Sheet metal & Air Conditioning Contractors’ National Association


Spatial Coordination BIM Guide’s author: Your competition is not waiting for you

Mar 21, 2014

Spatial Coordination BIM Guide’s author: Your competition is not waiting for you

BIM Project Management
Mechanical coordination-ready model
For David E. Quigley, the author of the new SMACNA publication on BIM, the guide represents an opportunity for specialty contractors to better make use of new technologies and practices associated with spatial coordination through the use of BIM digital data.

Achieving Spatial Coordination Through BIM: A Guide for Specialty Contractors” runs 169 fact-packed pages.

The “Spatial Coordination” guide, available free, via PDF download, to all SMACNA contractor members, can provide a leg up on getting moving. It introduces contractors to everything from building a team and evaluating contract language, to how and where to begin implementation. Along the way, you’ll find dozens of practical examples taken from the real world.

Project manager process flow
While spatial coordination itself has been around for a while, today it requires collaboration with other project participants. The seamless exchange of data is a must.

So where HVAC contractors once worried only about their own work, today you are, Mr. Quigley maintained, only as good as the weakest member of the project team.

In short, the game has changed.

Using BIM to your advantage
“Perhaps if you did a survey of specialty contractors, asking them if they use BIM, you’d come up with a number around 70 percent,” Mr. Quigley said. “But in reality, if you looked at how the contractors are making use of it, the real number—the contractors who understand how to use BIM to their advantage—might be 15 percent to maybe 25 percent.”

Here’s the good news, according to Mr. Quigley: “If your company has yet to extend its spatial coordination capabilities beyond what it’s done traditionally and has not embraced the multiple usage of BIM data into its operations, it’s still not too late.”

While it’s not too late, now would be a great time to start, Mr. Quigley said. Why? “Your competition is probably not waiting for you.”

Using BIM to get an edge
Contractors remain challenged by the new building standards, Mr. Quigley said in a phone interview. Most specialty contractor project teams are not ahead of this particular curve.

Contract specifications drive many to become involved with BIM, he said, but most contractors ignore the extended value they can create for themselves using digital data (beyond CAD detailing).

“Even with traditional processes, companies generate a lot of raw data. Most though, are not using this data for other important business operations,” Mr. Quigley explained. What we’re really talking about here is taking data that already exists and extending it to gain greater insight for making better business decisions.”

Potentially, by maximizing use of digital data, a company could gain significant returns in efficiencies, cost savings, customer satisfaction, and, most importantly, new project opportunities.

How can you grab that potential? Mr. Quigley’s answer: “Contractors need to start by understanding how exchanging and sharing digital data across departments will help produce better projects.

“But for this to work, every project team member needs to understand the concept. To get at that value, the use of BIM and better use of existing digital data will have to become a part of a company’s culture.”

Waiting won’t work
Mr. Quigley re-emphasized one key: Contractors don’t have to wait; they can use their digital data (via BIM) right now to improve their operations. “Savvy contractors won’t be manually re-doing tasks that require data in the future,” he said, “they will reduce the time and waste that you might see right now as they struggle over the data.”

Two years in development, SMACNA developed this innovative online reference guide as a joint project with the Mechanical Contractors Association of America (MCAA), the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA), and a task force of more than 20 member contractors. Funding was provided in part by the New Horizons Foundation.

This guide is available free in PDF download to SMACNA members. Hard copies are available to members for $25, to non-members for $100. To obtain this ground-breaking guide, visit SMACNA’s Publications Store.