Fleet tracking, BIM offer advantages

Nov. 1, 2010
William and Patti Feldman review several fleet tracking and Business Information Modeling (BIM) software solutions.

Networkfleet, www.networkfleet.com, is a wireless GPS fleet tracking and diagnostic monitoring solution that generates vehicle performance data and monitors the location of all vehicles with an online Web-based system 24/7. Management can take advantage of the numerous tracking and reporting capabilities to improve fleet efficiency, reduce fleet fuel and maintenance costs, and modify driver behavior. The solution, with software on the computer in the office or the laptop, and hardware installed in the vehicles, is suitable for companies with a few or many vehicles on the road. The fleet-tracking device plugs directly into an engine's onboard diagnostic computer.

The user interface on the PC includes intuitive navigation with an onscreen display of vehicles on the left and simple tabs for GPS tracking, performance, alerts, diagnostics and services on the right. Vehicles can easily be selected by groups or attributes.

Users utilize an intuitive menu bar and drop-down options. Mapping functionalities include real-time overview and detail maps. From the overview map, you can see all vehicle locations, depicted by "pushpins," and their current emission status, including idle time. You can also select satellite and hybrid views to observe movement of the vehicles. Moving the mouse over any pin lets you instantly see that vehicle's precise GPS location, the current speed, the maximum speed of that trip, direction of travel and the odometer reading. You can also select a vehicle to track from the Fleet Roster and view that vehicle's direction and progress throughout the day.

The Vehicle Dashboard provides an at-a-glance view of key vehicle information, including location, stop history, speed history, MPG trend, fuel efficiency and any outstanding alerts. Sub-tabs provide additional data from the onboard computer, including average drive time and actual speed readings. Networkfleet also monitors diagnostic trouble codes for such details as battery voltage, emissions level and coolant temperature, so management can proactively schedule maintenance to prevent breakdowns.

Available reports include: drive-time, fuel usage, MPG, odd-hours driving, speed violations, stop and idle time and geofence violations. Reports can be scheduled for automatic delivery to one or more e-mail recipients. Alerts on after-hours driving, speed violations and geofence violations can be sent in real time to e-mail accounts and mobile devices.

Building Information Modeling
Building Information Modeling (BIM) is an increasingly popular process, or method, for generating and sharing coordinated, consistent information on large A/E/C projects with all authorized project team members. Used for years by architects and engineers, it is now filtering down to contractors, sub-contractors and everyone else with a business stake in the project. It goes beyond just the drawings and specifications (whether in electronic or hard copy form) and includes properties of building components, procurement of materials (type and quantity), pricing data and scheduling of work for all trades.

BIM utilizes a database of information gathered from (potentially) all stakeholders to generate and manage building data from the inception of a project, during the life-cycle of the project and, thereafter, for the life of the building. An integrated process, it takes advantage of interoperable software to create knowledge accessible by all authorized team members on their PCs. With the same data available online to everyone, the project moves forward in a collaborative environment in which everyone — including designers, architects, engineers, owners and contractors — can understand what is going on at every stage of the project, ideally down to the smallest details.

BIM enables design decisions earlier in the process, reduces creation of drawings that cannot be built, helps weed out design conflicts that can slow or derail a project, minimizes errors that can delay progress, optimizes workflow and results in heightened efficiency. It yields the greatest advantage when used by everyone on the project team.

BIM typically uses 2-D CAD software and 3-D modeling software for coordinated, reliable design data. With 3-D real-time dynamic modeling, all the work is shown and conflicts can be spotted and addressed early on. BIM also gathers quantities and properties of building components (including manufacturer details), geographic information, light analysis, spatial relationships, and other data that reflects the current status of the building model and impacts the project and its operation. The access by all to coordinated, consistent information from integrated documents facilitates design decisions that avoid conflicts earlier in the process and reduces potentially costly and time-consuming errors and omission. For example, the improper intersection of sprinkler heads and ceiling lighting could be picked up in a 3-D model well before the concrete is poured for the building foundation and could enable changes practically on the spot.

Here are a few software developers well known in the field and representative software solutions that facilitate BIM:

  • Graphisoft, www.graphisoft.com: ArchiCAD and Graphisoft EcoDesigner.
  • Bentley, www.bentley.com: Bentley Architecture V8i, Bentley Structural Modeler V8i, Bentley Building Mechanical Systems V8i, Bentley Building Electrical Systems V8i and MicroStation.
  • Autodesk, www.autodesk.com: AutoCAD, Autodesk Architectural Desktop, Autodesk Building Services, Autodesk Revit Building, Autodesk Revit Structures, Autodesk Revit Mechanical and CadDuct.

Bill and Patti Feldman are freelance writers for magazines, trade associations, building product manufacturers and other companies on a broad range of topics. They can be reached at [email protected].

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