Technical and Contractual Risks Associated with BIM

Blog-14thApril-2017BIM (Building Information Modeling) is a perfect solution for architects, design and construction teams to address design implementation challenges. 3D BIM coordination facilitates an evolving workflow, interoperability and collaboration between different project stakeholders. This has widened the scope and application of concept design, design development, implementation and project delivery methods.

With 3D BIM coordination, you can collaborate with designers, engineers, building services contractors and general contractors to communicate design intent and ensure the project is implemented efficiently from preconstruction concept review to construction completion. When collaboration happens at this scale, you need to consider the associated technical and contractual risks before you adopt BIM tools:

1.Data control – When using 3D BIM models, you may have different users entering data at various stages of a project lifecycle. To ensure there is responsibility for inaccuracies and control of data entry, you must ensure BIM users sign applicable indemnities, disclaimers and warranties. This will help you in controlling the movement of data and assigning responsibilities.

2.Assignment of responsibilities – Typically in BIM projects, many team members collaborate and ownership of BIM data must be clearly stated. To avoid conflict and confusion, you need to create contract documents that should clearly define ownership and assign responsibilities when using BIM data.

3.Proprietary information protection – In the process of design development and project implementation, proprietary information may be used by team members. While your client may have ownership rights for the design, contract documents need to clearly state the ownership rights of proprietary information to ensure protection.

4.Design licensing – In certain projects, designers and contractors may provide vendor designs and specifications of material and equipment. In such instances, you need to create policies to ensure that only those designs with relevant licenses for the project are used. This will help you in avoiding licensing issues of vendor designs associated with their products.

5.Consistency in the use of technology – When adopting BIM modeling and coordination processes, to maintain an efficient and smooth workflow, you need to ensure that different project stakeholders, who need to work collaboratively, are using software versions that are compatible. All users must be informed about changes in versions and software updates. Based on the BIM environment you choose, whether closed BIM (the use of the same software and version) or open BIM (the use of neutral or compatible file formats), you need to make sure this selection is agreed at the outset of the project. This will help in avoiding compatibility issues that may arise in the later stages of the project lifecycle.

In any collaborative environment, clearly defining responsibilities and rules will help in improving teamwork of various project stakeholders. You may adopt an Integrated Project Delivery (IPD) strategy to build successful working relationships and facilitate efficient collaboration between your entire design, engineering and construction teams. While there is no secret formula or a common risk mitigation strategy, you can reduce conflicts and confusion by adopting best practices and creating well-defined contracts. By clearly specifying the roles, responsibilities and accountable members or groups, it will help you to create a successful collaborative environment and embrace an evolving concept such as 3D BIM coordination.

With BIM modeling you can improve the process of concept design, design development and communication of design concept to project stakeholders and clients. As new BIM technology is introduced, the next step would be to adopt a cloud-based BIM collaboration tool, such as A360 Collaboration for Revit (C4R). With cloud-based BIM tools, you can facilitate ‘borderless’ collaboration and allow project stakeholders to work on a model simultaneously from different sites, anywhere, anytime and on any device. By adopting BIM, you can improve collaboration between project teams, optimise project duration, reduce cost and strengthen client relationship.

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.

MEP Design and MEP Installation Challenges

In the MEP (M&E) industry, the smooth progression of an MEP consultant’s design into well-coordinated constructible drawings and models is fundamental to the project’s success. Compared with the architectural and structural engineering disciplines, the structure of a typical MEP project team is typically more complex. It comprises an MEP consultant, an MEP contractor, trade-specific subcontractors (for mechanical, electric, plumbing and fire fighting disciplines), fabricators, and installation and maintenance specialists.

Often, the contractor is responsible for fabrication and installation; however, in larger projects, there are distinct parties commissioned for each task. Furthermore, all these key players are highly interdependent on each other right from when the building services are conceptualised to when they are detailed, fabricated and installed on site.

It is paramount that the 3D M&E (MEP) coordinated drawings/model passed on by the consultant to the MEP contractor is not only free of clashes but also allows for ease of fabrication, efficient installation, and post-completion maintenance. But this remains a challenge partly because MEP design has traditionally been a two tier system wherein the MEP consultant develops plans and schematics which are then passed on to the contractor for detailing, spatial coordination, fabrication and installation.

As a result, though the consultant’s MEP design drawings/model will show no clashes vis-à-vis the architectural and structural models/drawings, the MEP contractor will, in many cases, have to change consultant’s issue drawings to suit his requirements with respect to ease of fabrication, installation efficiency, insulation allowance, and lagging. Ducts will have to be resized. Pipework will have to be re-routed. Datum points for hangers, wall penetrations, and bolt locations will have to be added. Electrical ladders will have to be split. Equipment will have to be changed. This means the MEP design-intent will undergo a slew of changes before a detailed coordinated installation-friendly version is ready to be approved by the MEP design consultant.

In essence, the fact that the MEP contractor has to adapt consultant’s design model/drawings or in many cases redraw them not only leads to scope overlap but also negatively impacts project deadlines and schedule. The growing adoption of building information modelling (BIM) has seen a greater level of engagement from the MEP contractor in the initial design stages; however, adopting and implementing 3D BIM coordination and detailing have their own set of challenges.

Firstly, an MEP (M&E) BIM project starts with the design-intent model created by the MEP consultant. This design-intent acts as a reference model which is extended by respective parties during coordination (and detailing) phase to create a constructible model with all the details pertaining to fabrication, installation, and services maintenance. As the BIM model progresses from schematics to detailing, 3D building services coordination, fabrication, and installation phases, MEP contractors and other trade specialists contribute their respective versions to the base model.

Furthermore, the model contributed by each discipline (HVAC, electrical, mechanical, fabrication, installation) will have different levels of detail (LOD). Since each trade reuses existing elements and extends them with information relevant to their particular area of responsibility in the project, success depends on how smoothly the BIM model is extended with minimum redrawing of the earlier version model.

At XS CAD, we understand the key nuances involved in an MEP project because we have experience of working with key participants of the MEP supply chain: MEP consultants, MEP contractors, fabrication specialists, and installers. We provide pre-construction planning support during all phases of MEP design from inception and detailing, to coordination and installation.

To find out more about how your MEP (M&E) project can benefit from our 3D building services coordination, MEP modelling and MEP CAD outsourcing services, contact us.

Building Information Modelling (BIM): An Indispensable Decision-Making Tool for Contractors

General contractors, also referred to as main contractors in the UK, play an essential role in managing the cost and schedule of highly complex construction projects, particularly during the post-design phases. Professional contracting firms and professionals are involved in a list of crucial tasks. These include diligently studying construction drawing sets developed by architects, seeking local construction permits and licenses, examining day-to-day on-site activities, estimating project cost, monitoring schedules, and serving as a key bridge between key trades, including mechanical services, electrical services, plumbing services and fire protection services.

XS CAD’s 3D BIM modeling and 3D BIM coordination services assist general contractors (main contractors) by providing them with a high degree of predictability and enabling on-time completion of projects. Considering that general contractors (main contractors) bear significant risk of project implementation, they appreciate the advantage of our BIM services.

IPD

Owing to our extensive experience in pre-construction planning, multi-service BIM coordination, and BIM modeling for education, commercial, healthcare, leisure, and residential projects, XS CAD has served as a valuable partner to general contractors (main contractors) in the US, Canada, Australia, India, and the UK to support the design process for architectural, structural and MEP disciplines.

Apart from helping contractors deliver time and cost efficiencies on their projects, our tailored BIM services and MEP spatially coordinated models enhance coordination and interoperability between general contractors (main contractors) and all the subcontractors responsible for each of the building services — mechanical, electrical, plumbing, and fire protection. Since the parametric objects created within BIM models represent actual elements within a construction project, this information is valuable for designers, installers and cost consultants.

Whilst 3D BIM modeling services support contractors by offering them a thorough pre-construction visualisation with regards to structure, architectural elements, MEP spatial coordination, clash inspection, and interference analysis, 4D BIM allows them to create time-based virtual mock-ups, also known as sequence-based simulations to improve productivity on site. Additionally, 4D BIM services help them detect time and workflow-based clashes resulting in efficient materials and equipment planning, besides improving the flow of multidisciplinary personnel in a constrained space and time.

Furthermore, XS CAD’s 4D BIM Services help general contractors (main contractors) test several “what if” scenarios and make improvements if needed. As a result, the simulation of various project sequences relative to their planned timeframes enables quick and effective decision-making. This decision-making advantage and accurate predictability offered by our BIM modeling services leads to on-time and cost-effective project completion by contractors for their end customers.