The Future is BIM?

by Regular Contributor on ‎09-10-2013 03:06 PM

Chad Dozier Caterpillar Blog.jpg



As a manufacturer of large equipment that is integrated into larger facilities, we are often asked for 3D models of our generator sets.  To meet these requests, our engineers take a genset model developed in our engineering software, remove any proprietary information, and then provide an “easy-to-use” 200Mb file—which turns out to be not as easy to use as it should be.


Today, we are seeing a lot of interest in building information modeling (BIM) from the architectural and consulting communities. A BIM is an intelligent model of a product that can include all technical information for sizing, installing, operating and ultimately servicing of the equipment. There are BIM models for anything that makes up a facility – everything from the heating and cooling systems; to the building structural components; to the shrubbery outside the building. There is a lot of potential power in BIM models and the information contained within them, but only if they are created in a format and structure that can be easily used.


I would like to know what the community expects from a 3D BIM model for a generator set. We can put the effort into developing complex BIM models, but if we don’t get it right, we could also waste a lot of time. We have the ability to populate the model with a lot of data, but in my experience too much data can be just as bad as too little.


This is where you come in. What is the minimum amount of information needed to make these models more useful and easier to understand?

  • What are the key features you are looking for in a genset model?
  • What do you like about the current models out there?  What is missing?
  • How much configurability do you want out of your BIM models?
  • What are your expectations for 3D BIM models for generator sets?

by New member avmeadors
on ‎09-24-2013 02:37 PM

Most are obvious, most of our clients aren't sophisticated enough (yet) to use some of the information you've mentioned.  Size (both physical and electrical), breaker sizes available, controllers, weight, fuel consumption, heat output would all be helpful and probably minimum information.  Additional electrical information would be great also (generator reactances, etc.).

by Visitor intoko
on ‎09-24-2013 03:17 PM

3D BIM models are required for the design planning and construction of an area to install gensets and to study all movements of equipment from the transportation truck unloading to the final place of units movements. Also, they are required for design coordination between mechanical, electrical and civil engineering.

on ‎09-24-2013 06:43 PM

As Chad suggests, this is a big issue. We have been using 3D models of Industrial engines and Marine engines for many years now, where fitting an engine into a compact space is critical. Those 3D engine models have been huge CAD files, but that didn't always cause us the problem (it was more the customer's designers who had to deal with that). But, the larger EP project customers are now designing whole sites using Building Information Management (BIM) systems, such a Revit, and they want all Contractors who have a service to provide to conduct their designs using the whole building model space, so that any clashes can be identified and worked around. This makes a great deal of sense, but it means that working files being transmitted to numerous Contractors can grow to enormous sizes, as such things as multiple generating sets are added to it. So, there is a solid case for 3D models that are of a reduced size, but still containing such things as overall dimensions, mounting point locations, piping connections, maintenance/withdrawal space, etc.

On the other hand, there are cases where site installation or maintenance access is restricted, such that a certain amount of dismantling is necessary to install/remove a genset. In those cases, we need sufficient model detail to be able to break down the individual components, so that we can show how they will be moved through access areas, and to design support structures for component movement.

So, we need both detailed AND compressed 3D files. Ideally, we need access to both. In the meantime, I guess that we can create a compressed model ourselves, from a detailed model, even though it takes a fair bit of time and can introduce the chance of errors to be made.

So, Chad- yes this is a big issue to us, and it is becoming a regular requirement for our customers. It can mean the difference between being able to comply with a Contract or not, if we cannot provide 3D models of gensets.

by Visitor tillier_jy
on ‎09-25-2013 02:51 AM

You might find some interesting information through the software being used for object-centric and information-centric plant or marine design. Overtime they probably developed some standard set of information that would be very close to including almost what is needed for the lowest data size.


Below is an example of software:


I suspect the informaiton might depend on where the genset is used as well.



by Regular Contributor
on ‎09-25-2013 07:05 AM



Thanks for the feedback. On the technical data (fuel consumption, heat output, generator electrical data, etc.), is it needed as an integral part of the model, or would a separate file be acceptable? Including it as an integral part of the model will increase the file size by some amount, but might be of more use to the designers. Keeping it as a separate file (either as a .pdf or a link to an external site) would help keep files sizes down - which we have heard is critical for these 3D models.



by Regular Contributor
on ‎09-25-2013 07:29 AM



I have also heard that file size is critical - target file size should be less that 1MB.  We are getting close to that size with a relatively detailed model.  As we continue to simplify the model to reduce file size, we are keeping the interface points as detailed as possible.  This would be fuel connections, cooling connections (for remote cooling system), cabling areas, etc).


We are aslo looking at is including the working space / service clearances in the model to help identify the required space our generator set would need. 

by Regular Contributor
on ‎09-25-2013 07:33 AM



How would you want to receive 3D drawings?  As we get the library developed, we will need to distribute.  Would you expect to get the models from the manuafcturer's web site, from the local dealer / distributer, or would you be looking at something like the AutoDesk SEEK site?

by Regular Contributor
‎09-25-2013 10:18 AM - edited ‎09-25-2013 10:19 AM

As far as recieving drawings goes an FTP site can be set up for all parties to log into. CPGS has been useing CONJECTS to store drawings for our current project. This saves file space on our plant systems but still allows us to pull drawings as we need them. I wish we could have had BIM on this project! It would have enabled us to see where pipeing,and conduit runs ran without finding them run through structure!!!

by New member NMyHmbleOpinion
on ‎09-30-2013 07:57 AM

I think that the main areas to focus on would be the hard points that are going to need to be connected to (fuel, exhaust, electrical, cooling) and the data that is going to effect the area that the generator is being located in (heat rejection, air flow, fuel consumption, electrical data, exhaust flow).  Think about the main purpose that the models are being used for, Building Information.  As nice as it would be to have a detailed model that looks accurate and can be taken apart and all that good stuff, I don't think thats necessary, at least not as long as you want to keep the file size down.  Put the data in the model(actually in the model, not an attached file) thats needed to design around.   

by Regular Contributor
on ‎09-30-2013 01:47 PM



Thanks for the feedback.  We will be sharing what we are doing on our high speed diesel gensets with other groups here in Caterpillar. 


From the distribution side, we are looking at a number of different options. The ultimate goal is to make the correct drawings easily available when and where they are needed.  Probably not an FTP site, but at least somewhere where the models can be downloaded.

by Regular Contributor
on ‎09-30-2013 01:58 PM



Thanks for the feedback.  You have further confirmed what I have heard - that what is critical in the model is accurate overall dimensions (LxWxH), accurate mechanical and electrical hook-ups, and the information needed for site calculations (air flows, coolant flows, exhaust data, etc).  And that detail is nice to have, but only if it can be applied and still keep the model size down.

by Visitor CadJAD
on ‎11-03-2013 06:21 PM


I work with t300dle on the CAD side of things, the previous posts have covered the need for a simplified CAD model which has all the connection points and accurately reflects the overall size and look of the genset, and is as small as possible. When we recieve models from Cat they are dimensionally accurate and we put together the full consist by adding the parts requested for each individual job, rarely are 2 consists the same. The outcome of this is that in the case of a C175-16 Genset, if we give that to the customer as a Step file (The proferred format for most customers) it can often be larger than 300Mb. Some customers can handle this, the majority can't. We supply our customers with both 2D and 3D data, the 2D dwgs are based upon the 3D model and therefore these need to be accurate.

To help our customers we have stared to build up a library of simplified models, we experimented with "shrinkwrap" options within Auotdesk Inventor, but this didn't work so we have had to do the modelling ourselves. In our case we use Autodesk Plant 3d suite for our piping and we use an ADSK file, which has all the connection points, and can be modified to include whatever information is deemed to be important. In the case of the C175's the size still comes in @ approx 6Mb, this would be a more realistic size for a Genset this big, but we don't have infinite resources so if Cat can make them even smaller, then that will be greatly appreciated.

We recently were sent a simplified model of a C175-20, which was great, but when we asked for the full model, in order to complete our 2D dwgs we were told that that would not be available! From our point of view if we had to choose either the full model or a simplified one then we will always choose the full model. I mention this because I'm not sure if what you are proposing is replacing the full models with a simplified one, which is not what we need.

As to the format for distribution it would make sense to have it as part of the EDDC site. There is a growing need for this information to be made available to Architects, Engineers and others who are in the BIM field, I personally use a site called grab cad ( to source 3D material that I would overwise have to model myself, this is a place where you could concievably make simplified models available.

by Regular Contributor
on ‎02-05-2014 11:30 AM



I couldn't agree with you more that simplified 3D models of our Cat product is needed.  As you have found, our traditional 3D models are too large to be easily used.  We have been talking to a number of consultants here in the US about their 3D modeling needs.  I believe we have a good grasp on the requirements for the models, and are working on new simplified models for our product.  


As for distribution, we are still investigating how to bet get drawings and models out to the industry.  At the very least, they will be posted on our internal EDDC site that is available to the Cat dealers.  As for making them available to the industry, there are a number of methods we are currently looking at.

by Kenny Horrell
on ‎11-04-2014 12:58 PM

To whom it may concern.

Do you have a revit file for your model C9 ATAAC Diesel? if not do you have a cut sheet on it so i know what the physical size of the unit is? The frame size is LC5014H. I would like to know the physical size, along with the electrical data, exhaust data, air movement data. and etc. I need to fit it in a room in the basement of a garage and get the exhaust air ducted out so i need dimensions of the unit.

thank you



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