BIM Building Information Modeling

The complexity of construction projects continues to increase. In keeping with this trend, building information models have been playing an increasingly important role in the planning and construction of building services and systems. For some years now, building information models, along with Industry Foundation Classes (IFC) object-based basic data models, have been facilitating interoperability between growing numbers of software products in this area. BIM processes are commonly divided into the categories of "little BIM" and "big BIM." The former refer to smaller-scale, in-house solutions of specific companies, while the latter refer to solutions that are widely used throughout an entire range of planning and construction processes.

Since 2011, ZWP Ingenieur-AG has been using a BIM framework that includes 3D modeling throughout design phases and linking of building services designs with their underlying calculations.

Our efforts in this area developed from the insight that interdisciplinary use of building information modeling would eliminate repetitive data entry (each data item only needs to be entered once, for all uses within a project) and would prevent data-transfer errors. It was quickly learned that the resulting model-quality requirements would disproportionately demanding, however. For this reason, we focused initially on using BIM to improve coordination between the tasks of design, calculation and mass determination, and on using our own models for mass determination itself and for analysis of room data sheets. For customers and engineers alike, the great value of all such models is that they enhance quality assurance, with regard to both coordination and to the reliability of mass determinations. The models also greatly facilitate checking of results, from an engineering standpoint, and they support optimization of planned networks.

Since ZWP had been using 3D systems for some time, the change did not call for a major software conversion. A number of work processes did have to be modified, however. The requirements pertaining to modeling and data exchange are so complex that not all designers are equipped to fulfill them. For this reason, special CAD administrators step in to take responsibility for such coordination processes, for example, and for refining work processes. In spite of all the work-process conversions it requires, BIM, in our view, is not really the completely new planning method that it is often made out to be. BIM is primarily a new method of data exchange. The primary difference between BIM and older approaches is that with BIM, all data is entered, with computer assistance, into a common model. Previous approaches required information to be exchanged via paper and verbal coordination. To produce a good building, architects, stress analysts and a range of engineers have to collaborate closely. Whether such cooperation takes place conventionally, with older methods, or digitally, via information modelling, is of secondary importance!

BIM field of application

BIM is applicable to a broad range of different areas, including:

  • Model-based project management and controlling
  • Element-based component analysis
  • Element-based determination of costs and masses
  • Checking for system conflicts, using a coordination model and model-based functional control
  • Model-based project evaluation (involving calculations and/or simulations, for example)
  • Model-based planning of construction-site management (for example: acceptance management for acceptance by appointed experts; general acceptance management)
  • Model-based tenders
  • Standardized procedures for handover to regular management
  • Model-based maintenance management (for example, with specification of maintanance intervals)
  • Use of model-based as-built documentation for further construction and for operation
  • Integration of the model into CAFM systems and other operator systems

In each case, we put priority on understanding what our customers, working in cooperation with our team, wish to achieve via use of BIM. We always identify what the main purpose of the model data will be – will they be used to improve the planning process, to facilitate inspections by internal and external inspectors or to support the future operation of building systems? And we discuss such application areas with our customers.

In addition, we bring our experience and know-how to bear in the context of various working groups. ZWP staff are active in the "Building Information Modelling" working group of the VBI association of consulting engineers, in the AHO (Committee of the associations and chambers of engineers and architects for fee regulations) and in the DIN 19650 standardization committee (as VBI representatives).

Edition Detail BIM Building Information Modeling | Management: Methoden und Strategien für den Planungsprozess available at DETAIL Shop.

A publication in VBI 1-2 2015: "BIM in der TGA Planungspraxis" available as PDF Download in german language.

Lecture at CEGA - Congress: "TGA in Rahmen des BIM".


Klinik am Eichert, Göppingen
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SIEGI.241, Cologne
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Axel-Springer-Campus, Berlin
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Urban Soul, Bonn
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Gesundheitscampus NRW, Bochum
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Graphics: © ZWP Ingenieur-AG