usBIM.chat and usBIM.meet: the free usBIM system cloud collaboration tools for remote construction project management
Remote and distributed project teams are a new way of working and not just a temporary fix to get a business through the pandemic. It’s becoming evermore evident how Cloud technology and BIM collaboration are now enabling teams to become more connected (or work collaboratively) enabling access to information from anywhere and at anytime.
Seeing how teams have transitioned to working from home, ACCA software has recently introduced two new free applications within the usBIM integrated system:
- usBIM.chat – a messaging application allowing professionals to communicate and collaborate with other team members sharing files, models, documents and data with a simple message without transfering copies of files with external tools
- usBIM.meet – an encrypted meeting application for team collaboration equipped with video/audio functionality and desktop sharing with the immediate availability of files, models, documents, data and integrated usBIM system applications.
Let’s see more about these free applications and how to use them with the aid of quick video tutorials.
How to get usBIM.chat and usBIM.meet for free
Simply follow these 4 easy steps to start using the two free applications:
- resister your My ACCA account
- go to the usBIM login page
- type in your My ACCA credentials (registration email and password)
- select usBIM.chat or usBIM.meet among the various available applications.
Transitioning to Collaborative working
Collaborative working can happen in traditional as well as virtual teams. With advancements in technology, using cloud-based programs to share files and communicate has become commonplace.
Working in teams enables employees to be quicker and more effective in their work by bringing together individuals with different skills and competences, as compared to people who work on projects on their own. Collaborating also makes employees more responsible, which goes a long way in raising their motivation levels, especially when teams work virtually.
The benefits of collaborative working are manyfold:
- increased efficiency
- pooling of different skills provided by each individual team member
- faster deadlines management
- workforce flexibility
- improved ability to find solutions to problems
- encouragement of creativity and innovation
- fair distribution of work tasks
- less psychological burden on individual team members.
All these advantages, combined with the development of technologies that allow remote collaboration (cloud, platforms, web, etc.), have made physical presence in the workplace less and less necessary and, as a result, favoured the growing development of digital collaborative working.
Let’s now have a look at some tools that facilitate collaborative working.
Collaborative working tools
Remote collaboration requires the use of appropriate technological tools, which vary according to the type of activity to be carried out, but basically it aims to facilitate:
- communication between team members
- virtual exchange of data, information and files
- real-time collaboration on the same project.
To start with, you simply need:
- an internet connection
- PC, tablet or even smartphone
- document archiving tools
- collaborative writing tools
- applications for communication and virtual meeting
- spaces for exchanging data and common references
- manageable file formats.
Further on, we’ll see how you can meet typical collaborative working needs using an integrated system of tools and functions: usBIM.
Remote communication for construction professionals: usBIM.chat and usBIM.meet
It is evident how effective remote collaboration requires the use of communication tools that allow a high level of interaction both internally and externally to a company. Among existing technologies, video conferencing is certainly the most useful because it recreates the conditions for direct interpersonal communication.
usBIM.chat and usBIM.meet are free applications specially designed to support remote work for professionals of the construction sector (architects, engineers, surveyors, etc.).
In fact, the traditional functions for messaging and online meetings come with more advanced collaboration funcions such as: sharing files, large models, documents and data within the integrated usBIM system, without transferring copies of files and with a simple chat message.
In particular, usBIM.chat and usBIM.meet differ from all other chat and virtual meeting applications not with regards to communication functionalities, which are present in the same way in almost all currently available tools, but in those related to sharing of working files.
usBIM.chat, in fact, is a revolutionary feature because it is fully integrated into the usBIM system and dynamically provides you all the information that you need. Your hard disk is shared with all the people with whom you have set up a chat communication. You can chat to anybody anytime and show even share very large work files, such as 3D BIM models, point clouds, etc., wherever you are, with any device and without physically exchanging any documents. All data exchange takes place through a simple link, shared in the chatroom.
Similarly, during virtual meetings with usBIM.meet you can view project documents, discuss issues and take action in real time on documents that need to be edited, even on site and without your own computer. You can create a connection via usBIM.meet anywhere, contact the people working on the constructionsite, view and exchange files of any kind and solve problems in real time.
A practical example
Imagine a rather ordinary scenario of collaborative working for remote teams: a structural engineer from Naples is collaborating with an architect from Milan, a technical installation engineer from Paris and a surveyor from London to prepare preliminary design for the new construction of terraced houses in the outskirts of Rome.
Let’s see how they manage all the project activities using the free usBIM applications and in particular usBIM.chat and usBIM.meet.
- First, they organise an online briefing using the video conferencing and online meeting functions of usBIM.meet. The same way as in an ordinary face-to-face meeting, you will be discussing how to carry out operation tasks and workflow to follow, etc. To participate in a meeting, you just need any device (PC, smartphone or tablet) connected to the internet and equipped with a webcam and microphone.
- As established during the initial briefing, the quantity surveyor surveys the site area and gathers all the information needed (photographs, aerial photographs, land registry maps, maps of zoning and constraints, etc.). The architect needs to view all the material produced by the surveyor in order to start a planivolumetric study. Therefore, the surveyor creates a folder on usBIM, where he uploads the produced material and shares the folder with the architect. The architect can view all the material wherever he is, even with his smartphone, without having to download files and applications and even if he is not using the same BIM software as his colleague.
- The architect draws up the preliminary architectural plan and shares his design with the technical intsllations engineer and the structural engineer. He organises a group chat with the other professionals involved and shares his working file via a link in the usBIM chat.
- They then organise further work review meetings using usBIM.meet and, in real time, exchanging updated files according to the changes agreed in the meeting.
- They manage conflicts between the architectural, structural and plant model by federating the 3 models and using usBIM.clash
- Once the 3D model is completed, they work together on the bill of quantities using PriMus on-line: they work in real time on the same document shared in usBIM, shiwing the modifications made by each one. They receive immediate notifications of each intervention and the related update of items, measurements and amounts and with a simple click on the notification they access the point of the document on which their colleague is working and if necessary they open a chat to dialogue and collaborate in an even more direct way.
Thanks to these easy-to-use tools it is possible to collaborate on the same project with colleagues anywhere in the world and achieve efficient outcomes in a short time.