project manager, they could get the time down to around 3 years but that will cost you significantly more.
Creating a CAD and BIM catalogue in house at the cost of around £5000 per object probably isn’t a very good idea, especially when a cheaper, easier alternative exists.
Get a professional CAD and BIM objects manufacturer to work on your catalogue. A good service provider and an expert in CAD and BIM catalogue creation will:
- Get the same work done 80 and 95% cheaper than the cost of creating a catalogue in house
- Provide you with 1,000 objects within between 6 and 8 months
- Ensure your catalogue is distributed to prescribers via your website and via its platform
- Offer technical support to your architects and prescribers
If you have any questions, feel free to drop them in to our comments box