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BIM Data: what are they, what are they used for and why are they so important?

BIM Data: what are they, what are they used for and why are they so important?

BIM Data are the multidisciplinary datasets contained in the BIM model that serve to enrich projects with useful information. Find out why they matter so much!

When we hear about Building Information Modeling, in most cases we come up with a process aimed at creating the digital model of a building in three-dimensional space.

This interpretation is not entirely wrong, but we must not forget that BIM is much more than just 3D modeling!

What characterizes this efficient working methodology (and makes it different from conventional design methods) are the BIM Data, that is, the data and information of which the BIM models are extremely rich, and which have the aim of supporting the entire process of designing, creating and managing a work through the use of a BIM data management software.

If you want to learn more about this topic and understand why data in BIM is so important, continue reading the article and I will help you discover the features and potential of BIM Data!

Does the BIM contain data?

If you are wondering if a BIM model can contain data useful for the design, construction and management of a building or any construction work, the answer is: “Absolutely yes!”

As the term “Building Information Modeling” suggests, information is the basis on which this methodology is based, and they are able to transform a simple three-dimensional geometric model into a huge archive of data relevant to the project, also called BIM Data.

The creation of this data set facilitates planning, improves decision-making processes, ensures greater efficiency and represents the only “source of truth” to refer to for the management of the entire life cycle of the work. Through specific BIM Business Intelligence tools, you can transform all the data produced in a BIM process thanks to easy-to-interpret dashboards and make data-driven decisions to improve design, construction or maintenance processes.

Below we will try to understand together what exactly BIM Data consists of, how they are structured and how they can be shared between the different professionals participating in the BIM process.

BIM Data: what are they, what are they used for and why are they so important?

Contents | Geometry and BIM Data

What are BIM Data?

The term BIM Data refers to the large amount of data generated, stored and shared during a design process managed by BIM methodology, by the different disciplinary groups involved in the project.

These data are an integral part of the BIM model and play a fundamental role because they enrich the project with elements and information useful for the development of the subsequent phases.

Through BIM Data, in fact, it is possible to transform 3D modeling into a much more useful tool that goes far beyond the design and construction phase and guarantees maximum efficiency in the management of the lifecycle of the structure.

The main objective of BIM Data is to fully define the key elements of the design not only from a geometric point of view, but also with respect to the additional dimensions provided by BIM (time, costs, sustainability, facility management, security, etc.).

As the BIM model is the main source of information on the building, it is appropriate to ask how much of this information should be included within it.

In addition to the geometric characteristics of the individual elements, a typical BIM model can contain, for example:

  • material data;
  • design data;
  • planning data (4D);
  • cost data (5D);
  • structural data;
  • energy related data;
  • environmental data;
  • production data;
  • on on-site delivery data;
  • installation and assembly data;
  • health and safety data;
  • quality data;
  • commissioning data;
  • maintenance data;
  • demolition related data.

However, including as much information as possible in the BIM model is not always the best solution. Having too much information, in fact, could be confusing, hard to understand or even redundant and cause the model to be difficult to produce, use and manage.

On the other hand, adding just minor amounts of information could just end up turning the BIM model into a simple three-dimensional representation of the building.

The best solution, therefore, is to find the right balance and define the type and quantity of BIM Data to be included in the model based on the following factors:

  • type of project;
  • operational phase;
  • project goals and objectives;
  • the client’s information requirements (also in terms of the object levels of development);
  • the different needs of the participants who’ll be collaborating in the process.
BIM Data: what are they, what are they used for and why are they so important?

Types of BIM Data

How are BIM Data structured?

The BIM Data must be structured in such a way as to facilitate its production, sharing, modification, and storage by the parties directly concerned.

After defining in detail how many are and what are the relevant data of the project, it is possible to structure this data according to two different configurations:

  1. BIM Data integrated into the model;
  2. BIM Data linked to the model.

In the first case, the chosen data is implemented directly in the BIM model as properties or attributes associated with the individual elements. Integrating BIM Data into the model means structuring the necessary information according to the IFC data schema, the open and interoperable format that, through a well-defined structure, is able to fully describe the objects contained in the model, the relationships that exist between these objects, and all the properties and attributes associated with them.

This solution allows you to have a model full of information immediately available, and can be consulted directly from the information sheets of the objects. However, an excessive amount of information could significantly weigh down the BIM model.

In some cases, therefore, it is preferable to follow the second solution that provides for the organization and structuring of BIM Data within a Common Data Environment, and their subsequent connection to the model, for example through links. With this system the BIM model is lighter and more manageable because the project information is stored on an external system.

In what format should BIM Data be delivered?

The type of format you use to share BIM Data depends on how you want to use this data.

In order to ensure interoperability and readability of project information by different BIM software, and to facilitate collaboration between stakeholders, it is appropriate to use open and standardised formats, such as IFC. This data schema, in fact, in addition to being widely used in the industry, helps designers to share BIM content, simplifies workflows and can be read by any tool or application that supports the standard.

BIM Data can also be exported and shared in simple XML format. The COBie data, for example, represents a commonly accepted international standard, and consists of a simple spreadsheet that contains the information necessary for the management and maintenance phase of the work.

An additional option for sharing BIM Data is to exchange files in a proprietary format, but in this case it is necessary to have software compatible with the required format, which allows you to read and edit correctly the information contained in the BIM model.

For easier management of the BIM Data associated with any BIM model, you certainly need to rely on a free IFC File Viewer. This particular tool will allow you to view, edit, convert or share BIM models in IFC format, whatever the BIM Authoring software used for their creation, and will help you read, control and manage your BIM Data in the best possible way.

What is the great potential deriving from the appropriate use of BIM Data?

The integration (or connection) of BIM Data to the building’s digital model helps make the design, construction and management processes much faster, more convenient and easier to develop.

If exploited to their full potential, in fact, such data can allow you to:

  • improved control overt your project;
  • obtain more accurate documents and construction details;
  • facilitate analysis, verification or complex calculations;
  • simplify the management of geometric-based and information conflicts;
  • promote interoperability and exchange of information;
  • constantly monitor activity timing, costs and resources;
  • increase productivity;
  • ensure compliance with required standards;
  • ensure quality and reliability of the final result;
  • full support for management and maintenance phases.