Reading, UK-based GroupBC, provider of the enterprise-class Business Collaborator and BC Assure platforms, is looking to command an increased share of the building information modelling common data environment market by launching an SME-friendly version of its CDE platform.
BC QuickStart has been specifically designed, GroupBC says, to help SMEs adopt the standard practices of BIM, ensuring the benefits are attainable for the whole industry and not just those at the top of the chain:
“SMEs make up more than 99% of the UK construction industry, according to the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB). With numerous projects delivered by teams of Tier 2 contractors, it is essential that the use of digital construction is encouraged and supported across the industry, collaboratively, so that everyone can reap the rewards that BIM will undoubtedly provide. This includes the improvement in the delivery of digital information – in the right format, to the right people at the right time – meaning that both public and private construction projects, of any size, will benefit from its adoption.
The platform, which costs £14 per user per month and is based on the company’s enterprise solution (to which users can upgrade if they wish), will also help SMEs maintain access to data for future projects, say GroupBC.
“Tier 2 contractors spend many hours using, contributing and updating information for client projects, only to lose access to that information after a project closes. With their own CDE, they can securely work and share that information and re-use it on all future projects.”
GroupBC, privately owned since a management buy-out in late 2014, has been pioneering the use of digital construction solutions since 1998. Its solutions are used by over 20,000 organisations worldwide, including Thames Water, Balfour Beatty, Sainsbury’s and Highways England.
Lower cost collaboration
The cheap, sometimes free, and easy availability of generic online file storage and sharing platforms (eg: DropBox, Box.net, etc) has provided many design and construction businesses with a simple way of sharing conventional, largely 2D project-related information. The platforms may not be particularly sophisticated in terms of commenting, mark-up and/or version control, but in a highly cost-conscious industry they often satisfy an immediate need (and in some cases can be integrated with more industry-specific platforms – both Newforma’s Connector strategy and Aconex’s link to DropBox were launched in 2016, for example), though they won’t easily meet the needs of future projects which are deploying building information modelling approaches.
Competition from low-cost generic file-sharing solutions has also spawned the development of a number of low-cost construction platforms (for example, in the UK and Europe, Collabor8 Online, SherLayer, construct.pm, BuildCloud and GenieBelt; in the US, Jobsite Unite and Skysite, among others). Some of the larger vendors, perhaps most notably Asite with its Key Lite product, have also offered a low-cost (£15/month) start-up version of their main platforms.
[Note: Apologies for the lack of recent Extranet Evolution updates. This was partly due to family and illness issues. I will be tackling the backlog of posts over the next few days and weeks.]