Construction Data Management:
Unifying BIM Data Across Project Phases, Team Members, and Modeling Tools
- BIM Assure helps owners and FMs get access to the building data as it’s gathered and progressing.
- This article demonstrates the process of working with BIM Assure from the design stage all the way to handover.
The efficiency and coordination of BIM workflows can drive time and budget savings for each team in a project. However, BIM does come with challenges when attempting to consolidate data for handover to owners and facilities managers (FMs). While architectural and engineering, and construction teams all have tools to input and monitor data for their part in the project’s lifecycle, the modeling software used for each discipline and project phase varies, and are typically incompatible. As a result, there’s just no easy way to take the data, process and clean it, and publish it into one unified model for construction data management.
So, how can owners and FMs access data throughout a project’s lifecycle to see how the data is maturing and request revisions? BIM Assure allows users to collect data from construction trade models, publish it to the cloud, and gives project teams the ability to insert additional needed values. In this article, I’ll discuss how we came up with a construction data management workflow for a major airport project. I will walk through the different data stages throughout a project, listing the data models that cause format inconsistencies, and how BIM Assure aggregates the data for smoother digital handover.
At the beginning of the project, we only required the design modelers to enter unique element identifiers (Element IDs) that matched the owner’s data standards into each element in their models. In the design stage of this particular project Revit was used primarily so the models where published directly to BIM Assure out of using our native plugin for Revit. At this stage, one challenge is that the data is only available in the BIM authoring tool formats and doesn’t support owners workflow needs, causing issues to arise when they want to view the element data and geometry to move forward with the project.
BIM Assure solves this problem with a plugin for Revit that processes the model geometry and data then publishes it to BIM Assure. For other modeling tools, the BIM Assure IFC Explorer is a way to publish those models and data to the BIM Assure project. Now all the design models with Element ID’s are available in the cloud.
Construction Modeling Stage
At the construction modeling stage of a project, subcontractors use a wide range of modeling tools like Tekla, Civil 3D, or AutoCAD FAB. To maintain continuity between the design models and the construction trade models the duplicate Element ID from the design models were used for the appropriate elements in their models.
Many times owners have specified native Revit as being the final handover model format and this is fine as the purpose-built trade modeling tools for construction often don’t have properties such as install date, warranty start date, warranty length, installer, etc., which aren’t relevant to contractors, but are very important to owners and FM. But other important information was gathered from the construction trade models like manufacturer, part number, cost, etc. For this project, we exported the data from the construction modeling tools to IFC. Then, we used the BIM Assure IFC Explorer to publish the IFC model and data to BIM Assure.
Construction Data Gathering Stage
Once in the construction data gathering stage, installers, test engineers, and commissioning agents can enter additional data directly into BIM Assure, augmenting the already collected data from the trade models. On a regular basis, the data manager for the project can run rules to ensure the data is complete and meets the owner’s handover requirements. This ability to test the data easily while it’s being added to is unique to BIM Assure and is critical for a successful handover.
“The ability to test the data easily while it’s being added to is unique to BIM Assure and is critical for a successful handover.“
When the time comes for handover, the repurposed design intent Revit models still have the original Element ID and use the construction model Element ID’s for any new elements. The final and tested construction and commissioning data is then exported from BIM Assure to Excel. Finally, using the unique element ID, the data is imported into Revit and joined to the exact Revit elements. For this specific project, the result of this workflow is a handover model in Revit with complete, reliable data from all project team members.
BIM Assure helps owners and FMs get access to the building data as it’s gathered and progressing. Also, as explained in this workflow it helps GC’s facing the daunting task of managing and collecting data from many authoring platforms clean and check the data then update a native Revit handover model. This ultimately removes bottlenecks and communication siloes amongst the various project teams to ensure that owners are getting the exact data in real-time. With these capabilities, owners and FM have a digital fingerprint of their building to give to operations before they have the keys to the building in their hands.