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Improving integration between architectural and structural design with IFC openBIM

Improving integration between architectural and structural design through IFC openBIM

The integration of architectural with structural design determines the success of a project. IFC openBIM ensures proper coordination between all specialistic disciplines and workflow fluidity

The integration between architectural and structural design is fundamental to the success of a construction project. However, the designers involved often work independently, using different software applications and different file formats, therefore generating miscommunication and misinterpretation that can result into additional costs and delays for construction.

The IFC openBIM aims to solve this problem by providing a ​standard file format​​ for exchanging data between different software used in design and construction processes.  To manage an openBIM IFC file, it is not necessary to use specific proprietary software but a simple BIM management system​ to organize the entire workflow and ensure collaboration and coordination among all team members.

If you need to collaborate with other professionals involved in your same project, without having to deal with misunderstandings and want to speeding up files or information exchange, keep reading this article. I’ll show you how to improve the integration between architectural and structural design thanks to openBIM IFC.

Federating structural and architectural models

Federation between structural and architectural model

What is IFC OpenBIM?

The IFC openBIM is a standard file format for building information modeling (BIM). It is an open and neutral format, which can be used by any BIM software, regardless of the software vendor. The IFC openBIM allows you to exchange information between the different software used in the design and construction process, improving collaboration between the professionals involved.

Benefits of using IFC openBIM

The use of openBIM IFC can bring numerous advantages. Here we are going to list some of them.

Improved collaboration

The IFC openBIM promotes the exchange of BIM data between the different software used in the design and construction process, facilitating collaboration between different stakeholders involved. Using an IFC model is extremely beneficial as it avoids miscommunication and misinterpretation, which can lead to additional costs and delays in construction.

Improved Efficiency

The IFC openBIM allows you to use different applications for architectural and structural design, without the need to convert files, consequently saving time and reinforcing the skills of the professionals involved.

Greater opportunities for innovation

The IFC openBIM allows you to use several advanced technologies, such as virtual and augmented reality, to improve the design and construction process, therefore leading to more opportunities for innovation and improvement of the final product.

How to improve conflicts between architectural and structural design by federating IFC openBIM models and clash detection with interference management and resolution

In recent years, the architectural and structural design process has experienced a real revolution as the new approach of the BIM (​​Building Information Modeling​​) methodology has been developed. This approach has led to greater efficiency and collaboration among the professionals involved in the design process. However, occasional conflicts can arise between the parties involved, such as for instance between the architectural and structural design teams.

Let’s see how the federation of IFC openBIM models and clash detection can help managing and resolving conflicts before construction.

What is openBIM IFC Model Federation?

The federation of openBIM IFC models is the process of integrating different BIM models created by different parties involved in the design process. It allows you to create a unified model that represents the entire building and all its elements.

In order to federate two or more models, you need to use a federated BIM model software. This step is essential to obtain an overview of the project, simplify the information management and activities coordination,  while facilitating interferences control.

IFC openBIM federation of models

IFC openBIM models federation

What is Clash Detection?

Clash detection is a BIM model analysis process that allows you to detect interference between building elements. This process is essential to prevent design and construction errors, as it enables you to detect any issue before construction is started.

To check for collisions between objects in different 3D models, you need to use a BIM Clash Detection Software.

This tool is essential as it allows you to view directly on the model both objects that physically intersect (hard clash) and elements with incompatible parameters (soft clash), for example too close to each other for assembly or maintenance purposes. Performing this type of verification manually is practically impossible. In fact, usually clash problems, if not properly addressed with the most appropriate tools, occur during the construction phase, when it is too late to intervene without creating delays and project changes.

BIM Clash Detection software

Solving geometric interference with usBIM.clash

How does IFC openBIM model federation and clash detection work?

The process of federating openBIM IFC models begins with the creation of different BIM models by the parties involved in architectural and structural design. These models are then integrated into a unified model through the federation of IFC openBIM models.

Once the unified model is created, the clash detection process is started. This process analyzes the model for checking interference between building elements. The detected interferences are then reported and managed through an interference resolution process.

What are the advantages of the IFC openBIM model federation and clash detection?

The federation of IFC openBIM models and clash detection offers numerous advantages for the architectural and structural design process. First, these processes allow you to identify and manage potential issues before work begins, thereby reducing the cost and time required to make changes..

Secondly, the federation of IFC openBIM models and clash detection improves collaboration between the parties involved in the design process, increasing the efficiency and quality of the final project.

Finally, these processes grant improved safety on site, reducing the risk of accidents caused by design or construction errors.

Improving integration between architectural and structural design through IFC openBIM

There are several strategies to improve the integration between architectural and structural design through the IFC openBIM, including:

Training of professionals

It is important that professionals involved in the design and construction processes are trained on the use of IFC openBIM and the relevant BIM software, so to make the most of the features offered by this format.

Process standardization

It is important to standardize the design and construction processes, defining the roles and responsibilities of the team members involved and the steps to follow for the information exchange, avoiding mistakes and improving collaboration between professionals.

Collaboration between architectural designers and structural engineers

It is important to foster collaboration between architectural designers and structural engineers, so as to evaluate together the most suitable design solutions. This allows to correctly integrate the architectural and structural aspects of the building, obtaining a better final outcome. To ensure the correctness of the collaborative workflow, which includes different technicians and disciplines, you need the support of suitable online tools for collaboration.

IFC openBIM and connected workflows

The benefits of IFC openBIM | Collaborating with the project team

In this way, you will have no difficulty viewing, sharing and managing construction and infrastructure projects produced with the most popular BIM software available on the market. All project team members will be able to access files and project information from anywhere and collaborate in real time with their colleagues.

Use of BIM technology

Making the most of the features and functions provided by BIM technology, such as viewing a building in a realistic way before it has even begun construction, enables you to identify potential issues already during the planning phase and to assess various alternative solutions. You can take advantage of this potential using a BIM viewer online, to also manage federated models. Taking a 3D tour of your project model and experiencing advanced architectural visualization (rendering, real-time rendering and immersive virtual reality) functions, enables you to:

  • verifying the effectiveness of project choices;
  • detect any conflicts;
  • experimenting with different design solutions in real time;
  • presenting the project clearly and engagingly to your client.

VRi la realtà virtuale immersiva in architettura (3)

Standardisation of naming conventions

To ensure that all parties work with the same data, it is important to standardize naming conventions. This will make it easier to identify and locate specific elements of the building design. To use a unified language, which does not leave room for misinterpretation and errors, refer to the BuildingSMART Data Dictionary.

The BuildingSMART Data Dictionary is an international library that allows designers, clients, owners, manufacturers and suppliers to exchange and share project data overcoming linguistic and disciplinary barriers.

You can classify the elements of a BIM model in IFC format according to the buildingSMART Data Dictionary, using appropriate bSDD applications. This makes it much easier to obtain IFC format models with properties and values in line with national and international classifications.

Using a Common Data Environment (CDE)

The Common Data Environment (or CDE) is the central connection point for all project data, serving as a single source of truth that can be relied upon by all project team.  Data is updated in real-time, leading to more informed decision-making and better project outcomes. This also allows a perfect integration between architectural, structural, plant design disciplines.

Establishing communication protocols

Establishing communication protocols between architects and structural engineers is crucial to successful collaboration, including identifying the methods and tools used for communication, such as email, instant messaging, and video conferencing.

Regular coordination meetings

Regular coordination meetings between architects and structural engineers are essential to ensure that the project proceeds as planned. Such meetings provide an opportunity to discuss any issues or concerns, make decisions, and identify any changes that need to be made. When it is not possible to arrange face-to-face meetings, you can use online video meeting and conference calls services to keep up to date even with colleagues who work in different locations.

video call and conference tools

Collaboration and videoconferencing with usBIM.meet

Using the BIM Collaboration Format (BCF)

The BIM Collaboration Format (BCF) is a file format that allows collaboration between different software applications. Using the BCF, architects and structural engineers can share information and coordinate changes more easily. To view, create and manage files in BCF format you need a BCF software that allows you to:

  • view or edit a file with a .BCFZIP extension which is generated by any application;
  • create a BCF file from scratch and export it in the .BCFZIP format.

In this way, you can:

  • optimize information exchange flows without having to transfer BIM models;;
  • troubleshoot interoperability issues that occur when working with different software, or different versions of the same software.;
  • speed up the revision process, resolving critical issues before construction.

Continuous feedback loop

A continuous feedback loop between architects and structural engineers is important to ensure that the project proceeds as planned. This includes providing feedback on design decisions, changes, and potential issues.

The integration between architectural and structural design is also fundamental to obtain stable, safe and functional buildings. In fact, IFC openBIM aims to solve this problem by providing a ​standard file format​​ for exchanging data between different software used in design and construction processes.

By adopting some strategies, such as the training of professionals, the standardization of processes and the use of BIM software compatible with the IFC openBIM, it is possible to improve the integration between architectural and structural design, obtaining a better final result.

In addition, the federation of openBIM IFC models and clash detection are two essential processes for managing conflicts between architectural and structural design. These processes allow to identify and manage potential problems, improve collaboration between the parties involved and increase safety on site.
To obtain the maximum benefits from these processes, it is important that the parties involved in the architectural and structural design process work together from the early stages of the project. In this way, it will be possible to create an accurate and comprehensive unified model, thus reducing the risk of interference and conflict.

 

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