[Interview] Bimmatch, when BIM meets product manufacturers data

Nowadays, we know how convergence is becoming more and more important. Industries like AEC and manufacturing are getting closer every day especially with new approaches like modern methods of construction and its industrialization. Autodesk is deeply committed in that approach.

In that perspective, we have the pleasure to receive this week another exciting AI Specialized startup which has developed a very interesting application using the richness of BIM Data to help AEC professionals quantify, estimate and nurture their projects with external Product Manufacturers data. But let’s start our conversation with Cheli Wasserman, bimmatch’s CEO.

Cheli Wasserman
Co-founder and CEO
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Hi Cheli and welcome on ABCD Blog. We’re very happy to receive you. Could you please quickly introduce yourself to our readers?

Hi Emmanuel, thanks for having me. I’m an architect, a mother of two teens, and previously a yoga teacher that has found that an entrepreneurial mindset is essential to my personal growth.

What is your background and when did you decide to create your Company? Have you been practicing a lot before?

I am an architect with a M.Arch degree. Architecture, as a code name, is my nature of thinking and seeing the world. For the last 15 years, I’ve been working in some of the leading architecture offices in Israel responsible for large-scale projects. In 2019, I’ve established Bimmatch.

What were the main reason which motivated you to create Bimmatch? Was it because you realized that there was a lack in the AEC Industry in that field? Had you already been practicing BIM by the way?

Definitely, working on projects in BIM has accelerated my understanding that more tools needed to be developed and applied to the BIM methodology. My understanding was that it would take an enormous time until the traditional AEC industry would be able to make this moonshot move. Therefore, Bimmatch focuses on the “I” of BIM, automatically converts, enriches, and indexes data from old fashion catalogs into BIM and enables architects, consultants, and general contractors to build reliable, sustainable, and on-budget projects.

So what is Bimmatch and how is your company organized?

Bimmatch is the AI-powered sourcing solution for the construction industry – Matching materials (AKA products, solutions, systems) to any project for a cost-effective and sustainable built environment. 

Overall, we redefine the way general contractors, engineers, and architects source and procure construction materials. And for doing so, we have the best-fit team to tackle this problem, with more than 30 years of experience in construction and high-tech. Eli Wasserman is co-founder and COO, Sudhir Yelikar is our CTO

What is it aimed at? What Industry pain points are you solving?

We are aiming to solve the crucial gap in the process of sourcing the best-fit materials for any given project. The gap between the project teams, architects and general contractors, and the materials manufacturers causes inaccuracy in specifications and eventually in the building itself, budget overruns, and compliance with codes, such as sustainability codes and local rules, such as hurricanes, fire, etc.

Does Bimmatch only allow to map BIM elements with real-life products, extract the quantities and calculate the costs? Or does it also allow to create the administrative documents?

We generate Excel files of bills of materials on-demand, as well as setting up direct contact with manufacturers for RFIs, pricing quotes, or samples. The bid features are being implemented currently. Furthermore, we have a very valuable BI tool that shows statistics, analysis, and predictions. 

How does AI enter into action there?

AI enters at two points. First, Bimmatch was designed to convert products catalogs to a BIM library automatically. We created a very threw method for converting PDF and Excel to BIM. Secondly, our matching process between the project’s requirements and the products data is a very unique AI solution, that is based on deep professional knowledge.

How is Bimmatch integrated with Revit? Is it directly connected to Revit’s database or does it use an external format like IFC?

Bimmatch is a bidirectional system. We have a SaaS application and an add-in to Revit. We developed an API that connects both, so the features on the Bimmatch add-in to Revit and the Bimmatch SaaS application, are synced. This allows the user to track changes, communicate and work from both platforms all along the planning phases.

Our products library is valid in the Bimmatch add-in to Revit, where the user can insert properties (classification, standards, products details), place objects, and filter for best results. The add-in is available for download from our website, and soon will be in the Autodesk marketplace.

Do you have an intelligent browser?

The system is designed to know what the user is searching for even before clicking in the browser, or in our case, clicking on the element in BIM. Our sourcing expertise predicts the best resolutions of the data based on the project’s requirements. Bimmatch’s AI capabilities ensures the user does not miss anything when it comes to sourcing materials for the project.

What kind of information are essential inside the material? Is it only for quantity and price estimation purposes, or also for energy simulations and calculations?

Great point, as we believe price is not the only factor to consider when making procurement-wise decisions.

Essential information includes R-value, VOC, fire resistance, manufacturer’s location, etc. Important to say, the attributes of the products are assigned per category, for example, curtain wall parameters are different from HVAC systems parameters. Moreover, the Bimmatch system is designed to detect any standard or code, including sustainability codes, in any location. Currently, we calculate credit points and possible compliance with LEED and WELL standards. Further standards will be added soon. Our intention is to suggest to users the greener, more affordable path to the procurement process of the project. It is very important for us to present information about AI to the user – how much money was saved, how much carbon dioxide was saved, how many miles were saved, and so on.

Are you injecting custom properties into Revit elements? Can you target any kind of categories?

Indeed, we do. When special properties are lacking from the Revit element, we enable injecting new properties. The idea is to make the design as real as possible by letting users transfer relevant data from manufacturers’ catalogs with a single click. Users can inject properties or add the entire BIM file to the design. As a company, we can target any kind of category but focus on finishing systems like curtain walls, MEPF, ceilings, partitions, etc.

Is it possible to use Bimmatch from Revit directly and also from an Internet browser? Is it bi-directional?

The simplicity of collaboration is its beauty. Think of it as a virtual round-table where decision-makers can discuss the best products for the project at an early design stage. Project stakeholders who do not know Revit software can still be part of the process, compare, add, and select materials according to the project plans.

If you make any modifications on the desktop model and that you have made all your work from the model on the cloud, is it possible to upload the new model without losing all your work? 

Yes, we save, compare, and track changes to the project schedule. Whenever changes are made in the desktop model or in the SaaS application, the users are notified, and the latest approved set of materials are transferred. 

How many Product Manufacturers references are integrated into your solution? Are they European, international or local?

We have onboarded 140 brands with hundreds of products. Most of them are global brands with local distributors. We are looking for collaborations with local manufacturers… So feel free to contact us.

Are you trying to get more and more of these product manufacturers?

Absolutely, it’s a call for all manufacturers to start communicating their data and getting visibility into projects easily. Having said that, working with manufacturers on creating their BIM catalog in the last 2 years, we understand it is a very complex and time-consuming process, it demands high costs and human resources on the process. Therefore, we automate this conversion process, we call it the Bimmatch Lean-BIM solution, which requires from manufacturers almost no resources, only sending us the products PDFs and Excel spreadsheets.

Standards are important. Are you compliant with ISO 19650 and is your solution able to interact with buildingSMART Data Dictionary?

Definitely, the Bimmatch system complies with ISO 19650. buildingSMART data dictionary API has not yet been integrated with our system, but we would be delighted to do so! Bimmatch can rapidly integrate and support any local standard.

Where is all the data stored? On which servers and where? Are you GDPR compliant? 

The data is stored in AWS (Amazon Web Services) cloud which is highly secured for all industries, and we are GDPR compliant of course.

What is your business model (direct or indirect) and what’s the price of your solution? 

Bimmatch’s business model is based on subscription fees for general contractors and manufacturers. The GCs subscription fees depend on the number of projects, size, and revisions. Manufacturers pay according to the number of products, leads, and bids.

Is your solution localized in many languages?

Currently, in English only, but more languages will be added very soon. 

What are your main target countries? 

We are following countries where research shows a high degree of BIM adoption by professional teams. In Europe, the UK, France, Netherlands, Scandinavian countries, as well as the US.

Do you already have lots of customers?

There are 50 reputable architectural offices, general contractors, and project managers working with us in Israel. We are privileged to learn from their daily experiences and project demands. As part of upcoming construction projects, Bimmatch will specify and source tens of thousands of square meters of sustainable and cost-effective offices and commercial spaces.

By the way, who are your customers? Architects, engineers, contractors, owners? 

We approach architects and engineers as our partners, while contractors who seek out the best-fit materials and products and purchase them eventually are our customers. 

What are the future evolutions of your solution?

The evolutions of Bimmatch will be achieved by the machine learning possibilities of big data, reaching sustainable and high-performance buildings thanks to the knowledge accumulated in the Bimmatch system.

How can we contact you? 

You can reach me at: cheli.w@bimmatch.com or through the contact email on the Bimmatch site, as well as on LinkedIn.

Happy to connect! 

Would you like to say something special to our customers?

Make sure your company embraces technology and keeps up with innovations in the industry. Let us work together for a healthier and more sustainable built environment.

Cheli, thanks a lot for your time and this exciting presentation. We wish you lots of success.

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