Let’s talk sexy… BIM data

We’re still not making the most of data in construction, says Nick Tune, CEO of software and BIM specialist coBuilder.

Data, data everywhere… the question is: how do you make the most of it? If utilised properly it can change our lives. Data allows us to invent new medicines, create new ways of communicating, improve the performance of our cars or even make sure I go surfing when the waves are 10ft and tubing – now that is utilising data!

So, are we making the most of data in construction? The simple answer is no. There have been some great gains, such as using geometrical data to improve the way we virtually design using models and using time data to improve project planning and delivery (in accordance with the geometrical data). But most of the construction industry is an analogue world where we share paper or PDFs. 

BIM has been a great Trojan-horse to make the construction industry think about specifying and utilising data, but the question still arises: what data do we need? 

Well, contractors and clients need to start specifying what data they require and so too does the asset manager so that they revive the information they need to effectively construct and manage the asset. Easy, right? Well it appears not. 

Within the BIM Level 2, Asset Information Requirement document the client is meant to state what data they require. However, as BIM Level 2 requires COBie most clients think it is okay to just state “I want COBie”. That only provides some operation and maintenance data (and much of it will be of no use whatsoever) and does not ask for product performance properties such as a fire rating, U value etc (NB COBie can take this data, it is just not specified).

So what should we ask for and what is the sexy data? It is the data that can improve the way we will build and manage our assets. How do I ask for it? How do I get it? And How do I utilise it?

The starting point is that the designer, contractors, client and asset managers need to start with asking what do they want to achieve? For example, if it is to reduce the replacement cost of air conditioning units, then ask the question, what information/data do I need to meet that demand: ie manufacturer name, warranty period, serial number, replacement period, replacement cost etc. This is now defining the what and the why.

If the question is how do we increase the efficiency of the air conditioning units? then you would need data such as power output, allowable pressure etc. This example shows that we need to think about the future uses of our buildings and infrastructure and what therefore data you need to achieve it.

By determining what data you need to allow you to provide the functions that you require, the data is now intelligent as opposed to useless information. Now we can start using this sexy data to do the cool stuff that we all imagine the Internet of Things and BIM Level 3 will allow us to do, for example utilising machine learning to improve the energy efficiency of the air conditioning units.

Contractors and clients need to start specifying what data they require and so too does the asset manager so that they revive the information they need to effectively construct and manage the asset. Easy, right? Well it appears not. – Nick Tune, coBuilder

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  1. Though I am a student and only learning Revit, my aim is to learn a triple crown of the AEC data management I have had to define myself (to be able to focus on the advanced methods of the data management beyond 3D):

    1. BEng: gives an understanding of underlying engineering principles and aids cross discipline communication
    2. DATA: a broader scope of the data building blocks. Revit, Revit API (or dynamo), Python and some others.
    3. BIM Projects Management: actual methods of implementation.

    My thinking the future of AEC lies beyond generic drafting and modelling, and is all about computational, automated (visual?) programming.

  2. A significant factor in the replacement cost of air-conditioning units will very often be the difficulty and associated cost of removal of failed or BER equipment and installation of replacement units, not to mention the financial consequences of any essential disruption of normal business activity during the process.

    Good project design should always look ahead and plan for easy replacement of heavy & cumbersome capital equipment with a lifetime less than that of the building.

  3. Yes I agree data is good but who’s going to pay to create it.

    The expectation is that the architects and engineers using BIM will do it. That is fine but what no-one understands is that it takes more time and more resource to enrich our BIM models with this data.

    Why are the Architects and Engineers being burdened with this? We are not getting paid anymore for doing it.

    Ideally, we need to bump up our fees to cater for this “Extra”, except clients won’t accept it.

    No-one had put any thought into what happens at the coal-face.

    I tell you the reality of what is happening in the industry now. Client briefs are asking for COBie and when they are asked why, they have no idea what it is and they have no FM systems in place to deal with it. In the end they never get COBie from us as it is a pointless exercise.

    If you want a car with the “Extra” overhead roofrack, then you’re going to have to pay for it.

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