Specification Automation

FT-06 Topic Summary
FT 06


Specification Automation plays a very vital role during the design planning and optimization process and involves the key steps of identifying requirements for achieving specification automation and generating the required specification automation.

Engineering specifications are present in practically every capital facility and construction project. To date, various interoperability efforts have focused on geometry, equipment, data sheets, project deliverables, and handover. The Fiatech Specification Automation Project is aimed at filling the interoperability gap for engineering specifications. Interoperability formats range from simple XML to ontology and semantic web representations (E2-6, page 4).

The inability of specification documents to interact with other industry tools such computer aided design (CAD), building information modeling (BIM), project controls, procurement systems, and inspection systems costs building owners, plant operators, managers, and the construction industry billions of dollars each year in both data and specification re-entry and errors that occur from multiple data entry tasks (E2-7, page 9).

This research initiative provided Fiatech with the opportunity to explore problems and solutions for improving specification-related processes. We were able both to identify the requirements for a context-oriented and isomorphic specification representation and to develop a document markup for supporting the specification-related workflows. This report expressed the specification-related workflows in use-case form to better illustrate what can be done with the markup. We developed prototype user interfaces that can generate the marked-up specifications with user guidance (E2-6, page 13).

  • Tighter coordination of construction documents
  • Improved ability to review and control content
  • Better revision control throughout a project

In addition, linking elements in documents across tools improves the ability to coordinate a project. This project addresses the issues that are posed when changing from a typical word processing document to a smart document that can interact with other tools. The special format developed under this project – “.specx” – provides the specifications community with a logical structure for technical documents. The schema also can be extended to accommodate how specifications should look and the type of content contained (E2-7, page 10).

In summary, this research project discusses how Specification Automation can improve data transfer between project phases and encourages the various parties involved to exchange intelligent, structured data rather than documents.

Key Findings and Implementation Tools

1 : ICC SMARTcodes User Interface

The requirements specified within the clause apply to this final resulting set, which we can call applicable and non-exempted components. Therefore, it is possible to infer the following three general classes of computable constraints:
  •  Applicability
  •  Requirement
  •  Exception conditions
These were illustrated using different colors in the user interface for ICC SMARTcodes (E2-6, page 8).

2 : Specification Markup

Computable requirements consist of “Computable Conditions,” which are expressed using a condition verb that can currently take three different values (E2-6, page 9):
  • Apply
  • Except
  • Require

3 : Spec Model

This example shows how the spec object hierarchy maps directly to the Document Map (or Tree View). This demonstrates the SpecFileRoot object (selected), its fragments (several modes of “multi-purposing” such as multi-language document support), and its numbered paragraph document structure (E2-7, page 19).

Key Performance Indicators

Improved productivity, improved cost, improved schedule, improved quality, improved safety, improved project information

Related Resources

Requirements Recognition for Achieving Specification Automation (E2-6)

Publication Date: 01/2012 Resource Type: Fiatech Publication Source: FT-06

Specification Automation Project Phase 1 Final Report (E2-7)

Publication Date: 03/2013 Resource Type: Fiatech Publication Source: FT-06