Early planning simplifies BIM design

BIM models have helped simplify the design and engineering process at an educational facility.

By Ed Paul, Arup, Los Angeles March 19, 2015

A large private university in Southern California recently completed a technologically complex retrofit of an existing 1950s building for its mechanical, electrical, plumbing, and fire protection (MEP/FP) system design. This owner is quite sophisticated in rolling over engineering design data generated by BIM Autodesk Revit models to be used for facility management purposes with minimal modifications at project closeout.

Given the large effort to compile data after the fact, this owner requires the design team to set up families to accommodate the collection of design and construction data during the process within the BIM model.To facilitate this effort, the owner hosted BIM collaboration meetings to share goals and requested the design teams to create a plan and process to capture the necessary data as part of the design process.The design team worked together with the client and the contractor to develop a joint BIM execution plan (JBEP) that will deliver on the client’s request. The JBEP includes such items as explicitly defined families with prescribed sets of university-required parameters, coordination review processes by owner-contracted third-party BIM reviewers, and file exchange workflows.

Because the design team in collaboration with the construction team reached an early agreement on the JBEP, the MEP engineers were able to start creating Revit families that met the necessary criteria and were able to avoid rework. A predetermined scheduled was added to JBEP for model exchange and additional workshops for model coordination with the contractor. Data from models was exported at milestones and verified against facility management checklists to ensure that model objects carried all pertinent engineering data that a facility engineer can use as needed in the future. Proper and early planning can address the issues and challenges that MEP/FP engineers face when asked to integrate BIM into design and use model-generated data for facility management. 

Ed Paul is the BIM manager at Arup’s Los Angeles office. He has more than 20 years’ experience in managing large multi-discipline projects from inception to handover. His experience includes various CAD/BIM software packages along with information systems management.