BIM Data Template

Employer’s Data Requirements and a BIM Data Template

If you want data within your BIM model it’s essential that you detail exactly what you want by providing a BIM data template. BIMsense can add data to your model using the 3 step EASY BIM DATA.

As an industry, we have made some excellent progress in our use of BIM. But, one area that we need to improve is how we identify the data that we require within our project models.

The Model As a Design Tool

BIM primarily started as a 3D design tool. It made total sense to design what will be a 3-dimensional building in a 3-dimensional design application.

We then began realising the potential of using the model for its embedded data. Initially, this meant that we extracted dimensional information from a model. We could extract volumes and areas because the objects were detailed within the graphical model.

The Model for Complex Data

This then moved into wanting the model to contain specification type information. We wanted manufacturer information about an asset or the fire ratings of doors.

At this point, things began to get a little confused and disjointed. We had Revit, the most popular design authoring tool which allowed predefined objects to be imported into the application. The objects were often pre-populated with useful data. We had COBie (Construction Operations Building Information Exchange), which allowed embedded model information to be viewed in a spreadsheet format. COBie also became one of the BIM Level 2 deliverables. And we also had IFC (Industry Foundation Classes), developed by buildingSMART, which provided a comprehensive specification for an open format for building information models.

Requests for Model Data

This resulted in people requesting data, reasonable requests such as wanting data to enable us to manage our assets during the life of a building or wanting data to enable us to assist with space management. These data needs would be included in an employer’s information requirements (EIR), but such a request was far too vague. Designers and contractors would have to establish what assets required managing, what information is required to enable the assets to be managed, what format is required and who was responsible for providing this information.

Some clarity began to develop around the data needs. Especially, for the management of assets as these requirements linked closely with the data presented within COBie. Responsibilities were detailed for the delivery of the information through complex responsibilities matrices. The model product and delivery table (MPDT) from the CIC BIM Protocol (first edition) was adapted to also include level of information. This identified responsibilities and provided an indication of how much information and the type of information that should be provided.

Uniclass 2015 also provided assistance, it enabled employer’s to schedule the assets that required data. The System and Product tables provided a comprehensive list of building systems and components from which critical and maintainable assets can be identified in a common and understandable format.

Our Data Requirements Need More Detail

This takes us to the current situation. We have EIRs that provide a significant amount of information through tables and schedules, detailing the type of assets that require data, the type of data required and the responsibilities for providing the data. But, we are still missing the detail of exactly what data is required for each type of asset.

This may appear trivial, if all these requirements have been identified then it can’t be that difficult to provide relevant information?

The current request for information is equivalent to applying for a passport without having an application form. You may know that you need to provide relevant information about yourself. You could send HM Passport Office a letter or an email with the information. And of course you would use your prior knowledge of what is required to include relevant information. But, the chances are that you may miss something relevant or not provide something in the correct format. And that would be just your application, each person that applied would send in something slightly different. Each application would have to be sorted assessed and interpreted.

Of course, that’s not how we apply for a passport. We have an application form which details the exact information and the format of the information that is required for each application. This ensures that all required information is provided and the application is easily validated.

We now need the equivalent of a passport application form for BIM data. This would be in the form of a data template. A template detailing exactly the data required for each type of building asset. This BIM data template would form the centrepiece of an Employer’s Data Requirement.

The BIM Data Template

A BIM data template needs to clearly and unambiguously reference asset types, it needs to list the data attributes (the data fields) required for each asset type, it needs to establish responsibilities for providing the data to populate the attributes and finally, it needs to identify when the information is required.

Uniclass and IFC Model Data Requirements

BIMsense Data Template

Asset types can be scheduled using the Uniclass System and Product codes. And the comprehensive IFC specification can be used for formalising the required attributes and data formats for each asset type.

This is something that at BIMsense we now include in all our Employer’s Information Requirements. It currently consists of a large spreadsheet, with more than 2,000 lines of IFC objects, property sets and attributes. So it has to be provided as a separate referenced document. Each template is also bespoke to an employer’s date requirements and the project procurement route.

We have had some great feedback from employers, designers and contractors who have used the BIM data template. The main benefit being the clarity that it provides. It makes it clear exactly what data is required, in what format and who should provide the information. Although, that’s really just the tip of the iceberg as what this does is it provides a structured and common data format which will have many other knock-on benefits.

The above should provide the reason and inspiration to enable you to develop your own project-specific BIM data template. But, if you need some assistance or you don’t want to go to the effort of developing a template yourself, then please contact us.  

The BIM data template forms a key part of step 2 of the BIMsense EASY BIM DATA, our 3 step approach to adding data to your model.

Ian Yeo, BIMsense

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