BIM and fire protection engineering

04/22/2013


Industry acceptance 

Figure 4: BIM helps coordinate a Las Vegas nightclub design. Courtesy: JBA Consulting EngineersThe BIM technology discussed thus far is available; however, as with any new technology deployed, it is not error-free and at its full potential. The primary limitation for BIM technology today is the amount of content available from manufacturers and in a coordinated standard. Every project that uses BIM technology can be set up slightly differently, such that training is required for each model and the content from manufacturers, if available, may not integrate seamlessly. The amount of information in the model also varies depending upon why BIM was used. 

While there are leaders and innovators in BIM technology, there is no well-established protocol that allows everyone to take advantage of the powerful tools that can be developed. In this digital age, where design and construction teams are spread throughout the globe on one project, it is challenging to find agreement on a common standard. Multiple nationalities may be working on a project in the Middle East, and each has its own belief on how the standard should be implemented. Without proper content development and standardization, BIM could develop into a poorly functioning or dysfunctional model. Sometimes too much information does not make the model efficient, whereas too little does not make efficient use of the model.

A BIM model that is set up well and monitored continually will have coordinated, integrated, and searchable databases of information. A BIM model becomes not just a 3-D model of the building to search for fire protection equipment or features. It becomes a database of information that can be used to identify trends, estimate repair costs, or monitor functionality. It can also help with integrating the life safety systems across multiple trades. 

Industry must embrace the technology by having all manufacturers create common standards for BIM tools. Many fire protection companies have developed BIM content but may limit availability to users or specifiers. Because there are always costs associated with developing content, there may be hesitation based on the return on investment for developing content when manufacturers have a large library of products. Alternatively, if designers have access to a manufacturer’s complete product line while designing in a model, they may prefer that product line to another that does not have sufficient information for their building. 

The content currently available from most manufacturers is also generally limited to product specifications as noted above. A pump may have its performance data. A sprinkler may include its appropriate listings and approvals as well as coverage data. A speaker/strobe may indicate the sound pressure level and light intensity of the appliance. 

However, as manufacturers take initiative to really develop the content as it relates to their products, BIM becomes an even more powerful design tool. Because clash detection has been established in models to avoid conflicts between mechanical, electrical, and plumbing equipment as well as for wall construction, manufacturers can develop content specific to the listings of the products.

For designers, engineers, and AHJ, BIM will be invaluable as manufacturers include all listings and restrictions for their specific fire protection products. When a designer puts a sprinkler in a model that is too close to a ceiling, beam, or other obstruction, a notification could be established in the model identifying that there is a conflict with the sprinkler and another object. Fire alarm speaker BIM content could be developed that establishes when minimum sound pressure levels are not achieved as a result of distance to other speakers or obstructions from walls and doors. 

If the proper models and design content are developed in unison, the ability to design could become significantly more efficient. Sprinklers can be located based upon spray pattern development and viewed in the model. For aircraft hangars or other places where water monitors are used, spray patterns based upon flow and pressure data can be integrated into the design to optimize layouts in conjunction with anticipated obstructions. Fire alarm appliances could be distributed based upon acoustical properties of walls, floors, ceilings, and finishes. 

Even passive fire protection elements, such as wall construction or through-penetration firestop systems, could use content development. Often, designers use the same assembly for penetrations because they are familiar with it and believe it complies with the assembly and the listing. If through-penetration firestop companies provide a content library for their products based upon wall types and listings/approvals, confusion regarding compliance could be mitigated. The wall and penetration are selected and the content library automatically selects the most appropriate penetration fire-stop system. 

While some manufacturers may be lacking in content development, they are not alone in having work to do. Designers have to coordinate with model developers. Fire protection engineering is not limited to active and passive fire protection systems; designers could work with developers to improve BIM. Specifically, the means of egress of a building and features associated with it are equally, if not more, important. Model building codes often prescribe minimum lighting levels, travel distances to exits, and distances for exit signs. BIM can allow designers to fully coordinate and automate egress as models change. 

Models could be developed to assign each space with an area and use such that spaces can be “populated” according prescribed densities of people. A theater with 1,000 fixed seats and a 1,500-sq -ft stage may have 1,100 people assigned to the space. The space requires a minimum of four exits, and the main exit must accommodate at least one-half of the total occupant load. The model could be set up to assign people to egress through specific doors and paths. If the occupant load increases during the design of the building, notifications can be set up to warn designers that occupant loads exceed available egress widths. 



No comments
The Top Plant program honors outstanding manufacturing facilities in North America. View the 2015 Top Plant.
The Product of the Year program recognizes products newly released in the manufacturing industries.
The Engineering Leaders Under 40 program identifies and gives recognition to young engineers who...
Your leaks start here: Take a disciplined approach with your hydraulic system; U.S. presence at Hannover Messe a rousing success
Hannover Messe 2016: Taking hold of the future - Partner Country status spotlights U.S. manufacturing; Honoring manufacturing excellence: The 2015 Product of the Year Winners
Inside IIoT: How technology, strategy can improve your operation; Dry media or web scrubber?; Six steps to design a PM program
Getting to the bottom of subsea repairs: Older pipelines need more attention, and operators need a repair strategy; OTC preview; Offshore production difficult - and crucial
Digital oilfields: Integrated HMI/SCADA systems enable smarter data acquisition; Real-world impact of simulation; Electric actuator technology prospers in production fields
Special report: U.S. natural gas; LNG transport technologies evolve to meet market demand; Understanding new methane regulations; Predictive maintenance for gas pipeline compressors
Warehouse winter comfort: The HTHV solution; Cooling with natural gas; Plastics industry booming
Managing automation upgrades, retrofits; Making technical, business sense; Ensuring network cyber security
Designing generator systems; Using online commissioning tools; Selective coordination best practices

Annual Salary Survey

Before the calendar turned, 2016 already had the makings of a pivotal year for manufacturing, and for the world.

There were the big events for the year, including the United States as Partner Country at Hannover Messe in April and the 2016 International Manufacturing Technology Show in Chicago in September. There's also the matter of the U.S. presidential elections in November, which promise to shape policy in manufacturing for years to come.

But the year started with global economic turmoil, as a slowdown in Chinese manufacturing triggered a worldwide stock hiccup that sent values plummeting. The continued plunge in world oil prices has resulted in a slowdown in exploration and, by extension, the manufacture of exploration equipment.

Read more: 2015 Salary Survey

Maintenance and reliability tips and best practices from the maintenance and reliability coaches at Allied Reliability Group.
The One Voice for Manufacturing blog reports on federal public policy issues impacting the manufacturing sector. One Voice is a joint effort by the National Tooling and Machining...
The Society for Maintenance and Reliability Professionals an organization devoted...
Join this ongoing discussion of machine guarding topics, including solutions assessments, regulatory compliance, gap analysis...
IMS Research, recently acquired by IHS Inc., is a leading independent supplier of market research and consultancy to the global electronics industry.
Maintenance is not optional in manufacturing. It’s a profit center, driving productivity and uptime while reducing overall repair costs.
The Lachance on CMMS blog is about current maintenance topics. Blogger Paul Lachance is president and chief technology officer for Smartware Group.
This article collection contains several articles on the vital role that compressed air plays in manufacturing plants.
This article collection contains several articles on the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and how it is transforming manufacturing.
This article collection contains several articles on strategic maintenance and understanding all the parts of your plant.
click me