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Using open BIM standards to build a stronger industry

Using open BIM standards to build a stronger industry The Construction Industry is making more and more use of BIM (Building Information Model of Management) for information exchange. BIM is utterly indispensable for a flourishing construction industry that makes customers’ interests a top priority. Open BIM standards promote communication and keep information relevant and useful in the longer term as well. BIM Loket is a virtual reference desk that ensures all BIM standards are open, accessible, reliable and wellcoordinated. This ensures that the various parties in the chain can rely on each other. BIM Loket is the Netherlands’ virtual reference desk and the ideal starting point for everything on open BIM standards. www.bimloket.nl  

BIM and open BIM standards

Improving cooperation with the help of standards BIM is all about the clear exchange of information to benefit everyone involved in the construction process. Information is collected once and can then be used multiple times, at every stage in the process - from the design stage all the way through to building management. Through the integration of information management, BIM ensures improved cooperation between partners in construction. Using more IT in construction projects improves digital information and knowledge exchange and makes the process more efficient. Standards are needed to facilitate this exchange, and serve in this context as key information and process agreements. Standards allow parties commissioning work, architects, advisors, contractors, fitters and suppliers to exchange information during the entire life cycle of a building. This improves quality in construction and lowers cost.

Client “Building specifications should be accessible and useful during the building’s entire life cycle. The use of open BIM standards ensures its continued usefulness as a source of information for issues and problems that may arise in future.� Berend Koudstaal, Manager of the Executive Office of Property Management, Erasmus MC


Open BIM standards The main advantage of open standards is that they are easy to use and not limited to specific software. According to the Forum on Standardization, an open standard is controlled by a non-profit organization, the decision-making process must be open to everyone and non-proprietary, the standard has to be published, specification documents should be free of charge or available at a nominal fee, financing must be sustainable, there should be no limitations on reuse. As a user of open standards, you can rest assured that your information will continue to be accessible, in the long term as well as the short term. After all, you want to be able to access information during the whole lifecycle of a building or infrastructure! This is why government policy promotes the use of open standards. BIM Loket offers a coherent set of open BIM standards such as VISI, NLCS and COINS. These standards contribute to an open BIM process with more efficient communication, less loss of time and higher quality construction projects at lower costs. The standards that BIM Loket offers are partially managed by us and and partially managed by our partners. Short lines of communication are the norm.

BIM Loket uses three definitions of BIM: Building Information Model A digital representation of how a building is designed, the process of construction and actual construction. Building Information Modelling Focuses on the process, on working together and cooperation in construction projects using digital information models. Building Information Management Focuses on the information itself: the structure, the management and the use of the digital construction information during the entire life cycle of the building. All three definitions are relevant and the concept of BIM represents them all. Three different perspectives on BIM which are all necessary in order to successfully implement BIM.

BIM Loket

What is the BIM Loket? BIM Loket is the country’s top knowledge and information platform and access point for everything on open BIM standards. The organizations in charge of open BIM standards work together at BIM Loket. Together, we aim to promote the use of open BIM standards as they are key to a country-wide, full implementation of BIM in the Dutch construction industry. We will ensure standards are mutually compatible, both on a national and an international level.

Contractor “VISI ensures clear and transparent information exchange within projects for both the commissioning party and the contractor. This is essential in order for us to be able to manage our projects optimally. It is time to leave traditional methods behind and begin using VISI en masse. The ‘but we’ve always done it this way’ argument has no place in the digital age.” Anne-Roos van der Elst, BAM Infra Nederland

In short, BIM Loket: • Promotes the use of open BIM standards • Offers information to users • Jointly manages Dutch open BIM standards • Coordinates and strengthens both national and international connections • Forges links between existing knowledge organizations

Manufacturer/supplier “Wavin uses widely accepted market standards to facilitate communication with all parties. Within the entire Wavin organization, ETIM is the standard for the classification of all article data and we use SALES in the Netherlands to further optimize our information exchange.” Michan Katerbarg, E-Business Manager Wavin Nederland

For and by the construction industry

Cooperation based on trust

BIM Loket is an independent foundation in which the country’s top knowledge institutions work together to improve open BIM standards in the Netherlands. The following organizations are involved: SBRCURnet, CROW, STABU, Geonovum, Ketenstandaard Bouw & Installatie and buildingSMART Benelux. BIM Loket is the result of a Building Information Council (BIR) project and is funded by the BIR sectors (which include commissioning parties, contractors, architects, engineering companies, fitters and suppliers) and contributions from commissioning parties for BIM Loket’s management. BIM Loket has been set up by and for the Dutch construction industry. Our offices are located on Bouwcampus Delft.

Successfully implementing BIM requires good cooperation, even if this type of cooperation is new to the parties involved. Good cooperation requires a culture of trust. BIM Loket aims to contribute to this through our core values: neutrality, facilitation and cooperation. We serve no other interest than the common interest to improve cooperation in the construction sector through BIM. We put the user of open BIM standards first and quality is one of our top priorities. We constantly strive for synergy and strengthening our knowledge base by involving all parties relevant to the process.  

BIM Loket’s open BIM standards

BIM Loket’s range includes twelve important open BIM standards that are mostly used in Residential and Non-Residential Building (B&U) and the Civil and Hydraulic Engineering (GWW) sectors. Other standards are used in the geo industry or are not sector-specific. Some standards overlap or are similar to a lesser or greater extent, others have a coordinating function, and some focus on one well-defined aspect of the BIM process. All standards contribute to an open BIM process with more efficient communication, less loss of time and higher quality construction projects at lower costs.

The CB-NL is a digital semantic library, a collection of language definitions for objects and spaces. The CB-NL ensures uniformity between existing standards, norms and libraries of objects or products.

CityGML (City Geography Markup Language) is an international, open GIS standard for 3D representations of urban objects. CityGML defines classes and relations for the most relevant topographical objects in cities and in the region according to their characteristics, such as appearance, measurements and how buildings work together in the urban landscape.

COINS (Constructive Objects and the Integration of Processes and Systems) is an exchange standard for object-orientated information. COINS supports the exchange of digital information between the different IT platforms and environments of parties who are involved in building projects.

The standards are classified as follows: • processes • data formats • semantics (agreements concerning uniform language use)

ETIM (originally European Technical Information Model) is an article classification for parts used in the construction of buildings. ETIM provides an international system of classification for technical products and their most important technical characteristics.

The Industry Foundation Classes (IFC) is a data model, which enables the exchange and sharing of specific BIM information (model objects and their characteristics) between the different software applications of parties in the building process. IFC allows everyone, from architect to contractor and asset manager, to communicate with the same intelligent data.

The Integrated Building CAD Agreement System (GB-CAS) is a standard for 2D CAD drawings and information exchange for the Residential and Non-Residential Building (B&U) sector. It can also be used to guide CAD software developers in the development of software that allows CAD users to automatically use GB-CAS.

IMGeo (Geographic Information Model) enables the exchange of 3D geo information. IMGeo consists of agreements about the exchange of so-called ‘plus and maintenance’ topography. This involves, amongst other things, agreements for the mandatory BGT (Base Registration of Large Scale Topography).

A BIM protocol is a standard part of the contract agreed by the commissioning party and the contractor(s). The National BIM Protocol includes sample texts for contractual requirements and conditions on BIM models to be supplied, the ownership and use of those models, BIM processes and BIM related tasks, responsibilities and liabilities. Commissioning parties can use this model as a basis in the preparation of projectspecific BIM protocols.

Engineering firm “In order to successfully exchange information, you have to speak the same language and agree on what you’re exchanging exactly. This is only possible if you’re working with standardized libraries and you’re using exchange formats, which can be made project-specific. As part of our Traverse Dieren project for the Province of Gelderland, we are using the COINS open exchange standard.” Daan Alsem, project manager of infrastructure at Royal HaskoningDHV

A BIM Implementation Plan is a document in which project partners agree on how they will cooperate in a BIM-supported project, within the frameworks set by the BIM Protocol. Project partners include agreements in the BIM Implementation Plan for a successful and efficient BIM project. The partners can use the National BIM Implementation Plan to support projectspecific BIM Implementation Plans.

NLCS (Dutch CAD Standard for the Civil and Hydraulic Engineering sector) is the standard for exchange of information in regards to 2D CAD drawings in the Civil and Hydraulic Engineering sector. The NLCS consists of standard agreements on how to work with metadata, digital drawings, the drawing’s visual characteristics and – in particular – the file format of 2D drawings. The agreements are independent of CAD platforms offered by software suppliers.

SALES (previously S@les in de Bouw) is the standard for electronic communication on buying and selling transactions. Use of this softwareindependent information standard allows businesses to exchange information between different computer systems efficiently, effortlessly and correctly. The standard contains descriptions for product and article information, terms and conditions, orders, contracts, order confirmation, lists of items included (packing slips) and invoices.

NL/SfB is a classification of building parts and installations (called elements). It is a standard for the construction and installation sector and is often used in the design, construction and maintenance of buildings.

VISI is the basis for communication and information exchange in organizations and building projects. VISI ensures a good division of responsibilities in projects. Use of this accepted and sector-wide open process standard allows those involved in the construction process to structure, guard and store their communication agreements.  

Architect “Our attention is shifting more towards the ‘I’ in BIM: reliable information that has been included in the model and that can be handed over to other participants in the design process through open standards. We use NL/SfB to encode construction components and IFC to enable mutual exchange between construction workers and installation consultants. In addition to that we use a BIM protocol to shape the collaboration with advisors.” Gustaaf Kühne, group coordinator at EGM Architecten BV / BIR board member

Fitter “As multi-disciplinary firm of fitters, we recognize the importance of open BIM standards. BIM Loket offers an independent platform and creates clarity in a landscape that will continue to change in the coming years. ETIM as a classification standard, combined with the future Uniform Objects Library will help us create a uniform exchange between various software platforms. A dream come true!” Johan Bredenbeek, Planning and Preparations Manager, ULC Installatietechniek

BIM Loket organizations

BuildingSMART Chapter Benelux is an organization that focuses on promoting and applying open BIM standards in order to improve interoperability and integration of the construction process. CROW is an independent not-for-profit knowledge organization with expertise on infrastructure, public spaces, traffic and transport in the Netherlands. CROW invests in knowledge focused on smart and practical solutions to policy and management issues. Geonovum makes government geo information accessible and ensures the right standards are in place to make this possible. Geonovum develops and manages standards that allow for the exchange of geo information and combining it with other types of information.

The Ketenstandaard Bouw en Installatie Foundation was the result of a merger of the ETIM Netherlands and Sales in the Building Industry foundations on 1 July 2015. The foundation is a partnership between manufacturers, importers, agents, wholesalers interest groups, and builders and fitters in the Dutch building and installation sector. SBRCURnet is a neutral, independent, accessible knowledge partner in construction with a focus on boosting innovations and adding to construction knowledge. SBRCURnet focuses attention on current issues and promotes innova­ tion by fostering partnerships. SBRCURnet works with external building and civil and hydraulic engin­eering professionals. The construction knowledge gained is laid down in standards and distributed through products and services.

STABU ensures quality and efficiency in construction specification. With the online specification system ‘Bouwbreed’ (Complete Construction), STABU supports structured, standardized and validated information exchange during the entire life cycle of a structure. In addition to that, STABU offers advice on the legal aspects of the specifications and carries out research and development projects in construction.

All sections of the construction sector are represented on the Building Information Council (BIR): clients, contractors, architects, engineering firms, fitters and suppliers. Every section has two representatives on the BIR. The members are representatives of both their section and their own company. The BIR draws up agreements that help improve the practice of construction and serve the interests of the entire industry. The members ensure that these agreements are implemented in their sector.  

The BIM Loket help desk is here to help!

Would you like to find out more about BIM Loket’s range or how to apply an open BIM standard? Do you have a technical question about a specific standard or about the relationship between standards? Do you have any suggestions for updates or improvements on standards? BIM Loket is the central point of contact for information on open BIM standards. If you have any questions, please send an email to helpdesk@bimloket.nl.

Contact BIM Loket Van der Burghweg 1 2628 CS Delft The Netherlands www.bimloket.nl info@bimloket.nl BIM Loket’s offices are located on De Bouwcampus.

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