Technology is changing rapidly these days, and building design and construction is no exception. Building Information Modeling (BIM) is one such innovation in how we design and engineer buildings. RWB Consulting Engineers provides Building Information Modeling services for MEP design projects.
Building Information Modeling is a design process where characteristic data of components is directly integrated into a digital model. The result is an accurate expression of size and characteristics. In advanced BIM workflows, elements are digitally linked to equipment schedules. When designers make modifications, such as a change in equipment model number, the equipment schedules update automatically.
In addition, BIM projects supplement traditional 2D drawings by providing three-dimensional modeling. With a 3D building model, designers and building owners can visualize a relatively accurate sense of the final product, giving them direct involvement in the design process. This can be helpful in coordination with other disciplines and preventing construction delays.
Some data that might be stored inside a BIM design element includes:
- UL Listing
- AHRI Number
- Equipment Model Number
- Physical Dimensions
A BIM project will still have conventional printed design plans, and the printed plans are not discernibly different from a project designed without BIM. However, the engineering work to produce those drawings is quite different.
Depending on a project’s size and complexity, the MEP design can take anywhere from several months to several years. Adding BIM to a project can improve the engineering design process in several ways:
- Minimize Design Duplication Efforts – a design change within a BIM model automatically updates all information and views associated with the change.. By comparison, traditional MEP design methods may require updating two, three, or more drawings for a single design change.
- Greater Trade Coordination – one of the most time-consuming aspects of MEP engineering design is coordinating between trades. A building information model can improve that process, since each discipline has immediate access to the information they need from other disciplines and a three-dimensional model to coordinate space. This accelerates the design completion.
- Unified Design Analysis – Many BIM software platforms feature analysis tools which can aid in design work. Typically, designers complete these calculations in third-party tools or spreadsheets, with the resulting work used for equipment selection and sizing. With the feature built-in, designers can execute analyses quickly and accurately with the most up-to-date project information. We can use these tools to aid in determining HVAC cooling/heating loads, lighting levels, site lines for roof mounted equipment, pressure drops through pipes or ducts, and many other MEP engineering design analyses.
Building owners also benefit from the use of BIM models in the design process:
- Accurate Pricing – with detailed equipment and component information built into the model, contractors can price projects more efficiently and accurately.
- Lower the Risk of RFIs – Requests for Information (RFIs) happen when there’s conflicting information in the design that requires remedy. It’s an unforeseen expense and can be a source of frustration amongst engineering and construction teams. Using BIM for engineering work can reduce the chance of change orders, since design teams are using clash detection rather than comparing plan views, and linked data rather than manually transcribing data.
- Improved Project Construction Timelines – the 3D aspect of BIM models can require more design time, but because of the ability for enhanced coordination, project construction is more likely to stay on-schedule.
- Detailed As-Built Models – A BIM model can also benefit Owners should they desire to receive an as-built model of their building. In theory, the BIM model can retain a history of building changes; the model becomes a living document of building components and systems. Some BIM models have the added feature of storing maintenance data within building model elements. Manufacturers’ Installation and Operation Manuals (IOMs) can be linked to equipment or products as well. The possibilities are vast!
Not all design firms offer building information modeling because BIM is a specialized skill. BIM requires the skillful use of advanced software platforms such as Revit MEP. Here at RWB Consulting Engineers, we use BIM on over 70% of our projects. That number continues to grow as our clients see the value in BIM over traditional design.
To meet the increasing demand for BIM models, RWB designers apply their deep foundation of MEP design knowledge to create 3D BIM models. Our designers excel in the fundamental aspects of MEP engineering that produce intuitively designed BIM models: understanding how to clearly and accurately express complex systems on drawings and how they translate into 3-dimensional reality, considering both the spatial and systematic implications of every element in the model.
In addition to BIM specialists on staff, our team includes supporting team members that are trained in modeling techniques. Our internal specialists conduct ongoing training in both team formats and one-on-one personal instructive sessions to ensure consistency and best practices among the firm and with our clients.
When you work with an engineering team experienced in building information modeling like RWB, a BIM model can improve overall project efficiency. We have decades of in-depth experience with Revit MEP, and we are continually increasing our proficiency with every project. With BIM we produce cost-efficient, well-designed drawings while also providing accurate and well-coordinated design sets.
If you’d like to learn more about whether a BIM model is right for your next project, contact us for a consultation.