WEBBER/SMITH has been committed to embracing Building Information Modeling (BIM) since 2009 and the benefits it provides our firm as well as our clients. In a highly summarized form, WEBBER/SMITH’s corporate goals with BIM are;

  • Enhance multidiscipline design collaboration
  • Develop our projects in the manner in which designers think (focus on design)
  • Develop project implementation documentation that owners clearly understand
  • Develop project implementation documentation that contractors truly want and need
  • Achieve total project coordination of the implementation document set
  • Lowered costs, controlled costs, and reduced project duration

 Structural Benefits:

Utilizing the virtual building model environment at WEBBER/SMITH has allowed our structural design teams to eliminate many overlapping steps within the design process. Projects that utilize a common model allow our structural teams to leverage the architectural model earlier in the design process, which in turn, allows the entire design team to make faster and earlier design decisions. At the heart of the structural virtual model is the strength of parametric modeling, changes are constantly and automatically coordinated and validated throughout the design and also the implementation documents. All views, dimensions and design data are immediately updated when a change is made. This improves the efficiency of our designs through visualization, clash prevention and team communication.

Another benefit of the structural model is the fact that the benefits don’t stop at the Construction documentation phase. Quantity take-offs are a natural by-product of our designs. The structural model, which is made up of individual structural components, not lines flattened into 2D designs, contains all of the design information, not only analytical data but counts, weights and volumes

steel take-off

Building/Architecture Benefits:

Our Architects and Architectural Designers can now move directly into concept modeling, allowing them to validate and communicate designs much earlier in the design process than ever before. This allows for better design decisions to be made at the time they will have the greatest impact on design.


One of the main advantages of virtual modeling is the fact that the natural maturing of the design and model allows the design team to leverage information in the model phase to phase. A door placed in schematic design matures into the same door on the construction documents, a wall placed in a concept model, matures into a scheduled wall type on a construction document, and so on. This continuous maturity and early validation of objects and components in the virtual model ultimately leads to greater value as the project progresses through each design phase

Another huge advantage is that the virtual model is the perfect tool enabling our architectural design team to communicate not only design intent but actuality without sidetracking from the main design process. The same model moving forward in the design is the same model used to generate visual images, renderings, and walkthroughs allowing for clearer and precise communication at any stage of the project

MEP Benefits:

Our MEP Design Team leverages one single, in-house multi discipline virtual model which allows them to clearly identify and resolve interference’s and accelerates engineering designs with the embedded data rich design data that also supports sustainable design and analysis

Back in 1987, Autocad 2.5 amazed everyone with its new high tech commands; the ability to trim intersecting lines (TRIM), the ability to extend a line to another line (EXTEND), and the ability to proportionally scale objects (SCALE)


Today, our MEP design team isn’t limited by “commands”. Virtual modeling allows them to create supply returns and exhaust systems, perform energy analysis, create single and multi-circuit wiring for devices, fixtures and power, and create multiple plumbing systems including sanitary, sewer, domestic hot and cold water and grey water systems. The parametric change management allows modifications to be coordinated more consistently by leveraging one central model for all design, development, cross-discipline coordination, and implementation documents.

I recently attended the 106th RETA (Refrigerating Engineers and Technicians Association) conference in Milwaukee, WI.  The refrigeration industry gathers at this conference to learn about and discuss all aspects of refrigeration systems, equipment and design.  RETA has been near and dear to my heart since I first joined this organization in 1979.  And this year’s conference once again brought enriching learning opportunities.

One of the most interesting topics discussed was the January 2015 release of the CSB’s Safety Bulletin No. 2010-13-A-AL entitled “Key Lessons for Preventing Hydraulic Shock in Industrial Refrigeration Systems.”  (This bulletin is a summary of the large ammonia release from the Millard Refrigeration facility in Theodore, AL on August 23, 2010.  As a result of this release, nine crew ship members and 143 offsite contractors reported downwind exposure.  “Of the exposed victims, 32 were hospitalized and 4 were placed in intensive care.”  The importance of this bulletin to the ammonia industry and the aid it provides to keep this type of release from happening again was a great learning experience.

I’d encourage you to download your own copy of the safety bulletin here:
Key Lessons for Preventing Hydraulic Shock in Industrial Refrigeration Systems

Additionally, an informative video of this incident is available at: .

Another interesting topic was about ammonia cleaning.  Did you know that there are three grades of ammonia that can be purchased:

  • Premium
  • Refrigeration
  • Commercial grade

Commercial grade can have up to 0.5% water by volume; not something you want in your ammonia system.  Do you know which ammonia grade your contractor is providing for your system?

And along with the safety theme, there was a very interesting discussion on the differences between an Emergency Action Plan (EAP) and Emergency Response Plan (ERP).  Which plan do you have?  Both types?  Does your EAP describe where you people are to go and who is to make contact with emergency responders in the event of an emergency?  Does your ERP address the items that your in-house responders need to know?  Does it include an incident command system (ICS)?  Does it address logistical items such as food, water, shelter, first aid and hazardous materials confinement?  It may be time to pull out your EAP/ERP and have a second look at the details and sequences that are spelled out in these documents.

We are pleased to announce that Carl Berelowitz has joined the WEBBER/SMITH team as Business Development Manager. Carl is a graduate of Wheaton College and brings more than 17 years selling solutions to the food, beverage, and manufacturing industries across North America and Canada. Carl reports to Ray Anater, Vice President of Sales and Marketing.