BIM Gives Mission Critical Facility a Competitive Advantage
In mission critical infrastructures, all components must operate each and every day, without exception or incident. Speed-to-market, increased efficiency, redundancy and reliability are crucial. Failure and down-time are not an option.
In designing mission critical facilities, one of the most challenging requirements is to anticipate all possible scenarios that can affect system performance. Mission critical buildings involve high degrees of redundancy and complexity that are not encountered on typical construction projects.
Building Information Modeling (BIM) is a revolutionary project delivery process that is vital to maximizing reliability and ensuring proper systems coordination through the early identification of conflicts in the design process. Balfour Beatty Construction’s BIM team utilizes an Autodesk software called Navisworks to detect hard collisions between systems and assess issues such as required code and access clearances. This results in the reduction of field coordination issues and subsequent schedule delays.
A recent Carolinas division Tier III data center project highlighted just how accurate and valuable BIM technology has become. Our Virtual Design & Construction (VDC) teammates spent three and a half months working to create the final model for this confidential, 175,000-square-foot data center’s underground, first, and second floors.
Because data centers involve extensive mechanical, electrical, and plumbing (MEP) infrastructure as well as fire protection systems and raised flooring, the project necessitated interdisciplinary and early design coordination amongst the subcontractors, architect, and Balfour Beatty’s BIM team. Each trade was responsible for creating and updating their models. On a weekly basis, Thelin and Clark combined the subcontractors’ multiple models into a singular 3-D virtual model and ran collision detection. They subsequently facilitated weekly meetings between all trades to identify issues and develop solutions.
Ultimately, the final coordinated model, which took approximately 15 revision cycles and included a total of 30 single system models, provided the project team with an accurate and conflict-free design on which they could rely with confidence.
As evidenced by this side-by-side comparison of one of the data center’s equipment pod galleries and its view in the BIM model, the coordination was a resounding success. Despite the model’s phenomenal accuracy, the VDC team was able to take away an important lesson learned. A series of seismic bracing was not included in the final model and therefore required unanticipated field coordination.
“The client asked Balfour Beatty to build this project, because they realized how complex it is, and they expect it done right the first time,” said Pat Dean, Carolinas Division president. “We understand that the building systems must function flawlessly – twenty-four hours a day, every day of the year. There is no doubt that BIM gives our critical facilities a competitive advantage.”
In the past decade, our industry has observed the evolution of BIM from a beneficial to a necessary element of preconstruction that greatly enhances the quality and functionality of a finished product. With BIM’s unparalleled benefits, “Send me the model,” might just become the expected response to a permit request in years to come.