Originally posted by by Mike Murzyn at constructionspecifier.com
Building information modeling (BIM) is quickly becoming a formal procedure for modern steel construction. From software that optimizes the building envelope with information on dead load and structural load inputs for wind, seismic, and other requirements, to programs enabling sustainable design by addressing energy efficiency and green product specification, BIM processes are being adopted across the country.
Recent research conducted by McGraw-Hill Construction shows BIM adoption in the construction industry expanded to more than 70 percent of architects and engineers in 2012, compared to 17 percent in 2007 and 49 percent in 2009.1 However, while use is increasing, the concept of component-specific BIM for applications such as wall, floor, and ceiling systems is only beginning to gain traction among design and building professionals. Sometimes referred to as ‘add-ins,’ these tools allow specific products and systems to be directly imported into a larger BIM design and shared with the entire construction team, enhancing project coordination and collaboration.
Component-specific BIM for wall design
Accounting for nearly 60 percent of all metal studs in the United States, interior, non-structural wall partitions are one of the most common applications for steel framing—specifically light-gauge studs.
Steel framing used for interior wall partitions comes in various shapes, thicknesses, and sizes. Each of these components has a specific function in the wall assembly. Selecting the correct size and thickness depends primarily on spacing of framing members and the wall’s height. Other considerations throughout the selection process include the application of the wall finishes, whether they will be applied to one or both sides, full height for composite design, and any applicable impact resistance requirements.
Through use of building information models, each element of a wall assembly can be created as an ‘intelligent’ object containing a broad array of product information in addition to its physical dimensions. Every element in the BIM project knows how it relates to other objects and to the overall design. This helps manage complex plans from multiple trades, as well as identify and avoid potential clashes or inconsistencies before reaching the jobsite. This is of particular importance as the wall framing phase of a project can significantly impact several other trades.
Additionally, the level of detail available through BIM add-ins is of value to architects and engineers looking to develop data-rich 3D images of interior spaces or component load-bearing wall framing. It helps in the creation of infinite views, perspectives, schedule data, and facility and operational management for the life of the building. In addition to detail on code requirements and strength, a BIM project that has taken wall types to the next step by using framing add-in software can identify the location of wall penetrations, as well as provide accurate wall shapes and opening dimensions on individual panel drawings.
Wall design and construction
There are hundreds of different wall types being used in steel framing, however, there has been little information about incorporating interior framing into BIM projects until recently.
In response, some cold-formed steel (CFS) framing manufacturers offer BIM add-ins allowing users to seamlessly integrate a significant amount of wall data into new or existing models, improving comprehensiveness. The programs can also eliminate the need for temporary wall libraries requiring users to change each individual wall element to accommodate updates.
When considering different wall framing BIM add-ins, it is important to ensure the program includes all the information the design team needs, such as:
- detailed wall assembly data with product information;
- type and number of wall sheathing layers;
- overall wall width with the ability to add resilient channel and/or wall insulation;
- recycled content details for projects pursuing points under the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program;
- product submittal sheet links;
- fire test data, including Underwriters Laboratories (UL) test number;
- sound test data (e.g. sound transmission class [STC] performance rating); and
- limiting height tables based on stud spacing, deflection, and interior lateral load.
n many cases, when a wall type is created, it displays the actual materials and assembly needed for correct installation. This amount of programming and detail allows the design team to see exactly how the wall needs to be constructed, what the limitations may be, and how it fits into the overall building’s construction. However, it is important to remember not all manufacturers’ BIM software add-ons are the same, and users need to be aware some systems may be more robust than others.
During the construction process, a common change order is for the removal or relocation of partition wall framings. Partition framing removal and relocation occurs due to design changes by the owner or architect, or to accommodate unanticipated intrusions, such as mechanical, electrical, or plumbing penetrations. Unfortunately, every time these changes take place, it increases the cost and time spent on the project.
However, through BIM and component-specific add-ins, building professionals can virtually identify these clashes and design the necessary changes prior to the contractor putting labor on the job. Add-ins now offer tools to simultaneously detect multiple clashes with mechanical/electrical/plumbing (MEP) and structural members into wall types, then automatically create openings in the wall around these clashes. This extra level of detail opens the lines of communication between members of the design team and increases the likelihood of open, productive conversations where changes can take place in real time. Wall framing BIM add-ins can include a wide range of information relevant to installation, code requirements, LEED guidelines, and future maintenance.