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Clash Detection When Outsourcing 3D Modeling

In VDC (Virtual Design and Construction), each team working on a project creates its own 3D models. But merging those models isn’t always easy. When the teams come together and try to put the pieces together, it makes for clashes. It would be similar to individuals making their own puzzle pieces. Literally.


What is a Clash?

A clash happens when the components that make up a project build aren’t correctly (spatially) oriented and they conflict. Two or more aspects of the model—no matter how small—literally clash or interfere with each other at a particular juncture or point. Due to the clash, the area depicted on the model can’t be physically reproduced, so you won’t be able to build it.

For a project to succeed, MEP engineers who work from the merged and final 3D model have to spot and fix every clash. It’s a tedious task, but it often uncovers many model errors. Leave clash-detection for later, though, when the project has moved to actual construction, and watch the expenses spiral due to time lost to interferences on the 3D model.

So how do you, as a construction professional, evaluate whether or not the 3D model can meet the needed environment requirements and be installed against the structural model? When it comes to 3D modeling and clash detection, you may be feeling in over your head, especially if your team will take the blame for escalating project costs.


3D Model Evaluation

A 3D model evaluation service can take the load from your shoulders. Outsourced BIM can include an array of BIM-specific services, include 3D modeling, model evaluation, and clash detection. These jobs are the responsibility of professionals who can work with any 3D model you throw at them, no matter which software was used to create it.

While your company could undertake its own detection review, many construction companies lack the time, resources, and know-how to conduct the kind of in-depth review needed to find and fix every clash, no matter how minor.

A model evaluation service ensures models are clean and without mistakes—  it hands off the job of painstaking model checks and lets your employees undertake the work in which they can be most productive. The BIM service provider will inspect the model system-by-system, note any omissions, mistakes, or areas for improvement, and compare the current drawing set to the model’s detail.

Often, these clashes appear because various teams responsible for the build, including structural engineers, environmental engineers, and HVAC designers, have combined their independent model—based off the architect’s original model— into the master 3D model. Naturally, those models don’t always align perfectly.

Below are further benefits an MEP company will see when it contracts with a 3D modeling service for clash detection.


Cost Savings

While you’ll have immediate outsourcing costs, you’ll make that investment back in productivity and other cost savings. One of the returns on investment comes from spotting clashes early in your project when they’re much easier, cheaper, and less time consuming to rectify than after construction begins.

By outsourcing clash detection, you’re contracting with a company that will undertake a thorough review of your 3D models, isolate all clashes, review the clash reports, resolve the clashes, and verifies spatial coordination. With that kind of coverage, you can rest assured that all issues will be uncovered and resolved before your construction project begins.

By making clash detection an early part of the 3D modeling process, construction firms can coordinate with partner companies and resolve 3D design issues easier and earlier, thus avoiding delays and issues in the field.


Higher Productivity

For large buildings—even for smaller projects—your employees can spend a lot of time on 3D modeling issues, like clash detection. You probably still won’t see all the clashes resolved.

That’s because employees don’t spend all their time working with 3D modeling software, specifically using it for clash detection. Your employees lose time spent on more familiar or regular projects he or she can perform quickly and with expertise.

By outsourcing clash detection, you can be assured it will be done more quickly, and with much better clash resolution, than could be done in-house. This way, your employees can move to tasks they’re more familiar with and can perform with greater productivity.


Resolved Clash Issues

The clash detection software that service teams use is becoming increasingly sophisticated. With it, they can check for clashes within specific subsets, flag those on the screen, and make use of other features beyond the range of an in-house software that you might not be familiar with yet.


Reduced Rework

Unresolved clashes can spell disaster for a project. They can result in a significant amount of rework if not found on time. For error-free construction with no rework during the actual construction phase, clashes need to be found and eliminated the first time through.


Less Downtime

Resources and time are wasted if these clashes are not detected and resolved early during the design phase. If clashes are left unattended, it causes rework and downtime on construction sites until the issues are resolved. Such downtimes lead to decrement in workman’s efficiency on-site and causes delays in the timeline.


Better Project Plans

3D design review with an eye toward clash detection allows for more complex and ambitious 3D design to be realized successfully and safely. If this part of the process happens during the planning/design phase, your project will run much smoother.


Comply with Codes

A BIM services company can help you with detecting soft clashes that happen when there isn’t enough space and tolerance between two building components. Soft clash detection allows designers and builders to ensure they are complying with building codes by, for example, providing the proper clearance between a fire pipe and pneumatic pipe, for fire safety.


By detecting areas of the 3D model that can’t be built—clashes—you’ll allow for a smoothly operating project with far fewer glitches in the process. And remember, the responsibility for clash detection needn’t be on your shoulders alone. By contracting the job to an outsourcing company, you’re making for a better operating environment for all involved and saving your own costs and time in the process.

About the Author

Jean Thilmany is a freelance writer in St. Paul. She writes about construction, engineering, and robotics issues and served was an editor at Mechanical Engineering Magazine for 15 years. Her work has appeared in a range of publications.

Profile Photo of Jean Thilmany