How electrical engineers and designers can automate the electrical design and construction process by using digital tools such as Building Information Modeling (BIM)
Looking at our cover image this month got me thinking about how fast our world has changed in such a relatively short time. Engineers can now design and construct a building in a virtual world prior to anyone even sticking a shovel in the ground. They can communicate electronically with other team members, specialty contractors, architects, and owners without ever having to speak to them or shake their hand. One day soon, they might even interact with each other in a virtual world similar to the one found in today's first-person shooter video games for kids — except they'll be asked to check their weapons at the door.
For years now, my editorial team and I have worked hard to show you the value of computer and software technologies. Because we know how important it is to your future success, we've done so from many different angles, including:
On the design/engineering front, we've discussed engineering applications on the Web, electrical design software, and power quality Web-enabled tools/equipment. We've also highlighted new trends in lighting design software and building automation systems.
On the MRO front, we've shed light on the value of computerized maintenance management systems, online motor monitoring systems, and Ethernet networks. We've also covered how to communicate with other electrical professionals in online communities — a great place to share the trials and tribulations of your day-to-day work.
On the construction front, we've highlighted the benefits of computerized estimating systems. We've kept you up-to-date on the emergence of online plan rooms and project collaboration Web sites. We've taught you how to process invoices the electronic way, use labor management software, track your tools and equipment electronically, and work with online permitting systems.
We've also tried to make you aware of all of the electronic-based training going on in the industry right now. The capabilities and advantages of these products are immense. For instance, you can pop a CD into your computer and learn the latest techniques in troubleshooting motors. You can sign up for a Webinar, and learn how to perform arc flash calculations. You can click on a video link, see the specs on a new product, and even watch someone demonstrate how to install it — all from the comfort of your office chair or comfy sofa at home.
However, as pointed out in this month's cover story, “Barriers to BIM,” it still seems there's work to be done on the electrical front before we reach widespread adoption of this technology. Although the electrical industry seems to lag behind other trades when it comes to acceptance and implementation of this powerful program, I still think we're moving in the right direction. There are certainly some success stories out there when it comes to using this virtual design product — especially for those larger firms landing the high-dollar projects.
So, as painful as it may be to keep up with this rapidly changing technology, you've got to stick with it. Rest assured, we'll do our best on this end to keep you abreast of new developments and offer you unique ways to interact with us electronically too. But you have to do the rest.