Value Engineering using Building Information Modeling (BIM)

With the increasing optimisation of value-engineering using Building Information Modeling (BIM) solutions for advanced pharmaceutical facility design, it has never been more critical to properly understand the existing conditions of buildings when working on ‘brownfield’ sites. And the most effective design solutions required of the process architect are those unquestionably aligned with a client’s business strategy, in holistically understanding the collective end user requirements of the facility.

Last year one of our clients was seeking to use an existing warehouse building, as part of the facility masterplan design, for the movement and (dynamic) storage of raw materials, primary packaging, secondary packaging and finished products, as well as for the associated loading docks, buffer airlocks and a separate Distribution Centre.

Racking and warehouse solutions should be considered as an integral part of the overall (best) design for any ‘lean’ facility, which typically presents a range of options available. With the client’s User Requirements Specification (URS) seeking a high degree of automation and an available clear height of around 12 metres in the existing building, the tolerance of the ground floor slab was considered significant in identifying the most valuable warehousing solutions.

As such, it was considered critical, as part of our process of due diligence and within our own Building Information Modeling (BIM optimisation strategy, to accurately measure the tolerance of the existing slab-on-ground, which would for example require a height variance of (a maximum of) 5mm over 3000mm (1:600) in order to enable the proper performance of the (basis of design of) laser-guided vehicles.

With a 3mm resolution at a distance of 10 metres, a “point cloud” of approximately 1.2 billion points in the entire warehouse was mapped, by way of a series of iterative laser scans. In analysis of the data, the first image below shows the range of heights between 0 – 50mm, in approximate (colour variant) increments of 10mm.

UAH Building a floor tolerance 0mm-50mm

The second image shows the range 20 – 70mm, with the height variation clearly evident around the perimeter of the building, the slab being ‘higher’ around the perimeter generally.

UAH Building a floor tolerance 20mm-70mm

This (partially at least) demonstrates that with the above tolerances required, a filling compound is required to the ‘black’ area nominated, in order to generally level the slab, to the extent of the ‘red’ area shown. With an area in the order of 7500 square metres and at a round cost of (say) $100 per square metre for the application of appropriate floor levelling compounds, the client investment of $750,000 is of course considered significant within the project budget – though often not considered – and especially so in warranting the review of alternative warehousing solutions. Also consider a variant of 5mm on a pallet racking system of (say) 9 metres in height, which results in a ’tilting’ of approximately 45mm at the top of the racking, in effect quickly exacerbating the floor level difference.

This informed approach to pharmaceutical facility design is consistent with Autodesk’s leading-edge presentations in recently evidencing the economic value of Building Information Modelling (BIM) and achieving strategically competitive ratios of return to investment. This is in turn an embrace of the shifting role of Building Information Modeling in decision-making, through informing the clients’ strategies of investment and innovation, using Building Information Modeling critically to aid in assessing the value of different options available.