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Building Information Modeling (BIM)

Many of us have seen the rudimentary life support system in design. Actually, it's not uncommon to see them drawn on a napkin or paper towel; arrows dictate the flow of water, small squares sit in for sand filters... a big rectangle as the exhibit.

The finesse of life support design will never cease to leave me in awe.

Consider Building Information Modeling (BIM) the new napkin. Except this napkin allows the user to essentially walk through an entire aquarium, exhibited in both 3-D and x-ray vision.


Amazing, right?


BIM allows users to follow through the entire process of an aquarium build: planning, design, construction, and management. This is really important, because every single detail of a new building can be seen by each of its stakeholders.


Who are the stakeholders? Surely, the client. But also, the architect, engineers, general contractors, sub-contractors, inspectors, safety personnel, (in the case of emergency) police and fire departments, new staff, future operators, the list goes on.


So when someone needs to move an electrical outlet during pre-construction, they don't need to send an email blast to the entire list of stakeholders. It only takes one meeting with the BIM to push that outlet two inches to the left. The BIM's x-ray breakdown of all the other building features will confirm that the outlet will not "clash" with the corner of a wall, life support equipment, municipal water lines, etc. Color-coding identifies the contractor.


There's no denying that BIM takes work. Every detail of a building needs to be modeled, passing between the hands of architects and engineers. Essentially, the BIM constructs a model of a building to construct an actual building. This "virtual construction" process reduces uncertainty, because it simulates the process.

Aerial view of an aquarium using Building Information Modeling (BIM).

For life support installation, BIM makes all the difference. It gives life support a stake in the building's construction. Our team is able to plan for shipping and delivery so equipment isn't being stored on-site, reducing concerns for theft and damage,and helping conserve valuable construction space. We can also plan for pre-fabrication of some life support components, which saves a lot of time.


Most importantly, we can input and review critical information with regards to installation and operability. The BIM allows our team to see when a valve might be mistakenly placed too far out of an operator's reach.


Ultimately, the BIM reduces cases of miscommunication. From design team, to construction team, to building owner/operator, each group can add to and reference back to the BIM model.


Sometimes, it's amazing to see how incredibly precise the construction process has become, and interesting to know that your contractors on-site have a unique skill that supports the functionality of your aquarium's life support systems.


Pretty high-tech napkin.

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