Manufacturers: how should you choose the standards and formats of your BIM objects?

What do standards and formats do?

In order to be available to as many people involved a project as possible, a BIM object must share common properties, standards and formats, all of which ensure compatibility for all users. The level of detail on the model, the granularity of the information, the language used, or even compatible software: All of these elements go into making a BIM object, which comprises both a 3D model, and a collection of relevant documents and data. For example, the model of a building façade which conforms to HQE (certified High Environment Quality) standards won’t have the same set of restrictions or level of detail as a small detached house!

Failing to choose the right formats or standards from the very beginning of a project can cause some frustrating backtracking — as well as potential delays and extra costs. This is why you must always make sure that you take all of your partners’ project requirements into account — especially when it comes to modelling technical components, such as heating and electricity. Likewise, in order to avoid a so-called ‘Tower of Babel’ effect, wherein object formats don’t respond to one another, you must be able to identify and navigate between designations and names which may vary based on country, software and format types.

Here are three tips for success when deciding on what standards and formats your BIM object should have. You can also contact BIM&CO if you have any specific questions or uncertainties about this subject.

#1 Ask your prescribers and clients about the standards and formats that they use

It’s no use getting ahead of yourself: Before you start modelling a BIM object, it’s essential that you know what software your prescribers (design office, chartered architects, etc.) and clients use in their countries. Take the time to ask them this, so that you can configure your BIM objects correctly — you will save precious time. Take stock of all the requests that your different product services teams, tech support and marketing teams may have received in BIM over the past few months: Revit models, RT2012 data…

#2  Don’t wear yourself out trying to cover every possible format

You don’t have to make a list of every single standard and format there is — this would be a waste of time and effort. Rather, try to identify the standards and formats your prescribers/clients/prospects will definitely need for their project. Nevertheless, nothing is stopping you from making your objects more versatile by making them compatible with other software at a later time. If you do this, you’ll definitely be going in the right direction.
Keep in mind also that a BIM object can be modified and its necessary data filled in even when it has already been finalised. As such, you can go ahead with what you have without risking everything you do being final.

#3 Adapt your operating process to BIM

In order for your objects to be compatible with your client’s or prescriber’s needs (in terms of standards, formats and cross-compatibility), you must organise your models and data well. Providing necessary and up-to-date information during the BIM process requires a certain infrastructure that can handle sending this data. Specifically, you must find a suitable place to efficiently store models and save data, so that your software can find it too.

Here is a table which shows a few suggested names for folders where you can keep BIM object data:

A+ Software ClimawinFisa Acoubat CypeluxCanecoArcheliosStorm Water Management Model (SWMM)
CYPECADCypecad MEPNovaplanANSYS FluentDaisaluxCypelec
ProkonEcotect Star-CCM+Etap
Staad ProHAP
Tekla StructureIES VE

Of course, this table doesn’t cover everything. Formats vary by country and software. Make sure that you are aware of what these terms (and others) encompass before starting a project.