Bright colors highlight systems for plumbing, steel or mechanical, electrical and fire protection. What may look like an abstract piece of industrial, high-tech artwork is actually a sample of Building Information Modeling (or BIM), in this case in the form of a federated model consisting of separate models from different subcontractors and trades. And, all of it is located centrally on a Web site that each can access.
“Subs have models, so what we’re doing is bringing each of their models into our federated model,” South Cole, Linbeck BIM project engineer, told Texas Construction. “The intent is to coordinate all the trades. In theory, it happens in paper drawings where you place them on a light table and lay them on top of one another. In practice that may or may not work.”
At Linbeck, it is more about process of coordination and teamwork than the technology, Cole says.
“Everyone has essentially been using technology such as this for the past 20 years,” he says. “It is a lot of information and we’re leveraging the right people to provide the right thing and giving everyone the capability to access that information to share it. It is really more of a social interaction than a technical advancement.”
Right now, Cole is working on the $250-million, 553,000-sq-ft expansion at Cook Children’s Medical Center in Fort Worth. When the project is complete in 2011, it will add 40% to the hospital’s current footprint.
Many of the subcontractors on the Cook Children’s project used BIM for the first on the project, Cole says.
“It is a powerful approach to planning and leveraging the technology,” he says. “And we have access to it easily.”
One goal of the project is to eliminate waste. For instance, if the duct contractor’s model shows that ducts may be planned for the same location as fire protection, the conflict can be corrected and avoided before the construction for both disciplines start.
“The amount of time that we save in coordination, in scheduling and in avoiding change orders far offsets the cost of the computer, the software and my time,” Cole says. “This process that we’re implementing here allows us to decrease our feedback cycle and increase the collaboration between designers and builders.”
The process can shave time off of a project as well as cut costs by preventing issues before they occur, Cole says.
“With BIM, we can identify and discuss a plan of action and then get a confirmation of action from a sub all within 24 hours rather than submit an RFI and go through 10 people to get it signed and take two weeks. This is a big time saver,” he says.
The Cook Children’s project is a fast-track in which the construction team is working without complete drawings. Cole says this is where this technology can thrive.
“We can afford to proceed without knowing exactly where we’re going and we can do it with a team atmosphere,” he adds.
The Cook Children’s project includes architect FKP of Dallas and MEP engineer, Smith, Seckman and Reid of Dallas.