Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Building Information Modeling (BIM) for Electrical System Design

Building Information Modeling (BIM) is used frequently when working across multiple disciplines, including mechanical, electrical, plumbing, and fire protection engineering, and also with other stakeholders such as architects and contractors. Data Center Design with BIM is one of the obvious examples to facilitate and streamline complex design teamwork and coordination.

Consulting engineers, on the other hand, are facing with the same challenges, including the increment of speed and complexity of projects, which evolve codes and standards and a continual push for the electrical discipline to advance in BIM.

While BIM has been around for 20 years and is used regularly by architects and both structural and civil engineers, adoption by mechanical, electrical, plumbing (MEP), and fire protection engineering firms has only started to take off in more recent years. Today, as more architects require all parties working on a project to engage with BIM, consulting engineers are demanding the tools necessary to advance BIM in the electrical space, such as the ability to access more information online and easier access to BIM models and manufacturer support and expertise.

An overall view of a building shows a single mechanical, electrical, plumbing, and fire protection (MEP/FP) design model representing accurate location and overall dimensions of equipment and systems. This image is rendered from a single Revit model containing MEP/FP disciplines along with IT and audio-visual (AV) disciplines representing accurate location and overall dimensions of equipment and systems.

The value of BIM is that it gets the right information to all the right people at the right time, enabling collaboration, productivity, and insight. However, there are some challenges, particularly in the electrical space, that must be overcome for BIM to reach its full value.

A partial model view shows electrical equipment, mechanical/plumbing equipment ducts and piping, along with a related pump schedule.

One key challenge to BIM adoption in the electrical space is the lack of accurate, relevant, and standardized BIM content. To date, to move forward with BIM implementation, many firms have had to develop their own content libraries - often by downloading from a repository of manufacturers' products online.

This poses challenges, as many products are subject to frequent manufacturer updates; which means that maintaining an up-to-date content library becomes difficult. For example, if a user downloads an electrical panelboard and leaves it on his or her hard drive for several years, the product information in the BIM environment will quickly become outdated as the downloaded content remains static, yet the actual product continues to evolve.

It's critical that product data remains up-to-date in BIM models. BIM is not just a design tool that stops being used after the construction phase of a project; rather, it is an overall lifecycle tool that uses the information from conception through design and commissioning and into operation and maintenance of the building.

The power of BIM lies in the information. At any point in the lifecycle of a project, the information must be accurate to help reduce time-consuming errors and rework. Additionally, it must be accessible from virtually anywhere, at any time, and by all the project stakeholders - and it must be actionable to help inform the decision-making process with simulation and analysis.

Bridging the gap between BIM environments and product data is critical to the advancement of BIM in the electrical space.

About us

Strategic Media Asia (SMA) is one of the approved CPD course providers of the Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers (CIBSE) UK. The team exists to provide an interactive environment and opportunities for members of ICT industry and facilities' engineers to exchange professional views and experience.

SMA connects IT, Facilities and Design. For the other design considerations, please visit 
(13) Generator Systems, etc.

All topics focus on key components and provide technical advice and recommendations for designing a data center and critical facilities.