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clash detection/collision detection/ trade coordination

Yesterday, Dmitri sent an email to the BIMForum leadership asking this question:
...We have been trying to use consistent terminology to avoid confusing the students. We have determined that we need to make a choice between “clash detection”, “collision detection” and “trade coordination”. One of the developers mentioned that “trade coordination” was favored because the other two imply that there is defect in the subs’ work and that “trade coordination” is the more neutral and descriptive term.
In the BIMForum we tend to use “clash detection” but because this course will, for some, codify the terminology I’d like for the BIMForum leadership to make a deliberate choice. If you have an opinion as to which of these three should be used please let me know.
And opinions there were. The BIMForum leadership tends to have very rich discussions in email threads, and I thought this was "shareable". Here are some of the responses (I attempted to reproduce this in chronological order - harder than you would think).
For what it's worth, I like "clash detection." It's dramatic, and the phrase itself helps sell the value of BIM. Also, I think of "trade coordination" as a much broader term, including the flow of teams of workers, storage of materials, coordinated clean up and the like.

I think the horse is out of the barn on this one. In my experience, collision detection is used in the software development world to describe detecting if two objects occupy the same three dimensional space. For example, collision detection is used to determine if you are hit by a projectile in a video game death match. I tend to agree that trade coordination, although warm and fuzzy, is a bit too generalize and is typically not used for this process.

I think the unfortunate truth is that “clash detection” like BIM itself (which I personally really do not like) has become too much of a commonly understood term to dodge. Something like “comprehensive multidisciplinary spatial coordination” is more accurate but would never be commonly adopted. As an architect I am very comfortable with a process that accepts the reality that many times you have to get it wrong before you can get it right. The problem is that some people are so focused on pretending that the former never happens that they never get around to the latter.
While I agree with the premise that "Clash Detection" has become an industry accepted term I would suggest that the process of resolving spatial interferences through a series of "Clash Detection" meetings is a very inefficient methodology.
Most "Conflicts" can be avoided through closer collaboration between parties. Proper planning sessions prior to engaging in silo delivery methods can avoid most spatial interferences before they are modeled.

To that end I would suggest the term "Spatial Coordination". This can mean many things but should include collaborative planning sessions where each stakeholder engages the others and decisions are made that avoid the endless "Draw, Clash "Detection", "Draw", "Clash Detection"...ad infinitum (until construction precludes further iterations). Spatial coordination should include not only the final constructed locations of components but also give thought to construction sequencing, material and equipment lead times, compliance with Architectural Intent etc.

I like ''Comprehensive Multidiscipline Spatial Coordination''. I think we can charge more for it. Actually I like Trade Coordination, because it implies that the issues discovered in clash or collision detection are being resolved as well as the team is collaborating early.

I agree with Dan - we are trying to say "Spatial Coordination"; although, we sometimes slip up and say Clash Detection.

Is a “clash detection” the result of Spatial Coordination? You can count how many clash detections were identified through the Spatial Coordination activity.

You can charge for Spatial Coordination as a service and show how much money was saved by counting the total number of clash detections.

Exactly, Clash detection is performed and resolved during spatial coordination. Spatial coordination gets my vote.

I'm going to have to go with Spatial Coordination.
I think that [the first] perspective may be correct, but if we want to change, in small ways, what better way than to do so at the educational level?
If people are in a BIM 101 session, and their introduction involves the use of the term Spatial Coordination, then maybe they will spread the term.
I was once told "if you change the language you change the thought"

Right, As the instructor of BIM 101 introduce the Spatial Coordination concept, he/she can use that opportunity to present all the arguments we have been discussing through this informal correspondence.

I'm sold. "Spatial coordination" seems like a great concept to put forth in the educational materials.

If this is the decision, please note the first suggestion of "comprehensive multidisciplinary spatial coordination" before it was value engineered into "spatial coordination. :)

One point I don’t hear anyone mentioning is that “clash detection” is a navisworks term.

Whenever I hear someone use the term “clash” I immediately assume a low-level of VDC understanding and implementation.

Trade Coordination (in my book) = MEP Coordination, which is still in the first level of VDC adoption.

Spatial coordination is a term that I don’t think the industry has properly defined right now, but has the potential to include more cost-saving methodologies such as the coordination and integration of the fabrication models of exterior skin contractors & steel fabricators.

I would encourage the BIMForum to adopt the unpopular (but correct) terminology, since I feel that much of the industry looks to us for the proper use of terms and technologies.

Just my .02

After reading the very interesting feedback from the very different perspectives, my vote is in the camp of Spatial Coordination. I think it resonates well for what is the desired objective… which is working together to improve the process.

It's always good to join in at the end of a discussion (damn owners)...I too side with the Spatial Coordination term....it is what it is.

Thank you all for the very helpful comments. It looks like spatial coordination is the winner, despite not being on the ballot.

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