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Who Needs Collisions? Rock Your Next MEP Effort with BIM

Posted by Patrick Krzyzosiak on Thu, Apr 27, 2017 @ 15:04 PM
Patrick Krzyzosiak
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If you read BuildingTech INSIDER consistently, you know builders are applying virtual design and construction (VDC) practices for building information modeling (BIM). Major disciplines leveraging the many benefits of BIM are mechanical, electrical and plumbing (MEP), as well as fire protection. MEP is a critical discipline for systems decision-making – these decisions are sometimes made by a facility’s management and operations team. Using BIM practices to gain additional perspective on MEP is tremendously powerful. This post discusses how to rock your next MEP effort with BIM.

For the benefit of our new readers, let’s simply define BIM. Building information modeling, also known as BIM, is the integration of people, process and technology allowing everyone to collectively understand a building through the use of a digital model. One way to visualize BIM is the influence of people, process and technology on the BIM, using the concept of  the iron triangle, below. Each side is equal in length. One side represents the people, the second side represents the process, and the third side represents technology. If one side changes its length, the other two sides could change as well. Metaphorically speaking, if one component becomes more important, the other two sides are negatively or positively impacted. Therefore, to be successful with BIM, there needs to be a balance between these three variables.

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Building information models (BIMs) are comprised of information that can be exchanged or networked to support team collaboration and decision-making for a building project. Companies looking to effectively plan, design, construct, operate, and maintain built structures use BIM technology.

Today’s BIM technologies can eliminate design waste. Prior to these advancements, it was common for MEP professionals to use the design model as a reference only to create their fabricated models using fabrication technology software. Today, MEP systems easily transition from design to fabrication. Meaning these technologies allow MEP tradespeople to use the model to design, finalize, and convert design components (i.e. HVAC ducts) to fabrication components by exporting working files to ESTmep, CADmep or CAMduct. All parties can work simultaneously using the same software (design to fabrication) saving time, rework and/or duplication of efforts. In effect, streamlining this series of steps has now become a LEAN process.

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At the design phase, BIM allows MEP professionals to

  1. Convert Design MEP parts to Fabrication MEP Parts models.
  2. Engage in early project coordination, clash detection and resolution.
  3. Generate coordination reports.
  4. Perform quantity takeoff and cost estimates.
  5. Generate MEP shop drawings.
  6. Generate a greater level of detail in the model.

This greater level of team collaboration allows for a range of benefits throughout the course of the project, including:

  1. Increased quality of drawings;
  2. Increased productivity of team members from early project engagement and design familiarity;
  3. Reduced RFIs;
  4. Reduced schedule time and model re-work; and
  5. Creates the opportunity to optimize the model in both the field and client facility services.

It is hard not to recognize the disruptive impact BIM can make on MEP. Rather than resist, embrace modeling to transform, enhance, and optimize your project experience. Revolutionizing the process is a much more fulfilling proposition.

Did we forget to list one of the many benefits of BIM with MEP? Tell us. Or, if you have an experience where BIM transformed MEP in a positive way, share your story with us in the comments section.

Topics: Virtual Design and Construction (VDC), Virtual Mock-ups and Prefabrication