Australian Construction Modeller – Piping Overview

Author: Greg Newcomb, DBM Vircon
Over the past few years, there has been heavy focus within the Owner/Operator space to transition towards complete asset management throughout the project lifecycle. This is having a significant impact on not only how we price, manage and deliver scopes of work but also how we can streamline the design and detailing phases of the project to deliver a complete digital asset.

The benefits of this are numerous as clients are now seeing the advantages of 4, 5, 6 and  7D BIM practices throughout the project. This is providing a wealth of value during the construction, commissioning, operations and maintenance phases.

Historically within the piping discipline, it has been standard practice for the fabrication deliverables to be completed during the design phase. This typically will come in the form of a basic design isometrics which will then go through to the fabricator to cut and weld the individual spools before transportation. We are now however seeing the emergence of a requirement to add additional traceability and unique reporting to assist with asset management during procurement and fabrication.

This means the EPCM’s responsible for completing the design are now having to consider and add a additional information on the isometrics prior to releasing for fabrication, or engaging sub-contractors to add the additional traceability post completion of their basic design isometric. The emergence of these requirements is creating a new industry within itself similar to that of Structural Detailing.

Some of these requirements include unique item numbers for all piping components, unique weld and joint numbers, commodity and material codes, individualised spool drawings and unique reporting that can be consolidated and imported within their enterprise systems.

This is not only impacting the level of information required on the drawings but also the level of intellectual property and real-time data held within the models.  As clients move towards complete asset management we are having to be more and more flexible to these requirements to meet their increasing demands.

Over the next 5 to 10 years we will most likely see a digital/operational twin requested more frequently as the final deliverable. Clients will continue to look for improved project collaboration, situational awareness and live on-site visibility to assist with the reduction of costs and schedule. It’s most likely we will see an ever-increasing demand for the level of detail typically provided within the detailing space requested during the design phase of a project. As this happens, designers and detailers expertise will need to expand to cover both skills sets as what previously might have been two jobs will now transition into one.