During a web conference I participated in recently, the concept of PIM was introduced to me. PIM (product information modeling) is a lot like BIM, except it refers to intelligent 3D models of manufactured products (doors, windows, appliances, etc.) instead of buildings. PIMs would be created by the manufacturer (or by an external consultant for the manufacturer to distribute) and would contribute to the accuracy of the model.

The Revit web library is mostly comprised of generic objects, but does have a few PIMs for use: Anderson Windows has uploaded PIMs of its 400 series windows and a link to the Woodwork Institute provides *.rfa files for cabinets on its website.

The concept of PIM is great in theory; it makes sense to be able to use the exact window you want instead of having to go through the hassle of creating families. There is only one problem with PIM: no one thinks they have a reason to create them.

I think that it c
ould be beneficial for manufacturers to have PIMs of their products available; it would make it easier for architects to choose their product instead of a competitor. However, there probably aren't enough architects utilizing BIM software (never mind a specific software) for it to be cost effective.

It seems that manufacturers won't start creating PIMs of their products until BIM becomes the standard for architects; even at that point, they will have to decide which software platform their object should be created for. But one of the many excuses for avoiding BIM that architects give is that object libraries are not developed enough.

So, while manufacturers wait for architects and architects wait for manufacturers, owners will continue to be dissatisfied with the outcome (or at least the cost and timing of outcome). And I'm guessing they will continue to be unaware of what exactly is causing their dissatisfaction.

In the meantime, we're going to keep implementing BIM and saving the world, one virtually constructed building at a time.

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