MEP 3D-BIM Survey Results

Friday, October 1st, 2010

Last month, we conducted a survey of engineers and designers in the MEP industry to learn about their experiences using building information modeling (BIM). A link to the survey was included in our monthly newsletter, on various LinkedIn groups, on Autodesk’s AutoCAD MEP forum, and on AUGI’s Revit MEP forum. We received 70 responses from individuals working in the United States which confirmed our general sense of the industry: everyone is talked about BIM, but it is not yet common practice.

The first two charts show the types of companies that responded to the survey. Most were described as consulting companies and most were large. The responses to the questions on the survey did not vary significantly based upon the type or size of the company.

We asked which BIM programs the respondents use. Half the respondents in the survey use Revit MEP (60%), half use AutoCAD MEP (55%), and half use Design Master (DM) HVAC, Electrical, or Plumbing (53%). There was significant overlap between the three programs, with many respondents using a combination of two or three of the programs. Only 2 respondents did not use any of these three programs. Given where the survey was posted, the number of Revit MEP and DM users is probably overstated relative to the industry as a whole.

It is important to remember that BIM and 3D are not the same thing. You can use BIM for automated design, material takeoffs, and green design. We wanted to know how the various types of BIM were being used on projects, not just 3D collision detection (3D-BIM).

We found that 76% of respondents are using 3D-BIM on projects, which might explain why the two terms are often used interchangeably. Only 17% of respondents said that they do not use BIM on their projects.

One interesting split is the comparison of BIM use between respondents who do and do not use Design Master HVAC, Electrical, or Plumbing. DM users were twice as likely to report using BIM for automated design calculations (66% of DM users versus 37% of non-DM users) and green design (43% versus 23%) than non-DM users.

Another question we wanted to answer with this survey was how frequently projects are done using 3D-BIM. It turns out that almost half (41%) of the people surveyed use it on less than half their projects. Including the people who do no 3D-BIM, 63% of respondents use 3D-BIM on less than half their projects. Only 12% of respondents are doing 3D-BIM on all of their projects. Most projects being designed today are not using 3D-BIM.

We also wanted to know what impact 3D-BIM is having on design fees. The responses to our question about fee increases for 3D-BIM were evenly split: 40% increase their fee and 60% do not. 3D-BIM is still a new enough practice that some companies are able to charge more for it.

The 76% of respondents who use 3D-BIM were asked how often various systems were modeled in 3D. When projects involve 3D collision detection, there is most often a model for all the systems. However, there are differences in how frequently different systems are modeled. The electrical and plumbing industries are lagging behind the architectural, structural, and mechanical industries in terms of providing 3D models. The electrical system is significantly more likely to never be modeled in 3D than any of the other systems.

Everyone in the industry is trying to predict how widespread the adoption of 3D-BIM will be in the future. We asked all of the respondents how often they expect their projects to include 3D-BIM 3 years from now. The expectation of the respondents is that 3D-BIM will be included on most projects. 32% of respondents expect it on all their projects, 61% expect it on more than half their projects, and 80% expect it on half or more of their projects. Only 1% of respondents do not expect to use 3D-BIM on any projects in three years.

We also asked how frequently respondents expect each system to be modeled in 3D three years from now. The expectation is that all systems will be modeled more frequently in the future than they are now.

While 3D-BIM is being used on projects today, the expectation is that it will be used on an increasing number of projects in the future. Now is the time to make sure that you and your firm are prepared to participate in 3D-BIM.

If you already have Revit MEP, AutoCAD MEP, or Design Master, you have a program that is capable of 3D-BIM. Become an expert at using the 3D-BIM features your program includes. This will put you in a strong position as the industry continues to transition to 3D-BIM.

If you are not using one of those programs, evaluate them and decide which fits your workflow. You do not want to have to start the evaluation process under the stress of a deadline for a project that requires 3D-BIM.

If you want to know more about Design Master HVAC, Electrical, and Plumbing, contact us. We would be happy to show you a demonstration and set you up with a free 30-day trial. You will have a chance to evaluate both the 3D-BIM that the industry is starting to require and the design-BIM features that make our users more productive on every project they work on.

9 Responses to “MEP 3D-BIM Survey Results”

  1. john turner says:

    have Acad mep revit and curious as to the differences between the two?

  2. David Robison (Design Master Software) says:

    AutoCAD MEP and Revit MEP are two BIM packages available from Autodesk. AutoCAD MEP runs on top of AutoCAD, while Revit MEP is a completely different program. Both are capable of 3D-BIM as discussed in this survey.

  3. Gary Luisi says:

    AutoCad MEP is a 3D software and is not considered BIM. Briefly stated in these findings, the automated design and MTO are only two differences. Some will argue acad MEP is BIM while others say it isn’t. I’ll let the industry speak for itself.

  4. Chris Wade says:

    The problem wit Revit MEP is that it is still a beta quality product. (2011 would be worthy of the last Beta before a release candidate though). There are still many features that are needed that are missing.

    AutoCAD MEP and Design Master are not true BIM tools and the industry is moving to Revit and it doesn’t matter if Revit MEP is ready for prime time or not, we are just going to have to deal with it. Many clients are requiring the use of Revit specifically, not just BIM capable programs.

  5. KevinT says:

    Interesting and well written survey thanks, untill you get to the bottom line & realise its an advertisement.

    I have been modeling ‘most’ projects in Revit MEP since 2008. It is a MASSIVE and PAINFUL learning curve, especially for AutoCAD users. The best thing is to forget everything you ever knew about CAD and start again from scratch. I model everything in 3d and use many of the Revit calculation tools including; Load calcs, duct sizing, pipe sizing, eletrical panel balancing. Our electrical engineers dont trust the cable sizing though, something to do with the conversion to proper units (metric) I think its a set-up problem on our part & its on my hitlist…

    Anyway I digress. I havent used AutoCAD MEP, but I suspect it actually IS BIM.

    But also, 3D collision detection is not BIM. You can do that with raw geometry and no other information. 3D-BIM??? um… I havent heard that one before.

    I is for imformation. A building model with out information can take many forms.. a mathematical model used in heating and cooling calcs for example, is still a building model even if there is no graphical output.

    BIM is about getting all the information in one place ie in the building model. Many people use Revit (all flavours) with generic families… that is not BIM either, because they were lazy and didnt capture the information. BIM is when the building model goes beyond geometry and the data relating to each building component is captured for future use.

    Calculations, automated design, green building analysis, etc are also not BIM. They are a useful by product of a BIM model. But you can do BIM without leveraging the model data. (Although what would be the point?)

    Many people and companies have it the other way around, but they are wrong IMHO. They stick their toe in the water of 3D modelling then try to sell BIM to their clients, because its the latest industry buzz. Just like TQM was in the 90s. That causes problems in that it devaluse those of us who actually do BIM, and generates wide spread misunderstanding of what BIM is.

    It cant be helped though, thats the price you pay for having a marketing led economy.

    Sorry for the rant. Getting off my soap box now….

  6. David Robison (Design Master Software) says:

    Gary, Chris, and Kevin have demonstrated that there’s a lot of disagreement about what “building information modeling” actually is. This survey was our attempt to shed a little bit of light on how the MEP industry is viewing BIM. We have a slightly unconventional take on BIM that comes from our focus on only the MEP aspect of it. I plan to post some additional articles in the future to offer more specifics about what we think BIM is.

  7. Larry davidson says:

    I have just finished my first BIM (MEPF) coordination meetings with all contractors on a New School project appox. 190,000sq ft. It is the first project for the CM company. There was a learning curve for all. CM used Navisworks Manage to view model. It took 8 months for all trades to coordinate. There was a month of lag time for contractors to load their drawings onto a external FTP site. I got great feedback after completion. The school district entends to use the 3D Model for Facility Management.

  8. David Robison (Design Master Software) says:

    Thanks for sharing your story, Larry.

  9. Rob Miller says:

    I guess Autodesk’s marketing has done their job well. They have sold some on the idea that AutoCAD MEP isn’t a BIM tool. I guess when our firm isn’t doing BIM when we assign circuit information to our lights and link them to an electrical panel. Or when we assign manufacturing values to our VAV boxes … if the software you are using doesn’t say Revit at the top you’re not using a BIM authoring tool.

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