What is BIM 360? – A Cloud Collaboration Tool for CAD users

A novel way of working on BIM projects which comes with useful project management features.

is bim 360 free?

BIM 360 is a cloud collaboration tool that allows teams of Revit users to work with each other in real time. The rich cloud collaboration features that come with BIM 360 does not come bundled with the AEC Industry Collection. BIM 360 is a subscription licence which needs to be purchased separately on a per-user or per-team basis.

How does BIM 360 work?

BIM 360 consists of 4 separate modules which consists of:

BIM 360 Docs is a file storage system that is hosted on a cloud server. Individual users can be assigned access to designated folders within the server. Design, Coordinate, and Build are built on top of BIM 360 Docs.

BIM 360 Design provides features such as change tracking, version history, and monitoring tools for ensuring that new changes have been consumed by project teams. Its objective is to enable work-sharing in real time.

Allows users to merge local project files to the master model in the cloud and manage clashes in the process.

Enable contractors to access the central model in the BIM 360 cloud via their mobile devices when they are on the field.

A more comprehensive review of what the various BIM 360 modules can do is available directly from the Autodesk website.

BIM 360 is very similar to widely-available document collaboration tools like Google Docs or OneDrive. The main difference is that BIM 360 can host and view CAD files from within the platform. In addition, it may be able to leverage other tools available on the Autodesk platform to enhance construction productivity.

Where are BIM 360 files hosted?

You may be surprised to find that some project teams still rely on on-premise servers located in their site offices to host BIM project files. On-premise servers may seem like a cost-effective solution until you factor in the electrical bills, specialized skillset, as well as hardware expenditures to keep a typical server running.

The COVID-19 pandemic has also exposed another vulnerability of hosting project files on-premise – without access to the office, IT departments have had to set up VPN connections to the office network for project teams to have continued access to project files. 

Without a strong broadband connection (i.e. a wired lan cable connected to the workstation), BIM modelling workflows could potentially slow to a crawl.

With BIM 360, all project files are stored in servers maintained by Autodesk. As a large multi-national corporation, Autodesk will have the resources to ensure the security and functionality of their platform. As an end-user, you no longer need to worry about teething (IT) infrastructure issues that commonly pop-up.

Does BIM 360 work with other Autodesk software like Navisworks and AutoCAD?

Tools such as Navisworks, AutoCAD, and Revit are installed in the individual user’s computer. In order to upload files from the local machine to the BIM 360 project, you will need to install the respective BIM 360 plugin for each software.

Changes made by a team member can be synched to the central BIM 360 model in the cloud. Other team members then pull the most updated copy and continue their work from there.

Lastly, file permissions are managed by project administrators so that only the right people get the right level of access to BIM files.

Why should you use bim 360?

If you are consultant or contractor, your ultimate objective is to ensure that your project get delivered on time and at the right cost. As much as possible, you should not be worrying too much about the integrity of the tools you are using on a daily basis. Leave the headache-inducing IT infrastructure issues to the team at Autodesk.

With BIM 360, you can achieve a degree of independence from your in-house IT teams that are already over-stretched and may not be able to answer to your needs immediately.

If you believe that the entire project workflow is likely to operate within the Autodesk ecosystem of products, your company would likely achieve much benefit from adopting BIM 360.

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