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Why Your BIM Software Needs to Support Mechanical Systems

Thu May 9, 2019

It’s rare to find a building without at least a few mechanical systems. In fact, some mechanical systems -- such as HVAC -- provide crucial quality-of-life services, without which buildings may not be fit for habitation or work.

AEC-istockMechanical Systems in Buildings

 Common mechanical systems in buildings include:

  • Elevators
  • Escalators
  • Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC)
  • Plumbing
  • Fire Response Systems
  • and others.

In general, mechanical systems in buildings are designed by specialized experts. Their job is to ensure the mechanical system fits in the building and fulfills its objectives.

However, this is not a trivial process as it always requires satisfying many conditions, such as the building’s support or maintenance requirements, energy capacity, and other infrastructure (e.g., plumbing, electrical wiring, space, etc). Misalignment in any one of those areas will both jeopardize the project and, in turn, result in non-recoverable costs.

The use of computer-aided design (CAD) software plays a critical role in supporting the design process. In some cases, such as elevators, designers use a more robust suite with computer- -aided manufacturing (CAM) and computer-aided engineering (CAE) tools, such as CATIA.

Electrical Systems in Buildings

The design of the building’s electrical systems depends on the building’s size and needs.

It involves a range of systems, including a transformer located inside or close to the building, voltage systems, cabling, and switches and meters (to record usage).

This is relatively easy to design in a CAD suite. In fact, designers can even show the meta-data using proprietary formats such as Revit and open ones such as IFC.


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Why You Must Use BIM for MEP Engineering

You can use BIM to drive a wide range of MEP design work, such as laying out HVAC ductwork and water plumbing systems. Not only do you get a 3D visualization of the work, but you could also make engineering calculations -- such as sizing -- in the BIM model.

3D Visualization

With 3D visualization, you can view how your MEP systems proliferate throughout the building.

This visibility offers a range of benefits, not least the ability to verify whether you are satisfying your project requirements, identifying opportunities for cost-savings (e.g., putting air diffusers closer to the occupant), and detecting clashes.

Avoid Clashes

One of the greatest benefits of using building information modeling (BIM) in MEP is that you can avoid clashes, which make mechanical systems incompatible with the building.

For example, an HVAC system requires added space to enable for maintenance or repairs, but the designer may not account for that space, which then results in a ‘soft clash’.

A ‘hard clash’ is when there’s a physical interference in the design, such as when a plumbing pipe cuts through a load-bearing pillar.

The risk with clashes is that they go unnoticed until the actual construction phase, at which point the building owner and construction contractors are at risk of cost overruns and delays.

With BIM, you can detect those clashes automatically and fix them during the design stage. This is a massive advantage considering the number of complex MEP systems at play. BIM removes a major risk factor and makes collaboration between different MEP professionals easier.

Product Lifecycle Information

You can also include information about the MEP systems, such as their maintenance and repair requirements, spare parts requirements, and other meta-data. This enables building owners and managers to control their long-term operating costs.


More on BIM Software Development:


Developing BIM MEP Software

BIM requires many critical software parts, but they are not easy to develop and maintain.

This places independent software vendors (ISV) at a major disadvantage against established BIM vendors.

However, with Spatial’s InterOp SDKs, you can integrate these capabilities to your BIM apps as well as provide other capabilities, such as enabling MEP designers to specify details about their system and translate that data into Revit.

Overall, Spatial’s SDKs can provide the bulk of your BIM software’s core functionalities, freeing you to focus on differentiating the user experience and accelerating time to market.

With over 30 years of CAD software development experience and 3 million users of our SDKs, we equip ISVs such as yours with the software capabilities you need to capture market share in the AEC space. Contact Spatial today to bring your BIM software to market ahead of schedule.

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