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Creating Prefabricated Spools with BIM

Prefabricated Spools Defined & Helm BIM Project Showcase

What are Prefabricated Spools? 

Prefabricated spools are pre-assembled sections of plumbing or mechanical pipe that are manufactured off-site and delivered to the construction site for installation. The fabrication of these spools involves taking detailed measurements and creating customized designs using specialized software tools. These spools can be made from a variety of materials, including steel, copper, and plastic. 

The prefabrication process involves creating a detailed design of the spool, including the specific dimensions, connections, and fittings required for the specific project. This design is then sent to the fabrication facility, where the spool is assembled in a controlled environment. Once completed, the spool is transported to the construction site and installed by the mechanical contractor. 

Helm BIM takes BIM coordination a step further by creating deliverables for prefabricated spooling from the 3D models refined through the coordination process.

How BIM makes Prefabricated Spooling possible: 

The use of BIM (Building Information Modeling) coordination is an essential part of ensuring that prefabricated spools are installed correctly and fit in the intended place. BIM is a process of creating and managing digital representations of the physical and functional characteristics of a building or facility. BIM coordination involves using specialized software tools to create a 3D model of the building, including the plumbing and mechanical systems. This model can then be used to identify clashes and conflicts between different systems and ensure that the prefabricated spools fit in the intended location. 

Once the BIM coordination process is complete, the model is signed off on by all project stakeholders. Helm BIM then can work with the client to identify areas of the design where prefabricating spools would be most beneficial.

The Benefits of Prefabricated Spooling: 

Prefabricated spooling offers several benefits in construction and industrial settings, including:

  1. Time-saving: Prefabricated spooling allows for efficient and quick assembly, which saves time in the construction process. By pre-assembling the spooling, construction teams can reduce on-site work time and installation time.

  2. Cost-effective: Prefabricated spooling can help save on labor costs, as it reduces the need for on-site assembly and installation labor. Additionally, pre-fabrication allows for better control of material waste, leading to cost savings.

  3. Quality control: Prefabrication allows for quality control measures to be taken in a controlled environment, leading to higher quality products. This can reduce the likelihood of defects, errors, and rework.

  4. Safety: Prefabricated spooling can help reduce the risk of accidents and injuries on the construction site. With pre-assembled spooling, there is less need for on-site welding and cutting, reducing the risk of burns, fires, and other hazards.

  5. Precision: Prefabrication allows for greater precision in the manufacturing process, which can lead to better fit and alignment of components. This can result in fewer installation problems and greater efficiency in the construction process.

Helm BIM creates Prefabricated Spools for Cooling Tower & Mechanical Pipe Replacement

Helm BIM provided prefabricated spools for a hospital in New York City planning for a cooling tower and mechanical pipe replacement. 

Click Here to check out the first part of this project where Helm’s team 3D Laser Scanned and created an as-built model for BIM Coordination. Helm also assisted in identifying where existing conditions and structural steel need to be accounted for as the mechanical pipe design was coordinated. 

Once the new mechanical pipe design was modeled and coordinated Helm produced shop drawings to be reviewed and signed off by the project engineer.

Prior to creating any prefabricated spools, Helm’s team met with the project engineer and mechanical contractor on the jobsite for additional field verification.  

Helm BIM’s Field Verification Check List

Before creating a spool map, there are several items that need to be field verified to ensure accuracy and completeness. Some of the key items that should be verified include:

  1. Piping configuration: The layout and configuration of the piping system should be verified in the field to ensure that it matches the design specifications.

  2. Pipe size and material: The size and material of the pipes used in the system should be verified to ensure that they meet the requirements specified in the design.

  3. Fittings and valves: The location and type of fittings and valves used in the system should be verified to ensure that they are correctly installed and functioning properly.

  4. Pipe supports: The location and type of pipe supports used in the system should be verified to ensure that they are providing adequate support and that they meet the design specifications.

  5. Instrumentation: The location and type of instrumentation used in the system should be verified to ensure that it is installed correctly and functioning properly.

  6. Clearance requirements: The clearance requirements for the piping system should be verified to ensure that there is sufficient space for maintenance and repair activities.

  7. Safety requirements: The safety requirements for the piping system, including fire protection, pressure relief, and emergency shutdown systems, should be verified to ensure that they meet the applicable standards and regulations.

Full Spool Map for Rooftop Mechanical Pipe

Prefabricated Spool Details

Once everything was verified Helm BIM created spool maps detailing all of the pieces that the client wished to have spooled for prefabrication. For this project Helm created spools for mechanical pipe associated with the rooftop cooling tower and mechanical pipe on the 13th floor. For the mechanical pipe on the rooftop the client opted for the entire mechanical pipe system to be prefabricated. 

We zoomed in on a piece of 16 inch mechanical pipe spooled for prefabrication (W-EQ-006) as an example of the information provided with each spool piece. Each spool piece has detailed information about the pipe size, fitting schedule, description, material, pipe cut lengths and ends for the mechanical contractor to reference and share with a fabricator to create off site and then to be shipped to the job site for installation. Below is an isometric view of the individual spool piece along with a zoomed in picture of the piece from the overall spool map.

Partial Spool Map for 13th Floor Mechanical Pipe

Helm also created a spool map for the mechanical pipe scope for the 13th floor at the hospital. On this floor prefabricated spooling was limited to specific areas of mechanical pipe throughout the floor. Areas where prefabricated spools were planned to be used are represented in color on the spool map above. 

Example Spool Pieces L13-CHWR-001 & L13-CHWR-002

For Spool Pieces L13-CHWR-001 & 002 Helm BIM provided some additional information so the mechanical contractor would be clear on how the two pieces should be connected and placed in the field. Aside from the spool map, Helm BIM also provided an elevation view of the two spool pieces connecting with each other and the additional pipe surrounding them. 

In addition, Helm BIM created documentation for each individual spool piece showcased below so their client could send the information to the prefabrication facility and have the utmost confidence that the pipe will fit perfectly when installed on-site.