BIM has evolved over a period of time, becoming a rich information model or rather a rich 3D database of a building instead of just a geometry depiction of what it looks like. If you were to ask any MEP engineering firm today about their notion and adoption of BIM, you might just get avalanche of opinions.
We read a lot about architects, owners, designer’s perspective on BIM, but we hardly find MEP firms, or engineers voicing out on BIM. Well this is fairly explainable!
Information modeling for architectural and structural aspects of building has evolved more compared to MEP. Moreover, in lieu of drawing, BIM needs to be fed all relevant information regarding each of the components to be embedded in model. But MEP design involves more technical/industrial components compared to architectural modeling. Now this becomes a matter of concern if the components blocks and modules can be made immediately available.
What happens is that BIM blocks require more time and effort than making custom CAD blocks. You cannot really blame them if they are slow in integrating BIM. See, MEP designers who are working using traditional CAD software are able to get work done faster and cheaper. Also, many of the trade contractors have not still embraced BIM into their workflow.
I cannot argue on any of those: I have seen lot of firms making a slow though not smooth transition from CADD to Revit, still able to finish drawings faster in tools like AutoCAD. One of the many issues that has often made buzz from MEP folks regarding BIM movement is “it’s too expensive for them” or the “equipment’s model have to be created from scratch” and “BIM does not have what the library details AutoCAD has”.
Despite of all this claims I cannot turn a blind eye to the cost-efficiency that BIM can offer, or BIM facilitating manufacturers in providing 3D objects and letting create families libraries. A lot of MEP firms are out there half-pregnant, doing half BIM and half AutoCAD, and they need to integrate BIM fully for a better collaborative process to become more cost-efficient. From my side I can tell you, Revit is the most preferable software and we have been using it flawlessly for year now, and more to come. Though we do receive works in AutoCAD too, we haven’t left it out at all.
Why MEP engineering firms should integrate BIM?
The core challenge of sticking to tight schedule and maintaining the intended and expected coordination and collaboration was identified at the very beginning of the project. The BIM deliverables were to be delivered in Autodesk Revit, as the General contractor was quite a BIM-fan.
Being a BIM expert, TrueCADD prepared an outline for BIM project goals of BIM MEP design. From the onset of the project it was decided that Revit tools will be used throughout the project for modeling and coordination, and Navisworks to enhance collaboration and coordination between the architecture, structure, and MEP building disciplines and for clash detection. Upon receiving 2D drawings they were carefully studied and later converted into 3D models using Autodesk Revit tool.
One of the biggest advantages gained from the use of Revit software on this project was the better coordination of all the design disciplines.
During the project, due emphasis was laid on using Revit design as a common platform. While exchanging the respective design models, the project design was quite easily coordinated.
Moreover, using Autodesk Navisworks for clash detection increased the decision making process thereby resolving design interventions- reducing the on-site delays and helping to stick to budget With early clash detection; became cost-effective and hassle-free. The conversion from 2D drawings to 3D helped in smooth construction execution. This association, has been effective both economically and work wise.
Ample opportunities such as scheduling and quantity take off are out there for the MEP firms who are ready to implement BIM, but there is this one opportunity in particular no MEP firm would want to miss on i.e Digital Fabrication workflow. MEP Firms, ready to adopt BIM, can faster and easily fabricate the building elements directly in BIM model. It gives outstanding results in terms of Quality and efficiency. BIM for the MEP industry is rising at a light speed, yet it is still in its early times. While a lot focus has been on coming up with right tools and workflows for HVAC, less attention has been given to electrical and almost none to plumbing.