Episode 57 – The Importance of Building Information Modeling (BIM) with Special Guest Benjamin of Anguleris

 

Jessica: Hi, this is Build Green Live Green, a podcast by CaraGreen devoted to the building materials industry, trends, and basically what's new. Today we have with us Benjamin Glunz, the CEO at Anguleris, and we are talking about BIM and I will let Benjamin dive right into that, welcome Benjamin.

 

Benjamin Glunz: Thanks for having me.

 

Jessica: I'm just going to call you Ben now because that's easier.  Well Ben, you and I met I think, almost two years ago now at a conference in Colorado, and you gave a presentation on BIM. And at the time, I remember thinking, wow BIM seems so far away from what my business would need, as a building materials distributor. What role would it really have? And with the pandemic and everything that's happened, that has changed so much, and we've really paid attention to it and I'm excited to have you kind of elaborate here and let people know, what BIM is, and what does Anguleris do for BIM? And how does it do it differently than some of the other players out there?

 

Benjamin Glunz: Sure. That sounds great.

 

Jessica: Alright, well hit it. Can you tell us a little bit, tell our listeners, what BIM is, what it stands for, and how it's used, and so on?

 

Benjamin Glunz: Yeah, sounds great. So really, BIM is just an acronym for “Building Information Modeling,” and you can kind of think of it as an overarching term for a process for designing and maintaining and constructing buildings digitally. And so you'll also hear specific software out there things like Revit, or Sketch Up, or ArchiCAD, and some of these other tools that are out there, but Revit is just the number one tool out there. So if you think of BIM being the process, Revit is the tool, and that's kind of the easiest way to remember it.

 

Jessica: Great. So who formed Anguleris? Because I think this is a really important part of your business. Who formed it? And what was their background? And why BIM and why when they did?

 

Benjamin Glunz: Yeah, that's a kind of a fun story, and that we're actually turning 10 years old as a company here in March at Anguleris so we're pretty excited about that. And the whole idea behind forming Anguleris was myself, and a colleague of mine at a firm, we were both in architecture, and just really frustrated with the level of engagement that we were able to get from building product manufacturers. And so we saw BIM as an opportunity to tighten that relationship between manufacturers and architects and designers and so we sort of struck out and did that and haven't looked back since.

 

Jessica: Well, I think it's important to because, a lot of times where you see a software company or a company that's developing a tool like this, they're developers in a software background, and they don't really understand kind of who the end customer is. And you guys are coming at it from the other side, where you were, you were the architects, and you saw the problems, and then you went into the tool development in software to solve those problems.

 

Benjamin Glunz: Right, so all of the solutions that we build are just based on our experience and we continuously hire from the industry as well. So over 50% of our staff comes from practice, so it's pretty unique out there, at least in our space to see that sort of brain trust.

 

Jessica: Talk a little bit about the deliverable. So I'm a manufacturer and I come to Anguleris and I say I want to use BIM Smith, which is your product. What do you deliver me? What are you creating for me? And how do I use it?

 

Benjamin Glunz: Yeah, so those are great questions. So typically what we do is assess a manufacturer's go-to-market strategies. So how are you taking products to market? What product type are you? And these types of different questions lead us down a different path and we formed what we call a BIM strategy. And a lot of folks out there who are in manufacturers today, they have maybe BIM content that they built years ago or even recently, and it just kind of expect to be able to check the box with that. And the reality is, that's not enough just like you and I both know, just saying that you have a Twitter account or an Instagram account doesn't mean that you have a social media strategy. 

 

The same goes for BIM, just because you have some Revit files doesn't mean that you have a BIM strategy. So that's really what makes you Anguleris and BIM Smith unique is that we look at it from a holistic standpoint across the different aspects of how you can utilize BIM content and how that gets out in the industry. And so that's why we created BIM Smith as a direct to the AEC community platform for building product research, with BIM at the core. And so there are really four main aspects to a good BIM strategy, so you think of “Creating the Content,” so the initial models, which we would work with each manufacturer to do that.

 

The second part is the “Distribution,” and so that's what we use BIM Smith and some of our other partners to get those models out there and tools to embed in the manufacturer's website to make it easy to find so that would be the distribution aspect. Then we move on to sort of the “Training and Promotional Aspects.” So once you've got this, it's out there, how do you train your sales staff to talk about this? How do you train your distributors to talk about this? And then what are you doing to promote the fact that you're BIM-ready?

 

And then ultimately, the fourth point is “Maintenance.” So making sure that all of the content that you have stays current and up to date with your product line, so when people go to use it, they can rest assured that it's consistent with what they would get from you, from the actual product line.

 

Jessica: If I pull it back a little bit, because I don't know a lot about BIM, but I have kind of like the cliff notes the level of knowledge. Then if you have a BIM model for your product, basically as an architect or designer can instantiate bring that into a design and kind of pull it all together. So in movies, you see these kinds of 3D renderings almost like some of these Sci-Fi movies will show you this 3D rendering, and they can turn it and spin it around like Iron Man. But it's kind of like the actual realization of that right? These BIM models are if I want to put this wall here, and I want to put this countertop here, and I want this rug in this paint color, you're actually rendering this whole 3D model. But you're only able to do that if you have these BIM, which is Building Information Modeling, these BIM models, they are to do it. Otherwise, what do they have to do, create their own files?

 

Benjamin Glunz: Right, so they would have to create those from scratch for the most part. And, that can be pretty problematic in terms of even technical proficiency for them to be able to do that, there are all sorts of issues.

 

Jessica: So a little bit more about the BIM model. So here, you've got this basically this electronic downloadable file that's sitting on your website, and you go in and you can download it and put it into this 3D rendering like Iron Man, and all of a sudden, you're an Avenger, and you've got this great tool, but what's in the BIM model itself? It's not just an L-shaped countertop, there are actual characteristics of the material and information associated with it right?

 

Benjamin Glunz: Right, that's exactly right and you can basically think of it as a digital replica of the building before it gets built. So a lot of firms will go to the point of even putting in paint colors. So every building material that's going to go into that space needs to be put into that model. And so think of a kitchen or something like that, you might put the countertop in, you might choose the finish of the countertop, you might choose an edge condition, does it have a backsplash or not? 

 

All of that information goes in in the background as well. And so what that tees you up to be able to do, is to go in and actually bring this into some sort of VR tool or other external viewing application that allows you to actually walk your client through there to be designed space. So that's really one of the really exciting things that BIM can be leveraged directly into VR through some of these workflows. 

 

Jessica: So BIM is a step towards VR and I think that that's really important for our listeners to know, and we actually did write up a blog that talked a lot about some of the things that BIM Smith is doing. And that's on our website at caragreen.com, if you want to see kind of a sort of a pared-back version. But so we started using BIM Smith for Durat, and that's a solid surface, so some of this L shaped countertop that you're talking about, we actually saw this through the development, so we're really excited to launch Durat with BIM Smith.

 

But one of the things that you talked about, and I think this is where BIM, sustainability, and green building really come together, is what you were just describing. As I'm walking through this building and BIM has rendered everything, any error if you specify the drain hole here, two and a half inch drain hole, and you have a fixture coming in that's four inches in diameter, it's gonna flag that. And you're not going to end up spending money on all these fixtures that you're having to send back or having to rip out all these things that aren't the right size, it's flagging those, those discrepancies, right, and those areas of design where things don't actually work, so you're not going to have that issue in the field.

 

Benjamin Glunz: Yeah, and that becomes really important, an important reason why manufacturers should provide accurate BIM content. Because if I'm just using a generic countertop, sink, and a faucet that I have in my library and I just drop in there, that's not really going to be obvious to me that I'm gonna have a problem in the field. But if I use the actual products that have been digitized, for example, we do a lot of work with Brizo and Delta faucet. So they're designing everything down to the line that goes to hot and cold so that you can coordinate that with the countertop. 

 

That's a great example where you would be able to coordinate those two items together and as you're walking through the space, and you see a random hole that's not covered, you should probably fix that. So yeah, to the sustainability point, it certainly does cut down on waste because if you have a contractor that is sort of BIM-ready or using BIM as part of their strategy, many of them have gotten away from the traditional 20 to 30% waste factor that you would order in addition because they're that precise. 

 

Jessica: Right.

 

Benjamin Glunz: So that means less excess in the landfill, less do-overs, and that means all sorts of things.

 

Jessica: Yeah I mean, I can even imagine on the walkthrough and you've got some designer and we know how designers can be and even architects no offense. But when you're walking into a space, you may have envisioned something one way, and then when you see it in this 3D rendering you can say “I don't want that, that's not the color I want.” 

 

Benjamin Glunz: Exactly, and that's, a huge boom for sustainable ideas.

 

Jessica: That's great. Okay so BIM Smith is not the only BIM platform out there, when we evaluated different ones but you guys have a unique strategy in terms of, where you're going, right? It's not just this BIM deliverable, can you talk about kind of the actual flow and the strategy and how you're not just giving people models for renderings, but you're taking it next level, and growing with the customer through the entire design process?

 

Benjamin Glunz: Sure. So at Anguleris, there are really three main parts of what we do, BIM, Spec, and Sample. So for us, those three things really need to be integrated across the board. So for us that that comes through with BIM Smith, Master Spec, and Swatch Box, which is our sample fulfillment platform. And so what we've done is built across these three crucial areas of getting specified integrations. 

 

So when you're working in BIM, the spec is also integrated into that when you're ordering a sample, you can also get the BIM, these types of touchpoints so that through the entire lifecycle or journey from schematic design, through construction, you're able to have a continuous thread through that and that's really important to note because that is very unique. Normally, that's a very disparate process that can cause a lot of discoordination and therefore a lot of waste.

 

Jessica: Yeah, so I think for our listeners just to kind of clarify that, here you are in this BIM environment, and you're creating these renderings and then you need to know details about the specifications and material, you don't want to have to go somewhere else and hunt for those. So those are right at your fingertips Master Spec. Which I think is the largest platform for specifications of materials, which architects and designers know that they need for all their projects. 

 

And then to be able to get a physical sample of it, everyone needs that for submittals or packages. So just being able to let you stay on that one platform and not have to go on a hunting expedition for every single product. Anguleris is kind of creating this whole environment, so you can get from design to physical sample without having to go trekking around the internet looking for information.

 

Benjamin Glunz: Yeah, that's exactly right and our whole mission at Anguleris is to make it seamless for manufacturers and AEC pros to work together. So that all fit within that mission and that's really the direction that we're headed.

 

Jessica: And when you say AEC Pro, can you just for our listeners kind of expand on what you mean by that?

 

Benjamin Glunz: Oh sure. So just ArchitectsEngineers, and Contractors. 

 

Jessica: Okay. So what we didn't mention was Swatch Box, and Swatch Box is the sampling platform. So we talked about, here you have BIM Smith, with your BIM models. Here you have Master Spec, where those specifications and details about those products are at your fingertips. And then you have Swatch Box, which is the physical samples. So it's kind of similar to a Material Bank, but it's a different stage of the process when you're already in kind of this modeling environment, correct?

 

Benjamin Glunz: Yeah and it's really addressing the needs of the full design lifecycle rather than just the interior designer so that would be their difference.

 

Jessica: Yes. Okay, so I have two last questions, and one is BIM really came to my attention at CaraGreen, when we started building these data platforms, and we realized that everyone was online and they want everything to be easy. And like I said, they don't want to go on these fishing expeditions trying to find stuff. So we started working with you to talk about BIM models, Swatch Box, and BIM Marketplace, and we got really excited about that because we knew everyone was stuck at home and they were having to collaborate online. Do you think that that is here to stay to some degree? And do you think that that is going to amplify the need for BIM in general?

 

Benjamin Glunz: Yeah, I think that's a great point to make, and yes certainly, we think it's here to stay. People will still go back to the office, but in terms of the migration to cloud-based solutions, and the migration to cloud-based design via BIM, most of the firms we talked to, this has just accelerated that process, and they don't intend to go back. So even if they're in the office, they're going to be in the office collaborating digitally in a cloud-based environment. So what that means is it leaves the door open for certain firms to choose to allow people to continue to work from home, and I don't think that part will ever fully go away because that door is now open and, sort of been proven that you can be productive, contrary to what many experts said.

 

And so I think what we're gonna see is sort of this enhanced diversity of workplaces I guess, whether that's a beach, your house, vacation home in Vail, whatever.

 

Jessica: Well, you're really expecting this Swatch Box thing to take off?

 

Benjamin Glunz: Well, I don't mean me but whether you're just grabbing an Airbnb, I hear people at firms all the time. They're like, “Hey, we're just gonna grab this Airbnb for a month and work from there.” So that's all on the table at this point, so with that, you need to be able to collaborate and work whether you're 20 feet apart or 20,000 miles or whatever apart, that's really the reality of where we're going.

 

Jessica: And that kind of leads me to my final question, right? So we've kind of set the stage here that, hey everyone's relegated to work from home, some people are going to go back maybe not all the time, but a lot of people are going to stay home, and they're going to have this expectation of being able to set their rules, and they want things to be easy for them. So what is the risk to a manufacturer if they don't have a BIM model, given this requirement that people want everything to be at their fingertips right now? What is your take on that? What is the risk if I don't have a BIM model and I'm a manufacturer, what risk do I run?

 

Benjamin Glunz: Sure, I mean it really depends on how dedicated you are to making it frictionless to work with you. If you want it to be hard to work with you, then I'm going to have to work harder to work with you. And then I have to make the call on whether it's worth it for me to have to work harder to work with you. So that's really the easiest way I would explain it is that, by providing BIM, it's not so much to guarantee you that you're going to get into this many more projects but it's about removing that friction. 

 

And it's another piece that gets out of the way to you being the brand of choice for these Architects, Designers, and Contractors and that's really at the end of the day how you win.

 

Jessica: I agree and just to kind of wrap it up, I think that customer service has become a digital issue. I think when everyone went online, the idea that having these accessible things online, whether it's your specification, whether it's pricing, whether it's the ability to request a quote, whether it's a BIM model, customer service is now seen as having the information I need, where I want it, and when I want it, it's less about how nice you are on the phone. 

 

So I think that BIM Smith, Swatch Box, Master Spec, Anguleris, everything you guys are pulling together here is just really poised to grow. And the pandemic was bad for a lot of things, but I think he gave a springboard for some of these platforms and I'm excited to see what you guys do with them.

 

Benjamin Glunz: Yeah thanks a lot for that. I really appreciate it and thanks for having me.

 

Jessica: Absolutely. Well, this is CaraGreen's podcast Build Green Live Green. You can find it on caragreen.com and you can follow us @caragreenproducts. Ben, you guys have a great presence on LinkedIn. Can you tell us any of your social accounts and your website, if people want to look into Anguleris for BIM Smith, Swatch Box, or Master Spec?

 

Benjamin Glunz: Yeah, you can just go to Anguleris.com that's ANGULERIS or just find the same on LinkedIn for BIM Smith, Swatch Box, or Anguleris, whichever you prefer.

 

Jessica: Thank you, this is Build Green Live Green.