For all specialist contractors working on construction sites in the UK, Building Information Modelling or BIM compliance is mandatory. The UK government construction strategy is currently at BIM Level 2, which involves developing building information and collaborating with the project design model, and attaching data to all elements of the model.
Autodesk Revit is the favoured software for architects and design engineers, the program is split into two sections, Projects and Families. The building is designed as a Revit project by the architect, the M&E fitout elements are supplied by the specialist contractors as Families, basically a 3D model of every piece of equipment supplied for the building. The M&E design team then insert the families into the project and join up electrical and mechanical infrastructure such as pipes, ducting, cabling, containment and furniture. This is state of the art technology.
Revit Families for Pneumatic Tube Systems were first sought after by designers in 2012, at this time the UK was at BIM Level 1 and not much was available from suppliers. Our Aerocom UK project manager was being bombarded with requests for pneumatic tube families, and being already a competent draftsman with AutoCAD, decided to take the plunge and research and develop our BIM compliance. With BIM Level 2 being scheduled to become mandatory for specialist contractors, it was an obvious decision for Aerocom UK to invest in the appropriate software and training.
Step by step the Aerocom library of Revit family elements was created. Every commonly used element of our pneumatic tube systems in the most popular diameters was added. And as we discovered there were a few additional requirement’s needing added, such as snap on electrical and tubing connections, and COBie data.
With collaboration being the key word in BIM, we were assisted by some of our major construction company clients who helped test our families in real projects, notably Crown House Technologies and the Laing O’Rourke design office in Glasgow. With the much appreciated assistance of such professionals, Aerocom UK were already BIM Level 2 compliant as a contractor before the government mandated deadline in April 2016 for public sector construction projects.
Although BIM Level 2 compliance is a mandatory requirement in the UK, the Republic of Ireland has no mandate. But just because it is not a compulsory requirement in Ireland, does not mean BIM is not being used in construction, far from it. Architects, principle designers and construction companies operating in both the UK and Ireland are closely linked, and have since 2016 asked for all Irish supply contractors to collaborate.
Advanced Pneumatic Technology (APT) are the Aerocom product range supply partners for the Republic of Ireland. What’s more, APT is a group of companies which include both Aerocom Ireland and Aerocom UK, so just like Revit have a family organisation. It was John Hughes MBA who founded both companies to supply Aerocom pneumatic tube systems throughout the UK and Ireland.
Aerocom UK and Ireland work as a family, supporting each others projects with manpower, and importantly, sharing resources such as the design team. In 2016 APT faced several design obstacles when planning the replacement of the pneumatic tube system at St. James’s Hospital Dublin, the largest hospital in Ireland. Our UK designer was faced with several challenges assisting APT who planned to develop the site wide system into 16 zones, linked by a robotic linear coupler transfer interchange.
The main obstacle was lack of space in any site plant room, determined to make this work APT suggested a dedicated plant room in the underground car park. The car park location was perfect, directly under the main building with service risers to the hospital above, the problem was the ceiling height.
With little space available, APT were allocated just 6 parking places, to further complicate matters the soffit height was at best 2,850mm, and a large section was only 2,450 high.
Limited building information was available with only a very basic CAD layout supplied. APT took photos, videos, and made sketches which were sent to our UK designer in Newcastle.
After careful consideration and collaboration, it was decided that the soffit height would jeopardise the operation of the transfer, and the exhaust fumes in the car park would have to be eliminated to allow fresh air into the system blowers.
A compartmented plant room was designed, complete with a pit excavated to allow the require height for the linear interchange, and a integral ventilation system added, the rest is history. A combined effort between APT and AUK not only solved the problem, but we also combined workforces to successfully deliver the design.
The CAD layouts for St. James’s Hospital were completed without our AUK designer setting foot in Ireland, APT provided the lead design and relevant information from local surveys, and our man in the UK adapted the design to suit the equipment, a perfect example of collaboration. Delighted with the accuracy of the design work John Hughes invited our UK designer to inspect the finished article in Dublin, it was more of a working holiday as John had another couple of design assignments to discuss.
The new National Children’s Hospital in Dublin is currently under construction on the St. James’s Hospital site. An Internationally renowned project team are providing the lead design:
O’Connell Mahon Architects
Arup contacted APT for assistance in developing a lead design for a site wide pneumatic tube system in the new children’s hospital, which will also connect to the existing St. James’s Hospital site.
Potentially this will be creating one of the worlds largest hospital pneumatic tube system networks.
APT introduced our man in Newcastle to Arup, who was given a free hand to develop an extensive, efficient and functional solution from preliminary CAD layouts.
It is not often such opportunities arise so we started by listing all locations which will potentially benefit from a pneumatic tube station, and of course, infrastructure to receive samples for the huge new pathology laboratories on the lower ground floor.
Of the 90 pneumatic tube station locations initially identified 64 were accepted as viable. Once the feasibly was agreed, suggested station locations, infrastructure, and tube routes were supplied by AUK using CAD layouts, and complete with a preliminary schematic to visualise the system extents.
Impressed with the efforts by the APT/Aerocom family in providing the information for a lead design, Arup then referred APT to Jones Engineering, a world leading company, founded in Dublin, who were appointed the M&E design for the project.
As part of the tender requirements, the specialist pneumatic tube contractor was mandated to supply Revit family elements for all equipment and collaborate in the BIM delivery plan. Once again John Hughes called in the Aerocom family and brought our UK designer to Dublin to meet the Jones Engineering BIM team.
We are not sure who was impressed the most by the other, but within a few days of the collaboration, the first ever Irish pneumatic tube system designed with BIM was unveiled by the very talented team at Jones Engineering. And of course, its was completed using Aerocom Revit Families.
Needless to say, APT won the tender to supply the new National Children’s Hospital pneumatic tube system.
Some things never change within the APT Aerocom family, we always collaborate and support each others efforts on both sides of the Irish Sea. Our lead designer has coached the Aerocom team, teaching CAD and BIM practices to many of the most talented installation and management employees in the UK and Ireland. And just like sending “Coal to Newcastle” our Aerocom UK Installation Manager Noel Ryan, and his younger brother Des, both originally from Roscommon, have been seconded back to Dublin, and are now storming ahead with the first fix works assisting APT with their biggest ever project.
Families and Collaboration, that’s exactly how the APT group of companies was founded