4 Benefits to Using BIM for Electrical Engineering

1. Embedded Spatial Awareness

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Somebody not familiar with the industry might look at a floor plan generated using 2d CAD software and think that it contains the same spatial information as a BIM, but that is not the case. Many electrical calculations need to factor in a sophisticated spatial awareness of the project. For example, initial load calculations are based completely off of square footage. There can be also be concerns of voltage drop for distant loads which a BIM can be used to keep track of. The energy code also tells us how much power we can use for lighting per square foot based off the usage of the space. Using a BIM is a powerful tool for making sure that these numbers are accurate and for extracting the information. Instead of using a 2d area measuring tool, with BIM we can simply extract a list of spaces and associated square footages.

2. Protect your clients

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Architects need to know ahead of time how much space the engineer is going to need in the building to put their systems in. Engineers need to figure out the entire design of the building before they can truly be sure that their systems will fit. With an accurate BIM, this push and pull can be eased. Engineers can coordinate directly with their clients on the same model to make sure that both disciplines agree. If necessary, the exact virtual equipment models can be downloaded directly off the manufacturer’s website for placement into the BIM. This lets your clients know ahead of time if there is going to be a clash between systems. It also is the most streamlined way to reduce the number of costly project changes.

3. Do your calculations right in the BIM


In the distant past, we only had paper. In the more recent past, we had Microsoft Excel, calculators, pdf viewers, CAD, manufacturer calculators, and still more paper. Now, we have BIM. Make life easier on yourself and trade in all the old tools for the new one. There is a learning curve, but you can replace all the old tools with just the new one. All the power calculations, drafting and viewing can be consolidated into the one tool.

4. Make more money


Clients will pay more for a BIM than they will for a 2D construction set because it is a more valuable product. With a BIM, the client can visualize the project and do a walkthrough to make sure they like it before ever breaking ground. This is an extremely valuable tool for making your clients successful. It is true that the client mainly cares about how the architecture looks, but without the engineering systems, they don’t have the full picture of the building. With the full BIM handed off to the client, they can use this for the whole lifecycle of the building. When a maintenance man inevitably needs to come service your engineering systems, they won’t need to search through huge drawing sets, they can just pull out the model and navigate right to the systems. When a new client leases an office building from them and needs to remodel it, they can send them the BIM to pass off for the next project. Any electrical engineer knows how long it takes going to a client site to sort through hundreds of design documents. Bringing design documents back to the office and scanning is a huge waste of time and money. Imagine a world where your client has an entire virtual model of the building on their thumbdrive with every piece of information embedded in one place.