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Model Management and Process Monitoring implementation framework for BIM Construction projects Exploring the application of process mining combining two plug-ins for the open BIM Server within construction project management. 22.04.2018, Eindhoven University of Technology, US&RE Final Report Collaborative Design 7ZM8M0 Julia Kaltenegger, Consortium 1

Abstract Complex construction projects require high standards in order to meet all requirements precisely. This asks for smart solutions including project management, BIM methodology and tool applications. Process mining is a newly applied method within the building construction industry. It supports and encourages the collaboration between different information and communication techniques (ICT). In this research paper current collaboration approaches within the construction industry will be analysed. Methods of monitoring and communicating will be shown in respect to theoretical and practical approaches. Additionally, one specific workflow regarding event monitoring and 3D model information exchange will be demonstrated. By combining partly existing software solutions like the Event log and the BIM Collaboration new possibilities of monitoring the BIM model process will be illustrated

Keywords BIM methodology, IFC and BCF, model collaboration systems, project management, digital model management and process monitoring.


Index Abstract ................................................................................................................................................... 1 1. Introduction ......................................................................................................................................... 3 1.1 Background BIM methodology ...................................................................................................... 3 1.2 Current art practice ....................................................................................................................... 3 Modell Collaboration Systems (MCS) .............................................................................................. 3 Exchange information within executing companies ....................................................................... 3 Exchange information towards contractors and building owners .................................................. 3 2. Methods .............................................................................................................................................. 4 2.1 Project management ..................................................................................................................... 4 2.2 Project event log............................................................................................................................ 5 2.3 Model management ..................................................................................................................... 7 2.3.1 BIM Collab .............................................................................................................................. 8 4. Result ................................................................................................................................................... 9 4.1 BIM Server ..................................................................................................................................... 9 4.2 IFC and BCF based Event Log ....................................................................................................... 10 4.3 Output ......................................................................................................................................... 10 5. Discussions and Conclusion ............................................................................................................... 11 6. References ......................................................................................................................................... 13


1. Introduction 1.1 Background BIM methodology Complex projects within the building industry demand efficient management. Since BIM, the building information modelling methodology has been implemented inevitable changes occurred within a project execution. Important project indicators like time and cost efficiency, quality control regarding sustainability and environmental aspects and the economic liberalization and globalization increased the complexity within construction process.1 Additionally, smooth communication flows between companies, stakeholders and building owners are necessary. In order to manage all these prerequisites on different project levels the need for advanced technology is undisputed. The high demand of using verified ICT, information and communication tools, ask for a broad field of diversity in their abilities. On the one hand, accurate project prerequisites from building owner and contractors are highly important. Only with precisely defined project requirements, accurate building information models can be assembled between the participating companies.2 On the other hand, an even more important process is it to monitor the creation and execution of the digital model. A precise analysis of building elements and their processes increases the learning curve for the purpose of improving future projects. 1.2 Current art practice Modell Collaboration Systems (MCS)

The development of Model Collaboration Systems (MCS) has grown significantly over the past few years. During the building execution through all level of details (LODs) many different MCSs are included. Taking a construction project in consideration involves participating companies like architects, structural engineers, urban planners, whose are often using different ICT tools plus additional communication systems. This can lead to overcomplicating of data exchange processes between each company and further, to loss of information.3 Exchange information within executing companies

In order to provide appropriate internal and external communication for several companies, a suitable exchange format needs to be applied. Tried and tested reliable exchange file formats within the BIM methodology are IFC and BCF based models and communication platforms. Especially in the European AEC industry, almost every 3D software offers the user the ability to export and import IFC file formats. This means that theoretically every company can read exchanged models and manage collaborative designs. Exchange information towards contractors and building owners

One very important point within a project process is it to communicate the state of arts towards the clients which are either building owners or contractors. Due to this need, many approaches, such as model servers, have been tested over the years. Online Server creates 1

Stijn van Schaijk, Case study: Process Mining with facility management data, 2015 Siti Hamidah Abdull Rahman, The Importance of Collaboration in Construction Industry from Contractors´ Perspectives. 3 Minho Oh, Integrated system for BIM-based collaborative design, 2015 2


the possibility to visualize as well as analyse processes and allows the contractors to examine the expected costs with the factual situation within the planning process.4 In other industries techniques that improve performance are more often applied in the field of project management, such as System Engineering (SE). Modelling the construction process allows to manage the clients demand and expectations during the project development.5

2. Methods The used methods within this research are based on the case study for collaborative design projects at the Technical University of Eindhoven, 7ZM8M0. It is going to highlight approaches which cover project management, model management and organization as well as a server-based communication platform. Additionally, used information exchange techniques like process monitoring are displaying elaborated data management. 2.1 Project management Setting up a project management plan requires well designed organisation. This already starts with the project requirements, given by the client. Key factors like functions, general building requirements, cost and material usage need to be considered. In addition, it allows to structure internal organizations hierarchy and the external collaboration structure. Together with the process breakdown including time planning and the information exchange structure, the project management plan provides all participants with an overall idea about their work frame and goals.6

Figure 1 Project Management Structure

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Po-Han Chen, Implementation of IFC-based web server for collaborative building design between architects and structural engineers, 2004 5 Stijn van Schaijk, Case study: Construction design process mining, 2016 6 Bauke de Vries, Course Introduction lecture, Collaborative Design, 2018


Software solutions like Relatics allocate full support regarding System Engineering aspects. It covers tasks from creating and structuring a project management plan up to documenting and monitoring all work steps. This is mainly executed by process models. On one hand, it helps the contractors and consultancies to analyse time, cost and efficiency. On the other hand, its result can be seen as a guideline which leads the consultancy and companies through the following project steps.7 2.2 Project event log Creating event logs allows the user to monitor processes within complex projects. It helps to understand the development focused on specific cases. Each case consists of ordered events. The order and its unique belonging to one case need to remain through the full process. Furthermore, within each event there can be attributes including saved information like activity, time, cost and resource.8

Figure 2 Principle structure of event logs9

Recent developed research papers (i.e. the graduation thesis by Stijn van Schaik BIM based process mining, 2016) illustrate up to what extend process planning can be included in BIM projects. By using the method of event logs and applying it to building constructions van Schaijk developed a BIM Server-based plug-in tool, the EventLog. It allows the user to 7

Relatics, https://www.relatics.com/en/systems-engineering/ Stijn van Schaijk, BIM based process mining, 2016 9 van der Aalst, 2011 8


automatically create an event log from an IFC model. To do so, some important data needs to be determined. Two resources are considered: The general properties within the IFC model, and the process related properties, given by the consultancy. Following, one output table to illustrate the most important key attributes: Key attributes

IFC model attributes

Process model attributes

Figure 3 Eventlog output table10

Attributes defined in the project management - Process model attribute: 1. The CaseID (GUID) is responsible to differentiate between executions of the same process. In terms of construction process with BIM the case ID will be replaced with the GUID of the building element. 2. The assigned task or activity is explained in the TaskName and TaskID. Together with TaskStart and TaskFinish it describes the timespan in which the element has been edited. Further a new variable ontime or not ontime is calculating the time differences between the expected towards the proven values. Attributes defined in the BIM model - IFC model attributes: 1. The GUID (Globally Unique Identifier). 2. The IfcClass as well as the NL-sfb refers to the used classification standards, for example in the Dutch IFC Standards. 3. Material usage: The material usage is applied as a filter within the BIM Server user interface. It works as an “if-contains� constrain which allows to precisely search for certain elements, like concrete in this example. The key-attributes for merging this two different data sources are the GUID alias CaseID.

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Stijn van Schaijk, BIM based process mining, 2016


In order to ensure full control over the building process the BIM model is considered one of the most important parts. It is necessary to use standardized techniques in order to create a complete model management. 2.3 Model management Regarding the Project Process and the Level of Detail (LOD) the building modelling process can be divided into five steps of development.11 The first of these steps is called “LOD 100” the conceptual design phase; it includes rather coarse geometrical forms and simple building requirement information like net and gross area, building height, location and orientation. In LOD 200 the schematic design phase, non-geometrical information is added towards plain illustrated building components. These elements become more detailed in structure and assembling within the LOD 300 and 350. Within LOD 400 the degree of the Level of Information (LOI) is fully developed. The elements are modelled as specific assemblies with complete fabrication. Additionally added is informal documentation per element type including precise quantity, size, shape, location and orientation. Recently added, the last level in the range is the “As-Built” LOD 500. 12

Figure 4 Model Management structure

11 12

BIM Forum, LOD Spec 2017 for Building Information Models, 2017 Srinsofttech, https://www.srinsofttech.eu/bim-level-of-development-lod-300-400-500.html


Practitioner’s informal feedback has shown the highest amount of time is targeted towards managing the exchange of data and their issues within the stages of development, 300 until 500. The more detailed the project the higher the amounts of issues occur. This causes delay in cost and time compared to the previously defined management plan. Preventively, it uses smart BIM Information and Communication tools. One solution for internal and external model information management is the implementation of the BIM Collab application. 2.3.1 BIM Collab

BIM Collab is applied as issue collaboration platform for BIM projects within the building industry. It is based on open standards, IFC and BCF (BIM Collaboration Format). It is an online based application but also available as a free of charge plug-in for various BIM software such as Revit, Archicad, Solibri, Vectorworks, Tekla and many more.13 It allows creating and assigning problems to project participants.

Figure 5 Create Issues in BIMCollab

Important settings to define: Title: Name of the Task Type: Issue, Fault, Clash, Request, Inquiry, Remark. Priority: Critical, Major, Normal, Minor, On hold. Assigned: Is a drop down selection between all project modellers to which specific tasks can be assign to. Approval: Selection between all project modellers from whom the task need to be proofed. Description and Comment: is used to define the issue and task precisely towards the assigned person. After assigning new tasks and issues, it will be shown in the dashboard as newly created task. The assigned person has the responsibility to tread the task accordingly. Actions can be applied like stay active, resolved, closed, and reopened. Out of this steps issue histories can be monitored in the online environment via charts and reports.

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BIMCollab, https://www.bimcollab.com/en/default.aspx


Figure 6 BIMCollab online environment, Dashboard

Figure 7 BIM Collab BCF Report in Excel

Furthermore, BIM Collab offers the user to export/import BCF files. This allows keeping the issue documentation over a full building project transparent. By merging .bcf files and saving them regularly, the project gets versioned in different stages of development. (Shown in Figure 4 Model Management structure). Having an overall look on all saved .bcf files event logs can be created.

4. Result 4.1 BIM Server In order to combine event logs and model management in one environment the open BIM server occurs as an appropriate alternative. The BIM Server is a widely used IT system for communicating models and information towards all participants. It counts as open source development, which means it is free to use, accessible to everyone and expandable for own needs. The user interface is built on different plug-in´s, all scripted via JavaScript. This allows the user to write his/her own plug-ins and therefore extend the functionality of the application. As default the BIM Server allows storing the model reviews. With adding additional applications the server becomes a central communication hub.


4.2 IFC and BCF based Event Log Using the already existing event log plug-in, invented by Stijn van Schaijk, encourages monitoring the as-planned situation. It is possible to filter in the UI of the BIM Server material/elements. This enables user to only focus on specific elements and shows the task start and the task end. Additionally, adding the digital model management, the BIM Collab, allows increasing the transparency of the components. This allows analysing the precise history behind building components and presenting as-modelled situation. This includes a track record of the element showing how often it has been edited within every LOD phase. It is suggested to upload the IFC document together with the BCF issue report from the BIM Collab on the BIM Server. This could be done by adding in the Event Log plug-in another functionality which is called, upload BCF Manager.

4.3 Output Reviewing separately both outcome tables two variables become obvious denominators. (1) Date: The Eventlog shows the TaskStart and the TaskFinish – as-planned, the BIM Collab shows the EditStart. (2) Task: In the Eventlog the task is precisely defined with TaskNumber, TaskName together with its belonging case number the GUID. The BCF report includes process activities and changes – as-modelled. In order to merge them together keynote variables are needed. Since the date is a common attribute it would be a potential keynote. But this raises the question how the elements and their cases find together. Firstly, this can be done with filtering each material classification within the BIM server user interface. As a side effect, this would cause higher workload, due to the variance amount of differently used materials. To solve this, it is suggested to integrate within the BCF report an additional element ID related variable. It´s is proposed to add to each element the same Case or Event ID as it is defined in the process model Proposal would be to add the for each element the same Case or Event ID as it is to find in the Process model. The example output table below illustrates following attributes: BuildingGUID, GUID (merged Case or Event Guid), IfcClass, NL.sfb, Material (filtered on concrete floors), TaskID, Resources, TaskName, TaskStart and TaskEnd coming from the IFC Process model Report. Plus the EditStart, Action, CreatedBy, AssignedTo, IssueType, Priority, Titel, Comment and last the Status. The Status shows towards the model checker if the process is in time or not. It calculates the difference between expected time usage and the actual used time.


With this output table following questions can be answered: In which extend does the model management affect the initial process model planning? How often and from whom were these elements edited? In which extend are the expected process values different from the observed values?

Figure 8 IFC and BCF based Event Log

5. Discussions and Conclusion This study focused on improvements within construction processes and BIM modelling. Moreover, a new software development, a combination of two already existing applications is proposed. These new developments allow monitoring model processes in its full depth. This can encourage the understanding of process delays towards the participating companies and the building owners. Further, it all happens within the BIM Server. This allows access for every project member: clients, contractors, project managers and company members. It is an advanced way of keeping important project information within one online environment. An additional advantage is the possibility to improve the learning curve by reusing process information. Because of the ability to monitor via excel reports including important events and changes within a project, a merging between these event logs can be


easily done. By using the software implementation the planning consult14 (invented by Stijn van Schajk) it can improve further project performances. Further, future improvements like functional extensions of the IFC and BCF Event Log plug-in are considered. Adding more parameter in the exchange file, would allow more queries and quality checks. For instance, exporting area, height and volume parameters would help to answer following questions: How much material (in mÂł) for prefab concrete floors was calculated in the project preliminary phase? How much material was modelled for each level of detail? How much difference is between the modelled and the used amount of concrete on the building site? Discussions with professionals in the consultancy industry have shown that using smart ICT tools combined in an online environment like the BIM Server has high potential in improving the overall building construction process. Further research in the field of process mining and its binding function with other project phases such as facility management and building elements lifecycle would gain more insight into the project process in the long term.

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Planning Consult Plug-in for BIM Server, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nJTh_0Xmra0&t=3s


6. References Research Paper (2017) BIM Forum, Level of Development Specification Part 1 (2016) Stijn van Schaijk. BIM based process mining, 2016 (2015) Minho Oh, Automation in Construction, Integrated system for BIM-based collaborative design (2015) Jongsung Won, Automation in Construction, How to tell if a BIM project is successful: A goal-driven approach (2014) Procedia van Berlo, Using the BIM collaboration format in a server based workflow, Environmental Sciences (2013) Siti Hamidah Abdull Rahman, The importance of Collaboration in Construction Industry from Contractors´ Perspectives (2013) Muhammad Tariq Shafiq, A study of BIM collaboration requirements and available features in existing model collaboration systems (2008) Christopher S. Charpman, Information system integration, enabling control and performance (2004) Po-Han Chen, Implementation of IFC-based web server for collaborative building design between architects and structural engineers

Research Online BIM FORUM, http://bimforum.org/lod/ LOD and usage of collaboration platforms, http://bimforum.org/lod/ BIMcollab, http://www.bimcollab.com/en/default.aspx SRINSOFT, BIM Level of Development (LOD), https://www.srinsofttech.eu/bim-level-ofdevelopment-lod-300-400-500.html

Model Management and Process Monitoring for BIM Construction projects  

A research paper about how to improve model management workflows by using IFC and BCF standards together with the open BIM Server. by Julia...

Model Management and Process Monitoring for BIM Construction projects  

A research paper about how to improve model management workflows by using IFC and BCF standards together with the open BIM Server. by Julia...

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