How has Building Information Modeling impacted MEP discipline?

Posted by teslacaduk on September 11th, 2018

MEP BIM Modeling

Building Construction is certainly an expensive proposition in bigger cities, however the advent of newer technologies and construction processes assist in minimizing cost and avoiding redundant construction.  Architects and Engineers need to take sensible decisions while designing a building. These decisions can help you reduce the overall construction expenses and minimize the duration of construction at a later stage. Virtual Construction Modelling is a construction process that has made the construction phase less complex and quicker. All the efforts are now put in within the pre-construction phase. The principle of BIM can be applied to Architectural, Structural and MEP Disciplines to achieve a great design. Let us talk about how BIM Modelling impacts the Mechanical, Electrical and Plumbing discipline. 

We can virtually transform the MEP design into a complete detailed 3D BIM Model with all the HVAC, Electrical and Plumbing components modelled. This approach is extremely detailed and gives a visual appeal to the overall design from a presentation as well as construction perspective.   In the past when virtual construction modeling did not exist, Engineers used to detail the drawings in CAD format, which provided an idea of the location, placements or other dimensions etc. However, when we work with BIM Modelling, the drawings are modelled in 3D and gives a better idea of the details in a visual format. HVAC, Electrical and Plumbing systems developed using BIM is parametric in nature and can be changed instantly where required.  Let us talk about how Building Information Modeling impacts MEP discipline. 

MEP Design process using BIM: Building Information Modeling has helped speed up design processes to a great extent. HVAC, Electrical and Plumbing Design drawings can be transformed into 3D BIM Models after the completion of the conceptual design process and calculations. All the MEP Components such as Ducts, FCU, AHU, plant rooms, Plumbing fixtures, Electrical conduits and many other elements can be modelled in detail with manufacturers specifications and other details to ensure that the designing is accurate. The main purpose of developing a 3D Model is to place the components based on the design drawings. This enables the Architects and

‘Engineers to visualize the building location, component placement etc. before the actual building is constructed. 

There are specific software available in market for working on Building Information Modelling. One such software is Revit and is one of the most commonly used BIM software.  Revit is capable of executing complex and large scale building data and has specific software discipline for MEP. 

BIM Coordination Process: This is one of the critical processes in the design and development phase. Post MEP 3D Modelling, all the 3D Models are amalgamated to check the design accuracy part. There is a collaboration meeting that is held with Architects and Structural Engineers, BIM Modelers, Contractors and the client to ensure that the designs are compliant to the building standards. It is vital match the Architectural and Structural components with MEP components so that they do not override each other’s space. This is one of the key challenges faced by BIM Engineers. In such a scenario all third parties should sit and discuss the design constraints to resolve it. Once the design is confirmed with all the changes marked up in the design drawings, it is again passed on to the respective teams of Architects and Engineers who make changes in the model. These collaboration meetings and changes require high level of MEP coordination expertise. Virtual Construction Modeling is more advanced than traditional coordination process using 2D construction plans. 

During MEP Coordination process the clashes are detected and marked up or resolved with different methods depending on the gravity of the interference.  Utilization of BIM Modelling raises the quality bar and fastens up the construction process by significantly minimizing the repetitive work and the design review time.  Since Building Information Modelling has become mandatory in many countries for construction approvals many companies are now transiting to Building Information Modelling. Post the coordination process BIM Engineers create detailed MEP Installation Drawings. These drawings basically consist of the general arrangement of the HVAC, Electrical and Plumbing components, details of specific components with precise dimensioning and the installation diagram with sections and plan views. These drawings also have specific drawings dedicated to each of the component that needs to be fabricated prior to installation. There are different software that come into play and give excellent results. Revit and Navisworks are typically used for clash detection, MEP shop drawings can be detailed and developed in Revit as well as AutoCAD. We can easily export the Revit sheet set up into AutoCAD for further dimensioning and detailing. 

MEP BIM for Construction: 

One of the main concerns with the construction process minus BIM, is the errors and changes that needs to be made in the design drawings during construction. Hence there are many change orders that needs to be raised during the construction process to highlight any issues that come up. These issues many be design flaws, planning or compliance matters. Once there is a raised change order this leads to delay in construction and also increase the cost of the construction. Labor cost increases on account of repetitive construction or at times the installation is stalled since the components cannot be placed in the same location due to some overlapping of other services etc. 

When we use MEP BIM for construction you can avoid change orders and most importantly all the issues that is usually detected during construction is done in the pre-construction stage. With the help of BIM Modelling and coordination, we can make changes in the 3d model that is already built using Software and can be faster than actually changing the design post construction.

MEP BIM for building maintenance

Building Information Modelling can be used for facility management and building maintenance too. BIM Models can be very helpful in in fixing problems within the building before they even arise. With the help of COBie, the builder can keep a track of all HVAC, electrical and plumbing fixtures and schedule their maintenance periodically. All the records can be entered in the Model and extracted in report format using the latest technique. 

When the BIM Engineers build a virtual construction model, they also develop Revit families which have complete information of the components that are installed. Based on the guarantee periods of MEP components, servicing can be scheduled and replacements can be managed much before trouble erupts. We can also have a database of manufacturer details, materials, model number and other details that can also help us find replacements quickly in case of any repairs or issues in components.  Critical components can be replaced immediately if we possess the information handy. 

Conclusion 

MEP BIM Modelling and coordination have considerably brought down installation and construction cost down to a greater extent. It goes beyond the traditional work method and moves a step further by virtually presenting a complete constructed building with all components and space planning much before construction. 

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