25 July 2017
Should You use BIM 360 or Collaboration For Revit Projects?
BIM 360 Team, which is now part of BIM 360 family and was formerly known as A360, and Collaboration for Revit, more commonly abbreviated to C4R, are essentially collaboration tools that are used by various stakeholders during the design stages of a construction project and while providing BIM services.
Collaboration within construction may be taken for granted in the current climate as it allows improved file access, sharing and communication of design data amongst project stakeholders. Tools such as C4R and BIM 360 Team owe much to a number of firms that have shaped the ‘collaboration for construction’ offering, expectation and deliverables. Those firms and their software include amongst others Autodesk Buzzsaw, Aconex, BIM Track, ASite, BIW and 4Projects. Such tools have offered solutions in an industry for over a decade now and have managed to do so despite suffering from poor levels of software interoperability and despite internet connectivity and bandwidth problems.
Whilst there are many workflow and design management options and solutions within the various collaboration tools in the market, this blog focuses on the benefits of C4R and BIM 360 for BIM Modeling, Revit work sharing and design file collaboration, including the handling of design updates.
In many ways BIM 360 Team and C4R, which are both later entrants to the collaboration market, have benefitted from improvements in the design software, the levels of interoperability and of course improvements in bandwidth. These advantages have allowed both software tools to start flourishing in the construction sector and improve the level of collaboration and design workflow that is now possible in the industry. The question is which of the two should one use and are there benefits in doing so. Before that question is answered, an overview of the main features of both is helpful.
Starting with BIM 360, this is essentially a cloud based tool which provides access to design files via a web interface. This anytime, anywhere access throughout the design life cycle of the project is a common feature of collaboration tools, however within BIM 360, there are a number of tools that can also be used including BIM 360 Glue, BIM 360 Docs and BIM 360 Plan, BIM 360 Team, BIM 360 Field and BIM 360 Ops. All of which help to improve the collaboration and sharing options of Revit files via the web. BIM 360 Team is the component within BIM 360 that provides for team access to project data via a web browser, although updates can only be published by Revit users who update their respective Revit models.
For BIM 360 users, they will initially publish a Revit MEP or Revit Architecture BIM model to a nominated BIM 360 folder manually, once that is done for the first time then users will upload the Revit changes to the host file, manually as needed and therefore enable sharing of the design files that they are publishing.
C4R on the other hand is a Revit based file sharing tool which is hosted on the cloud. C4R subscribers automatically get BIM 360 within their package as the BIM 360 Team feature is needed to enable sharing of the model amongst design team members. C4R allows users to upload Revit models to the cloud for design teams to share, view and comment on them. The main difference with C4R is that design team members can directly work from the same central model that is hosted on the cloud as long as they have Revit installed locally. This provides an element of real time or live update options to a single model and therefore provides real time design collaboration which allows multi-location teams to work on models simultaneously. As C4R works with BIM 360 Team, it also allows non-Revit users to view the updates, on any compatible device such as PC’s or tablets, although they can only update the model if they have Revit.
So, to answer the question of whether BIM 360 or C4R is best, the answer really depends on whether collaboration for the project is for viewing changes on a frequent basis or whether there is a need to work on a live model. Both tools allow use of Revit and the many features and benefits of the tool such as Revit work sharing and the use of parametric Revit BIM families. Working on a live model will mean that C4R is the best option, although this will require a design workflow that allows that. Of course, it is not always possible to work on a live project across different disciplines, workflows, locations and time-zones and therefore BIM 360 with its Team option will still have uses for many construction projects.