The “WHATs” and “HOWs” of As Built Data in Construction


The “WHATs” and “HOWs” of Data in Construction

With 2016 upon us the AEC industry is certainly coming to terms with the changing face of construction. We have all started to think more of innovative processes and optimized workflows rather than fear software implementation costs and changing working environments. It has become part of our corporate cultures to seek common grounds (language, format) for information, resource and knowledge exchange, while being more aware of the supply chain processes. Truly, looking back, we have come a long way.

So where are we at?

We have almost answered the WHYs of BIM implementation, as well as many of the WHAT and HOWs in regards to the macro processes of BIM, largely in part thanks to the BIM Level 2 mandate but have we answered  the “WHATs”  and the “HOWs”  in regards to data exploitation?

It is no surprise to anyone that one of the biggest challenges clients and contractors in the UK are facing is the need of a common way of collecting and distributing as-built data. Everyone is eager to get their hands on the accurate as-built data promised by the BIM philosophy, but HOW exactly is this going to happen?

In search of the answer of such a question, on 9th of December in London coBuilder’s executive team held two separate events with some of UK’s largest manufacturers and contractors. They were aimed at discussing solutions to their data challenges i.e. how to share data and how to collect and exploit the data during the construction and operation of assets. The meeting was fuelled by the input collected from coBuilder’s trials that have been taking place in the UK during the last few months.


Whether it is the Government, the client, the architect or the contractor everyone is eager to have manufacturer’s data in common digital data formats. Moreover, the UK construction industry is now pushing for data solutions that can help all actors in the industry get better processes while avoiding the “copy & paste” method in delivering information.

Manufacturers create data from directives, regulations, standards and market requirements, and manage it in their own databases, PDFs and Word files. Here lies the biggest challenge - a great part of this data is not structured in BIM formats and is named/numbered according to the companies own system and is therefore not interoperable with the supply chain.

It comes as no surprise that much of the data is vital in regards to how contractors build an asset and how it is managed. It is this data that the supply chain wants the manufactures to provide, in formats that are BIM compatible i.e. IFC, COBie, Revit, ARCHICAD etc. In order to support manufacturers to share the data that the supply chain requires Product Data Templates (PDTs) are being produced by institutions such as the Construction Product Association and BIM4M2. These PDTs will be useful in helping manufacturers understand what types of data they should share, however each use case will vary depending on the project and the customer’s needs and the data will often be required in different languages, names and formats.

At the meeting with major UK manufacturers on December the 9th, coBuilder’s team showed how to utilise openBIM (i.e. buildingSMARTs ISO standards IFC, IFD, IDM) in order to help manufactures deliver data, via client specific Product Data Sheets (the PDTs with the manufactures data inputted) so that the data the industry requires can easily be accessed from the manufacturers. coBuilder presented the goBIM solution that enables manufacturers to input their data only once and have it easily exportable to the formats required by contractors and clients and searchable by architects and specifiers.

“HOW” do we collect & deliver the as built data?

During the meeting with major UK contractors,  coBuilder’s R&D specialists and data scientists presented their views on the detailed technical information requirements for delivering as-built data through putting PAS 1192-2, 1192-3, and 1192-4 (COBie) in technical terms.

coBuilder’s team also tackled the question of how to collect the as built data and how it can be outputted in the required data formats i.e. IFC, COBie, Revit, ARCHICAD etc. coBuilder presented ProductXchange and discussed how the contractors collect the as built data: this is mostly done via extracting information from the manufacturers PDFs that are collected for the Operation and Maintenance manuals. It was agreed by all that the contractors, that they need manufacturers to make their data available so they can access the data they need, in the format they require (hence the need for goBIM). The data requirements matrix for RIBA work stage 5 (construction) was discussed in regards to what data is required and who (within the supply chain) should provide it and how this should tie in the Employers and Asset Information Requirements (EIR & AIR) as stated within PAS 1192/2/3.

coBuilder demonstrated how ProductXchange could be used to collect the product information via PDFs and the data required from the manufacturers via goBIM and how it can subsequently be exported to COBie and to models such as IFC/Revit.

Finally, the validation of the data was investigated. As ProductXchange collects the as built data directly from the supply chain when the products have been purchased, it can be verified against the requirements set by the clients/architects at the design stage. For instance, if a certain fire rating is required for a door then the system will check that the installed product meets the design requirement. This way the manufacturers/FM/Client can be sure that the as built data is accurate and can see any changes in product specification made during construction.

In conclusion

Manufacturers need to ensure their data is available in BIM formats in order to help the industry move away from relying on PDFs as the only means of sharing information. Only by sharing the correct up-to-date data the supply chain will be able to find the data they want in the formats they need so they can export it to COBie or attribute it to the models in order to deliver accurate ‘as built’ information that the Facilities Managers can use to effectively manage their assets.

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