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BIM Coordination and Collaboration

06/02/2009 by Mark Mergenschroer

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With the demand for Building information Modeling (BIM) escalating, it is paramount that design and construction professionals become accustomed to doing things differently within the AEC industry. The total team concept that BIM brings to the table, will not only compel us to change the way we approach a project, it will also transform the way that we design a project.

One of the key ingredients of BIM is coordination and collaboration. With all key elements of a building being modeled, we are able to coordinate and collaborate like never before in years past. BIM, working under a team concept, provides huge cost and time savings. We all know and understand that time equals money in the AEC industry. Being able to coordinate and collaborate as a team will not only help us find building conflicts, but it will help us produce fully coordinated and highly efficient buildings at significant cost savings to our clients.

Above ceiling coordination has always been a hot topic in the industry, but one of the areas that has often been overlooked is the in-ceiling coordination issue. How many times have construction documents been issued where the architectural reflected ceiling plan (RCP) does not match the MEP consultant’s reflected ceiling plan? How many RFI’s have been issued throughout the years pertaining to which RCP is correct?

How can this problem be resolved?

Work as a TEAM! In BIM, an architect is able to place light fixtures and other various ceiling mounted fixtures within the model in desired locations. This gives the architect a way to create a computer generated rendering of a project to give the client a “perfect picture” of what their building will look like conceptually. The architect is then able to hand over the model to the MEP Engineer, who then places the fixtures in the building for proper functionality. This is where a model coordination meeting between the architect and the engineer comes into play. Working together as a TEAM, design professionals can effectively and efficiently coordinate the RCP’s and resolve all visual and functional issues that might become a conflict during construction.

One solution to ensure successful coordination during this process involves the architects taking full control of the ceiling grid within the model, and the engineer taking full control of the ceiling mounted fixtures within the model. The engineer can then link the view of the architect’s ceiling grid into the MEP model, using the architectural ceiling grid for placement of fixtures, and the architect can then link the view of the coordinated MEP ceiling fixtures into the model for printing of the coordinated reflected ceiling plan for construction documents. This simple solution can save hours of time submitting and responding to countless requests for information and also save thousands of dollars in needless change orders.

With the TEAM effort required for BIM, you can effectively and efficiently coordinate a very complex building, in a very short amount of time, compared to the old traditional way of doing things. As BIM grows, our traditional methods of design and construction coordination will be replaced with new and exciting “thinking outside of the box” methods.

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