November 9, 2010
More Subcontractors Using 3D/BIM to Improve Results
I recently read a blog post by Design Master, reporting the use of 3D and Building Information Modeling (BIM) on construction projects from a survey they conducted. One of their results that I found surprising was that the electrical system is significantly more likely to never be modeled in 3D than any of the other systems (architectural, structural and mechanical). Wow, never be modeled, really? Over the past six months, Faith Technologies has used 3D and Revit models in very innovative ways to improve the results of an electrical construction project, even when the client or general contractor has not required it. We have made a tremendous commitment to the three “T’s” (Time, Treasure, and Talent) to ensure the successful development and growth of these resources, and are focused on using them to their fullest extent in an effort to turn the “never” into “always.”
Here are just a few ways that we are using 3D and BIM to eliminate waste and determine inefficiencies:
The goal of our detailing group is to lay out the job, eliminate the waste and take advantage of project efficiencies before the crews even start work on the jobsite. Our detailers identify areas of opportunity while working in AutoCAD MEP and convert the typical “flat” or 2D drawings to a 3D view. In the 3D view, the superintendent or foreman can see the characteristics of the structure, architecture and other mechanical systems in relation to the electrical systems they need to install. Panel locations, pipe bends and routing can all be worked out prior to stepping foot on the jobsite.
The other area of opportunity has been in locating all floor penetrations in our drawings along with hanger bolt locations. That information can then be uploaded to our Trimble unit for a more accurate and efficient installation by our field crews. In a recent article published in Electrical Products and Solutions magazine, an electrical contractor attributes a 50 percent labor savings in using an AutoCAD MEP generated model in tandem with their Trimble unit. This is time saved in layout and helps eliminate any rework that may need to take place due to inaccurate measuring. In some instances, we have actually found that the carpentry contractor will use the location of our conduit and floor boxes to measure from for the placement of their walls due to the accuracy of our conduits.
Our prefab group is using 3D and BIM drawings to create the details they build from. The detailers and preconstruction specialists model strut assemblies, feeders, panels and conduit drops in the Revit model. That information is then converted into detailed drawings the prefab group can use to build the components. All of the components are labeled, tagged and sent to the jobsite for installation. This has become very valuable on large projects that have similar rooms and repeat components, and this process has become very valuable as it improves productivity and quality and reduces waste.
As indicated in a recent Construction Executive article, specialty contractors need to continue to find ways to improve and adapt to remain competitive. To differentiate ourselves from the competition and become a leader in the electrical contracting industry, we have made the commitment to continue to test and explore the limits of BIM and AutoCAD MEP to enhance our trade. To hear that most believe the electrical systems are least likely to be modeled or designed in 3D further demonstrates the great opportunity to help educate the industry on the value of these tools in the electrical trade.