In this article Eurovent Certita Certification (ECC) looks into the link between BIM objects, PIM and BIM libraries.
Building Information Modelling (BIM) is built upon product data, which means that manufacturers are at the very heart of the BIM process. Being the cornerstone of the future of the construction industry puts manufacturers in an exciting but daunting position. To add to the challenges, BIM is an evolving landscape. While ISO 19650 has established an International Standard for managing information using BIM, not all parts are yet complete. The protocols for structuring product data (so it can be harmonised across different workflows and digital platforms) is very much in its infancy.
However, this does offer opportunities for those manufacturers helping to shape a global, standardised digital construction industry. From the manufacturer starting out on their BIM journey, to the BIM pros that are already masters of vast BIM object libraries, the learning never ends. New standards and new technologies can offer manufacturers many benefits, but in return the product data supplied must be accurate, precise, up-to-date, useful and structured. Critically it needs to be available and accessible to those using different BIM software.
First we start with the basics. ISO 19650 defines BIM as: Use of a shared digital representation of a built asset to facilitate design, construction and operation processes to form a reliable basis for decisions.
BIM offers a process to holistically collate, manage and share multi-disciplinary data between teams, with the aim to enable effective communication, collaboration and decision-making at all stages on building and infrastructure projects. BIM provides information, insight and the tools to effectively and efficiently plan, design, construct, maintain, manage, operate, repurpose or decommission buildings and infrastructures.
It is vital that the information used in BIM provides a ‘single source of truth’. This means one source of data that all teams work to, which is usually held in a Common Data Environment. To enable this, an information rich BIM model is created. The BIM model is a 3D virtual representation of the project, including the geometry of the building and (most importantly) information on every aspect of the build, from product characteristics, to health and safety reports, to maintenance requirements.
The BIM model can accurately simulate aspects such as project timescales and costs, energy use, building component performance, building life expectancy and more. Construction sequencing and staging can be viewed virtually via the model, so that every aspect of the build is mapped out in detail before a project even breaks ground.
This model is used as a virtual twin of the building. If something needs to change, the BIM model can show the impact on the rest of the project. It can also automate time consuming tasks, for example product procurement lists can be automatically updated and updated costs calculated. It leads to big productivity gains, as issues can be anticipated and proactively addressed in a virtual environment, before incurring real life costs and time delays.
BIM models are created from individual components called BIM objects. BIM objects are virtual products and materials, usually represented in 3D format, that contain the geometry of the object and its properties. BIM objects include a wealth of information such as weight, manufacturer, material, colour, finish, CO content, technical details, spatial requirements, data sheets, certifications and warranties etc.
Critically, BIM objects behave as the real life product would in the built environment. This means you can simulate product performance and test different options virtually, cheaply and effectively. Because every aspect of the build is included in the BIM model, you can identify where objects clash or interfere with each other. This can be especially important if an aspect of the BIM model is changed.
BIM objects are usually created by the product manufacturer. Manufacturers are best placed to do this as they hold accurate, reliable, up-to-date product information. BIM objects are a useful tool for manufacturers as they optimise brand visibility, and put products straight into the hands of the architect, designer and BIM modeller.
Manufacturers can either create BIM objects in-house, or outsource modelling to a provider. It is imperative that BIM objects are created as intelligent, standardised, interoperable objects, to the latest International Standards, so that they can be used across a wide range of software and platforms. Whether manufacturers are creating BIM objects in-house or outsourcing the work, all can benefit from having a robust PIM system in place.
PIM stands for Product Information Management. PIM is the tool used to create a single source of truth for each product within the BIM process. What’s more, PIM allows manufacturers to centrally manage all internal and external (customer-facing) product information, such characteristics, performances, technical manuals etc. This in turn can be used to power many different tools and platforms, such as online catalogues, e-commerce, or BIM objects.
PIM data is centralised and structured, streamlined but agile and flexible. PIM tools can facilitate BIM by providing a means to add, update and manage BIM objects and product data, in a central repository, providing the haloed single source of truth. Information can be updated in real time, through one central PIM tool which can then be used to populate changes across all linked business assets, BIM libraries and marketplaces, or other data pools and platforms.
A BIM library is a catalogue of BIM object files. BIM marketplaces are essentially large BIM libraries, where thousand upon thousand of BIM objects from different manufacturers are available to download. Designers come to the library, select the products they require and download the BIM object and associated data. Digital libraries and marketplaces can be a great way to gain product exposure, build brand and offer designers inspiration and solutions, 24/7, 365 days a year.
Some marketplaces are country specific, while others such as PRODBIM offer a harmonised international library of BIM object files and product templates, according to the ISO IFC standard and CEN, as well as formats for BIM software and regulations. Additionally, PRODBIM’s supplier portal is delivered, to ensure the searchable library of HVAC+R BIM products is reliable, accessible and easy to update. ECC certified manufacturers can now access a new service to publish their certified data via the PRODBIM BIM library for free. Contact ECC at firstname.lastname@example.org
ECC as teamed up with PIM and BIM leaders to offer manufacturers a free, exclusive, premier BIM experience, throughout the entire BIM object, PIM and marketplace process.