IFC Standard – Opportunities and Risks

IFCWe lead in all discussions currently on BIM, BIM guidelines or BIM methods, we no longer talk about the digital standards that we require for the implementation of BIM. We no longer questioned, but use them easily.

Most digital standards that we have used in the past, have been mostly first conceived in mechanical engineering and not in the field of architecture and construction. Nevertheless, we have succeeded, to agree on a common three-dimensional object description of the smallest components before the mechanical and plant engineering. The current IFC standard is in the ISO 16739: 2013 describes. 

In contrast to this recognized standard, there are a wide variety of BIM guidelines worldwide. With the state of today I have almost 100 to identify national embossed. But I’m pretty sure there are more BIM guidelines. While the newcomer countries are still struggling with the first version, the experienced ones have arrived already at the fourth and fifth version. Some countries are already working successfully with BIM and other keys to zoom slowly. At the same time construction companies have global or continental operating elaborated their own BIM guidelines or are about to bring them on the way. And although the United States in having one of the nations that have started early with BIM, one finds new BIM guidelines of individual states. 

It if we could manage to bring at least there BIM uniform guidelines on the way in which companies cooperate closely in economic areas would be nice. A national particularism will not take us long term. It will hinder the company and ultimately the owners and Investors. 

Without our realizing it, the subject BIM ensures that we take over the design logic of the mechanical and plant engineering. So far we have always top-down working in the construction industry, that of the rough planning through to detailed planning. Since we are modeling with BIM a building, structure or composed of individual components, we also bottom-up work. We just do not notice it and most people it is not conscious. We have not yet arrived at our automation at the point where a change in the top-down logic leads to an automatic adjustment of bottom-up. I originally planned a double door with a shell Mass of 2:01 m. Because of my fundamental change in the layout then only fits a 1:51 m wide door into it. The amendment would then happen automatically. 

If we start now on the way to talk about a unify of BIM guidelines and adopt them, then should advance at any trade association check carefully the IFC standard, if there even the smallest components are present and if so also in the description are consistent. After the bottom-up principle, it must indeed be feasible to create the sum of the smallest components a complete building or structure. 

So far we have not talked about the smallest components. How deep is the necessary „Bottom“ of which we go „Up“? Which construction depth we need? It may help to take this opportunity to ask the facility management. Any unnecessary provision and collection of data increases the model. A meaningful structural depth would certainly, if you directly maintenance, security and might appeal test-related components as objects. 

Use of the components in the construction assumes that the software users are familiar with the importance of the components. Users are not always aware of what it means to work with components and objects. The misappropriation of components, and their use solely for appearance, means that the IFC interface, the component of the model in the transmission in the digital use chain interpreted as the user has used it. This results in error. Only a consistent training of users ensures that all users interpret the use of chain each object is equal. And a subscription may be just a waste product and a snapshot of the model on any given day. 

The second challenge is that we all must take care in common that all software vendors, then really so accordingly passed in its programs and interfaces the components if they were as used properly, as it is in fact defined in the ISO. Meanwhile, this IFC standard has been incorporated in the form of interfaces worldwide in many software products. The interfaces allow IFC files to read or write. The software manufacturers are willing to assist the user. They are waiting for concrete specifications of the user. On the one hand the software manufacturer endeavor to promote the BIM to gain market share, but on the other hand they also need the specific requirements of the user to make sense to change their products and expand. 

Despite the currently existing risks should all world see what opportunities the existing IFC standard already provides us now. He only needs to be continuously developed and expanded. Based on this, it may then enter one or more BIM guidelines that regulate a meaningful collaboration of users. The building supply industry can then make on the basis of IFC standards their components to software users. Then we are on the way of a meaningful digitizing the entire value chain.

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  1. Excellent points made in this blog. I bring your attention to the buildingSMART Global BIM Guide Wiki: http://bimguides.vtreem.com/bin/view/Main/. This Wiki is in place to at least let people know of the many guides that are available worldwide. I encourage you to make sure the 50 you have identified are included. It is hoped that we can use this effort to bring together some of the excellent work being done world wide into some common guides. While it seems that everyone „needs“ their own guide currently, it is hoped that as BIM matures we can move toward some common guides. Sadly today too many consultants are seeing the diversity as their livelihood. In time, I hope that they will see getting companies, states, and countries to adopt one approach as the true goal.

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