If the last two years has shown us anything, it is that whatever business we are in, we need planning to be flexible, fast and accurate. This is particularly true for the healthcare sector.

Having an accurate, current plan of a facility is vital for every project; from creating a concept for a greenfield site or renovating an existing facility to providing rapid expansion infrastructure due to unforeseen circumstances. Computer Aided Design (CAD) has been around for over thirty years and has been helping architects, engineers and planners achieve just that.

However, the drawings and plans generated from a CAD package are not there just for the development or build phase, the plans should stay with the facility to help with maintaining it and providing compliance, and to facilitate future planning.

Accurate CAD plans provide information for maintenance staff on services such as steam, compressed air or HVAC, and are critical for maintaining any facility. What’s more, they form part of policies and procedures relating to emergency evacuation and traffic flow, and are mandatory for essential fire services such as smoke and heat detectors, sprinkler systems and fire doors. These fire plans can often be found next to the fire indicator panel at the entrance to buildings.

It is just not possible to operate a facility in the current regulatory climate without a comprehensive CAD plan of the facility in question.

Alongside facility owners and operators, developers also have a need for CAD plans. All new developments require some level of approval from government, whether local, state or federal. Local government is often the first submission required for expansion, and most local authorities in Australia will now only accept electronic plans and submissions.

Large-scale developments will now be designed in a 3D architectural modelling packages, which are used by architects and engineers to streamline development and provide a facility that works from day one. Usually Building Information Modelling (BIM) is used as well. BIM can be simply thought of as a comprehensive 3D model of the facility that also contains the properties of the objects modelled in it. So, it can tell not only if two pipes might clash during construction, but also how effective the lighting will be in the operating theatre, and it can give operators a working inventory of parts needed to maintain the site in the years ahead.

Such 3D BIM CAD packages can seem daunting for smaller firms or equipment suppliers whose projects don’t involve multi-million dollar developments. However, there are many simple and intuitive 2D CAD packages that allow accurate plans to be developed for planning, supply of new equipment or minor alterations, which may be more suitable for smaller projects.

It is well within the expertise of any firm supplying services or equipment to the healthcare sector to have some in-house CAD functionality. A simple 2D CAD package can provide professional, accurate plans that will satisfy clients and authorities, as well as allow organisations to effectively plan and market their projects.

If your organisation is not using a CAD package as part of your facility or operation, the question you should really be asking yourself is: “How have we lasted this long without one?”

Hospitals and healthcare buildings are often built in stages, and are added to over time, with some originally built many years ago. This organic development, in combination with the frequent need for servicing and maintenance of essential services and utilities connections, can often lead to plans becoming out of date, which can cause issues ahead of future works needed on site. With a CAD package, plans can easily be amended and added to.

The correct CAD package for your operation is a vital planning tool; and without the right plan, you really have no plan at all.

Simon Payne
CAD Training Australia