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How to Use Your BIM Model In All Project Stages

A BIM model enriched with specific data provides great value throughout the entire building lifecycle. This can result in a great amount of usable information. But how do you manage all of it?


MEP engineers can efficiently use their BIM model throughout all project stages - from design, to build, to maintenance and operation. And managing it all is simple if you have the right process in place.


Here’s how.


Design Stage

A useful framework for managing information in the design stage of a project is the concept of modeling from generic (2D or generic 3D), to specific (Specific 3D), to detailed (3D with detailed content). This means enriching the model with information as you go.


  1. Generic

At the beginning of the design phase, start by using generic (non-manufacturer) content, which is appropriate for structure design and can serve as a space occupation. For a mechanical installation, you would design the installation and create a Piping & Instrumentation Diagram (P&ID) in this phase.


Example of a mechanical diagram


2. Specific

As more technical details become clear over the course of the project, the generic model can be elevated to a higher level: a specific 3D model. In case of a mechanical installation, you would use the information from the Piping & Instrumentation Diagram to determine which pipes and fittings have to be placed.


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At this stage, you can use the model to perform a more accurate cost estimation or a clash detection to determine the main building layout.



Image showing a specific 3D model


3. Detail


The next part of the design phase is called detailing. This is where the model is enriched with manufacturer-specific data, calculation parameters, or maintenance data. Fittings and pipes can be enriched with extra data or (where necessary) with content that has a higher level of graphical detail.


Example of BIM content linked to manufacturer specific data.


Build Stage

A well-designed 3D model with the right information can speed up the construction process and save time and waste on site. For example, it’s an ideal source for extracting detailed prefabrication and work drawings. There are numerous ways in which data from the 3D model can be accessed to provide extra insights at the job site (tablets, computers, and mixed reality devices, such as the HoloLens Hard Hat solution shown below).

The HoloLens Hard Hat solution superimposes a BIM model over the real environment, aiding in clash detection and team collaboration.


Another example is the use of 3D laser scanners to determine positions of hangers based on the model.  


Maintain & Operate Stage

Even after the construction phase, you can use the 3D model to efficiently manage and maintain the building. For example, you can use the model for developing an annual maintenance plan or to easily locate parts that require maintenance. Additionally, you can simulate and calculate any changes to the installations in the 3D model before applying them.


Realizing Better Projects

By starting with a generic model and gradually enriching it with information, you have an efficient process in place for delivering and maintaining a useful BIM model— a BIM model which provides value at all project stages, to all collaborating parties, even after construction.


The ultimate result? High-quality projects that can be managed even better, saving both time and money.


About the Author

Arne Koelewijn is a BIM Consultant at Stabiplan, a Trimble company.

Profile Photo of Arne Koelewijn