Solving the BIM Problem

Thomas Enterprise Helps Uponor Transition to BIM-Ready

Building owners now expect designers and contractors to provide an as-built BIM model at the completion of a project. 

BIM — Building Information Modeling — represents a significant change in the way commercial buildings are designed, constructed and ultimately maintained.  For building product manufacturers, becoming BIM-ready is a strategic priority.

Simple and Static: The Current BIM Problem

Building product manufacturers and manufacturers of mechanical, electrical and plumbing (MEP) products are often asked to provide BIM models of their products. In an effort to save money, they frequently engage a service provider to create simplified and static BIM models in a single format for design engineers.

While this provides some value to their clients in the short-term, the files are often missing key performance and specification details and are very difficult for the manufacturer to keep up-to-date.  And, as BIM adoption expands, additional software tools are emerging in areas beyond just design, such as fabrication. This puts the BPM in a challenging spot, having to add additional formats to their library and maintain a growing mountain of data.

How One BPM Took Action

Uponor recognized their clients’ needs for this intelligent 3D BIM modeling data, which represents not just the physical characteristics of a product, but also its features, functions and performance.

Uponor, a building product manufacturer (BPM) of PEX plumbing, radiant heating, and cooling systems, was able to generate on-demand layouts and designs for prospective customers. But the process was extremely labor-intensive and time-consuming: because Uponor didn’t have much publicly available CAD or BIM data, it had to handle all product model requests on a case-by-case basis using static 2D drawings and manually written metadata.

The Solution: A Robust Library of BIM-Ready Products

Using the Navigator Platform, Thomas Enterprise Solutions created a central product database to help BPMs like Uponor in the commercial building industry to develop a robust library of BIM-ready data in multiple design and fabrication formats.


Thomas Enterprise uses a database approach to create a master library of critical geometry and specification details that can be centrally maintained by the BPM.  Every download by an end user is dynamically generated from the up-to-date data, ensuring clients get the most accurate models and specs, every time.  The Thomas Enterprise process of helping a BPM become BIM-ready is straightforward:

1. The BPM sends their product models and drawings to Thomas Enterprise.
2. Thomas Enterprise extracts key dimensional and specification elements from this source material to create a master product information database for the BPM. This includes all design, performance and functional details of the product to support multi-format CAD and BIM model generation as well as 2D drawings and submittals.
3. This new eCatalog is integrated into the BPMs existing website providing their customers with 24/7 access to discover, compare and download the products they need, in the right format — Revit, Bentley, CADmep or 20+ formats of CAD — directly into the CAD or BIM software they use.  Because the libraries are continually maintained, any product changes are made live on the site and reflected in the next dynamically generated model or submittal.

The Results

BIMReadyCover.jpgSince transitioning to Thomas Enterprise’s eCatalog Platform, Uponor has made available over 250 individual components to its customers, an amount that would have been nearly impossible to create and maintain as static models in multiple CAD and BIM formats.

According to Uponor’s Design Services Manager, Mike Rivers, the eCatalog’s ease of access to both CAD and BIM models has been one of the biggest selling points for Uponor’s customers making it easy to use Uponor products in their projects with the confidence they always have the most up-to-date product details.

For more information about the benefits of implementing a dynamic CAD & BIM eCatalog platform, we invite you to download our eBook Becoming BIM-Ready: The Risks of Doing Nothing.