For any building construction project, more the building elements coordinate with each other; better are the chances of improvement in overall construction process. In order to attain a smooth workflow across construction projects, team management protocols amongst the architects, structural engineers, and MEP professionals must be defined; like in BIM. These well-defined BIM protocols contribute to standard flow of information within the professional from various disciplines and customize the workflow throughout.
AEC industry has a legacy of bringing various building design proposals on board, but amongst all these; MEP layout designs tend to fall way behind architectural and structural designs in timeline.
Thus, coordinating continuous mechanical and electrical systems with customized configuration becomes a major challenge for MEP engineers. Advanced techniques like 3D CAD models of MEP layout can assist in layout visualization. However; they fall short in coordinating layouts for facilities of multiple complexities like hospitals, shopping malls and likes. A professional MEP design consultant having an expertise in BIM technology can help overcome the barrier and meet facility owners’ requirements.
Thus, to coordinate continuous mechanical and electrical systems to detailed configuration becomes a major challenge for MEP professionals. Several advance techniques can assist in coordination but they still fall short in designing the layout for facilities of multiple complexities like hospitals, shopping malls and likes. A professional MEP design consultant can help overcome the barrier and meet the requirements of facility owners as well as general contractors.
Challenges in construction planning without CAD and BIM
Coordinating MEP systems with architectural and structural designs is a prime requirement in any of the approaches adopted by general contractors – be it design-bid-build or design-assist approach or design-build. Shop floor drawings and specification inputs certainly deliver information about installation, however; information related to coordination of building elements is not easily available.
Other drawbacks include lack of responsibility of engineering, design and detailing disciplines to define a fair track of changes; which leads to absence of inter disciplinary coordination. This may result in slower coordination which at later stages cause delays in critical time for MEP installation. Depending upon contractors’ knowledge for constructible design is a routine; but invites potential disputes if not resolved early in the design stage.
All these shortcomings cumulatively restrict the growth of design evolution in building construction projects. It causes loss of resources, leads to rework, and consumes extra time causing the workers’ efficiency to hit new lows each day on project construction site.
Information rich 3D BIM models are a strong foundation to erect facility design
BIM 3D modeling itself is versatile and has the capabilities to detect clashes or interference in various building and MEP elements. Design clashes in any of the architectural, structural or MEP element layout can be immediately detected, reviewed and resolved instantaneously as they all work on a common data platform in BIM. Keeping a track of design changes, modification and review on each change by professionals in any discipline is judiciously maintained in common data environment – CDE. Change tracker with BIM gives transparency in developing a holistic project approach and makes the AEC professional to owe up to their changes in building construction design.
BIM mitigates equipment installation and cost barriers
Installation of several components in a congested area is a complex configuration to understand and causes countless hurdles such as overhead costs, damage to equipment etc. To reduce installation costs; general contractors often make changes during the construction phase to meet the spatial arrangements. But when the design planning is conducted on a shared environment with BIM right from stage zero of planning, last minute design changes are minimized. An architect with MEP contractors can finalize, adjust and coordinate the design during early stages depending on the availability of floor area.
MEP components and HVAC units are usually bulkier in size and need frequent maintenance. Thus, it becomes critical to plan their placement such that they are easy to access and do not disturb the structure of facility. By early accommodation of MEP layout in facility design gives architects, structural engineers and MEP professionals the scope to coordinate their designs well, and eliminate expensive reworks.
BIM content of building products, Extra support for coordination of building elements
With initial design migration to CAD, 2D drawings surely imply the graphic design but require interpretation of designs in 2D format. Initially when AEC design professionals migrated to CAD, 2D drawings did imply digital graphics, but still required interpretation of lines. Not much design automation was possible because of limited drafting aid. On the other hand, 3D CAD models offer the analysis of spatial requirements and exact geometry through solid modeling. This eases the explanation of design intent to individual stakeholders and makes design data addition to as-built models of building structures.
Furthermore, developing BIM content of these readily available 3D CAD models of building components gives insights of spatial arrangements. Insights so developed will empower architects, structural engineers and MEP engineers to plan their respective designs which will cause minimum clashes and installation problems during construction phase.
Majority of rework originating from inconsistency in designs can be eliminated right during the design development stage by employing BIM for shared data environment. The accommodation of systematic changes in geometric and non-geometrical aspects can be dealt with to produce dynamic designs with BIM and early design coordination. 3D CAD models assist and deliver feasible results which have strong potentials to improve the final savings of monetary resources, materials and time.
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Hiral Patel is a news editor and has been contributing to the AEC industry since last 7 years. She mainly writes about the application of BIM across Architecture, MEP and Structural sectors. Her focus is towards encouraging construction companies, sub-contractors and architects to adopt right technologies to improve efficiency and profitability. Learn more