Lean Construction: Discrete-Event Simulation for MEP Renovation

This article by Jonghoon “Walter” Kim, Michael Marchione, and Stephen Tolbert of DPR Construction and India Rose Hill of The Boldt Company describes a DPR project in which the BIM model was used in a unique approach to project phasing for a large-scale MEP renovation of a medical research facility. Here, the model was employed as more than a strictly visual or geometry-based clash detection tool, by adding the component of time at specific events during each phase and sub-phase of the basement mechanical room renovation. This allowed the model to serve as a true 4D coordination model, producing automated data for the team to perform discrete event simulation (DES), which evaluates specific, sequenced instances in a larger ordering system. It gave the construction team advance warning of potential problems and thus the ability to troubleshoot them ahead of time.

URL: http://www.aecbytes.com/buildingthefuture/2013/LeanConstruction.html

3 thoughts on “Lean Construction: Discrete-Event Simulation for MEP Renovation

  1. This is a very impressive article and shows what can be done with an accurate BIM model of the before and after conditions. The use of static 4D clash detection would not have been adequate for this task as it would not have revealed clashes caused by the sequence of taking out old ducts and equipment and replacing it with new items. The level of detail in activity phasing is very significant for good use of this new approach and requires significant MEP experience.

    What was not clear to me was whether this approach could catch clash problems when equipment that was being removed or installed required more space because of extra space needed for lifting, access, turning, etc. In a tight arrangement of equipment, this could be a limiting factor. Also, the article does not state if there was a review of the final arrangement by FM staff to see if their access needs would be met.

    Finally, though it was not the focus of the article, I would be interested to know if the MEP data for the new equipment was captured in the BIM so that it could be fed into a CMMS (or equivalent) system for use by facility managers.

  2. Excellent point. Technically, it is possible to animate movement of a mechanical system and detect clashes along the movement in Navisworks. However, extra space needed for lifting, access, and turning was not represented in this case and clashes with the extra space were not detected. To minimize the risks associated with the space restrictions, the old air handlers were demolished and removed piecemeal, and the new air handlers were built in-place. With the extra space not being considered, demolition of the old system did not cause any physical clashes. Only the clashes with new system installation were detected. Access and maintenance space requirements were reviewed by the engineer, GC, and mechanical contractors during the coordination. The facility manager of the building did not participate in the coordination meetings. However, concerns and issues in regard to the access/maintenance space were notified to the facility manager and discussed prior to the final coordination sign-off. The BIM model was handed over to the client, but no MEP data were fed into CMSS. In traditional project delivery, the “turnover package” including the BIM is the biggest missed opportunity, I believe, for the lifecycle of the building. This is mostly due to the owner’s lack of comprehension of BIM as a process and then BIM as a deliverable that can improve commissioning, O&M, and potentially link to the CMSS.

  3. Thank you for writing this article. I agree with Paul’s comments above and would like to add to the dialog about the value of BIM for facility management (FM/ “the owner”). I also recognize that this was not the core focus of the article, but hope that this dialog may help to spark new ideas for future articles you may write.

    I would like to suggest that two possible sources of data relevant to the FM that may have been in the BIM created for this project may have been: 1) information entered into the model to meet the LOD 300 requirements; 2) information entered into equipment schedules within BIM authoring software which can be exported in file formats that can be consumed by FM software (such as a computerized maintenance management system, CMMS).

    As suggested by industrty standards such as COBie (construction operations building information exchange), the transfer of information from construction to operations (FM) is a process. As with any process, the sender and receiver need to have a general understanding of the process. Therefore, in order for the turnover package to be successful, there seems to be an opportunity for construction contractors and FMs to both better understand each other’s processes.

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