For those who design in BIM/CAD, manufacturer-provided content is widely viewed as being superior to generic, out-of-the box content when planning and designing a project. The data embedded within manufacturer-provided content is unique to the characteristics of the product, providing engineers with the ability to visualize a system’s installation or a model’s performance within a building before construction begins.Unfortunately, despite this preference, the quantity of manufacturer-provided content currently available to BIM/CAD users is disproportionately distributed between architects and MEP (mechanical, electrical, plumbing) engineers, largely in favor of the former.
When repiping with PEX—a relative newcomer to the commercial building world—it’s especially important to have access to manufacturer-provided content when designing these types of plumbing, hydronic piping or radiant heating and cooling systems into a structure.
- Manufacturer-provided PEX content ensures the system takes advantage of the unique features of PEX, such as the flexibility of the product.
- This content also takes into consideration the challenges, such as expansion and contraction of the pipe.
Having this manufacturer-provided content is especially valuable with hybrid PEX-and-metal systems, which are becoming more commonplace in today’s commercial building projects. It is vital for engineers to have the content from different manufacturers that can work cohesively in a single system.
For example, in a PEX repipe application, it is common to transition from an existing copper pipe to a PEX pipe, creating the transition between materials. It is important that the fitting successfully bridge the metal-to-plastic connection for the entire system to work. Along with a successful, physical connection between components, each product’s data must be compatible and successfully link to one another.
Currently, manufactured content can be obtained in one of two ways: from the manufacturer’s website or through third-party websites and add-ons. While MEP databases do exist, such as AutoCAD MEP, they provide only some of the content engineers seek. Engineers are in need of more high-quality content provided by manufacturers, especially when designing with PEX.
When MEP engineers work with manufacturer-provided content for PEX piping systems, they have the confidence knowing the data they are receiving is created and updated by experts who know the product’s features, functions and limitations the best—the PEX manufacturer’s engineers.
This arrangement ensures product geometry and functional attributes are kept current and that the model’s behavior within the program will reflect its designed performance on the job site. This should, in turn, significantly reduce system conflicts that can occur during construction.
The Value of Current, High-quality Data
One of the leading advantages of using manufacturer-provided content for a PEX repipe project is that the data is tied to a central database. This ensures the content in the database is always the most current information available from the PEX manufacturer.
That is, whenever the manufacturer updates the content, it will be current for the engineer to use, eliminating problems that can happen down the road when old, outdated content is used in a design.
In fact, some leading content providers offer a “call home” function that notifies the user of any content updates since completing a drawing. These updates can then be easily incorporated into the finished drawing with minimal disruption to the design while adding maximum efficiency to the project down the line.