Can BIM and prefabrication augment Electrical Design?

Can BIM and prefabrication augment Electrical Design?

The Building Information Model is a digital twin of any structure or building with all its physical and functional characteristics. The 3D model can be used to generate 2D drawings for onsite construction and its various tools improve collaboration, budgeting, workflows etc. to support a seamless onsite construction process.

MEP BIM Services have been utilized by various AEC companies to increase their productivity and profit margins. The information-rich mechanical, electrical, plumbing and fire protection 3D models of the right LOD can enhance intra and inter disciplinary coordination and ensures the construction process is error-free and clash-free. However, when it comes to electrical and power systems there is a considerable debate about the advantages of migrating to BIM. A lot of things regarding the electrical fields are done away from the 3D model like load calculations, cabling etc. However, there is strong case for shifting to BIM when it comes to electrical designs. In the current article we will be stating some of the advantages that can be gained out of using BIM for electrical design right through the building’s entire lifecycle.

Advantages of using BIM for Electrical Design:

Firstly, BIM can be useful for anticipating and dealing with problems before they occur. BIM has enhanced 3D visualization capacities where-in it is possible to zoom in or out to get a clearer picture of the design. It also allows to view the 3D model from different angles. With BIM it is possible to accurately model conduits, various electrical equipment, lighting fixtures, network routing, data transmission devices etc.

Along with enhanced visualization and precise 3D modeling of electrical components BIM also facilitates data management which could be used during any stage of a building’s lifecycle. The intelligent 3D model provides all the requisite information regarding the location of all the electrical components, their materials, manufacture’s details etc. This 3D model could be used to generate construction documentation like power and lightning wiring layout, panel schedules etc. which can be used for onsite assembly and installation. Similarly, As-Built Drawing Services can be used to create as built BIM models which account for all the changes that have taken place during the onsite construction process. They can be then used for facility management as they have all the requisite information to update, maintain and repair electrical systems in the buildings.

With BIM it is also possible to detect any interferences that are occurring between the plumbing systems, HVAC, structural and architectural members. In case of any resultant hard clash the changes can be made in the 3D model during the designing phase itself. Similarly, whenever any electrical component is not given the requisite tolerance it is a soft clash. With BIM it is possible to detect and resolve this clash.  Clash Detection not just results in a well-coordinated BIM model but it helps in controlling resources, costs and increases productivity.

Using BIM for electrical design has numerous benefits for all the involved stakeholders from the client, consultant and to the contractor and on-site laborer. It also goes a long way in ensuring safety measures on-site and reducing accidents and mitigating risk.

BIM for Electrical Prefabrication:

Pre-fabrication is the process of creating any component or object in an off-site weather controlled location and then assembling it onsite. Using pre-assembled electrical framework, the costs could be reduced at the same time the speed and quality of projects can be improved. When it comes to pre-fabrication of components it could be a wide range of parts from switches to wiring to inside the floor and wall equipment like ducts.

The electrical components which are to be prefabricated must be first 3D modelled and then sent to the manufacturing units for prefabrication. Using BIM would ensure that the electrical components installed onsite are precise and that they fit without any errors.

Thus, the case of BIM adoption for electrical design is strong and its advantages varied. It proves to not just cost-effective and productive during the onsite construction process but has also been instrumental in increasing the life cycle efficiencies for electrical facilities. As more research and advancements take place there will also be an increase in potential gains during design, construction, and facility operations of the building.

Written By:
Dhvani Badheka
Dhvani is an irreverent writer who has over 4 years of experience under her belt. She is a life-long learner and a quick study which provides her articles a unique insight. She is always reading, researching new materials and trying to expand her knowledge of the AEC industry so that she can create interesting and valuable content.

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