Five Practical Lessons for Manufacturers when BIM Modelling


From BIM Journal. Click Here to Read Issue 4

BIM Journal Issue 04 - Article 08: Five Practical Lessons for Manufacturers when BIM Modelling

In this guest article, here is Gavin Summerson, Senior Certification Manager at BSI to offer advice and to tell us more. Over to Gavin...

For manufacturers taking their first steps toward modeling their products in BIM, it can be daunting knowing where to start. Do I need to provide 3D BIM Objects? In what format, to what level of detail and what data do I need to provide to my customers? Will my investment in BIM drive a return, and can I be sure I’m delivering a quality product to my clients?

To assist in the migration to BIM, we’ve put together five practical lessons based on our experience of assessing manufacturers for compliance with BSI’s new BIM Object Kitemark™.

1. Know your customer

It is easy to assume that providing highly rich 3D BIM objects will automatically add value. However, it is important to stop and consider whether the BIM content will actually improve the experience for your customers. While BIM may ultimately be essential to getting specified, your clients may only need your data not an actual BIM object. Providing accurate, well designed BIM objects may be the right way to go if there is a requirement for high levels of coordination. Before you invest make sure you check with the customer. Throughout the process you should regularly check in with them to make sure the content you are providing is helping to provide a solution. Your BIM content after-all is another shop window, poor BIM content will lead to a poor impression of your products.

2. Stay up to date on your standards

Following the adoption of the level 2 BIM definition, implementation of BIM in the UK and around the globe is very standards centric. In Dubai, a major government agency, the Roads and Transportation Authority is amongst the most recent recipients of the BSI BIM Kitemark. The rapid global spread of standards is being driven by the needs of design and construction teams which need to collaborate faster, more accurately and with greater transparency. The BIM standards landscape is evolving all the time and it is important to keep up to date to ensure consistency across the supply chain. The easiest way to stay up to date is to visit www.BIMLevel2.org where BSI hosts the BIM Level 2 platform.

An especially important standard is BS 1192-4 as it defines the format of information for exchange (COBie). At the end of a construction project a contractor may be required to provide a COBie file and so will need your product information. In reality a full COBie is sometimes not required and client needs will be defined by the essential maintenance requirements of the facilities management team involved. Commonly expected COBie attributes cover what the product is, its classification (e.g. Uniclass), dimensional data, who manufactured it and how to obtain warranty information. To assist in pulling together this information, BS 8541 parts 1, 3 and 4 provide useful guidance on naming conventions, classification, shape, measurement, performance and specification attributes.

Standardising your data is a sensible starting point, and the first step toward this is the definition of a robust product data template. PAS 1192-7 is currently under development and will provide a consistent approach for defining product data and product data templates. Before this is finalized we advise you to engage with your trade association to check common parameters for your product types. There are live initiatives by the CPA to support this through the LEXICON project and the CIBSE BIMHawk tool, which provide a good platform for managing product data templates.

3. Know when to stop

Modelling your products to a high level of detail may seem like a good idea, but consider what level is appropriate. A common error is to provide too much data, with the result that when several hundred of your products are inserted into a BIM model it significantly slows things down, costing time and money. BS 8541-3 defines three levels of detail including schematic, coordinated and visualisation. At a minimum, products should be modelled to a coordinated level of detail. Ultimately this comes back to lesson one, knowing your customer, so make sure to ask what level of detail is required.

4. Keep it together

With so much data being produced across a variety of formats by multiple teams, it is important to standardise how data is managed and created. BS 1192 defines a common data environment and can help streamline and improve quality by ensuring all data is held centrally as a ‘single source of truth’ with a process for checking, authorising and archiving data. A central database with a standardised structure and naming conventions (i.e. a Product Information Management System) can be a smart move to help manage this as you can link this to other internal systems or create APIs to external platforms.

5. Focus on quality

Validating information or potential impacts on design depends on the accuracy of your product data. Sub-standard BIM models have a massive impact on-site, adding time and expense and frustrating clients. It is important to have a clear process for checking the quality of your BIM. Even the largest and most respected companies are liable to errors, so validation of data, particularly dimensional and performance data, is really important.


Building Information Modelling (BIM) is now an essential element of the built environment sector, providing clear benefits to all involved. The UK Government alone estimates it has already saved £840m through the use of BIM, representing average project savings of 20%.[8]

Following the above five steps can greatly smooth the path of adoption, and regardless of where you are on your own BIM journey, the new BSI Kitemark™ for BIM objects can help you demonstrate your commitment to best practice.

For more information, please visit www.bsigroup.com/BIM-UK  

For citations, read BIM Journal Issue 04 here.

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