The evolution of Computer Aided Design to Building Information Modelling in the Food Service Industry


Before computers were a common place in offices. Commercial kitchen designers were regarded as draftsmen. Some of these draftsmen spent years perfecting their trade. They would create their kitchen plans using a diverse type of materials, specialist pens and pencils drawn by hand on a drafting board. It was a pain staking delicate process. Mistakes had to be scratched out with a blade. This was not always possible and would mean starting a fresh again.

When computers exploded into the working environment with the development of CAD (computer aided design) software, slowly killed off the trade of the draftsman in the food service industry. While creating a new trade of CAD Design Technician which was a faster and more efficient way to create a kitchen plan. Kitchen plans drawn in CAD can be identified with three main differences in mind.

  1. The scale
  2. The graphic area
  3. The design in layers

While before scale had to be previously chosen and if it were to be wrong or changed would mean it would have to be redrawn. CAD programs draw in real scale after adjusting only the print scale. While the drawing area, which was previously limited to the paper size drafted on. The CAD environment made this space virtually unlimited, in turn one file could contain all the required drawings. Finally, while hand drawn kitchen plans that required different areas to be shown, would mean creating a totally new drawing. A CAD drawing of a kitchen, could mean different areas could be selected by the layers on the original CAD drawing and then printed using the same file.

While this evolution from manual drawings to CAD has progressed on over the last 30 years comes to a full progression through. A new evolution, leading to new concepts and new adaptions in commercial kitchen design are now in process. The new evolvement is towards BIM (Building Information Modelling).  Even though I still see BIM as a version of CAD it still comes with huge advantages. The concept of BIM moves well beyond 2D CAD ultimately entailing a 7-dimensional process.

A brief description of the current 7 dimensions of BIM is considered to have are listed below:

  • 2nd dimension is documentation
  • 3rd dimension is space
  • 4th dimension is time, ie scheduling and sequencing
  • 5th dimension is cost estimation
  • 6th dimension is facilities management applications.
  • 7th dimension is procurement solutions eg. Contracts, purchasing, suppliers and environmental standards.

To think that BIM is merely 3D is to severely underutilise the tools that BIM has to offer. Some catering companies that have done this (viewed BIM solely as a 3D tool) have tried a different approach, looking for alternatives and just for 3D only capable software like SketchUp, thinking this will fill the 3D void that due to them not taking BIM up would leave. Maybe in the short term this would be sufficient to keep clients happy. Longer term when clients actually want BIM drawings then this would not work.

The stage of the evolution through to BIM the Food Service Industry is at varies from country to country. For example, in the USA 90 percent of the food service companies have embraced BIM already, while in the UK not even a third of that have so far. This makes it difficult to make the costly decision to move to BIM slowing the rate of progression.  Certainly, this will speed up and it is only a matter of time that we will see a complete evolvement to BIM for all of the future successful companies in the Food Service Industry. Specifi can help you with this evolvement to BIM, quickly, and cost effectively.

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