I was looking to get a general consensus on having all MEP trades in a single model vs. splitting up the trades into separate models and linking them.
What would be the pros and cons for each scenario?
All comments welcome...thanks
I always go with multiple files, as many as each discipline wants and everyone's happy linking each others files. Avoids unnecessary headaches.
Single model as much as you can:
At times separate models will be necessary due to size. One for mechanical and one for electrical typical is enough of a split. It will be up to you to determine how to gauge making separate models. Do make the decision from the start vs. trying to split them later.
Factors that determine the need for separate models:
I guess I had different experiences than some of you and perhaps the computers I worked on had worse hardware. I've seen other people's unrecoverable monstrosities where people lost a lot of work, and I've helped split a few monstrosities (that took forever to open) into a bunch of files. It's an ugly, time consuming process that could have been avoided by simply splitting up the files in the first place.
It does encourage more coordination/collaboration/communication.
This makes no sense. 1 file or a million files, how does this encourage better coordination/collaboration/communication? You can see everything you want from the linked files just like you can with AutoCAD. You guys use 1 AutoCAD file for all your disciplines as well? What does a silent mechanical engineer do differently with 1 file or a million files by not telling the electrical engineer that he has equipment that needs power? He won't say anything in either case. Of course if you consider the convenience of moving other people's stuff (without going to another file) around to benefit you and screw the other people, that is definetly a pro.
I can't imagine how many filters you have to create to turn off the pipes of different trades. Let me guess, you turn worksets on/off instead. Toggling through all those worksets must be fun.
Also, I can't imagine having so many users work on the same file at the same time. A couple users would occassionally (every hour or so) try save to central at the same time. The first user would be successful. The second user would get a message. 10+ users trying to save to 1 central file? Might have to create a schedule when everyone can save to central!
The project browser must be loaded with everyone's views, families, sheets, etc. Let me guess, browser organization becomes extra important?
What about that user that decides to load in a family that crashes or corrupts the file? With one file, everyone's screwed (temporarily). With multiple files, that user is screwed.
Like I said earlier, people have different experiences and you might not have experienced any issues at all by having one file for everyone. To be fair, let me give an actual pro of having 1 file. Electrical can use the electrical connectors (if there are any) on the mechanical equipment and create circuits directly instead of having some simple workaround.
We're up to 94 view filters and counting, and we use View Templates to control visibility in our views. It's really not that complicated once the templates are set up. We also like to circuit our mechanical equipment directly rather than using a separate family in a separate electrical model.
Again, this is just anectdotal, I wouldn't try and say our way is the only way, but we've only come across one model over the years that needed to be split up, and that was for a couple of reasons. One, we hadn't developed our view templates yet, and two, there was a huge number of process piping systems in the building. These days, if we got a project like that (500,000 sq ft + food manufacturing plant), I wouldn't hesitate for a second to break up the model.
The most important thing BIM/model managers should do when evaluating the situation is make a decision from the beginning and stick with it. You don't want to go through the pain of separating a model after it's been developed.