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The rise of BIM – and its effect on the HVAC industry

The rise of BIM – and its effect on the HVAC industry

02 Jan 19:00 by Jason Thornhill

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If you’re involved in the construction industry in any way, the chances are that BIM is going to affect the way you work, if it hasn’t done so already.

And – at the risk of sounding melodramatic – those who don’t climb on board the BIM juggernaut could find themselves well and truly left behind. That’s because BIM is proving to be a cost-effective and time-efficient method of building design and creation, which promotes greater transparency and collaboration between all those involved in a construction project.

It really does have the potential to alter the way the construction industry operates – and if you don’t believe us, maybe you’ll be persuaded by the Government, which says BIM is a ‘game changer’ that is here to stay.

In fact, the Government is championing the use of BIM as part of its bid to increase the number of new affordable homes being built in the UK by 2018. It is also aiming for all central government departments to adopt collaborative Level 2 BIM as a minimum by next year.

And the BIM Task Group, which is supporting and delivering the objectives of the Government’s Construction Strategy, estimates that using BIM could save at least 30% of wasted resource on a project.

So what is BIM and why could it play such a major role in the construction industry?

BIM stands for Building Information Modelling. This is a concept of collaborative working, rather than a product, procedure or piece of technology. The idea behind it is to use computer technology to bring together all the components involved in the design and creation of buildings, to enable any potential problems to be ironed out before construction work actually begins.

BIM creates a 3D model of a construction project – but it is much more than that. It generates a level of detail that allows everyone involved in a project to view and discuss potential problems – and, if necessary, alter designs – before the construction phase begins. This helps to avoid errors on site, simplify construction and save time and money.

Each party’s experience of BIM will vary depending on their role in the project, but BIM has proved successful because of its benefits to all those involved in the supply chain, as well as to the client.

It enables a more efficient method of working on construction projects from start to finish, reducing procurement, process and material waste throughout the supply chain.

How does BIM work?

Computer-generated 3D images of all components of the project – from bricks and timber, to valves and light fittings, and even roads and landscaping – are placed together to produce a virtual image of the construction. In effect, the building is virtually designed and built right down to the smallest detail, enabling any co-ordination or construction problems to be highlighted and solved before the construction phase.

The 3D model can be viewed by all those involved in the project without the need for – and costs involved in – additional software. Once construction begins, the BIM model is also an invaluable tool for site managers, especially on complex projects.

So how will BIM affect the HVAC industry?

Each product in the 3D building contains data such as its cost, weight, installation time, sequence in the overall project and maintenance.

The BIM model also contains all the components’ operation and maintenance manuals, for future reference over its whole life cycle.

As the use of BIM increases, HVAC manufacturers have an opportunity to supply BIM files of their products, enabling the project’s decision makers to create a heating and ventilation solution early in the design process.

The BIM files would include detailed technical information useful for engineers, as well as accurate 3D illustrations of their product ranges. Data also needs to be provided on operations and maintenance, and a product or system’s energy efficiency and cost effectiveness.

In a nutshell, the HVAC industry should see the rise of BIM as an opportunity to advertise their products – providing precise and efficient mechanical data on their products to highlight why they would fit with a particular project.

And the really savvy manufacturers will try to get ahead of the game at this early stage, establishing themselves within the BIM marketplace and thus placing themselves in a good position.