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Mechanical Systems Design Utilizing Building

Information Modeling as a Tool for
Efficient Implementation
Luigi Albert C. Floresca, Jacob Arn M. Suero, Jessmar A. Viola, Mark Anthony R. Rotor
AbstractCurrent methods of designing a building the process and providing an estimate to the extent of its
project in the Philippines are becoming obsolete in benefits.
comparison to methods used by developed countries.
Building Information Modeling (BIM) is currently BIM is referred to not only as a tool, but also a process of
becoming the standard in the international arena and utilizing the model and information of the facility, called the
integrating this method to the local firms will increase the Building Information Model, for simulation and critical
efficiency of the designing and increase the competence of evaluation necessary for the project [1]. BIM allows accurate
local firms in handling building projects. The study used and efficient collaboration of project teams, including
Building Information Modeling to design the mechanical contractors, owners, engineers and architects [2]. BIM
systems of a proposed 4-storey office building. A three dimensions are being classified according to the information
dimensional model and construction simulation of the and function each holds [3]. 3D BIM involves a 3D virtual
systems was created in Revit and Navisworks with its
parametric model, integrating all systems design (MEP,
corresponding time and cost schedules and, sign and sealed
Structural and Architectural) and systems analyses plus
plans by a licensed professional mechanical engineer.
Results show that as a tool for designing a buildings Building Performance Analysis (BPA). Clash detection can be
mechanical systems, with sufficient investments and easily identified, avoiding future on-site clash detection [4].
preparation, BIM has the potential to become the standard 4D BIM involves 3D BIM plus time schedule, which visualize
of designing of local firms. Features and opportunities only the entire construction progress and duration throughout the
available to BIM, with proper use, have been proven to be projects life cycle. Autodesk Navisworks is the platform used
more convenient and more efficient compared to to create 4D BIM. 5D BIM involves 3D BIM plus cost
traditional means. scheduling, which provides cost estimation of the project and
Index termsBIM, Buildings, Construction, Design materials take-off. The cost schedule is already integrated in
Automation, Mechanical Systems Autodesk Revit [5]. There are various software that can be
used for BIM. Among these software, Autodesk Revit is the
I. INTRODUCTION most widely used. 67% of the respondents use Autodesk Revit.

B uilding Information Modeling (BIM) is barely used or For time schedule, 71% use Autodesk Navisworks. Autodesk,
known in the small to medium scale of the as one of the leading BIM solutions, has strengths that balance
Architecture, Engineering, and Construction (AEC) out the criteria for BIM [6].
Industry of the Philippines. A major cause of this is the slow
adaptation of contracting companies of newer methods, II. OBJECTIVES
preferring the familiarity of traditional methods. In the This research aims to provide the locality an efficient mean
international arena these methods are turning obsolete. The of designing mechanical systems. The proponents will
Philippine industry needs to adapt to better means in order to establish a well prepared plan with more accurate and
attain global competence. adequate information, which are essential for an efficient
implementation. Step-by-step instructions will be established
L. A. C. Floresca is with the Mechanical Engineering department under the
in order to understand the functionalities of BIM.
School of Engineering and Architecture of Ateneo de Davao University,
Davao City, 8000, Philippines (e-mail: III. METHODOLOGY
J. A. M. Suero is with the Mechanical Engineering department under the
School of Engineering and Architecture of Ateneo de Davao University, This study used a qualitative research approach with the aim
Davao City, 8000, Philippines (e-mail: of gaining an in-depth understanding of the functionalities of
J. A. Viola is with the Mechanical Engineering department under the BIM to be utilized as a tool in designing mechanical systems
School of Engineering and Architecture of Ateneo de Davao University,
Davao City, 8000, Philippines (e-mail: to establish an organized design plan containing more accurate
M. A. R. Rotor is with the Mechanical Engineering department under the and adequate information, which is essential for efficient
School of Engineering and Architecture of Ateneo de Davao University, implementation.
Davao City, 8000, Philippines

BIM provides that opportunity and through this study, will A. Design of Mechanical Systems
showcase the features and capabilities of BIM by conducting A proposed 4-storey office building was taken as the sample
for the basis of the mechanical systems design. Schematic

designs and calculations for the plumbing, fire protection, and A. Models and Designs
Heating Ventilating and Air-conditioning (HVAC) system
Using Autodesk Revit, 3-D models and the cost schedule of
were created in accordance to the design codes and standards.
each system were generated. The time schedule can be
Next, the schematic designs were created in detail in Autodesk
extracted from Navisworks by simulating the construction
Revit. After the mechanical systems were designed, they were
process for each system. Components of the mechanical
integrated into unified design to check for clashes, after which
systems and the consolidated model are shown in Fig. 2, 3, 4
necessary modifications were made. The design was finalized
and 5.
into a 5D building information model in Autodesk Revit.
Finally, the plans were signed and sealed by a professional
mechanical engineer as mandated by the Philippine
Mechanical Engineering Law (RA 8495).

B. Construction Time and Cost Schedule

Cost estimation was created in Autodesk Revit by
determining the unit cost of the materials to be used, and
linking it with the building parameters. Calculations were
automatically created and the data was easily generated for bill
of materials. Once finished, the building information model
containing cost schedule was exported to Autodesk
Navisworks for construction time schedule. A Gantt chart of
the time schedule was created and linked to the model. Further
refinements were done when necessary. Fig. 1 shows a
sample screen shot of the software

Fig. 2. The Plumbing system was designed based on guidelines from

Plumbing design and estimate by Fajardo and the Philippine Society of
Mechanical Engineering Code.

Fig. 1. Navisworks provides a Gantt chart of the construction time schedule

depending on the user defined sequence and duration of the tasks

C. Data Gathering, Consolidation and Analysis

Once the design was complete, the data was acquired in
terms of analyses reports and drawing sheets. Bill of materials
and a graph of construction time schedule were also extracted.
An animation in real time was rendered to show the
construction sequence. The animation was then finally
exported to video file format. The data gathered was
consolidated and used for thorough analysis of BIM in terms
of its advantages.
Fig. 3. The Fire Protection system was designed based on standards from
IV. RESULTS AND DISCUSSION OF THE STUDY National Fire Protection Association standards and Needed Fire Flow by ISO.

The study produced deliverables that will provide sufficient

knowledge on the procedure to conduct BIM on mechanical
systems of a building project.

2) Parametric Elements
The elements or objects created are not just mere lines
and shapes, but representations of real objects, with
parameters that can be modified depending on the
requirements of the design.

3) Associability of Elements
Different elements connected to each other are
associative with one another. Modification of one element
will also affect the other. For example, if the diameter of
the sinks outlet is reduced, the pipe connected to it will
adjust to the new diameter. Fig. 7 shows this property.

Fig. 4. The HVAC system was designed based on guidelines from Plumbing
design and estimate by Fajardo and the Philippine Society of Mechanical
Engineering Code.

Fig. 7. The supply duct was moved downward and all connected ducts
adjusted accordingly.

4) Auto generation of ducting/piping system

Auto-routing solutions provide many options of possible
routing of ducting and piping systems. Still, the user can
modify the auto-routed ducting/piping layout when
deemed necessary. Shown in Fig. 8 are samples

Fig. 5. The 3-D view of the 3 systems consolidated into one model.

B. Prominent Features of BIM

Specific features in BIM found to show more convenient
and efficient means of designing versus traditional means were
noted and listed. Particular differences in BIM and
conventional means are shown in Table III.
Fig. 8. Diffusers are initially placed and suggested solutions for the
1) Auto-3D and Elevation View Generation of routing are shown to the user.
Upon designing the mechanical layout in 2D, its 3D 5) System Inspection
model is automatically generated. In addition to that, Revits System Inspector tool simulates the flow direction
elevation views are also automatically generated; therefore of the system. It also shows the flow rate and pressure
there is no need to create them separately. Shown in Fig. 6 information of the section of duct and piping systems.
are samples.
6) Check Systems
The check systems tool provides options to check the
systems for any disconnections and/or open connections. It
shows a warning dialog if such conditions exist. Fig. 9 is a
sample error.

Fig. 6. Screenshots taken in Autodesk Revit showing the generated 3-D

model and elevation views from the 2-D layout.

11) Project reports and data sheets can be

Reports such as pressure loss reports, HVAC load report,
and title blocks can be generated in pdf format.

12) Simultaneous Work sharing

Work sharing allows the designers to work at the same on
the project, modifications are then distributed to the central
file which will be the project database.

13) Smart Sprinklers, Hangers and Diffusers

These smart features automatically create placements of
sprinklers, diffusers and hangers according to specified
distances. Fig. 11 shows this feature.

Fig. 9. Diffusers that are not connected pops up a warning dialog to

notify the designer of the error.

7) Interference check within the system

Clashes are very common when modeling. Interference
check inspects and detects clashes between two elements
then notifies the user through interference report in order
to fix the clashes immediately. Fig. 10 shows a sample
interference report.

Fig. 11. Sample interface of diffuser placement using smart diffuser

C. Time and Cost Benefits

The cost benefits were measured by taking total number of
collisions and their corresponding material costs. The cost of
the unresolved clashes will constitute the cost benefit. The
resulting time benefits were done by comparing the estimated
times to complete tasks. The difference in total times were

Estimated Cost Estimated Saved Labor

Avoidance (Php) Hours
Fig. 10. The interference report shows the details of the components that
have clashed. 229 recorded collisions 206100.00 687
8) Errors can easily be located through show
Deduct 75% assumed (154575.00) (515.25)
error option resolution via conventional
Error notification alerts the user of the errors encountered methods
during designing. The error notification will not disappear
unless the errors are resolved. Net Adjusted cost 51525.00 171.75
Cost of BIM (34,000.00)
9) Element information are contained in a
database Total Cost Benefit 17,525.00 171.75
The elements contain plenty of information about it and a
An assumption was made that 25% of the clashes will not be detected if
are stored in a database. These pieces of information can BIM is not utilized.[7]
be modified, reduced, or new information can be added. b
Labor hours savings per collision is the typical time required to adjust the
system to address the collision; majority of the collisions were in the form
of piping and hangers which is estimated to be addressed in 3 hours.
10) Cost schedules can be extracted c
The cost avoidance was calculated considering only the labor cost at
Cost schedules containing the objects used in the project minimum wage.[9]
can be automatically generated and extracted without the
need of a separate software.

Estimated Time of
Estimated Time of Task Traditional means Building Information Modeling
Accomplishment using
Task Accomplishment using
Conventional Method
BIM (labor hours)
(labor hours) FIRE PROTECTION
Plumbing System 84 48
Design Routing of pipes Manual CAD Multiple Revit
solution proposals
Fire Protection 48 36 -Select create piping system
System Design -Select sprinklers and involved
HVAC Design 64 72 -Select generate layout
-Select desired layout
Consolidation 36 - -Adjust accordingly
Clash Detection 36 -
Placement of hangers Manual Smart hanger add-on aids
Information Extraction 36 12 placement placement of hangers
-select components to be
Total 304 168 supported by hangers
-choose hanger type
Total Time Benefit 136 -choose distribution method
-adjust accordingly

Interference checking Manual Revit conducts the clash

TABLE III inspection detection
Task Building Information Modeling System error checking Manual Revit conducts error checking
inspection for automatically
PLUMBING disconnections -Open manage tab
and missing -Select warnings button
Routing pipes Manual CAD Multiple Revit components -address errors accordingly
solution proposals
-Select create piping system System position Manual Revit adjusts components
- Select fixtures involved adjusting adjustment of accordingly
-Select generate layout other -move or edit components as
-Select desired layout components desired
-Adjust accordingly -other components auto adjusts
Bill of materials Manual Automatic materials
Determination of Manual Revit has an incorporated heat counting list
Cooling load calculation, or load calculator -Click Schedule button on
use of other -Open heating and cooling view tab
software loads -Click Schedules/Quantities
-Input parameters button
-Collect necessary data -Click costs category
-Input corresponding cost of
Routing of ducts Manual CAD Multiple Revit material
solution proposals
-Select create duct system Title block making Manual CAD Automatic creation of sections
- Select components involved -Open the 3-D model
-Select generate layout -Select the view desired
-Select desired layout -Hide components that should
-Adjust accordingly not be included
Sizing of ducts Manual Revit has a built in sizing
-Select duct
-Select duct sizing
-Choose method of sizing subtracted and totaled to get the overall time benefit. Tables I
-Adjust accordingly
and II show details for time and cost benefits.
Placement of Manual CAD Smart diffuser add-on aids
diffusers placement of diffusers
-create virtual grid
-click find optimal placement D. Process comparison of BIM and traditional
of diffuser means
-input diffuser specification
-adjust placement accordingly The steps conducted when designing the systems when
using traditional methods and BIM were evaluated, compared
and tabulated. Tables III shows specifics of the comparisons

[3] M. Wang, "Building Information Modeling (BIM): Site-

Building Interoperability Methods", Worcester Polytechnic
Institute, 2011.
[4] P. Samphaongoen, A Visual Approach to Construction Cost Estimating,
E. Disadvantages of BIM [5] I. Czmoch and A. Pekala, "Traditional Design versus BIM Based
BIM provides state of the art means to designers, but also Design," Elsevier Ltd., Warsaw: Warsaw University of Technology,
requires them to spend for the means to conduct BIM. When
[6] L. Khemlani, BIM evaluation study report. [S.l.]: AECbytes, 2007
using the software, it is required that the user has adequate [7] S. Azhar, "Building Information Modelling (BIM): Trends, Benefits,
proficiency in order for the BIM process to become effective. Risks, and Challenges for the AEC Industry," 2011
This requires designers to learn modern software, which also [8] Department of Labor and Employment. (n.d.). Retrieved March 12,
2017, from
requires modern means of processing. For large projects, resource=0ba64a0dea00947916dfb6a66866e1ca
faster computers are a must. Compatibility issues were
experience when exporting to lower versions of the software.
Though BIM has many automated features, user inputs are
still required and will act as the basis for the automated
features. Proper management of information is essential for
effective implementation.


It was found that BIM provides construction firms a much

more organized, accurate, and convenient process to conduct
construction project designing even for small to medium scale
firms; however, the time and cost efficiency of BIM conducted
in this study was estimate-reliant due to the manner the study
was conducted. Better planning and preparations may yield
better results.

A future study can improve control over the time variable.
The number of hours spent doing specific tasks can be
documented in order to record how much working hours are
required to finish a task. Before the designing started, ample
kills and references should be ready to eliminate the
unnecessary time addition of learning the basics, and minimize
the effects of referrals. The comparison would be better if the
same building project were to be designed using BIM and
conventional means. This will provide the comparison
parameters that are similar enough for direct quantitative
comparisons to be made. Cost and time benefits will be more
accurate which will better gauge the efficiency of BIM.

The authors would like to thank Dr. Renyl Barroca, Engr.
Alden Fernandez, Engr. Geoffrey Rodriguez and Arch.
Wilfredo Policarpio for contributing references and data and
for assisting in the finalization of this study.

[1] C. Eastman and P. Teicholz, BIM Handbook: A Guide to Building
Information Modeling for Owners, Managers, Designers, Engineers,
Contractors, vol. 1st ed., New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons Inc., 2008,
pp. 1-24.
[2] M. F. Hergunsel, Benefits of Building Information Modeling for
Construction Managers and BIM Based Scheduling, 2011.