We all know about Building Information Modeling (BIM) and it’s important especially to who work in Building, Design and Construction Industries. There are many advantages like early detection of design errors by 3D coordination, collaboration at the design phase, minimize rework/change order, realistic visualization, ease of fabrication and lifecycle management etc.  It is not far from the time when Building Information Modeling will be mandatory for all trades related to Building Design and construction by Authority Having Jurisdiction. Many of the Architectural firms are well in advance of doing BIM and working hard to develop their BIM capabilities and workflow constantly where not all but many MEP( Mechanical Electrical and Plumbing) consultants are falling behind. MEP consultants may blame that the client does not pay for BIM. Of course there is an investment of technology, software and skilled personnel to adopt BIM and initially the quality/standard of BIM may not be the same as it was expected as the process is work in progress therefore, the client may not agree to pay the whole investment but usually clients are raising up the consultant fees when they are doing BIM. It is expected that those cost will be paid off as soon as the company BIM standard and maturity level grows up. However it may not be always be true that the cost or technology investment is the main hindrance to adopt BIM rather than long term visions or mentality to adopt new technology.

MEP consultants are falling behind ?

This is not uncommon that the  MEP consultants buy software and hire BIM specialists to show off their BIM capabilities just to get into the project where BIM capabilities are a prerequisite. However within the few weeks after project kick off meetings, many MEP engineers try to find a way to avoid BIM, giving causes, issues etc. and finally moving back to the traditional process of project delivery during the design phases. Very risky game, enough to loose reputation and it will be harder to get an opportunity from the same client in the future. This may be the case for some small to medium MEP consulting firms. Even clients if pay extra for BIM many of the MEP consultants have a very hard time to adopt true BIM. There are technologies, skilled people and companies who want to invest money for BIM and these are the challenges:

 Challenges for MEP Consulting Firm:

1. Communication: The first and most important thing is communication. If you don’t have time to answer an email or text within a few days most probably you are not fit for doing BIM. Remember, this is the world when we have many different ways to communicate from every corner of the earth. Even if you invest on technology, you have to be proactive and communicate faster to adopt any new technology.

2. Knowledge Sharing: Willingness to share the knowledges and information depends on the company or person but plays a lot in the role to be successful in a BIM project. If you are hiding information to keep your business a secret and not sharing knowledge, you probably cannot continue a BIM project. Open your mind when you are taking a BIM project.

3. Work distribution: Whether or not you are a Lead engineer, BIM manager or main contact person of the company, work must be distributed among the experts to get better outcomes. A lot of time MEP designers who are familiar with 2D drafting will jump into 3D modeling to do everything quickly by themselves without spending time to learn the software/processes properly. This happens when lead designers or engineers think they know enough of 3D modeling and try to avoid BIM specialists who were hired for the specific reason. For sure you cannot continue BIM projects because you didn’t use expertise.

4. Time management: When you learn or adopt a new system, you have to spend time. BIM is not just a 3D model, It is a process where the main BIM model carries a lots of different information of each and every element. Type of information also determine the quality of the model . If you are busy with so many personal things and or with many other projects and you don’t have time to learn how to review, mark up etc. of a 3D model, BIM is not for you. Spend time to learn and adopt new process or technology as there may be no shortcut.

5. Cost of the software: Cost of the software could be an issue if you don’t have a project where BIM is mandatory. As it was mentioned earlier companies buy software to get the project done, but at certain point when clients are reluctant to accept a non BIM deliverable, MEP consultants immediately will cancel software licenses to cut off costs. Looks like a gain for you MEP guy’s however, you are falling behind and wasting time to catch up.

6. Productivity packages: Many of the MEP companies are rushing to implement BIM for the time being and buying Productivity packages, Starter templates, BIM Kick start modules, etc. The reality is every project is different and you have to create specific standards for your company templates, families, equipment, fixtures, devices, etc. Therefore Generic things may not work, instead you might run into BIM wash or waste of project time. BIM Packages may work better if you can hire a person from the company selling it but it could be expensive. Train your staff and pick up Champions to carry on BIM development.

There may be many other challenges but the summary is that MEP consultants will not adopt BIM unless they are forced by the client to do BIM.


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