BIM’s importance grows with moveable wall automation


The use of BIM (Building Information Modelling) is going to become increasingly important as demand soars for automated moveable wall systems.

That’s the expert opinion of Julian Sargent, group managing director of Style, the UK’s leading moveable partitioning walls specialists, who advises that the shift towards more complex operable wall systems is bringing the benefits of BIM to the forefront.

“The hi-tech partitioning wall systems of today offer diverse opportunities to deliver efficient space flexibility to almost any room,” said Julian. “But these sophisticated operable walls require considerably more input at the planning and design stages, making the use of BIM imperative.

“To give you an idea of the level of growth in automated wall systems, 10% of all of DORMA’s UK sales are now for their fully automatic ComfortDrive system, launched only two years ago.

“Sales of the phenomenal Skyfold partition, which descends from the ceiling at the press of a button, have also rocketed. It took Style 10 years to sell the first 100 units but in just three years since then we have installed more than 150 walls.

“With automatic systems that involve electrics and control boxes, there’s a lot more to consider in the specification process which is why we are finding BIM an invaluable tool and regularly make use of NBS authored objects from the National BIM library.

“This system allows our design team to work with other contractors to quickly assess how different options impact on the overall development, encouraging experimentation with various elements such as full-glass or fabric covered panels, or the parking arrangements for example.

“BIM tools can also be used to maximise acoustic performance, ensuring installation is precisely scheduled so that sound flanking, for example, can be minimised. If we come into the process too late, there is only so much remedial work the installation team can do to reduce sound leakage, but BIM modelling ensures we are on site at exactly the right time.”

Automatic operable walls are not just about simplifying life and many believe they are the epitome of best practice. For example, automatic electronic seals always expand to exactly the optimum pressure to maximise acoustic integrity. There is no risk of them being manually wound too tight and causing damage or of not being extended sufficiently and allowing sound leakage.

Similarly, with a fully automatic system, the panels themselves will not be bumped or scratched by someone rushing to get the wall in place. Finally, with space being an expensive commodity, there is a direct cost benefit too and having an automatic partitioning wall really does allow multiple events and meetings to run concurrently.

“Clearly there’s a lot to consider if specifying a modern operable wall and this impacts the very earliest stages of a project,” continues Julian. “Involving a partitioning expert right at the beginning allows an innovative solution to be created that can surpass expectations – and BIM is at the very heart of this process.”