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Paper w78-2010-57:
Detecting Design Conflicts Using Building Information Models: A Comparative Lab Experiment

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Timo Hartmann

Detecting Design Conflicts Using Building Information Models: A Comparative Lab Experiment

Abstract:One of the applications of Building Information Modeling (BIM) is Clash Detection: The automated detection of clashes between different elements in a BIM. Clash detection helps design coordinators to detect inconsistencies between different sub-systems in early design stages that would, if not detected early, materialize in expensive change orders and delays during the construction stage. However, the existing automated Clash Detections technologies, even for rather simple building designs, usually provide a large amount of clashes of which only a very few are relevant. It is a time consuming and error prone process to filter out the relevant clashes that finally will cause change orders during installation.To help design coordinators to with filtering out only the relevant clashes, modelers should organize BIMs according to a system breakdown structure that allows a clear distinction between different systems. A good organized BIM then theoretically allows design coordinators to find the relevant clashes more efficient and more accurate by filtering out clashes between different systems that are known to cause expensive field change orders if they are not coordinated well. We tested this hypothesis with an experiment. We divided 44 undergraduate students in three groups that each had to conduct a Clash Detection. One group used 2D drawings, one group used a standard BIM, and one group used a with a system breakdown structure organized BIM. As expected, the results of this experiment show that students with the organized BIM detected the most relevant clashes. Interestingly, however, students who used the none organized BIM found less clashes than the students who only used the 2D drawings. Overall, these findings show that the application of automated clash detection technologies requires well organized input BIMs to provide an advantage over the traditional 2D drawing based design coordination process.

Keywords:BIM, design coordination, clash detection, system breakdown structure, lab experiment

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