Wednesday, 29 April 2015

BIM Toolkit and Verification

One of the aspects of the BIM Toolkit we still have in private beta is the verification functionality. Without doubt, this has been the biggest challenge, but we are pleased to be moving this into a place where it is ready for testing and industry engagement.

Tomorrow I will be presenting this workflow using a basic test model at the IStructE BIM conference. A few screenshots from this are below. The main verification support article will be published in the next few days at the web page below:

With all of this development stream - the lion's share of credit, thanks for hard work and technical excellent lies with BIM Academy and the work they have done with their xBIM Software Development Kit.

The verification workflow starts with the definition of information requirements, then the development of information in response to these requirements, then the submission of this information, followed by validation and then ultimately (hopefully) acceptance.

The verification workflow
To demonstrate this workflow a very, very simple model is used below. If you'd like to support us in defining this process for different software vendor tools then please join our beta testing programme.

Please note that this project below will not win any architecture awards - it simply demonstrates the functionality.

1. Definition
The BIM Toolkit allows information requirements to be defined.
A project is created "The BTK Test Project"
Requirements for two types of space are defined.
Requirements are added for an asset that needs maintained
In the screenshots above, it can be seen that there is a requirement for certain types of space (bedrooms and dining rooms). There is also a requirement for handover information for all fan convectors.

2. Development
How does the user then create a submission file that is compliant with BS 1192-4:2014 (aka COBie)?

The answer is that they have three choices:

(a) Write it themselves in MS Excel
(b) Export using a plug-in for their BIM design tool
(c) Export IFC from their their BIM design tool and then create COBie from this

Assessing these three options, as part of this project, our strategy was to base everything around buildingSMART IFC and the read-write access to IFC that the xBIM SDK provides.

Generating IFC from a BIM design tool that has spaces and assets classified using the correct IFC field is a challenge and is a different process depending on what BIM design software you use. Providing support for every BIM platform out there is beyond the scope of this project - but we do want to work with users of different platforms and help put the knowledge out in the public domain.

The basic process is below...
Produce a model, classify it correctly, download enhanced IFC exporters, configure them and then click "export to IFC"
(documentation to follow to be shared with beta testers)
How good is your IFC?
Generate COBie from the IFC
Each instance of each space has the correct classification
Each component is of the correct type, with the correct classification against this type

3. Submission
The COBie may look like good COBie, but if in Microsoft Excel format, it's not an intergal relational database. So it is possible to check the COBie for relational errors.
Is it perfect COBie?
Those that have followed the IFC route to generating COBie can check the IFC visually in the viewer.
Spaces delivered checked against spaces types required
Assets delivered checked against assets required
4. Validation and acceptance
The final step is to automatically check the data and generate an acceptance report.

We didn't quite have this working on our servers at the time of writing the blog post. So the screenshot below is from the BIM Academy presentation. But hopefully it demonstrates the journey.
A simple report comparing requested information with what has been delivered
For those of you interested in IFC and BIM technologies, hopefully this is of real interest. We do now need your help in developing test models from simple through to more complex using various design tools. Those that think they can spare a little time here - please see details on our beta testing programme

It's fundamentally all about getting the data into a common documented standard format (IFC/COBie) so it can be checked. It is pushing the boundaries a little as traditionally IFC is used for clash detection and geometric visual checking. But this was a project about innovation and open standards - so writing some software routines that compared two MS Excel files was not an option.

More information:

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