The Shift to BIM: the Evolving Tools of the Trade from a Designer’s Perspective


By David Drewes-Moore

When I entered the mechanical engineering world as a drafter in 1988, project workflows and tools were a bit different than what today’s entry level drafters and designers face. Creating design documents on a drafting table utilizing paper and graphite as a medium took time and talent. Before you placed a pencil down on paper you had to have a working idea of what the design was going to be and how best to get that design idea across to a contractor. Over the years, experience made this process almost automatic, and along with that, the tools at my disposal began to get better. The industry moved from paper and graphite media to Mylar and ink, which made the drawing bolder and pop out better on a more durable surface. Soon after came the addition of a “pin bar” mechanism for layering different trades under your working drawing for better coordination.

Computer-aided drafting and design tools hit the scene in the late 80’s and early 90’s and I found myself straddling two different technologies for a few years. Learning the use of a computer and a mouse to generate drawings in lieu of using my hands on a drawing board was a big leap, both physically and conceptually, but I found enough commonalities between the two to keep moving forward. CAD made the effort of design modification very quick – light years faster than the good old drafting days. The benefit of this leap became very apparent to me. After becoming proficient in the use CAD programs, along with learning mechanical design, I became very comfortable in my workflow and was soon able to produce much more work in a shorter duration of time with less people involved. The efficiency trifecta! This is the idea behind computer use and programs, right? Thanks to this new tool, I was able to advance my understanding of engineering design and produce the documents at the same time, becoming a “one stop shop” designer.

Flash forward to around 2007 and BIM started making its move into the mechanical engineering field. Yet another new tool to learn and adjust my workflow around! It did not take much more than a few months for me to realize that not only was history repeating itself, but also proving itself again. This 3D design tool elevates coordination between trades much higher than CAD ever could. The information that can be incorporated in the BIM model is really only limited by your budget. Again, an industry tool had pushed me along into becoming even more efficient and knowledgeable about my projects and their real-life parameters.

BIM’s applicability and reach is still expanding, and the collaboration, training, and mentoring required to use BIM to its full potential is ongoing. But we are really beginning to see the lasting benefits of its use. Now, as I look toward the next twenty-six years of my career, I can’t help but wonder what the next new tool to present itself will be. I really hope I don’t have to get some sort of implant or bionic fingers!

This entry was posted in All Insignts, BIM/Revit and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

One Trackback

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>