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17 Dec 2018

How should manufacturers share their BIM information?

This is a question that is still being asked throughout the industry... we may have the answer

Over the past few years a wide selection of online, third party, BIM hosting companies have provided their platforms for professionals at the design stage of the construction process with data rich 3D objects. Many specifiers understand the need to embrace this new digitalisation of the construction sector thus creating demand. Potentially some market sectors have considered making BIM information a necessity during the design stage in the near future, for example, public sector projects within the UK. Alex Small, BIM & digital platforms manager at Tata Steel, explains more.

Many organisations have an array of product ranges, types and sizes that are all supported by 3D CAD files. These can be provided in a series of formats such as Revit, ArchiCAD and Tekla to name but a few. Here at Tata Steel we provide over 6,100 unique products with new products being added to the range regularly and existing products being updated and revolutionised on a constant basis – can this be easily managed across third party BIM providers?

With over 17,500 micro construction manufacturers in the UK alone is it feasible to think that the cost and resource to manage and update a library of data files across an array of platforms is realistic? With this in mind, Architects are utilising unmaintained BIM information during the design stage, upon realising this many are reverting back to manufacturers directly to obtain the most recent ‘live’ objects. This could be seen as a step backwards in terms of digitalisation within the constructions sector and losing the trust of designers in the long term.

Providing live, accurate BIM data for specifiers – A fresh way forward

In October 2018, the UK BIM Alliance published it’s ‘A Fresh Way Forward for Product Data’ following stakeholder engagement from within the industry. Some of the key outcomes included the importance of product data being highly relevant, accurate, version controllable and useable. In order to achieve these goals it was decided that the below must be considered going forward:

Steel Construction BIM information

  • A simple process for manufacturers when updating their product information wherever it is stored.
  • Manufacturers to hold and be responsible for their own product databases and information.
  • Manufacturers to manage one database which links directly to any third party BIM file hosting companies thus ensuring live, up to date content across the board at all times.
  • Non-geometrical data should be named, based on international standards.
  • Most hosting companies have existing version control processes to alert users when objects/information in their models have been updated. These may need to be amended so that they trigger automatically when amended and follow a change control management process.
  • It is a further recommendation that object hosting companies also enable the application of manufacturer’s information to existing/generic objects in models.
  • Most hosting companies have existing version control processes to alert users when objects/information in their models have been updated. These may need to be updated so that they trigger automatically when amended and follow a change control management process.
  • It is a further recommendation that object hosting companies also enable the application of manufacturer’s information to existing/generic objects in models.

By meeting the above criteria manufacturers will have control over their product range, data and information in one ‘single hub’ and give them confidence that any third party BIM hosts will have the same, accurate data. This will provide Architects and Specifiers with a much more reliable source of product data and help grow their confidence in utilising these much needed digitisation methods.

Tata Steel’s DNA Profiler - A stride in the right direction

Working with IBM and CADENAS Tata Steel have already taken the necessary steps to meet with the above requirements.

Key benefits of Tata Steel’s DNA Profiler:

  • Provides access to product data from a structured product database.
  • 3D objects, if required, are generated there and then (‘on the fly’), rather than downloaded from a database.
  • Enables individual attributes or combined datasets to be downloaded either as a .csv file or embedded in a newly generated on-the-fly object.
  • Enables data to be downloaded in COBie format.
  • 3D objects can be generated in a range of Levels of Definition (LODs).
  • 3D objects can be generated in a range of 3D CAD formats with the user’s selected data embedded within it.

The above provides Architects, Contractors and Engineers with ‘live’ data and BIM information.

Steel Construction BIM information

Tata Steel are also developing a plug-in for all CAD software programmes that will link directly to Tata Steel’s live object database – this will link and push current, up to date data directly from Tata Steel’s database into related products utilised within specifiers design(s) further ensuring live data is provided.

The success of full digitalisation within the construction industry relies heavily upon the requirement of open data standards, interconnected databases and systems. This ensures the accuracy and reliability of the provided data to the market. Tata Steel has developed an API, a set of functions and procedures that allow the creation of applications such as BIM hosting websites with direct access to the data of Tata Steel’s product database.

This is a challenging and exciting time for the industry with Tata Steel looking to lead the way in assisting and improving the industry via data-driven tools and platforms and sharing our processes to help make digitalisation a reality. Having the right partners, such as IBM, is key to this success and a bright, connected and enabled future awaits us all.

To access BIM information for over 6,000 Tata Steel construction products visit www.tatasteeldnaprofiler.com/register





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