BIM objects: the digital product information in construction
Updated: Jun 20
Building Information Modeling, BIM is considered the heart of the digitalisation for the construction industry and is changing the AEC workflows, methods, processes and tools. BIM objects are the virtual representation of products and materials that are used in construction and they are essential for the development of BIM digital models. In this post we describe what BIM objects are and why they are critical for digital construction and BIM.
What is a BIM object?
Digital product information is known as a BIM object and involves the creation of a building product in a 3D format with associated technical data, converted into digital formats compatible with design software. A BIM object is a combination of object geometry and product information.
A BIM object represents the product’s physical characteristics in a digital environment where the object “behaves” as the actual product does in the built asset.
The BIM object is mainly related to graphical data and performance issues. The BIM object information includes (some or all of the below):
Why BIM objects?
BIM objects store visual and functional product data and simulate actual product performance. Any changes made in the BIM object are instantly reflected across teams at any project stage. BIM objects allow real-time simulation of the actual building and help designers to test different design options and make informed decisions, such as decisions about materials, e.g. building insulation and energy perfomance.
Another feature that supports the construction managers is the clash detection. In Building Information Modeling (BIM), Clash Detection is the technique of identifying if -- and where or how -- two parts of the building (e.g., plumbing, walls, etc) are interfering with one another. The visualization of details in terms of objects interfering with each other prevents errors and omissions in the construction site.
Types of BIM objects
BIM objects are available in specific forms such as Revit or Archicad and others, or in open data formats, such as IFC. IFC is an open and neutral form of data to exchange information between AEC and FM applications by Building Smart International.
The IFC model contains both geometric (3D and 2D) and non-geometrical data. This allows architectural structural and mechanical models, (including BIM objects) to exchange both geometric and non geometric data and do not rely on the same software version to ensure the exchange. However, IFC is a format that still needs to improve as its perfomance it is not at right level yet.
BIM objects can be generic or specific. Generic objects are usually objects without specific information about certain characteristics that relate to the function or performance. They act as placeholders to be replaced by the actual object in later stages of the project. Specific objects are the manufacturer objects that include all the associated data, parameters and information that relate to the actual product.
In addition, the BIM object can be either a material or a component BIM object. Material objects represent a certain material with no actual geometry, such as flooring, tiles and insulation. Component objects have distinct geometry and usually represent equipment such as furniture and doors.
BIM object standards & platfroms
There are a number of BIM object standardization initiatives. Some replace former CAD standards and others are focused on naming conventions and properties, open formats and others. Some BIM object platforms develop their own standards that align with other commonly used industry standards such as classification systems and Cobie for property sets. However, there are some challenges with the current lack of cross industry standardization that makes it hard for users and manufacturers to develop a specific approach.
There is a number of BIM platforms with free access in the industry. The BIM object® (www.bimobject.com) is one of the largest platforms in the world with free access and provides value added services for manufacturers. BIM object has a global focus and is not connected to any standard. The goal of the platfrom is the free distribution of digital products to users and then use the downloads of objects as a marketing and inbound sales tool.
The NBS National BIM Library (www.nationalbimlibrary.com) is considered the primary source of high-quality BIM objects in the UK. NBS is a system of product specification and provides a free BIM toolkit that has been developed as part of the BIM Level 2 initiative. The NBS BIM object standard has its own properties and its aligned with Cobie.
Other BIM object platfroms are: Magicad,Polantis, BIMstore, GoBIM, Arcat and others.
BIM is being rapidly embraced by the construction industry and manufacturers play a vital role. Today, it is essential for manufacturers to develop their objects in the correct format, at the appropriate stage of the design process and at the right level of detail. If their products are delivered in BIM formats, then they can be used by the design teams and consequently increase object integration into the design and construction process.
When more products are available in the BIM format, this allows increased opportunities for product integration in the BIM process. At this point manufacturers experience many benefits, such as product marketing through the immediate evaluation of their products by all participants.
There is a variety of BIM components employed by BIM designers when they search for model components. Nowadays, with BIM objects, the BIM designer can download free objects and insert these into his or her model, adjust them and schedule the information included.
The process of BIM object integration into the design process has major benefits for manufacturers. Since the digital data of their products become part of the digital model, they can be incorporated from the early design phase and be made available to customers. The information included into the digital products ensures effective collaboration after the completion of the construction, during building maintenance.
BIM benefits for manufacturers are:
Creating a digital data brochure
Product data are available to customers
Data of the products become interoperable
Gaining market intelligence from the data
Maximum exposure and reaching new clients
When manufacturer-specific BIM objects are inserted in a model, calculations become even more precise and everything, from environmental impact to maintenance cost, can be considered.
For manufacturers, providing BIM objects into the market is a reliable and sustainable way to transfer any information from measurements and energy value, to maintenance instructions and different options for things such as variations of color and surface material.
BIM Design Hub has partnered with BIMobject® to support BIM object services that ensure quality and a smooth transition to BIM. BIM Design Hub team supports product manufacturers in the following ways:
BIM object content creation
BIM object content hosting
For more information please visit: https://www.bimdesignhub.com/bim-services
Panagiotidou Nicoleta, BIM specialist for Breakwithanarchitect
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