Shared workflows in BIM processes: what are the advantages and disadvantages of using a CDE?
Many public and private construction and engineering organizations are now becoming more aware of the need for a common data environment (CDE) to support collaboration across project participants. But what is a CDE? How does it work? And what are its benefits?
In this insight, we’ll discuss the main benefits of using a CDE thanks to the use of a BIM collaboration platform.
What is a CDE
A CDE is a is a digital data sharing environment where information from construction projects is stored and accessible to project participants. It is an essential part of an engineering or construction project, having as its primary purpose, the collection, sharing and management of data and information exchanges (including documentation, graphical models and non-graphical assets) between the various professionals involved.
This basically implies that a CDE is a central repository where data relating to a given order or asset (design, execution, facility management, decommissioning, etc.) are collected in an organised and shared manner.
From the official definition of ISO 19650-1:2019:
“Information source agreed for a given order or asset, to collect, manage and forward each information container throughout the management of an order”
A CDE is generally divided into four domains identifying the progressive stages of information sharing:
- work in progress – all deliverables that are still being processed are added, pending possible sharing with other teams by the person in charge of the process (usually the team leader);
- shared – all the information of the different disciplines that are to be shared with the other teams are inserted in this phase;
- published documentation – all previously created and approved documents are shared with the other teams;
- archive – this environment is intended for cataloguing and storing of all deliverables, which will be very useful for the next steps (e.g., management and maintenance planning).
Within the CDE, each professional figure has his/her own task and certain “permission” levels to access information. Information and model transfers, from one section to another, are achieved with the usage of special “gates” after document or informative resources have been verified and validated by the person in charge.
For further information, jump to this interesting article available here: BIM and construction management: the CDE (Common Data Environment)
Benefits of a Common Data Environment
As said earlier, a data sharing environment records the entire project workflow, reducing loss of information while providing real-time updates.
Let’s have a look at the advantages of a CDE in brief:
- constant interconnection between collaborators and sharing of all data in a single environment;
- access to information only with the necessary authorisations. In this way, the entire archive (and sub-groups) of information remains organised;
- saving of time and resources for information production activities, with verification and control;
- possibility of having files updated in real time;
- actions tracking and evidence of the historical succession of events (knowing who created a type of information and when they did it);
- easy access to different data formats and archiving;
- easier comparison between different models to identify interferences;
- use of the tool from anywhere with any type of device.
Disadvantages of a Common Data Environment
Without doubt, a CDE has many advantages that lead to better process and information management (file sharing, phases coordination, data storing, etc.).
However, a number of other elements that aren’t so obvious as they seem, must also be taken into account:
- possible loss of data due to cyber attacks;
- unauthorised access.
Therefore, choosing a suitable Cloud infrastructure, with all the necessary guarantees and certifications, such as ISO 27001, CSA, etc., becomes a crucial aspect.
Test the BIM collaboration platform service for CDE management compliant with the highest range of cloud security standards.