Good News about BIM in HVAC

by | Nov 17, 2020 | All

Contractors would use building information modeling (BIM) more often if they could, but there are stumbling blocks in the way. This was one of the findings of the BusinessWire article, “High Degree of BIM Use by Mechanical Contractors Leads to Multiple Benefits.

The article discusses Dodge Data & Analytics SmartMarket research which “demonstrates that mechanical contractors are sophisticated users of BIM software who have seen the benefits from that use… [and] that the ability of these contractors to fully leverage the value of modeling technologies is hampered by training and manpower issues, along with the challenge of getting other project stakeholders equally engaged in BIM.”

Apparently one challenge we’ve got to address in the HVAC trades is training employees – on Revit design and detailing, for example – so they can create BIM models. Normalizing BIM in training was a topic of conversation during the MEP Force 2020 Virtual trade organizations panel breakout session on August 31. It was agreed that, among the trades, mechanical contractors have been the drivers of BIM because they saw the most benefits historically.

There’s another challenge that is widely acknowledged. It is the struggle across project teams to fully engage with BIM. Other trades haven’t embraced BIM like the HVAC trades have. Nor, in many instances, have the other stakeholders on projects – perhaps the engineer, the architect or the general contractor. The BusinessWire article states, “poor quality BIM use by other stakeholders is also presenting significant challenges.” That’s unfortunate.

The article points out that one of the biggest benefits of BIM for contractors is that it can “improve the fabrication process. Many mechanical contractors are frequent users of offsite fabrication for their systems, and the study shows that nearly half use BIM on 50% or more of the assemblies they prefabricate, demonstrating that BIM is an essential tool for this process.”

When it comes to benefits from using BIM for prefabrication, good news becomes great news. Over three-quarters of mechanical contractors who use it to prefabricate report that they see:

  • Less materials waste generated
  • Improved labor costs
  • Better quality of installed work
  • Avoiding the purchase of extra pipes and fittings
  • Improved schedule performance

Sean McGuire, Director of Innovative Technologies at MCAA (Mechanical Contractors Association of America), cites BIM as an “increasingly important and incredibly complex” tool.

McGuire was a guest on the award-winning Bridging the Gap podcast “From LEGO Builder to Mechanical Innovator,” where he explains the value of staying ahead of the curve in using BIM.

“It requires additional coordination, planning, and design expertise, and MCAA members are embracing the tools and technology to rise to the challenge,” he says. BIM is effectively still in its infancy, and mechanical contractors still have a lot to learn.

It sounds like more widespread investment in BIM is well worth it. If we can address the issues of training and see a transition to Revit that results in more widespread use of BIM on projects, we’ll have more contractors reaping the multiple benefits of using BIM collaboratively on projects.

The experts of eVolve MEP have worked in the construction trades, so they know the challenges you face and the innovations that can make a difference. Contact eVolve MEP today and learn how the industry-trained eVolve Mechanical and Electrical consultants can partner with you to keep your business relevant and competitive in the years to come.

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