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4 June 2020
Ganesh Naikar

How Is 3D Building Services Design Helping Coordination?

Progress has made a steady march in the building services design industry recently. The majority of developments can be attributed to have come from within the industry. A few have come from other sources, such as government regulations and economic developments. One of the biggest factors that has led to the revolution in the building services industry and aided spatial coordination is the introduction and widespread acceptance of the intelligent Building Information Modelling (BIM) software tools, which has enabled professionals to create accurate and detailed representations of mechanical, electrical and plumbing (MEP) systems.

Over the years, BIM software tools have improved to the level of providing precise models matching client requirements and are able to carry detailed information regarding the dimensions, plans, elevations and other vital aspects of the model and the overall project. Features offered by BIM software tools include the ability to save changes and update existing models and designs without affecting the original file. A more useful feature is its ability to work across various disciplines and platforms, such as architecture, structural engineering and building services engineering. This has led to better interdisciplinary coordination and reduced construction waste and rework.

Creating BIM models using Autodesk Revit Architecture and Revit MEP produce realistic design models, which helps users make design changes earlier in the process. The software’s parametric change technology enables any change made to the BIM model being automatically coordinated throughout the model. Fabricators and installers may benefit from using 3D BIM models, as these models can be used with fabrication tools, such as FAB MEP, to manufacture pre-assembled modules for installation on-site. This would help to avoid costly miscalculations at the end of the project. Indeed, the proposed changes in Revit 2017 will mean that fabrication can be carried out in Revit MEP rather than using tools such as FAB MEP.

Another important and elaborate benefit of the 3D BIM revolution has been the improved interdisciplinary coordination between different stakeholders involved in AEC projects. The resultant effect of these developments is the seamless collaboration between all parties involved in the AEC project, ranging from engineers, architects, MEP consultants, contractors and fabricators during the design and planning stages. This ultimately leads to a reduction in costly rework, which typically occurs in many projects. As internet bandwidth has grown, cloud-based collaboration tools were introduced to complement BIM software. Crucial plan changes can be seamlessly shared at critical time periods, and team members can hold review sessions online for stakeholders across the world.

Apart from developments within the industry, critical gains from outside the industry have also helped coordination, such as updated government policies globally which have either promoted or mandated the use of BIM for various government-funded or private projects. The constantly evolving lifecycle and developments associated with BIM technology are definite signs that 3D design services, including 3D BIM coordination, 3D building services coordination and 3D MEP coordinated drawing services, keep improving to match client requirements.

With BIM technology and its ability to help visualise a building through 3D geometry, construction challenges, such as keeping projects within budgets, costly rework and reduced building efficiency, can be resolved or minimised. Improved space planning and sustainability are also positive fallouts of using BIM technology. So, BIM coordination modelling is an important process to reduce or eliminate errors in building design and ensure to a significant degree that there is no overlapping or clashing of architectural, structural and MEP disciplines. Thorough checks of possible clashes result in a seamless workflow on site.

Along with Revit, Navisworks is frequently used for MEP coordination. A collaborative approach between stakeholders must be followed during coordination, as the BIM coordination process has several benefits.

The BIM coordination process helps:

  • Resolve clashes
  • Keep projects on schedule
  • Keep projects within budget
  • Structure a collaboration process
  • Review all disciplines
  • All stakeholders access project data, including the 3D geometry of all disciplines
  • Identify clashes and make required design changes

Using BIM 360 Design with Revit and Navisworks results in:

  • Access for the entire team to a single coordinated model
  • All stakeholders being able to work together for a real–time coordination process, with constant model upgrades
  • Stakeholders accessing the cloud-based model from anywhere, any time
  • Mobile friendly and desktop versions being available

Navisworks presents the 3D model with a significant amount of detail to detect clashes. It also:

  • Provides larger and detailed 3D views
  • Helps develop a structured workflow
  • Provides animated simulations to navigate through the model
  • Helps develop phase-wise scheduling

A reliable MEP coordinated shop drawings firm can help the bidding process for MEP consultants, contractors, fabricators and manufacturers and deliver quality services to architects and contractors.

To prepare mechanical, electrical and plumbing (MEP) drawings, building services design consultants and contractors can use Revit MEP, AutoCAD, CADDUCT, CADPIPE, and Autodesk Inventor.

Why are high-quality MEP drawings important for coordination?

The primary function of MEP drawings is to visually communicate the placement and functioning of MEP components in as accurate a manner as possible. These drawings are typically provided by expert and experienced CAD and BIM drafting firms who are well versed with the symbols, measuring units, notation systems and industry standards required.

Different types of MEP design drawings include:

  • MEP Shop Drawing Detailing – used for fabrication offsite and installation on-site, includes dimensions, elevations, annotations, etc.
  • Pipe Spool Drawings – used to gather data for fabrication workshops to assemble spools, which are assemblies of components created in a factory and transported on-site.
  • Block-out and Sleeve Drawings – used to determine where and how much space to leave on floor and ceiling cutouts to accommodate MEP systems, includes placement of holes left between floors and walls for pipes and ducts
  • Penetration Drawings – used to create views with the required clearance for MEP system components passing through walls or floors, such as pipes, electrical conduits, electrical cables and ducts
  • Coordination Drawings – used to begin the project and avoid physical clashes in MEP layouts, saving money, time and rework; involves clash detection between MEP systems, 3D reports and detailed mapping
  • As-built Drawings – used to record last-minute changes made on site, due to unavoidable on-site conditions or last-minute decisions, records what has actually been built

All of the above-mentioned MEP drawings are important, but the quality of MEP coordination drawings is critical for the success of the project. With the right building services design consultants or expert, who offer high-quality MEP drafting, BIM modelling and BIM coordination services, on board, the process of coordination can be accurate, on time, within budget and cost-effective.

XS CAD has valuable experience providing 3D BIM building services coordination and coordinated drawings for global building services engineering firms. Our range of services for building services design consultants and contractors across the world include MEP design and drafting, electrical design and drafting, public health system design and drafting and 3D M&E (MEP) coordination. We use BIM 360 Design for project cloud collaboration.