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BIM implementation; a Challenge to Mechanical Electrical and Plumbing (MEP) Engineering

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BIM-Challange-for-MEP

Every coin has two sides, and so does BIM. It is fascinating the way we have integrated BIM in our day to day architectural and construction activities. But what is more intriguing is how people from same industry, but different sectors react to it. Not all will agree that BIM is a blessing.

Have you ever thought what MEP folks will be going through? Imagine someone who is already working on third party prepared model, has than to alter it according to BIM. Poor them! They have to alter the reality twice. They are being repeatedly requested by building owners to apply BIM in project. This may change the entire work system, they follow.

Now and again BIM is still confused just as software than a whole process. Architects usually work on self-created building models, while MEP, as said earlier relies on third part model which in turn makes it a tough job for them, especially when it comes to implementing it. Sometimes it may just seem as simple as changing a doorknob, but sometimes entire installation has to be modified.

Three crucial challenges:

  • Essential areas for MEP installations (room layouts, ceiling heights, location of voids, risers, and plant rooms)
  • Designs essential for the thermal calculations such as heat loss and cooling (room layouts, wall constructions, thermal properties)
  • Designs essential for understanding and graphic design (dimensions, annotations, etc.)

I am sure you will not deny the fact that majority of new launched projects fail because we follow it either our old way or refuse to accept it at all. With BIM it’s both. MEP sector fails during implementation, and is precisely as either it’s not integrated initially or not followed the way it should have been.

While implementation, it is essential that you get the entire building model from the architecture. It’s even better if you can get it floor wise, it will make your task easier than before. Also you have the massive data which you provide to stakeholders, which building service engineers may not require. So why feed the fish a fruit?

Hence; it’s better if you remove the IFC classes that aren’t relevant to MEP designers at all so that you can increase the speed and reduce the file.

It turns out that the conversion of existing BIM models from third party project investors into thermal models invites a number of issues, mostly derived from unaligned work flow between the architects and MEP designers, inadequate work, or unfamiliarity with the necessity of BIM processes.

The solution is a selective import of “intelligent” parts of the model, as well as a simplified 3D geometry-only import, without metadata. This lets customers to have an apt model even if there are errors in its structure and then quickly build a thermal model on top of it, themselves.

After carefully considering the outcomes and deductions the implementation should go:

  • An entire building model is imported to keep data model stable. And if possible technical as well as general parameters are to be imported, too.
  • While importing users can remove storeys and IFC classes (i.e. furniture) to prevent it from further usage. And hence only useful data is being imported which leads to increase in speed and a smaller file sizes.
  • If architects haven’t defined the floors properly or added too many; than it’s damn useful to correct the model manipulating the number and height of stories – as and when needed.
  • Comparing two 3D models where all floors are visible simultaneously, it’s difficult to compare since it carries too much of information to digest. To differentiate between files from different stages, models can be displayed in single color only. Reinforcing both models to each other to compare is easy.

Conclusion:

In a planning process it’s more than important to not only consider the first import of a BIM model for the MEP designer, however; the repeating supply of building containing modifications is also equally important. The work flow and software tools must support the CAD side as well as the thermal model of the project at its best.

Bhushan Avsatthi
About the Author: Bhushan Avsatthi is a BIM expert, a certified Sustainable Building advisor, and an associate director with more than 15 years of industry experience. He leads a team of architects, Structural & MEP engineers, LEED consultants and energy modelers. Bhushan strives to make his organization a cohesive resource for sustainable building design. He regularly participates in green initiatives like tree plantations, and promotes using bicycles for everyday commute.