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IFC/COBie Report 2012

Foreword: How do we make BIM work?

Ian Chapman, Head of Specification, NBSby Ian Chapman, Head of Specification, NBS

As it is over 18 months since the launch of the UK Government’s Building Information Modelling (BIM) Strategy, the need to test some of the practicalities of BIM is ever pressing. ‘How do we make BIM work?’ is a popular discussion topic at conferences and across social media channels and, whilst the Government mandate for information in an open standard is clear, industry needs to break down the barriers to adoption. Studies such as this get into the detail of BIM and help to make it a success. It’s time to roll up our sleeves and make BIM a reality.

Getting to grips with new technology is always a challenge – with BIM, it is overcoming the cultural and process changes that it brings. The benefit of proactive group discussion was evident during this trial and the spirit of openness amongst competing commercial organizations was a strong indication that industry is working together to achieve the 2016 level 2 BIM objective. This requires a sound understanding of the practicalities of BIM, and although those taking part in the trial initially had limited knowledge of the role of COBie in this, they reached a common view that it is the right choice. That said, it became clear during the trial that industry needs more support, more tools and project based evidence for BIM adoption to be achieved on a far broader scale.

Real world construction must get to grips with BIM. Despite being well defined the limited, and in many cases non-existent, practical knowledge of COBie amongst clients, designers, contractors and manufacturers is alarming. To get BIM working, industry needs to experience it first hand – so if you haven’t tried COBie yet give it a go! As this study shows, it is the best way of getting to know it.

Open BIM technologies, such as buildingSMART International’s Industry Foundation Classes (IFCs), have been developed over many years – since 1994 in fact – and exist with the sole aim of enabling interoperability between BIM applications. The suitability of IFC was scrutinized during this trial, and the findings are most interesting. Firstly, IFC is a suitable mechanism for the creation of COBie data drops and secondly, yes there are tools already in the market place that generate COBie from IFC, but overall the support for COBie in BIM applications varies and must improve. There remains a lot to be done in this area, but with the backing of the BIM Technologies Alliance and the OPEN BIM Network, there is a drive to create tools that support COBie (and beyond) which is most encouraging.

The rest of the world is in awe of the UK BIM strategy and the progress made so far. I hope that this report will encourage the construction industry to move forward with BIM. It’s an opportunity we can’t afford to miss.

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IFC/COBie Report 2012

IFC/COBie Report 2012