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BIM for Plants Design; Any Room for Application? Part 2


BIM for Plants Design

In Part 2 , Issam El-Absi, Director of the Master's in Global BIM Management for Infrastructure Programs, reveals and discusses more about the “Plant Design Solutions Position towards BIM”.


I will start the second part with the questions that were addressed in Part #1 of this article quoted: “The question is why BIM experts are focusing on Buildings? Can the BIM technology be used for Mechanical construction? Will the BIM process be capable of integrating and accommodating the mechanical construction industry requirements and workflows among its workflows? Why the BIM industry experts are avoiding addressing these issues in their marketing materials, publications, presentations, white papers and researches? CCC/CCC BIM center's position, as leader in construction and BIM technology and its practical implementation in civil construction?”  

Can BIM Benefit the Plants Industry?

In my answer to the above questions I opted to follow a route that is non-disputable and derive an answer embraced by facts. I have developed a small comparison table between some of the major functionalities or features that BIM is offering against the features that the 3D Plant design has. Before reading this table I would like to mention that this table represents the authors knowledge and experience. It excludes the Consolidated Contractors Company's BIM centers contribution to the BIM processes. CCC’s method is relatively very advanced and does not reflect what is predominantly happening in the construction sector. This aims to demonstrate current industry practices and advancements implementing BIM. Moving forward with digitization in effective ways to benefit the society and deliver true ROI’s (Return On Investment).



The conclusion that will pop up to the reader’s mind after going through the comparison table will be “Obviously Plant Construction Industry has been embracing the same BIM concepts for a long time and it is even more advanced in most if not all the use-cases”. If you arrive to this conclusion then let me tell you that you are absolutely right. Actually, CCC started adopting the current BIM concepts more than 20 years ago. A time where BIM as a terminology was not even known. CCC has been very reputable and successful in delivering mechanical projects in the Middle East and the CIS countries for decades. This extensive background and experience pushed the CCC automation team to develop several workflows and solutions. This allowed integrating the construction functions/systems with the 3D plant design solutions such as PDS and PDMS. We have sensed and felt the gains, benefits and the success of leveraging the power of the 3D technologies in the design of plants. This was a big motivation for CCC, being a visioneerer, to try and leverage the same or similar workflows in civil and building construction. Nowadays BIM is a driving force for achieving great advancements in the construction industry. bim-for-plants We believe that BIM and Plant design solutions are two faces for the same coin. In other words, BIM is not a new method, it is just a new outfit for an existing concept.

Difference between BIM and 3D Plant Design

Since this is the case why there is a clear demarcation between BIM and 3D Plant design workflows. The main reason for that difference is the nature and sensitivity of the heavy mechanical facilities. Considering whether they are power plants or oil and gas facilities etc. This nature forced the owners and the different stakeholders to impose a lot of regulations. Security and strict workflows prevented full integration, data openness, proper collaboration and transparency. Those strict measures slowed down the full integration of BIM-like workflows in the plants industry. However, buildings and civil construction projects are less strict and more open for transparency, data sharing and collaboration. This resulted in BIM advancing as a potential global integrator platform for facilities where plant design solutions lagged behind. The second challenge and differentiation between Plants and BIM solutions is the cost and complexity of the authoring software. BIM solutions are more modern, much less expensive and easily available for most of the industry stakeholders, whereas plant design solutions are very expensive, complex in acquisition and only available for big players and clients. The above reasons rendered the development of an integrated and comprehensive workflows in the mechanical/plant industry.


In summary, there are no technical issues preventing Plant design systems and BIM to merge or let me say there is no real demarcation between the two digital technologies. In conclusion, BIM and Plant design systems have similar targets, similar applications and slightly different workflows; personally I totally believe that one day both approaches will be seen as one or maybe they are already as such. Sooner BIM or, maybe, BIMPDS shall be the unified dominant technology for delivering any construction/facility regardless of the function of that facility. bim-for-plants

Issam El-Absi

Director of the Global BIM Management for Infrastructure Projects Certification Program. CCC Manager IS-Automation and Engineering Project BIM Manager.