I see a lot of MEP engineers and consultants face a common predicament – whether to BIM or not to BIM. But do they really have an option?
Nov 19, 2015 -- It is surprising that while architects and contractors are producing 3D outputs, the MEP teams are still commissioning for 2D outputs only. Now this reluctance and mental block is something that is stopping them from progressing.
BIM has the potential to help firms transform from a startup to a fortune 500. Remarkably, it is not necessary to produce BIM outputs in-house. This is liberating, because MEP teams & firms can conveniently outsource BIM services and stay in tune with the changing times.
Overcoming Unfounded Fear and Reluctance
Another unfounded fear, rather a notion that has an overbearing over this slice of industry is that, BIM costs too much. Some firms are lost somewhere in the middle of BIM implementation and the lack of it. From our experience as a service provider for fully integrated MEP BIM solutions, I would say that there is no need to succumb to such unfounded fears, because many MEP firms that have transitioned from 2D to BIM have seen a marked reduction in costs.
Lack of 3D work during early design stages results in oversight during clash detection phase, and hence a compromised result for the client. You of course do not want this to happen, because at the crux of business growth lies uncompromised result for the client.
MEP consultants and firms can prepare for the change by embracing BIM
MEP firms and consultants should always reevaluate themselves and try to be in sync with the latest business trends and technology updates. The transition from CAD to BIM has also transformed the design practices in the AEC industry and hence to be eligible to bid for more projects and better projects, MEP firms and consultants should showcase themselves as BIM ready.
MEP engineers, consultants and MEP firms can become BIM ready and gain:
- A competitive market positioning
- Ability to bid for projects where 3D outputs are mandatory
- Better control over costs, and hence do more with less
- Improved collaboration with other disciplines
- Ability to coordinate design details in different file formats
- Improved constructability and reduced rework
BIM imparts a holistic approach, towards design as MEP designers and engineers can view MEP systems with reference to the entire building design, inclusive of its various disciplines. It also allows mechanical, electrical and plumbing teams to get involved in the process right from the beginning and hence, impact early design decisions for factors such as orientation, massing, fenestration etc., that have an impact on buildings MEP system performance.
Another factor that necessitates all MEP firms and consultants, who plan to commission for big projects is the increasing demand for sustainable design. The sustainability aspect is no more just ’desired’ it is ‘required’ and energy efficiency is mandatory, if one aspires to get necessary energy certifications. More over due to several reasons, like onsite safety concerns, cost cutting, and lean construction the demand for prefabrication has also increased and this is precisely where BIM comes into action.
MEP BIM – An upsurge in the industry
MEP BIM can be a game changing proposition, especially for complex construction projects for educational institutes, hospitals, mixed use buildings, for oil and gas refineries and pipeline engineering etc . , to name a few.
BIM makes the most sense when you integrate it across the project lifecycle. Hence when entire projects are based on 3D outputs, accepting 2D outputs for practically the most complex and crucial discipline – i.e., MEP discipline, sounds regressive.
Considering the way BIM has made an upsurge in the industry, and the several BIM mandates that various regions have introduced, it is no more sufficient to go 3D. What MEP consultants need is intelligent and information rich 3D output. Hence at least a Level 2 BIM adoption is mandatory. With Level 2 adoption various standards are maintained and effective cross trade collaboration takes place. This ensures improved understanding and ease of functioning throughout the project lifecycle.
Recently a sector wide ‘BIM readiness’ survey was conducted and the results confirmed that the awareness of Level2 BIM in MEP sector is growing, however there is still a long way to go. The need for more information, proper training and guidance for MEP sector was underlined.
Third party service provider partnerships are here to stay
While commissioning for 2D output is strictly regressive, 3D outputs without standardization, meaningful and intelligent data and efficient collaboration does not render the best of benefits. There are several third party providers who extend complete level 2 BIM support for MEP consultants, to brace up and be ready to bid for every new project and tap every new opportunity.
Outsourcing was earlier looked at with a certain amount of doubt and contempt, however the scenario has changed. Not only have the third party providers understood, that quality, communication and long term goals precede over everything else, the service seekers too have matured. They too are looking beyond a single project partnership and planning long term partnerships with companies they think are reliable and know their job well.
Bhushan Avsatthi is an Associate Director at Hi-Tech Outsourcing Services. Bhushan imbibes the prophecy of efficient and prudent use of energy in his day to day life and advices his team to do so as well. He is also involved in green initiatives like nonprofit tree plantation project and promotes using cycles for commuting small distances. Bhushan, handles a team of architects, Structural and MEP engineers, LEED consultants and Energy modeling experts.