A “Clash” of Consultants - Who Does the Responsibility Fall to for Clash Detection?

Clash Detection is a term that often gets associated with BIM and Digital Construction. I’ve consulted on many BIM projects over the years and I often get asked:

“Who does the responsibility fall to for Clash Detection?”

To answer this, I’m going to stay away from pointing to PAS1192-2 Table 2 which states that each task team (Consultant) should appoint various roles to look after certain responsibilities. One of these roles is “Interface Manager” with which one of their responsibilities is “Propose resolutions to co-ordination clashes”.

Instead I will approach this with how I like to answer all questions about BIM Level 2! We utilise common sense.

One of my clients had just been novated as lead designer on a project. The client was asking them to deliver the project in a better, more collaborative way. The 3 main consultants (Architect, Structural Engineer and Mechanical/Electrical Engineer) all had experience in using Revit, but this was mostly in isolation. They have worked together on a recent project but unfortunately hit a few stumbling blocks along the way, hence I was employed to help smooth the process along for them all.

I was pre-warned that there may be a little friction on some areas, especially around clash detection.

So in to the meeting I step with my usual positivity and open mind. We discussed and documented many areas of how they can work better collaboratively as a team.

Key areas for collaboration:

- Model/BIM deliverables
- Standard naming conventions
- Responsibilities
- Information exchange processes
- Model and Drawing checking processes
- Quality Assurance

When the subject of clash detection came up I was met with a response by one of the consultants stating “it’s not our responsibility to do clash detection. That’s the job of the lead designer” (ah ha I thought… Here comes the friction)

When it comes to Clash detection you have to break it down for what it actually is and what it’s for.

Clash Detection

I asked them a few simple questions;

1. Do you QA your Drawings and models before issuing them
2. Should your drawings and models be an accurate representation of what will be built
3. Should your models be free of geometric clashes!

Of course, the answer to all of these was “yes…. But it’s not our responsibility to run clash detection software”

I’ve heard this many time before. It’s as if consultants fear some tools and processes they don’t fully understand.
Clash detection software is simply there as an aid to ensure the model derived information is accurate and free of conflicts with other areas of the building. It’s there to aid the process not add another process.

The “BIM Thing” has only emphasised this kind of tool because a 3D Modelled environment makes it easy to run some tools to check the modelled information.

I simply showed them a few tricks. Opened Navisworks, set up a couple of rules, and let the software do its thing.

Navisworks Clash Detection
When it comes to Clash detection you have to break it down for what it actually is and what it’s for.

It seems the fear of not knowing what something is or what it does. Seeing processes that look new to what you already know and instantly ruling it out because a lack of understanding, instantly makes consultants distance themselves. They associate it with extra costs, time and responsibility for themselves that haven’t been budgeted for.

When in reality, the software is there to complement existing techniques such as manually checking using your eyes, to give them that little helping hand to ensure that the information they send out is Quality Assured.

The lead designer won’t know the full ins and outs of your trade in the same way you don’t know the full details of theirs. Their role is there as a secondary check, a safety net if you like.

There is usually a small cost of purchasing software (Although this is now often included) and a small amount of training.

But what are the costs of not doing this?
Ironically, with a little education I showed there is an easy way to resolve “clashes”.

If you want to learn more about Navisworks for Clash Detection, head over to our training page to see what is covered in our 1 day course. Alternatively, contact Graitec to find out more.

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