Since our construction industry is grappled with severe productivity issues and tight margins, the AEC industry is striving hard to come up with new ways of improving productivity, reducing construction costs and delivering a better-built building. Building Information Modeling, a new technological advancement in the AEC industry after CAD seems to have the potential to address these issues.
As per the definition of BIM by The National Building Information Model Standard (NBIMS), “BIM is a digital representation of physical and functional characteristics of a facility and it serves as a shared knowledge resource for information about a facility forming a reliable basis for decisions during its life cycle from inception onward”. BIM has evolved from being just a buzzword to the centrepiece of AEC technology and it has significant benefits for plumbing design.
BIM enables a 3d virtual representation of the plumbing systems thus helping to better understand the final outcome, make more informed decisions and detect collisions. One of the major benefits BIM technology serves for plumbing is interference-checking. Using BIM to detect early collisions helps to prevent costly design changes during the actual construction process whilst also reducing guesswork and errors.
Since the underground plumbing lines are located in reference to the foundations; BIM enables a plumbing designer with actual building footings marked by the structural engineer to preserve the structural integrity of the building. With the help of the building footings, a plumbing designer can easily coordinate the underground routing without compromising the structural design of the building.
Building Information Modeling is an ‘information’ rich model. In addition to building shape, costs, design, construction time, physical performance, costs and logistics, BIM also provides information about two additional parameters in the case of plumbing fixtures – information about the required gpm flow of the standard fixture and the reduced gpm flow.
With an aim to conserve energy and natural resources, there has been an increased focus on green building projects. BIM facilitates easier identification of systems in LEED Plumbing Design by creating different colour systems. Since there is a variation in colour, identifying grey water routing becomes easier and hence helps to prevent cross contamination with other waste systems.
BIM creates a unified working environment with multiple disciplines working together on a single file. A plumbing engineer can create a design for hot and cold water and simultaneously check the HVAC design worksheet for conflicts.
BIM serves a plethora of benefits for plumbing design such as increased efficiency, accuracy and coordination of the system as well as reducing the time and cost involved in it.