People are continuously optimising their work and tasks, completing them faster and with less effort. We have experienced technological development at every step, from the invention of the wheel, the steam engine, the light bulb, through to the development of the motorcar, the computer and the smart phone.
The increase of computing power and the reduction of these devices’ size have already begun to have an impact on the way we design and build. The days of designing a school, a factory, a shopping mall or an office block on a drawing board with tracing paper, with all documentation stored in many lever-arch files, are coming to an end. Today think of a building’s design as being on computer in 3D. But in the near future, no one will consider working in a different way than BIM.
BIM in PM Group
BIM (building information modelling) brings together 3D visualisation of the building, together with all relevant non-graphical information such as maintenance schedules, instructions, guarantees, for every part of the building – what’s visible (light fittings, door handles) and what’s behind the plaster and above the ceiling (wiring, pipework). BIM models allow architect, developer and contractor to work together to eradicate problems before the first spade goes into the ground; and handed over to the landlord and tenants, the BIM model helps costing utility bills for future years, lowering operational costs.
Six years ago, PM Group offices in Poland started to implement BIM software (Autodesk, Revit, Navisworks) and began working on the first multidisciplinary model of an industrial plant in Poland, including all disciplines – architecture, construction, and systems including plumbing and electrical engineering. The first fully multidisciplinary design of an industrial facility was the chilled lasagne factory of The Pasta Food Company in Opole. Another spectacular design using BIM was a complicated milk processing plant in Germany that modelled the process systems inside as well as the actual building, with participation of all the design disciplines. This project was developed remotely with support of the PM Group offices in Warsaw and in Wrocław.
Currently every design produced at PM Group offices is developed in BIM. One of the on internal standards of our working environment is the BIM Execution Plan, which includes information about the software used for developing the design, and takes into account the level of detail of the models designed. It also contains the protocols and information about the means of data exchange and persons responsible for realisation and oversight of the design in BIM. It’s important to organise the work correctly and define the key parameters right from the start.
Another example is a 140,000 m2 food processing plant – one of the biggest designs developed by the PM Group using BIM technology. This assignment required to define the right file management strategy at the first stage of work, making it possible to develop in subsequent steps into a big and complex model.
Over the last six years, Polish PM Group offices have designed 24 large industrial facilities with a total usable space in excess of 660,000 m2.
Collaboration between engineers
The software and new design processes implemented allows designers of all disciplines to work on the facility at the same time. Collaboration can take place in real time on a single platform, significantly improving effectiveness of communications between the groups engaged in a project. The software allows introduction of changes to facilities on a global level by any engineer working on the project who, thanks to the virtual platform, can actively collaborate with specialists from other disciplines. This allows for easier sharing of technical knowledge and experience with other team members. Project changes and optimisations made in the digital model allow saving time and money on implementation of the project.
BIM has significantly improved information sharing within the teams. Designers and their assistants ‘build’ a virtual facility that becomes a detailed reflection of the future facility. The Revit platform assures automatic 3D views of every element a designer creates, quick access to up-to-date and validated information about the elements introduced, cutting down the design time, and significantly reducing the possibilities of clashes between different disciplines – HVAC and plumbing, for example.
Coordination between disciplines
Coordination between the various trades is provided in the 3D environment thanks to the Navisworks software. After defining the boundary conditions in a model, the program automatically recognises every clash and records it. Resolution of the detected problems is the responsibility of a designated member of each team. The developed models of process, plumbing and electrical systems are adapted to the building in a way that minimises the need for modifications to be introduced later. Changes to designs at the construction site generate huge costs and often result in delays; this is why it is so important to eliminate them already at the design stage.
PM Group also engages building site inspectors who managing construction projects to run the building process using the BIM models. After their experience with the tool, they said that the BIM model allows them to cut down the time needed to acquire the necessary information, thus significantly influencing the progress of the construction work.
BIM and virtual reality
Before the ground is broken at a construction site, the customer and their staff are able to take a virtual tour of the factory model developed by the designers. PM Group is using game engines to combine different design and modelling platforms and transform 3D models into a fully immersive virtual reality experience. VR simulation walk-throughs can give the client a really good feel for the layout, ergonomics and space at the earliest stages in the design process. The future is here. If you’re planning to build a factory and you’re not considering using BIM, you’ll be storing up problems and costs for tomorrow.