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MEP design engineering
3 July 2020
Kuldeep Bwail

Key Drivers Leading the Movement to BIM for the MEP Industry

Developments in the building services, or MEP (mechanical, electrical, plumbing), industry have created milestones. Most of these developments have found contribution from within the industry and from other sources, such as government regulations and economic developments in MEP (M&E) systems design, 3D building services coordination or interdisciplinary collaboration. With the right MEP BIM services and 3D BIM modelling services, moving to the BIM environment may be the right choice for several reasons.

Intelligent BIM Software for Planning and Design of Projects

Building Information Modelling (BIM) is an intelligent software tool which makes use of computable data to create accurate and detailed representation of mechanical, electrical, plumbing and fire protection systems. It is evident that BIM has been one of the biggest innovations in the modern building services industry, as there are intelligent BIM tools which work throughout all disciplines, such as architecture, structural engineering and building services. The use of BIM has resulted in increased interdisciplinary coordination and reduction in overall construction waste and rework.

One of the reasons MEP engineers gravitate towards BIM is that the vast amount of accessible information and the 3D modelling help detect clashes early on. Electrical, plumbing and mechanical plans can be changed or re-designed before construction begins. Any lack of coordination can be determined, and the design can be corrected immediately, resulting in faster review and referencing.

The approach to construction installation, scheduling, analysis and collaboration between stakeholders is also improved by using BIM technology, reducing risk and wastage, while improving facility management. By using BIM in MEP, working drawings, fabrication drawings, shop drawings, collision detection, detailed section reviews, schedules and bill of materials, etc. can be generated in addition to 3D modelling.

Building service designers can use the BIM models created on Autodesk Revit Architecture and Revit MEP for developing concept designs and drawings, and contractors can create a complete installation and 3D MEP (M&E) coordinated drawings in addition to multi-service coordinated plans, sections and elevations using the same parametric model. Moreover, FAB MEP, a fabrication tool, can be used in conjunction with BIM models to create pre-assembled modules for installation on site.

Along with creating coordinated 3D models, BIM also allows for information to be added to an existing model, which can be useful for project-critical purposes, including cost estimation, energy analysis, schedule creation and facilities management.

Greater Interdisciplinary Collaboration

Due to an increasing adoption of BIM tools across the industry, complemented with the availability of sophisticated hardware systems and online collaboration channels, there is a higher degree of interdisciplinary coordination between different stakeholders involved in AEC projects. The result is that architects, structural engineers, MEP consultants, MEP engineers, main (general) contractors, cost estimators and fabricators can effortlessly collaborate during the design and planning stages, which reduces the costly rework that may occur during construction.

Normally, large-scale construction projects across the world have a sophisticated project structure, comprising distinct project teams. Various types of designs and models prepared by architects, MEP specialists and contractors during the pre-construction stage can stay coordinated due to the sharing and interlinking attributes of the BIM model. Also, team members can conduct review sessions across various locations without being physically present, using cloud-based collaborative tools.

Higher Degree of Prefabrication and Just-in-time Delivery for Installation

BIM models are increasingly being used for prefabrication purposes, to boost the logistical cycle on the construction site. This is due to the fact that the parametric modelling techniques in MEP design and planning are beginning to be used comprehensively. Using BIM design data with CNC fabrication applications, such as FAB MEP, can be used to create fabrication drawings that are recognised by CNC machines. Similarly, BIM-driven prefabrication can simplify the installation process on site and help reduce costly miscalculations.

Various benefits ensue from utilising BIM-led prefabrication, such as reduced work time, cost savings and increased efficiency, especially considering the complexities of the MEP (M&E) systems industry.

Integrating the BIM approach into MEP services has several benefits:

Creating Models Faster By using BIM and 3D printing, MEP contractors can create physical models quickly to explain, show and communicate complex concepts.

Saving Time & Effort The MEP contractors can save time and effort by viewing piping and ductwork in 3D from any angle and making changes at an early stage.

Controlling Scope Diverse MEP components from ceiling elevations, electrical wires, plumbing layouts, etc. can all be viewed easily and data can be accessed on a single platform. Thus, using BIM helps provide control over the scope of work.

Planning & Procurement Using BIM streamlines procurement planning and material procurement. It can help ensure off-site manufactured components fit into on-site locations, helping the order and delivery of material and components.

Designing Buildings with Energy Efficiency Design that is more comprehensively integrated with the needs of the occupants can help plan for energy-efficient buildings.

Government Intervention Different countries have their respective design policies for promoting and mandating the use of BIM at various levels of government-funded or private projects.

The General Services Administration (GSA) in the USA established the National 3D-4D BIM Program in 2003 through its Public Billings Service (PBS) Office of Chief Architect (OCA). The office of the GSA authorised the use of spatial program BIMs as the minimum requirements of submission to OCA for Final Concept approvals of all the important projects receiving design funding in 2007 and beyond.

To reduce the cost of public-funded projects and minimise carbon emission, the UK government has made Level 2 BIM mandatory for all publicly funded projects which initiated from 2016.

Government agencies from the Scandinavian nations have played an important role. Finland’s state property services agency, Senate Properties, recommended the use of BIM for its projects since 2007. Norway and Denmark have also made adequate efforts towards adopting BIM in their public-funded projects. Statsbygg, the Norwegian government agency that manages public properties, including heritage sites, campuses, offices and other buildings, applied BIM services in all its projects from 2010.

In Asian countries, Singapore was the leader in the drive to adopt BIM. The Building and Construction Authority (BCA), after successful implementation of the world’s foremost BIM electronic submission (e-submission) system for building approvals, mapped the BIM Roadmap to adopt BIM for 80% of construction projects by 2015.

The Housing Authority (HA) in Hong Kong set a strong example when they not only developed a set of modelling standards and guidelines for BIM implementation but also stated their intent to apply BIM to all their new projects by 2014-15.

South Korea’s Public Procurement Service, which reviews designs of construction projects and provides construction management services for public institutions, has made BIM mandatory for all projects that exceed a budget of $50 million and for all public sector projects by 2016.

In view of government mandates worldwide on using BIM for the MEP industry and taking into consideration its many benefits, it’s important to find partners who deliver high-quality MEP BIM services and 3D BIM modelling services consistently. An increasing number of Western firms are looking at offshore firms as a preferred option to support their move to BIM and deliver these services on time and in a cost-effective manner.

XS CAD has valuable experience providing MEP 3D BIM coordination and coordinated drawings for MEP contractors. Our range of services for building engineering firms, such as consultants and contractors across the world, include MEP drafting, MEP modelling, 3D M&E (MEP) coordination, designing MEP systems and fire design engineering. We create these models and drawings by using Revit MEP, AutoCAD MEP and BIM 360 Design for cloud collaboration.