Building Information Modelling, BIM, is changing the way we in the industry view the construction process.
We have been working in the 3D environment for over 10 years, with full BIM capabilities for almost three and the specialist experience to be able to adapt the technique to any project.
It was important to our senior management team to be early MEP adopters of BIM, in light of the fact that it was already widely used by architects and increasingly becoming a client and project demand.
We have invested time and money in the technology and training to ensure that our team has the required skills to negotiate the various procedures and processes stipulated by the BIM technique.
BIM aims to drive waste out of the design and construction process, with a subsequent reduction in procurement costs, and to leave clients with a superior asset management tool.
To get the most out of it, collaboration is key and a joined up approach should be adopted by all parties at the start of projects, from the client through to architects, engineers and contractors.
BIM requires a shift in mindset – it is not simply 3D CAD (although that undoubtedly forms part of it). The clue to its real power lies in the “I” of BIM; information. In essence, a BIM model comprises a data-rich, virtual building, capturing the physical and engineering properties of the complete project. It can be used by designers, cost consultants, project planners, contractors and ultimately the client/occupier.
BIM software allows multi-disciplinary coordination, yet if one part of the chain is missing, BIM cannot reach its full potential. For BIM to be successful everyone needs to be on the same page.
During the design phase it brings together the various elements and systems of each member of the design team, ensuring greater certainty in the design; it is much easier to deal with clashes between components at the design stage than on site.
For MEP engineers, BIM software has taken a while to catch up with that used by our design team colleagues, however it has now matured to a stage where it can be used with confidence, even though industry-wide development of MEP components and families remains frustratingly slow – this is certainly an area where MEP equipment manufacturers can help.
Our experience tells us that despite the fact that BIM can benefit every project, not every project is at the stage where it is ready for BIM. You have to know your client – your customer has to understand its benefits and in many respects, we as consultants have to educate our clients about what they are. As a relatively new process, the industry is operating at different stages and it’s really important to be able to adapt according to the project.
The future of the design process is with BIM – it’s reconnecting the industry like no technique before it and the sooner you take the leap, the sooner you can begin to reap the benefits.
By Dave Fittis, Director at Desco, an international MEP design consultancy.