Building Information Modeling (BIM)

FT-05 Topic Summary
FT 05


This project explored and defined the functional requirements for a Building Information Modeling (BIM) standard for architectural precast concrete, focusing on the multiple exchanges between architect and precast contractor. It is now recognized that a BIM standard is needed for any construction business domain (or pair of domains) to ensure that two necessary conditions for interoperability are achieved (E2-1, page 4):

  • The models created by each discipline are composed of meaningful information structures that can be translated into a neutral file format conformant with building Smart’s IFC (Issued for Construction) schema.
  • Each software vendor writes translators that use the same subset of IFC objects in the same way.

From a precast concrete construction perspective, the ideal world would be one in which an architect and a precast fabricator (and the engineer of record and general contractor, who are also directly involved in precast concrete construction) are able to exchange building information model data between their applications in a seamless fashion. This research, funded by the Charles Pankow Foundation, initiated the pioneering development of one of the first BIM standards; the precast concrete domain was selected to serve as an example. The two experiments carried out here illuminate many of the issues and complexities of effective interoperability, and enabled development of an Information Delivery Manual (IDM) for architectural precast concrete (E2-1, page 19).

The research is divided into three key segments:

  • Part A describes the Rosewood experiment, in which a building was modeled and exchanged using BIM tools concurrently with its actual design and fabrication detailing of its precast parts using standard 2D CAD tools.
  • Part B describes the information exchange benchmark tests, in which a small but complex building model was tested for modeling, IFC export, IFC import and exchange between four architectural BIM tools and two precast fabrication detailing tools.
  • Part C, the Architectural Precast Information Delivery Manual, defines the information exchanges needed for precast architectural façade pieces. Three factors are critical for successful BIM for FM integration: the human factor and organizational culture, business process and technology development.

The productivity benefits that were measured in the Rosewood experiment for the precast fabricator are in the order of 58% However, the Rosewood experiment and the Benchmark tests, also pursued in this research project, have confirmed that the level of interoperability between BIM tools for this domain is still very low. Much work has been identified to improve it. These studies, together with the development of the Architectural Precast Information Delivery Manual, have clearly shown that development of BIM standards is an essential step in raising the value of information exchanges. (E2-1, page 19).

Other research explored the options of bridging the knowledge gap between the design, construction, and operation phases through BIM, as well as addressing the need for data integration for facility management purposes. The first phase was an exploratory in-depth case study to identify current problems pertaining to BIM utilization in facility management, business processes, stakeholder perceptions and technologies (E2-4, page 12)

In summary, this type of research has the potential to fill the knowledge gap between design, construction, and operation and maintenance (O&M). BIM as a data repository can bridge the information transfer gap between project handover and operational start if the BIM model is embedded in the construction operation process to benefit owners and facility management.

Key Findings and Implementation Tools

1 : National Building Information Modeling Standard Development and Use

The first steps are to coordinate formation of an industry task group, to elicit the domain knowledge of both the product and process aspects of the exchange requirements, to formally model the business processes, and to prepare an Information Delivery Manual (IDM) for industry review. The following steps (shown as the “construct” step in the figure) are technical in nature, focusing on information and software engineering: development of model view definitions (product model schema views) and software implementations (E2-1, page 9).

2 : Rosewood Building

The subject of the experiment was the Rosewood building – a 16 story office building composed of cast in place concrete and precast architectural concrete facades in Dallas, Texas. It was designed and detailed using traditional 2D CAD tools by the architect, HKS (Dallas), and the precaster, Arkansas Precast of Jacksonville, Arkansas (E2-1, page 12).

3 : Benchmark Building

A small but complex benchmark building design was developed and assigned to in-house modelers from each of four prominent BIM architectural tool developers (Revit, Bentley, ArchiCAD, Digital project) (E2-1, page 16)

4 : Information Model/Information Delivery Manual Interoperability Frame

The “pyramid” shows the needs for interoperability. The Information Delivery Manual provides the contents highlighted with dashed lines in the figure (E2-1, page 21).

5 : Current Status & Challenges

Information generated at previous phases gets lost during transition to the following phases as shown in Figure 1. Construction Operations Building Information Exchange (COBIE) was the first effort, using information collected from design and construction, to serve the purpose of facility management (East 2016) (E2-4, page 2).

6 : Research Method

For phase 1 of this project, an in‐depth case study was conducted as a pilot using one public building from the US Air Force to identify realistic process, behavior and technology related issues and their causes pertaining to BIM integration in facility SMS. Figure 2 displays the overall workflow of the broader project (E2-4, page 5).


Key Performance Indicators

Improved productivity

Related Resources

BIM for Precast Concrete Report (E2-1)

Publication Date: 11/2006 Resource Type: Fiatech Publication Source: FT-05

Guidelines for BIM Supported Information Exchange for Facility Sustainment Management System (E2-4)

Publication Date: 12/2016 Resource Type: Fiatech Publication Source: FT-05