Integrating BIM down the supply chain

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Integrating BIM down the supply chain

Introducing new sub-contractors

Currently on our 12th BIM project at Warwick Hospital for repeat client South Warwickshire NHS Foundation Trust (SWFT), Speller Metcalfe is taking a new approach to help buck this trend by working with the mechanical and electrical (M&E) sub-contractor at Warwick – who is currently not BIM capable – to produce their own 3D working model to feed into the project model.

“Like employment of the main contractor at an early design stage, working with our sub-contractors from early on creates opportunities to discuss design feasibility and buildability issues before a project gets onto site,” says Ashley Poole-Graham, BIM Manager at Speller Metcalfe.

“However currently not many of our M&E sub-contractors are BIM capable, so by integrating them into our BIM workflows early on, we are increasing the opportunity for time and cost savings while reducing the amount of problems traditionally associated with the construction phase, for example clash detection.”


3D capable

Following provision of the traditional 2D drawings from the mechanical and electrical sub-contractor, Speller Metcalfe has been able to transform the 2D design into a 3D MEP model through collaboration with the project and M&E teams.

This was only made possible because of 3D architectural and structural models that were already in use, alongside the fit-out model provided by the architect which identified essential data such as location of hospital beds, outlets for medical gases and dado trunking.

On site, the team undertook BIM workshops, interrogating the models with the foreman and sub-contractors who were responsible for managing the installations, helping them to gain proper understanding of the design intent and troubleshoot any problem areas before works commenced.

The client’s Facilities Management has also undertaken workshops enabling them to better access information to aid in future facilities management. As a hospital, it’s highly likely the building will undergo future remodelling to expand wards or alter service locations and the asset information will play a key role in informing this process.

Benefit: ceiling coordination

By integrating this M&E information with the BIM workflows, the team has been able to better identify services routes, clashes with the structure and ceiling coordination.

With the latter, traditionally a large void is left in the ceiling for services, but at Warwick Hospital this space was dramatically reduced by steels running across the ceiling; it was simply unsustainable to keep re-routing services up and down through the ceiling void to avoid the steels because of increased pressure on the system.

This combined with varying ceiling heights between wards and corridors, fixed lighting positions and making allowances for ceiling access can make it extremely difficult to route these services, therefore the 3D model is used to identify the appropriate mechanical and supply routes and avoid clashes.

“Through experience, we know how important it is to have these conversations before we get onto site, for example who goes lower or higher on the piping, where the duct work is running” says Ashley.

“The 3D M&E information now accessible to our M&E contractor through the BIM client software has since been passed onto the duct work suppliers, allowing them to interrogate the model and best apply their knowledge to avoid these issues – and so this collaborative, educational approach continues down the supply chain.”

Moving forward

The team is now a third of the way through the Warwick Hospital project, and in the process of compiling figures on clash detection, time and cost savings for project completion. Within the M&E they are already predicting less man hours on site due to collaborating through the BIM workflows at design stage.

“For us, it’s not simply being able to say we can undertake BIM,” says Ashley. “Without being able to integrate our supply chain, we won’t be able to use Building Information Modelling to its full potential, and our aim is to gain the most out of the BIM process to benefit the entire project team.”

Speller Metcalfe is also undertaking a series of workshops and events in 2015 with – both client side and with their supply chain to help educate those looking to take the next step with BIM or learn integrating it within their own projects.

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