The future of construction is digital. Even though many architects and specifiers are still sceptical about this development, the digitization of the construction industry is making great strides. Because buildings can be planned completely digitally from design to commissioning, maintenance and demolition, ‘Building 4.0’ allows greater planning security, process optimization, efficiency and sustainability. In the field of technical insulation Armacell is a BIM pioneer and now offers a plug-in allowing technical insulation materials for building service equipment to be planned digitally.
Faster, more efficient and always up-to-date
As early as 2011, Armacell introduced a BIM module for the Autodesk Revit® program in the USA. In 2015, the company was the first manufacturer of flexible insulation materials in the UK to provide BIM objects, which can be downloaded from the NBS National BIM Library free of charge. Now the company has gone a step further with the Europe-wide launch of an Autodesk Revit® plug-in for planning technical insulation materials for building service equipment. The plug-in is seamlessly integrated in the AutoDesk Revit program and provides key product information for planning technical insulation. It was developed as an add-on module for Revit versions 2015, 2016 and 2017.
Greater reliability in the planning process
The new Armacell plug-in greatly simplifies the planning of technical insulation with BIM: unlike sanitary objects, for example, insulation has to be designed for equipment which has already been planned. The insulation material depends on defined parameters (such as the pipe diameter) and therefore has to be selected actively by the user. Selecting and manually entering data from the catalogue not only requires extra effort, there is also a great risk of error. In contrast, the new Armacell BIM plug-in accesses the data required directly in the model and supports the user in selecting and configuring products. The direct export from the Armacell product database allows the entire product planning to be automated. This makes the planning and design process simpler and faster for the user and also reduces errors.
Lean data set for complex models
‘Less is more’ is Armacell’s motto when developing tools for BIM. The company endeavours to keep the file size as small as possible, to avoid further ‘inflating’ models which are already very large. In addition, many attributes are not relevant for planning and the more the process can be automated, the more practical the instruments are for the specifier. Developing and enhancing the plug-in requires considerable effort on Armacell’s part as it has to be updated regularly for all the markets. But this tool not only makes it significantly easier for specifiers to embed technical insulation in the BIM model, it also provides greater planning reliability. The next step will be to collect experiences and feedback from users in order to further develop the plug-in.
BIM in the building services sector
While BIM is rapidly becoming the standard in architects’ offices, the building services sector is still lagging behind. So far only a few, mainly larger, consultant engineering offices work with 3D models. Yet BIM would be of particular benefit for planning building services where a high calculation effort is involved and the individual trades are interdependent. For building operators the advantages extend far beyond the design and construction phase, because all the information on the building can also be provided for its operation. This allows considerable cost savings in terms of both maintenance and energy consumption. But it is only possible to make full use of the potential if all steps in the value chain – i.e. also the planning and installation of the building services – are included. With BIM the building services can be integrated in the planning at an earlier stage than usual and all the relevant trades can be coordinated with each other in the model. BIM also enables improved clash detection in the design phase and contributes to achieving greater efficiency in the construction phase, reducing construction costs and shortening the construction time. So building service consulting engineers are well-advised to rise to the new challenge.
Tip: The Armacell BIM Plug-in can be downloaded free of charge from www.armacell.eu. An introduction to the tool is given in a video tutorial which can also be found here.