Why BIM is becoming important for Retail Design?

Across global the retail markets are facing unprecedented challenges from within their sector and also from new e-commerce sectors. Retailers that are successful are aware that this success can be short lived and therefore expansion and roll out of their outlets can sometimes become a limitation for success are aware that Assuming that the challenge is indeed speed to market, for retailers, it is paramount to adopt a design planning process which can help them develop retail ideas that are versatile, clash-free and efficient to build/install within a planned budget. This is where BIM can start to provide significant benefits due to the ease of operation, use of a database of library items and the benefit of repeatability of the design concept.

BIM can be beneficial for the entire retail property development chain from design consultants and architects, to MEP installers and facility managers. If it is used effectively it can lead to faster scale up, design accuracy, higher design flexibility and cost efficiency. Whilst it does take some take and effort to convert conventional CAD drafting processes, blocks and templates to parametric BIM retail design techniques, once done BIM can help retailers to design faster and more accurately. A few of the key benefits of retail design with BIM are discussed in more detail below.

Rapid Development of Design and Construction Documents:

Conventional CAD drafting techniques for building design require different trades to create separate drawings, which sometimes stack up too many inconsistent documents as they are incomplete, usually without a lot of information that may be created by other skilled parties, such as quantity surveyors. This information is usually mandatory for building construction and includes specifications, bill of materials, cost modelling and schedule data. Not only does a BIM model provide this data, freeing up QS (quantity surveyor) resource, it also provides information from the 3d model that contains intelligent data related to design intent and construction and facilities management information. The major stakeholders will typically receive the data that is combined within a master BIM model to then extract further use and benefit from the design model.

Although the success of retail BIM projects depends on the acceptance levels of all the project participants to perceive BIM as a future-ready tool, the actual benefit of BIM lies in its ability to assist in extraction of various documents, data and views including plans, sections, elevations, renderings, bill of quantities (BOQ), material costs and time schedule, all within record time. All this results in quicker, on-demand data extraction and generation from BIM models for any construction-related designs or drawings.

Development of Standardized Re-usable BIM Families:

To maintain consistency, a retailer may use typical fixtures and fittings across their retail network as retail industry primarily focuses on brand image and brand appearance. Retail design teams, with the help of BIM teams, are able to create standardized libraries of BIM for fixtures and fittings which, with further modifications can be used when designing and planning new outlets, thus enabling retail owners to maintain exclusivity with regards to visual elements, consumer experiences and shoplifting layouts. The design team, keeps BIM libraries updated for various unique outlet chains which help in saving time during conceptual and detail design stages whilst boosting efficiency ratios.

For example, consistency within all the outlets can be maintained by keeping the key retail architectural elements uniform with the help of BIM families which leaves scope for tweaking other architectural details and regional elements.

Creating Store Prototype Models that Can Be Localized:

When developing new prototype store designs, BIM proves to be a valuable asset to retailers BIM prototypes not only offer 3D visualisation prowess but also provide a quality database which consists of detailed information on crucial aspects such as materials, fixtures, components, cost estimation and quantity take-offs. As compared to traditional CAD drafting methods, intuitive and elaborate prototypes like these, accelerate the roll out of new store designs.

In summary, using design standards, fixtures, fittings and brand guidelines in a BIM environment as opposed to a CAD environment may incur an up-front cost and time contribution, but the benefit for mass roll out using a library of intelligent components will significantly reduce overall design time and also improve accuracy of project drawings and project data – providing greater certainly for construction teams and also costing teams.

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Top 3 Benefits when Undertaking MEP Design and MEP BIM Services from Single Service Provider

Every building project requires MEP (mechanical, electrical and plumbing) design services for heating, cooling, lighting and water services increasingly these aims are met with a more sustainable approach. MEP design services that are designed properly bring the full array of building services solutions to prospective clients and can also benefit from an environmentally friendly approach to design. There are various stages in the MEP design process which is known as MEP design engineering, which is itself supported by a team of documentation and modelling experts to provide MEP drafting, MEP 3D Modelling, 3D MEP clash detection and resolution and BIM MEP modelling for every stage of the design process.

Moving from concept, schematic, design development, tender and construction phases of the MEP design process requires several iterations that need to be managed well and documented effectively to improve understanding and communication of the project at later stages. Keeping in mind the complexity to coordinate MEP with the architectural and structural direction of the project, it can be best to design MEP in 3D rather than in 2D, as it provides a better picture of what a structure may look like. Also, it takes away the effort of bringing together different 2D views.

While MEP design can sometimes be an afterthought, lagging behind architecture and structural design, MEP BIM models generally form the core element of a BIM model, which is great for visualisation, but also produces construction documents like those created in 2D CAD drafting albeit with much more accuracy and in much less time. MEP 3D Modelling makes extensive use of BIM and is used to increase the coordination process but it also allows designers to review their designs and to adapt them to meet the challenges posed by client needs and environmental or sustainable requirements. Not only does a 3D MEP Coordination approach bring significant improvements to the installation process, improving the transition between design and construction, it also allows designers to visualise, test and revise their design in a working model, making effective use of the virtual design process.

As MEP Design and MEP Modelling are so intertwined, it makes sense to seek a provider that is able to provide both services in some cases. At present, there are several companies in the market from where various MEP services can be outsourced. Different companies have their own level of expertise in the services they offer but it all boils down to the choice of the clients as to who offers the best possible management of the key aspects such as time, cost and the overall MEP process beginning from design to installation sheets. In the wake of such a situation it is increasingly necessary for companies to offer as design and drafting services under one roof to optimise the level of coordination and cut down the collective time spent on different services. This has given rise to a few companies beginning to offer MEP Design and MEP BIM services as a part of combined package. Of these, the most popular MEP services on offer from a single company is a package of MEP Design for schematic and tender stages along with MEP BIM services for documentation of these stages but also of further detailed design (spatial coordination) stages typically undertaken by contractors. Here we look at the three prime benefits of undertaking MEP Design and MEP BIM Services from single service provider:

1. Time Saving and Cost Effective: Very often it is seen that an MEP design services firm does not have the luxury of investing in in-house MEP modelling and an extensive MEP Design Engineering team to cater to the various MEP stages involved. Hence, it becomes a need to outsource the MEP design and MEP BIM services from service provides. More importantly, to obtain these services from a single, all-inclusive service provider to increase the level of competency and the set of benefits which are drastically reduced if the services are outsourced from different service providers. The fragmentation can add up a considerable cost, valuable time is lost on part of the clients. Hence, by obtaining these services from single service provider saves a lot of time and the considerable cost as well.

2. Clash Management: More than time and cost savings, undertaking these services from a single service provider can result in improved coordination of MEP services through the production of a coordinated, clash free virtual model. It enables early identification and rectification of coordinated issues, resulting in the reduction of installation time and costs. It reduces waste of man-hours by reducing the requirement for site based modifications.

3. Improved Efficiency and Smooth Transition: One of the most important but underrated features of BIM is automated generation of Bill of Materials (BOMs). Undertaking MEP design and MEP BIM services from a single service provider ensures the automated generation of the Bill of Materials (BOMs) enabling accurate data management and extraction which will be otherwise obtained from the MEP BIM services provider in case of a fragmented choice of service providers. It also improves the overall efficiency of on-site service installation and the overall quality, detail and accuracy of MEP documentation. Having these services under one roof ensures smooth transition of the process from MEP design to MEP modelling without any delays or undue errors.

MEP design services can be managed in various ways in-house but with external options now also available, the key to finding an outsourcing partner rather than handling the work in-house, will be the ability of the outsourcing partner to efficiently communicate and coordinate with the different levels of design teams to ensure a balanced and smooth implementation of all the aspects of the design and modelling process ideally from a single office and therefore from a single partner.

Why Outsourcing Architectural Design Development Can Work For You

How common is outsourcing design development in architecture practices? We think it happens all the time, for big brand-names and small studios alike. It may not always be formal outsourcing, but it carries the same core principles. One way of basic outsourcing is using interns and graduates that work in temporary roles but handling much of the design development work and less of the more demanding creative and conceptual design work. One more sophisticated and organized form of outsourcing is hiring an outside firm, either local or international. Such a firm effectively becomes a design partner, seamlessly integrating in the company’s architectural design team.

An company abroad, for instance, would handle all the drawing/modeling tasks but is not usually in direct contact with the client, nor is it present in meetings and basically works hard to deliver on the lead architect’s requirements. That’s why using “outsourcing” as a term to describe working with interns and graduates is warranted, but as we’ll see, it may often not be the best approach.

Almost all companies fit in one of the two categories above as a natural market adaptation to reduce costs with tasks that, by their nature, are fairly easy to delegate. This is a common practice nowadays and it is a perfectly fine approach, especially when there are proper communication channels in place between the low level and high level staff. Managing an office and/or a suite of projects is a task in and of itself, leaving little room for the drafting or modeling work.

So the question now becomes which one of these work forms is the most optimal? The short answer would be that each company has specific needs and a specific culture, but if we look closely we can easily determine a general trend. Whilst the use of interns and graduates may solve a problem in the short term, the need to constantly re-hire and retain them can be a major distraction. Instead, using outsourcing firms for the architectural design development phase means that you are partnering up with highly skilled professionals, with zero overhead costs. Such firms are often specialized in specific domains where they’ve honed in-house systems that allow them to work extremely fast, relying heavily on advanced BIM solutions. Outsourcing firms can also guarantee on schedule delivery since they typically have buffer resources and larger numbers of employees.

When looking at outsourcing firms, there is little to no distinction between the interaction workflow you will have with local versus international companies. The problem can arise when you limit yourself to a small market, the local one, and you end up constantly swapping providers of outsourcing services and thus rely on new firms to pick up where the previous ones left. The solution is to tap into the international market and chose a quality, reliable partner for long term collaboration. Looking broader as opposed to narrower has the added advantage that you will likely find providers with lower production/management costs that will translate in a much better pricing and therefore a more competive offering.

In today’s hyper-connected global economy, communication is a non-issue and offshore collaborations become opportunities instead of challenges, allowing design leads to focus on the core aspects of their businesses.

10 Reasons to Use Revit MEP for MEP Coordination

Autodesk Revit MEP is an important component used for design by the AEC industry. Globally, AEC firms are increasingly using Revit MEP to produce 3D M&E (MEP) coordinated drawings, and Revit MEP tools to update their BIM models with MEP information, and thus, enhance their architectural and engineering design development and construction documentation process. Businesses using Revit MEP are starting to realise the potential of this technology to deliver more value to the AEC industry and also manage their own budgets and profitability at the same time. Before we look at the reasons to use Revit MEP for MEP coordination, let’s briefly cover the subject of Autodesk Revit MEP for MEP coordination.

Autodesk Revit MEP for MEP Coordination

Autodesk Revit MEP, a building information modelling (BIM) software is a leading Autodesk product that is used by users engaging in MEP engineering projects. MEP is an acronym for Mechanical, Electrical and Plumbing which forms the three engineering disciplines addressed by Revit MEP. Using BIM software rather than CAD (computer aided drafting), Revit MEP consists of dynamic information in the form of intelligent models, letting complex building systems to be precisely designed and documented in a shorter amount of time. Within Revit MEP there are a series of intelligent models that combine to form a complete project, all stored in a single database file. With this, the changes made in one part of the model can then be automatically propagated to other parts of the model, thus reducing the timeframe to alter designs during the design process. As far as MEP coordination is concerned, it involves coordination of all building services (HVAC, pipework, public health and electrical systems) with other disciplines making up the structure of the building, fabric and external envelope, i.e. steel, concrete, false ceilings, etc.

Having refreshed our memories with Autodesk Revit MEP, let us focus on the reasons why it is useful for MEP coordination. There are of course many reasons, however a few are listed below that will hopefully demonstrate the value of this tool for coordination.

10 Reasons to Use Revit MEP for MEP Coordination

The top 10 reasons to use Revit MEP during MEP design and coordination are summarised below:

  • Revit MEP produces high end building information models that represent realistic, real time design scenarios, helping users to make more informed design decisions earlier in the process. The team working on the project can better meet goals and sustainability initiatives, execute energy analysis, examine system loads, and produce heating and cooling load reports with native integrated analysis tools.
  • Revit MEP software’s modelling and layout tools let engineers create mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems more easily and precisely. Also, the software’s parametric change technology means that any change to the MEP model is automatically coordinated throughout the model.
  • The complexities of today’s buildings require leading edge system’s and engineering tools to optimize performance in both use and efficiency. As complexities increase in the projects, communicating design changes among MEP engineers and their extended teams is critical. Revit MEP’s purpose built systems analysis and optimization tools lets team members receive feedback about their MEP designs in real time, resulting in better performing designs in the process.
  • Using Revit MEP, the MEP engineers can more effectively collaborate and interact based on workflow and project requirements through use of a range of compatible collaboration tools such as BIM360. The software also helps to minimize design coordination errors among the extended project team, and helps to reduce design conflicts with real time clash and interference detection.
  • In Revit MEP, all model information is stored in a single, coordinated database. Revisions and modifications to information are automatically updated throughout the model, helping to significantly reduce errors and omissions. Autodesk refers to this database driven simultaneous update to file output as multi-directional associatively which explains that a change in one area manifests in all other parts of the file.
  • Parametric components, also called families, are the basis for all building components designed in Revit MEP. These components provide an open graphical system for design thinking and form making and offer the opportunity to adjust and express design intent at increasingly detailed levels.
  • Revit MEP software is a much more streamlined and intuitive user interface that is easier to learn and adopt. Users can thus find favourite tools and commands faster, identify tools more efficiently, and discover relevant new features easily.
  • Revit MEP works holistically, treating information in terms of entire building, linking mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems with the building model – thus increasing collaborative working and a team based approach to projects.
  • Revit MEP updates model views and sheets, thus helping to maintain document and project consistency. With its help MEP engineers can for example, create HVAC systems with mechanical functionality and offer 3D modelling for ductwork and piping.
  • Revit MEP has built in calculators that allows MEP engineers to execute sizing and pressure loss calculations as per the industry standard methods and specifications

At XS CAD, we have developed the required expertise and extensive knowledge of providing Revit 3D BIM Modelling and MEP coordination drawings services to MEP engineers, MEP consultants and MEP trade contractors in the US, UK, Canada, Australia and India. To learn more about our Revit MEP Services, drop us an email or call us for more information.

How Open BIM Facilitates Collaborative Design?

Due to its multifaceted benefits, building information modelling (BIM) is rapidly gaining traction in the AEC industry as the key pre-construction planning, construction management, and post-construction facilities management tool. Whilst many firms have transitioned to this ‘intelligent’ model-based process, the ‘real’ potential of BIM can only be achieved by open exchange of design and non-design project information amongst key project stakeholders: architects, structural engineers, MEP design consultants, MEP engineers, and other trade subcontractors.

A common challenge faced by mid-sized to large projects is that not all project participants use the same BIM application. This is where the concept of closed BIM and open BIM comes into play. The above two approaches are fundamentally different ways of looking at 3D BIM modelling.

Closed BIM, also known as ‘lonely BIM’, is a BIM environment wherein the same version of a BIM application is used by all key project stakeholders. This approach may also include different trades using the BIM-compatible applications from the same vendor. As a case in point, the lead architect uses Revit Architecture to model architectural elements. The structural engineer uses Revit Structure to take the architectural BIM model as the reference and define the building’s structure whilst the MEP design consultant uses Revit MEP to model building services. Although no file conversion is required in the closed BIM approach, the process is restrictive in the sense that it only allows project participants well-versed with certain BIM tools to collaborate, thereby not allowing ‘true’ integration.

On the other hand, open BIM is a workflow wherein all participants can collaborate and exchange project information with each other using non-proprietary, neutral file formats irrespective of the BIM tools and applications they use. The information exchanged is not only limited to the BIM model’s geometric data but also includes other parametric data, such as specifications, quantity take-offs, material procurement, cost estimation, and construction phasing. Most common open BIM protocols currently in use include Industry Foundation Classes (IFC) and Construction Operations Building Information Exchange (COBie).

Whilst IFC allows exchange of both geometric and non-design data amongst different applications that support open BIM, COBie only allows facilities management data to be exchanged. Using IFC, the architectural BIM model created by the lead architect’s design team in Graphisoft ArchiCAD can be opened and manipulated by the structural engineer when his/her team works in Tekla Structures. Similarly, the integrated architectural and structural BIM model can be imported into Revit MEP platform by the lead MEP consultant. Once the detailed MEP design is complete, the federated model can be taken into a clash detection and 3D BIM coordination tool, such as Navisworks again using IFC format. This leads to workflow-level collaboration amongst key project members which is the essence of BIM compared to the conventional 2D CAD workflows.

At XS CAD, we have an extensive know-how of both open BIM and closed BIM methodologies due to the fact that we have provided 3D BIM modelling and 3D BIM coordination support to architects, MEP engineers, and contractors in the US, the UK, Canada, Australia, and India. To find out more about how your project can benefit from our BIM modelling services, contact us.

Integrated Project Delivery (IPD): Greater than the Sum of its Parts

With the owners increasingly demanding high-quality, energy efficient buildings which can be completed within tight timeframes, the entire AEC (architecture, engineering, and construction) fraternity is continuously in search for ways and means to serve this purpose. The concept of Integrated Project Delivery (IPD), if understood, planned and executed well, can certainly come to their aid.

The American Institute of Architects (AIA) defines Integrated Project Delivery (IPD) as a unified process that “collaboratively harnesses the talents and insights of all the participants to optimize project results, increase value to the owner, reduce waste, and maximize efficiency through all phases of design, fabrication, and construction.” In a nutshell, IPD is an approach that aims to ensure closer working relationships, mainly through contractual arrangements, between the owner, the designer (architect), the constructor, the contractor, and all other parties involved right from design and planning stages through to project completion.

Considering that the industry is grappling with grave issues, such as poor multidisciplinary coordination during planning, design, and construction phases; surging hidden project costs; lack of architect-led collaboration during contract administration; and designs which face constructability issues during latter stages of design-build delivery methods, the Integrated Project Delivery (IDP) approach has the potential to deliver positive value propositions for each party involved.

Whilst the success of projects employing Integrated Project Delivery (IPD) methods depend on the scale of project and the teaming structure, its adoption results in effective sharing of risks and rewards by all the major parties involved thereby resulting in projects getting delivered in time and within the stipulated budget. Since IPD largely differs from traditional project delivery methods and approaches, it is important to plan for some areas which can help you smoothly transition to IPD. Some points to consider include:-

  • IPD approach requires preparing and finalising the IPD contractual agreements by all major project stakeholders – owners, designers, and contractors. This helps establish detailed responsibilities and outcome expectations of each trade.
  • Modifying operating and management structure in a way that encourages clear, open, horizontal communication. As a result, all parties involved in the project (beyond the owner, architect, and contractor) are integrated for the production and use of design and construction data.
  • The team should map out workflows and protocols for preparing, sharing and updating the digital 3D building models. This includes high-quality management and delivery of design data, construction drawings and bill of quantities.
  • As opposed to traditional fragmented methods, IPD necessitates communication channels that promote constant participation from all disciplines during all phases of design and construction.

Detailed Retail Construction Drawings Play a Key Role in Design-Bid-Build Projects

The design-build model of project delivery is one of the most used approaches, particularly for large-scale, high-end architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) projects. These include infrastructure projects, such as healthcare and medical research facilities, airport terminals, bridges, educational institutes, and large custom homes. Nevertheless, very few residential and retail construction/redevelopment projects, primarily with tight budgets, use the design-build delivery method. Department stores, supermarkets, warehouse stores, and shopping centres / malls which are not linked to multinational retail owners and have a limited geographical reach fall into this category.

In case of such projects, a design/architectural firm is contracted to come up with the designs, plans, drawings, and detailed specifications which clearly convey the architect’s / designer’s intent. After initial meetings between the owner and architect/designer, all retail construction drawings are finalised. Depending on the scope of the project, this set includes floor plans, internal& external elevations, construction plans, setting out drawings, composite plans, finishing plans, lighting plans, ceiling plans and sections.

Once all the plans and CAD drawings are in place, the project undergoes a competitive bidding process used to shortlist a general contractor (main contractor) to implement the construction work mapped out in the detailed retail construction documents. Since this design-bid-build method of project delivery involves roping in distinct teams for design/planning and construction, detailed and accurate retail construction drawing sets play a key role in ensuring that the change orders on-site are avoided. Owing to a significant reduction of change orders during construction, the time, effort, and resources that would have been wasted on rework or modification are saved.

Whilst the retail construction drawing sets are important to seek site permits and regional building licenses, the level of detail/development necessitated by the permit documents are far less than what ideally need to be passed on to the general contractors (main contractors). Moreover, in the design-bid-build method, the amount of information incorporated in the construction drawing sets determine, to a large extent, the number of change orders. Since the construction documents are made especially to seek permits from the local authorities feature less detail, the competitive bids from all the participating general contractors (main contractors) will be lower; however, the lower bids will not truly reflect the nature of project’s requirements.

As a result, detailed, clear, and unambiguous retail design drawings significantly lessen the chances of unanticipated change orders on site. When the chances of change orders reduce, the project becomes more profitable and completes on time, which is precisely what all the key parties involved in the project strive for. In order to achieve this, designers/architects involved in such design-bid-build projects perform constructability review of design at regular phases during the pricing phases.

In some cases, designers/architects rope in offshore CAD services providers to prepare detailed production drawing sets for them. Experienced companies providing retail design and documentation services take basic conceptual and schematic designs or sketches from the architects and deliver detailed construction drawing sets as per requirements. This enables architects to efficiently focus on seeking client’s and local council’s approvals over schematic designs, manage the project effectively, and administer construction-related issues.

All things considered, detailed retail construction drawing sets and specifications not only benefit designers, architects, and contractors but also reduces construction change-orders, which effectively leads to on-time and within-budget project delivery for relatively small-scale retail construction projects using design-bid-build delivery method.