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Planning: The Key to Success in Interference Detection

People often talk about interference detection as if it were merely a functionality in a 3D modelling software program. But instead, interference detection should be seen as a work process. Being able to identify and report problems right from the design stage enables you to better coordinate your efforts with other disciplines and to ensure better project quality on the worksite. However, many design professionals underestimate the work that goes into the preparation of interference detection reports and don’t put enough effort into planning the process. Here are a few aspects you should consider the next time you start a planning exercise:

Planning interference detection throughout the project

For efficient interference detection, you need to coordinate the preparation of reports with the various stages of the design project. This way, you won’t end up with a report containing thousands of useless lines. For example, there is no need to start producing a report on conflicts between ventilation and light fixtures if the electrical engineer has not yet finished their lighting concept. The same holds for the detection of conflicts between the architect’s beams and building mechanics; it’s best to wait for the engineer’s model before starting 3D coordination.

Defining the level of detail of reports

Timing is crucial, but so is the level of detail achieved in the modelling of each analyzed system. You simply need to establish a realistic plan based on the modelling schedule of the professionals involved. The work can be segmented by area, by system or by file, depending on context. A step-by-step approach is normally suggested, with each system being validated against the others, as soon as a first coordination exercise is completed in the modelling software by the professionals.

Finding a solution to each problem

For each type of interference, someone has to be put in charge of problem resolution. This is one of the core principles of project management. If no one is designated for this purpose, problems will never get resolved, which will result in additional costs once they are detected on the worksite later on. For instance, people normally agree that if an interference is detected between the structure and the ventilation, the engineer will be responsible for resolving the coordination problem, or at least for following up with the structural engineer in the event a design change is needed.

Using the right products

Your needs will dictate which detection software you should choose. A Revit modeller can potentially perform interference detections using the Revit interface, but will be limited in the selection of the object interferences to be analyzed. For example, the modeller will not be able to detect interferences using several related models all at once, or will not be able to validate conflicts with equipment imported in AutoCAD 3D format.

For a general contractor or project manager, a single solution like Navisworks Manage clearly offers a better performance, because it enables a better segregation of the model during the creation of multiple collision tests based on settings or system names, for example. Other alternatives like BIM 360 Glue make it possible to detect conflicts via cloud-based services.

Don’t forget the importance of planning interference detection and to include it in your project milestones. In a BIM project, interference detection becomes a deliverable just like plans and specifications, so you need to address this aspect very early on in the project to get the most benefit from it.

Need to integrate interference detection into your design process? Contact an expert!


By Marie-Pierre Lebel

BIM Coordinator

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