Transitioning from traditional FAB to a BIM-driven workflow
Written By Carol Dunn

The payoff for transforming your fabrication workflow from a traditional paper-based method to a digitally driven fabrication workflow can be well worth the effort in time and materials savings alone.

The first step toward replacing paper and relying upon electronic methods – a step that many mechanical firms have already taken – includes email, Excel files and PDFs. But this is still labor intensive and not plugged into the layers of data that are contained in the virtual BIM model. The Connect&Construct article, “Trade Contractor’s Guide: Transitioning from a Traditional Fabrication Workflow to a BIM-Driven Digital Workflow,” points out that, in a fully digital fabrication workflow, the data contained within the BIM model, like model geometry and spool sheets, can assist in driving fabrication processes. A BIM-driven digital workflow allows communication across an entire organization about the status of projects from design through installation. The bonus is that model geometry remains uncompromised.

For contractors considering updating from traditional fabrication workflows to gain the benefits of the BIM process, there are two main considerations:

  1. Do the benefits of a digital fabrication workflow align with the company’s mission, vision, strategic objectives and future goals?
  2. If they align, is management willing to employ the BIM process to replace the paper-PDF workflow?

When considering BIM, management will undoubtedly have questions about costs and benefits surrounding the conversion. BIM isn’t something a firm can simply add to a project workflow. The BIM process is the new project workflow.  

There are a number of benefits of a BIM-driven digital workflow:

  • Increased prefabrication.
  • Reduced repetitive, time-consuming work like generating spool sheets, bills of material, cut lists, and labels.  
  • Minimized material waste and rework through shop tool integration.
  • Improved communication through the use of tracking status.
  • Increased data integrity compared to paper-based work – delivering digital information across the entire workflow.
  • Increased speed with increased quality.

Although every firm has its priorities, the benefits of a digital BIM workflow can touch all segments of the fabrication process. Increased prefabrication leads to increased safety in the field. Automating repetitive tasks saves time on modeling. Using BIM data to drive equipment in the shop and streamline fieldwork saves on materials. Workflow tracking helps streamline schedules.

As the Connect&Construct article points out, after the decision is made to adopt the BIM process, there are key actions for making a successful transition:

  • communication to all of the teams in the company (management, administration, purchasing, shop, field);
  • buy-in by the users;
  • investing in the correct tools required for BIM, which may include eVolve MEP for a unified source of project management;
  • customized training on BIM tools to significantly reduce the learning curve;
  • implementing in manageable stages;
  • using the company’s established goals to focus on top priorities first;
  • celebrating your wins.      

It’s hard to put a dollar value on increased safety through prefabrication, or better communication among teams, or data integrity, or even increased quality. But the companies who have made the switch to BIM processes report their workflows are more streamlined and their projects are more cost efficient – and the savings will increase over time as teams become comfortable with the flow of BIM.

Contact the experts at eVolve MEP today for a quick discovery call. eVolve Mechanical and eVolve Electrical will harness the Revit platform for your firm and offer seamless collaboration like no other software ever has.

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