Lets look at a company that makes plumbing fixtures. They make 400 tubs, 600 faucets, 125 toilets, 250 sinks and in total has 1500 products which they are trying to market. A difficult proposition if you as me... Is it necessary for them to spend in the neighborhood of $300,000 just to have their graphics created ($200 each), without the addition of product data? This content developer says no. Now I am sure that there could be some product redundancies that can be taken into consideration and handled with parametrics, but this is plumbing fixtures... every one is styled a little bit differently, so for argument's sake lets say there are 1000 unique products which need to be modeled... Still, $200,000.
Now that I've told you the problem... What's the solution?
Representative modeling... This is a backbone concept behind my BIM implementation strategy and has worked well for clients that are looking to get specified rather than have a pretty picture available. The products can be broken into categories... Tubs, Sinks, Toilets, Faucets, Shower Controls, etc. For Arguments sake, let's say there are 10 categories of plumbing fixtures. Within those categories, there are types of fixtures, such as Single control and Two control faucets, Freestanding, corner and alcove tubs, wall mount and tub mount tub controls, 1 piece, 2 piece, wall mount, elongated, and urinal toilets, and it goes on, so again, for argument's sake, lets say there are 10 types for each of 10 categories. For $20,000 his creates a total of 100 unique graphic models which have the ability to represent the INTENT of the model, rather than the appearance of it, which in the big picture of BIM, is far more important. so for a fraction of the cost of modeling all 1000 products, you can model 100 of them, and allow the data behind the models to drive the other 900 just by adding a "Version" or "Instance" of the graphic.
If you pay to have appropriate product data and information added, and every instance of the products taken into consideration, you might spend another $400 each, but done properly by a skilled content developer, it will perform as though it were the actual unit, noting the finish, construction, flow rate, MEP connectors, connection sizes and types, hole spread, and any other pertinent information abut that faucet.
OK, you just saved $140,000 on BIM modeling... At what expense? Well, when the architect renders the BIM for graphic purposes, the faucet won't LOOK exactly like the one they specified... Not important I say!!! The rendering ability of the software is not good enough to give you enough detail on a component as ornate as a faucet anyway, so the best way to see what it will look like is at the mock up in the Plumbing Showroom.
Developing Graphics for the sole purpose of appearance and rendering is a waste of money in the BIM market. generally, at that level of detail, architects are interested in the product data, not how it renders inside of the model at a 6"=1' scale, so save your money, and spend it on developing the data about products that is so desperately needed.