Skip to main content

Design, Build, Maintain & Operate: How To Optimize Your Mechanical Workflow

It’s a common approach in construction projects; Design, Build, Maintain & Operate. In addition to the design and realization, the contracting party is also responsible for the maintenance of the completed work for a defined period of time.

In these projects, BIM models enriched with specific data can be of great help. Here’s how MEP engineers efficiently use the BIM model in all project stages - from design to maintenance.


Design: from generic to specific

In the design phase, engineers set up their model from generic (2D or generic 3D) to specific (Specific 3D) to detail (3D with detailed content). At the start of the design phase, generic content is used which is appropriate for a structural design and which possibly serves as a space occupation. For a mechanical installation for example, in this phase the installation is designed and a Piping & Instrumentation Diagram (P&ID) is created.

Mechanical diagram



In the course of the project, more and more technical details will become clear and the model can be elevated to a higher level: a specific 3D model. In the example of the mechanical installation, the information from the P&ID is used to design a specific 3D model. The pipes and fittings that have to be placed, will be determined from the diagram. Now, the model can be used for more accurate cost estimation and clash detection in order to determine the main layout of the building.


Finally, the specific model is developed into a detailed model by enriching it with, for example, manufacturer-specific data, calculation parameters, and maintenance data. In the example of the mechanical installation, the fittings and pipes would be enriched with even more data or (where necessary) with content with a higher level of graphical detail. This phase is called the detailing stage.

BIM content linked to manufacturer specific data


When realizing the project, it is essential to have the correct information in the construction phase, which has been prepared during the design phase. Take for example prefabrication drawings. A well-designed 3D model is an ideal source for extracting detailed work drawings. But also take the many new ways in which data from the 3D model can be made available at the job site. Think for example of tablets, Augmented Reality devices or the use of laser workstations to determine positions (e. g. hangers).

Maintain & Operate

Also in the management and maintenance phase, the contracting party benefits from the investments in the 3D model. For example, the model can be used to develop a multi-annual maintenance plan. In addition, parts that require maintenance can be easily located. Also, any changes to the installations can be simulated and calculated in the 3D model before they are applied.


The right information in the right phase

By setting up a generic BIM model and gradually enriching it, the information can be used optimally in each project phase. This creates an efficient workflow with the result: high-quality projects that can be managed even better in terms of money and time. Projects where even during and after construction, all parties benefit from the information from the model.