How to Explain BIM Coordination to Your Mom

20 March 2019All, Architecture and Engineering, BIM 360, Construction



“BIM coordination” may be a scary sounding phrase, but it’s really just the act of putting together a complex puzzle. Autodesk characterizes the BIM coordinator as someone who provides consistent coordination methods throughout the lifecycle of a BIM project. The BIM coordinator learns about how the project team solves problems, and s/he gets to adapt and improve with them. It’s like a group around the puzzle board. The team works together to accomplish the same goal.

The goals of a BIM coordinator are to:

  1. Review a project’s architectural, structural, ductwork, piping, fire safety, electrical, telecommunications, and (as if that’s not enough) other building systems as a group and see how they interact with one another.
  2. Be the one ultimately responsible to create a model where none of the systems clash with one another.
  3. In case of a clash or collision, help determine what needs to move where. This decision is based on:
    • Context within the model . . . for instance, if I look ten feet in either direction, it looks like there’s free space on the north side of the corridor.
    • Past experience . . . for example, on my past few jobs, the pressure piping worked best located tight to the steel.
    • Cost and design issues . . . as in, sure we could move the column so that the ¾” pipe has a straight run, but that would require a significant design change.

The lessons about BIM coordination that we piece together along the way:

  • Start with the big elements of your job and move your way to the smaller stuff, just like you would start with the border of the puzzle. The bigger stuff is harder to move and generally more important, so you need to get that located and locked down first.
  • Not all clashes are problems. Ductwork and piping must go through the walls, so that’s not a problematic clash.
  • Context is everything, just like referring to the picture on the front of the puzzle box is helpful.
    • Look at everything in context – what’s happening here and why?
    • Where are these systems going, and where did they come from?
    • If you can group clashes together, you can see the bigger picture.
    • Sometimes it’s not just that a pipe is hitting a duct. Maybe ten feet farther down the line, there’s something that caused that clash to happen.
  • Henry Ford was right – efficiency is king.
    • Look at your plans. Does each room or each floor look the same? If so, use that to your advantage.
    • If you can get your team to agree to always enter a room or make a transition in expectable ways, fewer clashes will occur.
  • Consistency is king. Use standards for the way things are to be done.
    • Always create a viewpoint of your clash in the same way. I suggest taking a viewpoint looking down from the top and facing north every time. You (probably) don’t build the puzzle upside down or by looking at the back of the pieces, so don’t do the equivalent of that in BIM coordination.
    • Always set up your model the same way.
      • Colors are helpful in a puzzle. Likewise color code each system in your drawings.
      • Be consistent when you describe and make suggestions. It helps your team if they can anticipate how you will describe things.
      • Be flexible. If your team wants information a certain way, give it to them.
    • Do your best to locate your clashes intelligently. The less you have to think about the logistics of an issue, the more time you have to solve it.

Adding BIM Coordination

While it can be fun and rewarding, the bottom line is that BIM coordination is of utmost importance to projects using the building information modeling process. The BIM coordinator helps monitor and refine a complex situation, and it’s a new set of challenges – a brand new puzzle to tackle – with each project. But wait! . . . what if your firm doesn’t have a BIM coordinator? Applied Software to the rescue! Applied has professional, experienced BIM coordinators on staff who can partner with your firm to help you piece together the puzzle of your BIM-centered project. These industry-educated Applied technicians can even train up a member of your staff to become a BIM coordinator. Contact Applied today to discuss how our Design Technology Management service can help you with your next BIM project puzzle. 

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