Many years ago, we decided Autodesk Navisworks would be our “decoder ring” by which we’d assemble all the different models we work with from start to finish. At a minimum, this means subcontractor models but it also usually includes design models from architects and engineers.

Mobile model use, particularly in the field, has never been practical as the few model viewers out there all have a mix of pros and cons. The good news is that Autodesk introduced BIM 360 Glue for the iPad many months ago and it’s changed the way we think about model use. Although the name of the app shares the same name as its desktop equivalent, we use it almost exclusively for Navisworks NWD files.

The app itself is free, but you will need to have access to NWD files or Glue projects. If you own Navisworks Manage or subscribe to BIM 360 Glue (the desktop version), this app is absolutely worth the download as you can easily open your Navisworks or Glue projects on the run without the need for a full laptop.

We use this app in the field for three big things:

1. Measuring
In conjunction with shooting as-built conditions with a total station and/or scanning a space as you build, you can use the measure tools in the BIM 360 Glue app to verify a dimension that may look off before having to refer back to the contract documents.

2. As-built verification
BIM 360 Glue has an interesting tool called “immersive view” that lets you “see” through the iPad by holding down this button and pointing the iPad toward the area you’d like to match. See the image below. This is another way to confirm work in the field matches the model and therefore the shop drawings.

3. Materials tracking data
We track materials data (e.g. submittal status, project delivery date, lead time) throughout the project‘s lifecycle, and Navisworks lets us connect to this database. Exporting out a Navisworks model with this information lets us, for example, select an air handler in the model and determine when we’re expecting delivery.

A few tips for those that are already well versed:
  1. Double tapping on an object will zoom to the extents of that object.
  2. Hide larger categories faster by changing the selection in object properties.
  3. In the Settings app, you’ll find additional BIM 360 Glue options such as enabling embedded database properties and model storage limits.
  4. Create a 3D gridlines model so that you can snap dimension lines from geometry. This is as close as it gets (for now) to using the model to support layout.

We can hope Autodesk eventually gives us a spot measurement tool as a means to locate Northing, Easting, and elevation. For now, we can measure off of grids in the model.

 Zack Creach is a senior engineer for Holder Construction in Atlanta.