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open BIM, collaborative design, realization and operation of buildings based on open standards and workflows

Open BIM: what it is and how to put it into practice

Do you like getting locked inside proprietary file formats, or would you prefer the freedom of Open BIM? All you need to know about open BIM to improve your project quality

In this article we’ll be taking a closer look at what Open BIM is and why it matters for the construction industry. Also, we’ll be exploring what Open BIM standards are, how they work, the tools to use and why it is important to approach these new working methods.

openBIM standards

OpenBIM standards

What is open BIM?

BIM is a working methodology that involves the use of standard formats and structured processes that can be applied at each stage of a project’s life cycle, with the aim of ensuring better interoperability between the players involved. It is a collaborative process ensured by open and neutral standards, for the benefit of higher project quality.

Given these characteristics, BIM must be based on a common language, open standards and workflows that allow the different stakeholders to share their data and information. It is therefore necessary to use open standards and formats, such as IFC (ISO 16739), working with the right tools, to adopt a valid strategy, to inform and involve the whole supply chain.

Open BIM further extends the benefits of BIM being a collaborative process, that connects project stakeholders and ensures workflow transparency, longevity, and accessibility of data for built assets through:

  • training activities
  • certified software
  • well-structured processes
  • skills acquired through practical experience.

To know more on this topic check the article ‘IFC format and Open BIM, all you need to know’.

Open BIM vs closed BIM

Closed BIM, also known as ‘lonely BIM’, is a working approach based on the use of proprietary formats (files produced by BIM authoring software). This presupposes that in a working team it is necessary to use a single BIM software to be able to exchange information (and sometimes even the same software version). Consequently, the use of open and non-proprietary interchange files (such as IFC) is not envisaged.

The result is a closed and restrictive process that makes collaboration with professionals using different tools, applications and software difficult.

On the contrary, open BIM is based on methods and workflow in which all participants collaborate and exchange project information, using open, non-proprietary and neutral formats, regardless of the BIM tools and applications used.

difference between closed BIM and open BIM

Closed BIM vs open BIM

Why it is important to work in open BIM: the benefits

As evidenced, the open BIM approach provides significant advantages for construction professionals, ensuring a smoother workflow and quality of the final result.

Digital collaboration supports decision-making processes, reduces fragmentation of workflows, promotes transparency, and improves multidisciplinary team collaboration.

In practice, it is certainly convenient for professionals to switch to open BIM to ensure:

  • more efficiency in internal processes
  • effectiveness in achieving quality objectives
  • continuous growth
  • more competitiveness
  • more effective communication
  • shared procedures
  • environmental sustainability
  • constant accessibility to data
  • greater collaboration and interoperability.

openBIM is the buildingSMART International’s answer to achieving all these benefits.

Let’s take a closer look at what buildingSMART International is all about.

What is buildingSMART International?

BuildingSMART International (bSI) is a global non-profit community that likes to define itself as the ‘Home of openBIM’. Founded on open and neutral principles, it aims to drive the digital transformation of the construction industry.

It consists of several governing bodies:

  • chapters
  • members
  • partners.

bSI is organised in a number of Programmes, which are support structures for all activities carried out by the organisation, such as:

  • Standards Programme to develop standards, update reference websites and technical documents
  • Compliance Programme for the certification of software, organisations, BIM personnel, etc.
  • User Programme to identify future needs of the industry and organises summits and events and promote Open BIM.

What are the main openBIM standards?

The main openBIM Standards are classified into:

  • Data Standard
  • Workflow Standard
  • Open BIM services.
Open BIM IFC standard

openBIM standard

Data Standard includes:

  • IFC (Industry Foundation Classes), which allows you to catalog the data that constitute information
  • MDV (Model View Definition), which defines which of these data must be exchanged during a communication process and represents a filter of the properties of an IFC file.

Workflow Standard includes:

  • BCF (BIM Collaboration Format), which was created to streamline communications and allow the exchange of feedback between professionals
  • IDM (Information Delivery Manual), which standardises exchange processes between professionals.

The bSI services include the BuildingSMART Data Dictionary (bSDD), an online service designed to map technical data in a standardised way.

The real objective of these standards is to improve and standardise communication processes between all stakeholders.

usBIM, the Open BIM integrated system

usBIM is the integrated system for the digitisation of construction, which allows you to work in Open BIM mode.

The usBIM integrated system of Applications and Features allows you to work on open format models to:

  • view and manage BIM models in any format [.IFC, .BCF, Revit (.RVT and .RFA), Point Clouds (.LAS, .LAZ, .E57, .PLY, .PTS, .XYZ, etc.), GIS (.geoJson), AutoCAD (.DWG and .DXF)]
  • store, manage and share project files, regardless of data format or location or device used
  • coordinate team work with online video-conference calls and screen sharing
  • perform online cost estimates
  • manage model and data issues directly in the cloud with traceable processes
  • manage text documents, spreadsheets collaboratively
  • collaborate in real-time with design, implementation and maintenance teams through online chats and meetings (BIM collaboration software)
  • create an online building information system by integrating the 3D digital model with data and documents
  • place 3D BIM models in GIS
  • add information from IoT sensors to the BIM model.

files documents models visualization