Sanjay Gangal is the President of IBSystems, the parent company of AECCafe.com, MCADCafe, EDACafe.Com, GISCafe.Com, and ShareCG.Com.
AECCafe interview with Viktor Várkonyi on the importance of data and the concept of Building Lifecycle Intelligence
May 5th, 2021 by Sanjay Gangal
Sanjay Gangal interviewed Viktor Várkonyi, Chief Division Officer, Planning & Design Division, & member of the Executive Board of the Nemetschek Group
The complexity of building projects is ever increasing. BIM is ensuring smoother processes, but many projects still struggle. Why is that the case?
Building Information Modeling, as the name implies, should be all about information. But the reality looks quite different – most BIM processes are centered around model-based workflows. This approach implies that models are designed based on certain requirements, then data is generated and validated. Handing those models over to the next profession within the building lifecycle often generates data losses, which leads to errors. Even more problematic that during the construction, parts are redesigned. Especially for large and complex projects this approach is far from being efficient. But if we instead focus on the data itself and organize this data at a central point for all stakeholders to access, a smooth process can be guaranteed.
The building data follows a data scheme that can be utilized dynamically across different software applications. Non-graphical data can drive the entire value chain. This is what we in the Nemetschek Group call Building Lifecycle Intelligence™. The approach needs an open, connected ecosystem, centered around data that dynamically connects models and documents. Working in an open cloud environment allows anyone to connect and communicate through open protocols and standards, generating real value for all parties.
How do BIM and Building Lifecycle Intelligence play together?
A very good example is Queen´s Wharf in Brisbane, Australia, one of the world’s largest construction projects. The impressive new district is being developed using software solutions from the Nemetschek Group leveraging a data driven approach.
Queen´s Wharf will cover more than 12 hectares across Central Business District land, encompassing 50 new bars, cafes, and restaurants; 2,000 apartments across three residential towers; and more than 1,000 premium hotel rooms. To plan and coordinate the vast amounts of design data, the project team works with digital collaboration. They use Archicad for the design, dRofus for the data management, Solibri Office for model checking, and Bluebeam Revu for the comprehensive digital documentation.
In this project of immense scale and complexity and innumerable levels of information, the BIM approach allows the team to clearly organize all of the project’s key information in an easy-to-access, central place. With the planning and data management tool dRofus, a broader team is able to process their data and consolidate the large amounts of information coming in from multiple sources, even team members who are not trained on professional applications. Building Lifecycle Intelligence with this data driven approach is expanding the benefit of BIM, by making the data available for all stakeholders along the entire lifecycle of the project.
Why is this approach innovative?
A shared and continually updated data source across all disciplines enables true collaboration between all stakeholders, this is a real game changer. Another great example is the Glasblokkene Project in Bergen, Norway. The completely digitalized hospital construction project perfectly demonstrates this new way of working. The project teams again use the planning and data management tool dRofus to maximize collaboration and efficiency: It is the single source of truth for the entire project, from early planning through to the construction and handover, and into operation. As the Master Asset Database for all disciplines, it synchronizes with the models – always up to date and always available to all stakeholders. The results are significant savings, better control, and substantially better outcomes.
In this project in Bergen, product documentation was collected, controlled, and stored in dRofus before the construction started. None of the stakeholders had to go looking for information in different places throughout the project. Reducing the production of PDFs in the project by enabling contractors to update the BIM model and the dRofus database directly on site proved to be a substantial time saver.
So, Building Lifecycle Intelligence basically means leveraging a central data management tool?
Building Lifecycle Intelligence is much broader, with a central data management solution like dRofus playing a vital role. We aim to significantly increase efficiency through data-driven processes across the entire building lifecycle and based on open standards. Our solutions – such as Archicad, Allplan Bimplus, Solibri, and Spacewell – paired with dRofus can deliver considerable benefits for the users. dRofus is the link and secures the golden thread for the Common Data Environment and the standardization of project-unique IDs and classifications. Our approach enables efficient cross-discipline coordination down to the smallest details through connections between all systems from all models within the database. The facility management system can then take over the role as the master asset database during operation without any data loss, and with the link to all historical asset data from project(s) still available.
What are the benefits of a data-driven approach vs a model-driven approach?
Building owners, architects, engineers, contractors, and facility managers basically all face similar challenges with the current model-driven BIM processes: Different professions work according to modelling standards that best fits to their expected deliveries and contractual duties. As a result, the same information is modeled many times, but from different aspects. Similarly, when handing over models from one project stage to the next, data loss occurs. Consequently, with a model-driven approach, creating and managing information inside the models is a) creating silos, b) means we assign critical information to models which have a limited time span, and c) is limiting access to those stakeholders who have competences on the given authoring tool.
A data-driven approach solves all of the above issues. If we separate the physical storage of geometry and information, keeping all relevant data throughout the building lifecycle in a central database, all stakeholders can enrich the model with information – visible for all project team members. Stored on a cloud server, any BIM tools can sync to the central database. This ensures consistency and longevity of information up and until the management of the facility. The benefits: seamless cross-discipline data aggregation and collaboration for the full building lifecycle. In detail, this means that the metadata attached to objects is maintained and updated throughout the planning, design, construction and operational phases.
What does that mean for the day to day work of anyone involved in a building project?
By securing a structured, cross-discipline dataset that connects both multiple graphical models from various sources and required documentation for all assets and systems, we ensure easy access for all stakeholders, including the non-BIM professionals. Life is so much easier if – for example – you click on a 2D drawing in a PDF file and get the building material of the represented element, the specified thermal properties, or its construction status information. Or if you use an Excel-style interface to filter the MEP objects in the BIM project and access all properties, with the ability to easily add and edit information – for instance, manufacturer and pricing details, without having to learn and use a BIM authoring tool. Or imagine using business intelligence tools to analyze and monitor overall and detailed construction progress across all disciplines. All this is possible with a data driven approach and Building Lifecycle Intelligence.