BIM (Building Information Modeling), information classification and coding: UNICLASS, OMNICLASS, UNIFORMAT, MASTERFORMAT, SfB

A common definition of BIM is the following: “BIM describes an industrial process applied to the building sector (or building industry)”.

Since BIM authoring and BIM tool software create more than one building digital model, such models need to “share information” and make the final project deliverable. Thus breaking down every possible obstacle to the communication and data exchange among the professionals involved in the project.

Information classification and coding

An effective correlation between different models and documents must be characterized by a sort of “bidirectionality” for a correct transmission of information.

All the information modifications of a specific model (for example an architectural one) must generate an automatic updating of the other models of the same project.

International classification systems: UNICLASS, OMNICLASS, UNIFORMAT, MASTERFORMAT, SfB

The heterogeneity of the building sector has always implied strong critical issues regarding the information interchange right from the beginning of a project, even during “non-digital” times”!

Resistance to a convergence towards a common classification have often manifested in the specific codings which are elaborated in certain production fields (such as installation systems engineering).

The need for standardization has always been perceived as a common necessity in this sector. In the European context, an example is represented by CPV code to facilitate tendering procedures.

Moreover, on an international level, the U.S.A.  OMNICLASS, UNIFORMAT and MASTERFORMAT, or the British UNICLASS and the scandinavian SfB systems are taken as reference.

All these systems, which propose a classification and a relating coding, have been issued during the initial stages of computer science development, therefore responding to not so functional methods for the automatic calculation.

However, they are applied because of the interdisciplinary nature of the coding, therefore allowing the correct identification of objects and their properties among the various software.

Downsides of the old standardization formats in the construction industry

At present times, with the application of ever more modern and performing programming techniques, there are many reasons to discourage the adoption of such identification systems:

  • the assignment of a code to the objects appears as a label, informatically not indispensable and closer to a programming mode that is now outdated.
  • the logic of construction of these codes is not always immediately available, thus making the system less flexible for integration and development.
  • the codes available today were originated several years ago (though progressively updated over time) and often reflecting outdated visions and needs.
  • the distinct coding systems refer to defined linguistic / geographical areas, whereby the adoption of one of them would make the dialogue with the others less easy.
  • the immediate comprehension of the meaning of a code is practically precluded to men, in the absence of software aids.

For these reasons, the current and more modern orientation tends to gradually abandon the traditional coding systems, to directly turning to management and control systems of the information attributes as, instead, outlined by the BIM.

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