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Why BIM Software Needs Calculation Standards

Are your software integrated mechanical calculations at risk of error? Read on, as we explore the dangers of inaccurate mechanical calculations and the importance of BIM software calculation standards.

Building Information Modelling (BIM) has transformed the lives of MEP project teams, bringing automation, coordination and enhanced levels of detail to the modelling workflow. Thanks to advanced BIM construction software, the process of creating a constructible mechanical building design has been streamlined.

However, this does require an element of trust in your chosen BIM tools. Trust that the 3D model is constructible, that all data is accurate and that any clashes have been correctly identified. Only with a reliable BIM modelling solution, one that is regularly updated with changing manufacturer specifications, can your expectations of a flawless mechanical design be achieved.

3 Keypoints of the Article

  • Inaccurate mechanical calculations in BIM software can lead to serious design and fabrication issues in construction projects.
  • Mechanical designers often need to double-check calculations due to a lack of trust in their BIM software's accuracy.
  • The Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers (CIBSE) verifies the accuracy of calculation, ensuring the accuracy of specialist MEP software.

BIM Software Model Calculations

On any construction project, calculations are vital to achieving maximum building efficiency. This can be efficiency in terms of energy consumption, wastewater treatment and use of available space, for example. 

Mechanical engineers who use modelling software to perform their calculations can benefit from a more efficient, productive and automated workflow. They are also less likely to encounter errors. However, this is only the case if all mechanical calculations are 100% accurate.

In many ways, the accuracy of your calculations is just as important as the coordination of the physical MEP elements. Pipework sizing, for example, is the result of a complex calculation. This can be based on a series of variables, including flow, velocity, losses in straight and neighbouring pipe runs, and individual fittings — with each requiring its own calculation. If any one of these calculations is off, the consequences can be serious. 

Inaccurate calculations carry the risk of design clashes once the project reaches the site, or even operational issues once the building has been handed over to the client and is in use. If these errors or faults remain undetected until further down the line, once the design has been finalised and construction has begun, the impact on time and cost can be severe. 

For example, if a section of the MEP system needs to be redesigned and new calculations generated, this can take the project back a step. As well as eating into the delivery timescales, this can also impact your all-important profit margin.

Essentially, inaccurate calculations mean inaccurate data. Data is at the core of a construction project, with a streamlined flow of data stretching from the beginning to the end of the RIBA workflow. Given the fact that a building’s MEP system is heavily integrated with the overall structure, inaccurate data can have a significant knock-on effect. Not only on the data owner’s involvement in the project but also on other disciplines too.

Unfortunately, there’s no easy way to know if the calculations generated by your BIM software are accurate.

Trust your BIM software

If mechanical designers and engineers don’t have trust in these calculations, they can be forced to have to double-check the calculations, often having to see verification from outside their chosen BIM solution. As well as being a long process, it also takes away from the time, cost and labour savings that BIM technology is supposed to provide. Why should you have to prove that your software is working correctly?

Stabicad for Revit gets your mechanical design calculations directly in your 3D model.

BIM software standards

It is here that the idea of BIM software standards can be critical when it comes to ensuring calculation accuracy. Consider using a specialist MEP software with integrated calculations that have been certified by the Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers (CIBSE), or a similar regulatory standard. 

As an international authority on building services engineering that sets standards and publishes Guidance and Codes, CIBSE’s certified calculations provide assurances of a software’s accuracy. In turn, this can help to reduce the likelihood of redesign or rework being required further down the line. 

Recently, CIBSE’s Society of Digital Engineers and Trimble’s MEP team have developed a software verification assessment program. This program reliably tests and determines if BIM software calculations are correct and in accordance with CIBSE guidance. If a BIM software package successfully meets the requirements of this independent review, CIBSE certifies its calculations.

Through the rise of BIM calculation standards, mechanical engineers and detailers can have peace of mind, knowing they can trust their calculations to be correct and in line with current standards. With accurate calculations come accurate and constructible models - essential if you want to avoid clashes or design errors being discovered once the project has reached the site. As well as adding extra time and expense to a project’s delivery, rework also increases the amount of material wastage, something to clearly be avoided as the industry looks towards a greener future.

With reduced risk and less time spent double-checking calculations, you can deliver jobs faster, more efficiently and profitably. Without the fear of your project being impacted by inaccurate calculations, you can instead use BIM modelling software for what it was intended: producing accurate, compliant and coordinated mechanical designs.

Calculation Standards Redefined – Trimble and CIBSE

The accuracy and trustworthiness of mechanical calculations in BIM software are of the utmost importance for the efficiency and reliability of construction projects. The adoption of established mechanical calculation standards for BIM, such as those provided by CIBSE, ensures a more accurate, compliant, and coordinated mechanical design process. By emphasising the importance of these standards and recognising the potential pitfalls of inaccuracy, the MEP industry can move towards more streamlined projects, minimised material wastage, and a brighter, greener future

To find out more about CIBSE and the verification process, please click here.