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How I use Simplebim: Merks’ BIM Coordinator on the BIM professional’s ‘must-have tool’

Latvian real estate development and construction company Merks has over 30 years’ experience building its own developed projects and offering construction services for external projects.

Merks forms part of the Merko Ehitus group, which also operates in Estonia, Lithuania and Norway.

We spoke to Janis Dzenis, a BIM Coordinator for Merks, who also has a background in structural design, estimating and construction management. He shared with us how Simplebim is a key component in his construction tech stack.

Simplebim (SB): Tell us about your role at Merks.

Janis Dzenis (JD): My responsibilities include everything from BIM document development to clash checks and quantity take-off (QTO).

SB: What challenges were you facing before using Simplebim?

JD: Our company doesn’t do design, we outsource it. So, we don’t have BIM design software ourselves, such as Revit or Tekla Structures. But there are situations when it’s necessary to perform various types of manipulations with the IFC files.

Asking designers to do this was a slow process, and some things designers couldn’t do at all in their authoring program because it wasn’t possible to properly configure the IFC export settings.

Also, there’s the inability of BIM program producers to create normal authoring programs in which the designer could simply model without thinking about how it will all look in the IFC model.

We have some high-level designers and even they can’t get Revit to show the correct gross area or mass for all the precast wall panels. Whilst it’s possible to do, it takes time and has a high potential for error.

All of this should be simple and intuitive, but as it stands now, it results in low-quality IFC files that need to be manipulated to make the information in them usable.

SB: So, how do you use Simplebim day to day?

JD:  We use IFC files a lot as a data source during design, estimation and construction. If the files have missing information or are incorrect and the data needs to be retrieved multiple times, or given to the construction site for work, then we use Simplebim.

We use the ‘model trim’ function, ‘enrichment’ function, various ‘run tool’ and ‘template file’ functions.

SB: How easy was it to get Simplebim up and running?

JD: I started using Simplebim gradually. At first just to trim the models. After that, to change some properties. Next, I tried a couple of ‘run tools’ and finally the ‘template files’.

Overall, it was easy. I learned everything by myself, except for short consultation about the configuration of the ‘template file’.

SB: So, would you say you were happy with the support you received from your Simplebim partner BIM Solutions SIA?

JD: I’m the type of person who doesn’t read instructions and tries to do everything himself, only calling for help when things get messy! I think I asked for help two or three times, but the support was fast and incredibly useful. Krišs’ patience and Andris’ sense of humour are qualities that help in stressful times.

SB: What are you able to do now that you couldn’t before adopting Simplebim?

JD: I can be more confident that I can get the information I need out of any IFC file, regardless of the quality. For example, take an MEP (mechanical, electrical, plumbing) model, which someone has modelled in SketchUp and the pipes haven’t come with any geometric information. Solibri only offers a bounding box, which is not suitable in the case of inclined pipes. If I have Simplebim on my computer, the problem is solved.

SB: So, what are the key benefits of Simplebim?

JD: The key benefit of Simplebim is that it gives you the ability to edit IFC files in a way that no authoring program can.

Designers often model in a way that makes the process efficient for them, such as using groups and blocks, but this often results in a lower quality IFC file because the authoring program can’t export it all properly. The only way to fix it is by using Simplebim.

If we didn’t have Simplebim we’d have to ask more of the designers, which would mean additional costs for us and a longer time to achieve the result.

SB: Do you have a favourite Simplebim feature?

JD: The ones I use most are ‘model trimmer’ and ‘calculate basic quantities’ but I also really like the features like ‘boxify’, ‘space covering objects’ and ‘bimsheet’. They really show that the people developing Simplebim consult the industry and understand what it needs.

SB: Do you feel that having Simplebim gives you a competitive advantage?

JD: It improves our competitiveness because it gives alternative ways to process information. Today, there are so many different tools and ways to create models, drawings, tables, and other data that every contractor needs to be able to handle any type of information that is thrown at them.

I mentioned an example earlier where I had an MEP model from Sketchup and needed to extract the quantities.

With the help of Simplebim, I got them in two hours. Three quarters of which was me checking the data. If it wasn’t for Simplebim, the data would have to be calculated manually, or by asking the designer for help, and then it would take at least twice that, not including time for checking.

SB: So, in a sentence, how would you describe Simplebim?

JD: Simplebim is a must-have tool for every BIM professional who’s serious about working with data in models.


Are you a BIM professional who’s serious about working with data in models? At Simplebim, we’re serious about it too. Get in touch with our team or download your FREE, fully functional, 15-day trial of our ‘must-have tool’.


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