BIM Clash Detection: Definition, Benefits and Software Types
The definition of clash detection
Engineering design is a quite sophisticated field that demands effective cooperation from multiple stakeholders to achieve the intended results. In the modern-day, these stakeholders are represented by architects, vendors, engineers, and suppliers, basically present in any construction project by default.
The existence of several varying stakeholders sets the complexity bar at a substantial level, but there’s also the fact that the entire project has a time limit. This means that all stakeholders have to achieve a certain level of cooperation for the entire construction project’s execution to be timely and precise.
This is where clash detection comes in, offering the ability to detect contradictions between different models as early as the design phase. Every single clash eliminated during the design phase means one less potential problem that might have resulted in a multi-level design change, project delays, and budget expansions.
Clash detection is an essential part of a BIM (Building Information Modeling) process, which is a process of creating a sophisticated model that consists of several different models from various engineering and design disciplines.
Independent models are created by MEP engineers, architects, structural engineers, and others. These models are then connected and integrated into creating a BIM model, which is precisely where clash detection comes in.
As the name suggests, the primary purpose of BIM clash detection is to identify specific places where different models may overlap, creating compatibility problems. It is much easier and less costly to solve these problems at the design stage than when the actual building is nearly complete.
The addition of advanced 3D modeling in the construction process reduces or eliminates problems caused by incompatible or clashing models from different experts. It’s safe to say that clash detection BIM as a whole is an invaluable instrument that saves loads of money, time, and effort for every construction project.
Benefits of clash detection
There are several advantages that BIM clash detection provides, with the most important ones being presented below:
- Easier sequencing and/or scheduling
- Accurate estimates for the entire construction phase, leading to fewer accidents
- Faster construction and higher productivity
- Fewer errors on all stages of a construction project
- Smaller risks, lower overall costs, and drastically decreased material waste
Different clash types
That’s not to say that all clashes are the same. It’s possible to figure out three main types of clashes – hard, soft, and workflow clashes.
Hard clash is the most basic example out of the three, with two objects or components being in the same specific place on the model – pipes running through steel beams, plumbing lines occupying the same space as air ducts, and so on.
Soft clash is somewhat different, resulting from indirect interference rather than a direct clash of two objects. Soft clash occurs when a specific element of a model is not given the necessary geometric or spatial tolerance.
Soft clashes are relatively common for MEP services to allow for easier maintenance at a later time. That being said, soft clashes can also cause various issues, regarding both safety and maintenance (for example, a plumbing line being close to a live wire as a potential short-circuit hazard).
Workflow clashes (sometimes called 4D clashes) are almost entirely different, mainly involving schedule conflicts, such as general workflow timeline clashes, material delivery clashes, equipment delivery clashes, and more.
Workflow clashes are mostly scheduling-related, and the most significant consequence of such a clash is an eventual decrease of the overall company’s efficiency since a single schedule clash can cause a process freeze.
Types of clash detection software
Since clash detection is heavily tied with BIM as a process, clash detection software often works as BIM software, and vice versa – BIM software offering MEP clash detection capabilities, as well as other ones. With that in mind, it’s possible to figure out two main types of clash detection software:
- BIM integration tools with clash detection capabilities. Capable of detecting clashes between different kinds of non-proprietary software. It’s limitations are mostly tied with the typical problems of integrating different software in one place.
- BIM design software. A proprietary clash detection software that can only detect irregularities within its models (the ones created by this same program). Revit is a popular example of this category, being a massive platform with various capabilities and offering clash detection for its models.
Examples of model checking and clash detection software
The market for clash detection software is quite vast and varied, so it’s quite hard to detect each of the participants. However, it’s possible to find 9 of the most well-known participants in the market, a list of which you can see below.
MagiCAD is an MEP-specific add-in for AutoCAD and Revit, offering several different modeling functions, including MEP clash detection. It also allows exporting clash reports via popular BCF file format, making them compatible with many issue-tracking platforms.
As the name might suggest, Cintoo Cloud is a cloud-based platform that mainly works with laser scans, to upload, analyze, group, and export scan results. It’s also an excellent format for desktop BIM clash detection and modeling, and it allows users to create and publish issues to several BIM coordination platforms.
usBIM.clash is an ACCA Software collaboration platform that offers clash detection BIM features for IFC models and can work with a set of rules to configure the necessary level of precision. There is also a free trial and a lot more features in the works.
Solibri takes clash detection a step further, offering powerful BIM clash detection tools combined with compliance control, design review, code checking, and many other capabilities. This kind of approach allows Solibri to spot false-positive clashes, group clashes by specific parameters, perform data checking for maintenance, and more.
Trimble Connect is an evolution of a previously well-known software called Tekla BIMSight. Trimble Connect offers many capabilities for its own Tekla software but becomes extremely limited when different file types become involved.
BIM Vision is a free model viewer that mainly works with IFC file format, and it also offers several clash detection bundles with a flexible subscription model. It’s also highly developer-friendly and has an open SDK available so that developers can create their add-ins if they wish.
Verity claims to be a model verification platform with many features, such as quality check, clash detection, report generation, and so on. It can offer screenshots, heat maps, annotations, and several other means of highlighting problematic areas of the model.
Fuzor is a multifunctional platform with several versions of its software, including clash detection. It can create clash reports, as well as check for both hard and soft clashes. One of its main advantages is the number of supported file formats and file types, making it an excellent option for clash detection outside Autodesk.
Revizto is an integrated collaboration platform that offers cutting-edge BIM technologies and features, which include clash detection, among other things. The overall accessibility and ease of use make Revizto an exceptional choice for companies looking for a solution that performs clash detection with ease.
BIM clash detection has become one of the features that greatly improves modern construction project processes, especially when it comes to collaboration between different stakeholders. Clash detection is a much needed breath of fresh air for an industry that already has a lot on its plate in general.