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Driving a Request for Information (RFI) workflow through BIM 360 Field

In this blog post, we look at how to leverage Autodesk BIM 360 Field's best-in-class data collection mechanisms to identify and record issues early in the process as well as make them a part of the official RFI process by feeding them seamlessly to a Project Management system. A number of Field users have asked the question of how to take a Field 'issue' item and create an RFI from the same. Let us take a look...

Request for Information or RFIs as they are commonly known in Construction is essentially a communication tool to facilitate resolution of or to clarify design document issues. Typically contractor submits an RFI and designer responds clarifying a legitimate question concerning the design documents. Timely resolution of RFIs are important to keep the project moving forward and build the job. RFIs sometimes can lead to Change Orders. So it is very important to effectively coordinate and manage RFIs.

Autodesk® BIM 360™ Field is a cloud-based field management service combining a mobile application at the point of construction with collaboration and reporting, so construction professionals don’t have to carry pads of paper and tubes of drawings on the jobsite. This combination enables entirely new ways of managing field processes—such as quality, safety, and commissioning checklists; distribution of plans and drawings; and mobile 2D and BIM construction document access—supporting time and cost savings for construction and capital projects of all types. Below image shows a typical issue management worklow during construction leveraging Field. One of the major advantages of BIM 360 Field is in providing a structured QA/QC process through the Construction, thereby not having a single open RFI when project is ready for close out. We will look into that in a later post.

Bim360-field-issue-management-workflow
A typical Issue Management Workflow Leveraging BIM 360 Field

Some of these field observations or Issues need to be recorded as an official RFI in an external PM system. BIM 360 Field allows to create a completely new Issue Type, for example a new issue type called RFI can be created to record these issues. But that would require an Admin to go into the system post-facto and change the Isue Type. Users need something more intuitive to flag the issues as potential RFIs at the time of data collection itself.

Let us look at how to do this step by step:

Step-1: Set up the Issues template. Done by Field Admin and the below is one example of how it can be performed. To begin with, the Field issues will have a custom property (checkbox) called RFI. Users will be checking this box if it is a potential RFI and needs to pushed externally for tracking.
For setting up the Custom Property for Issues, in Field goto Set Up>Issues>Custom Property
Bim360-field-rfi-custom-property
Set up a Field Custom Property called RFI

 Step-2: Data Collection in the Field and Flagging Issues as Potential RFI. Done by end-users in the field. Once the Issue Template is set up as above, users can perform their typical workflows for QA/QC or other walk throughs. Now we have a new checkbox for RFI added to all Issue Types. And Users can now flag the issues as potential issues while they create the issue the first time itself. Below image shows the ipad interface for Issues in Field with the new check box available.

Field-ipad-rfi-checkbox
 

Step-3: Extract the issues that are potential RFI. This is done using the Field web services.

We can use BIM360 Field's webservices to Search for Issues to get a list of unresolved issues. The specific end point is

POST /fieldapi/issues/v1/search

  • project_id : string - Identifier of project in question.
  • ticket : string - The ticket obtained from the login call.
  • Parameters specific to this request
  • filter_id : string - (optional) Filter id - default is to the All Issues filter
  • conditions : array or strings- (optional) An array of conditions (see below)
  • offset : numeric - (optional) Within the results, start at the given offset (used with limit for paging)
  • limit : numeric - (optional) Within the results, retrieve only this count (used with offset for paging)

While ‘Searching’ for issues, we should include a Condition to look for Issues that match this. For example, all Issues that has the RFI checkbox selected.

The ID of the Custom Field can be found by making a  POST /fieldapi/issues/v1/fields             call. For example, in my project POST /fieldapi/issues/v1/fields?username=xxxxxx&password=xxxx&ticket=40ad9886-4ab9-4dcf-9012-d2884491ce1b&project_id=791de333-9f15-4169-9051-c64ecaa3bfa3 returns the fields (including the custom RFI checkbox field).

 {
        "id": "cf--f78dc8c1-de84-4095-8dab-c82490e9e80f",
        "name": "RFI",
        "display_type": "checkbox",
        "required": false,
        "possible_values": [],
        "position": 20002
      }
Please include this id as a condition when we Search for Issues. An example condition is cf--f78dc8c1-de84-4095-8dab-c82490e9e80f,eq,true . This will return all issues that has the RFI checkbox selected. 
 
An example valid URL:
POST /fieldapi/issues/v1/search?username=XXXXXX&password=XXXXXX&ticket=40ad9886-4ab9-4dcf-9012-d2884491ce1b&project_id=791de333-9f15-4169-9051-c64ecaa3bfa3&filter_id=e429e60b-9d69-4fb9-aaf7-fb21872eeee2&conditions=cf--f78dc8c1-de84-4095-8dab-c82490e9e80f,eq,true
 
Returns me only issues that are “unresolved’ and with the RFI checkbox selected. 
 
I added the Unresolved filter in the Search to further eliminate any Resolved issues. Can use the  POST /api/issue_filters to retrieve the filter id for unresolved issues.

Step-4: Sync or feed the potential RFI in the external PM system. Ideally it will be best if we can retrieve only the issues that were updated after a particular timestamp. There is no easy and direct way to search for these issues directly using the APIs, so this has to be done after the web service call on the client side. 
Once we successfully extract the necessary issues using Field APIs, write some logic to filter out the previously published Issues and Send to external system only the new issues.  

Hope this blog post has given a basic idea of how to drive the RFI workflow using BIM 360 Field. Please share your comments and feedback. Feel free to reach out to us if you need more details or additional help regarding this workflow.

-Manu

 

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