We previously covered Instruction, Contact, Facility and Floor, Space and Zone, Component and Type. In this final post we look at the remaining parts of the COBie schema including Systems, Coordinates and Attributes .
The approach to creating Systems is similar to how Zones are created from Spaces. Essentially it involves setting up Systems in the IFC Manager and then dragging Components into the appropriate folder. If you have managed the Components correctly then producing Systems should be a straightforward process. It will require a lot of patience on a larger project as the process can be relatively time consuming.
The process of managing Systems gets very tricky when the design changes after the System information has been created. For example if you want to move Furniture to another floor in ARCHICAD it is a simple case of cut and paste. However as soon as you do this the System information is lost and needs to be recreated. There is no way in the IFC Manager dialogue to see which items are connected to a System and whilst Interactive Schedules can be used it is not a straightforward process.
Image: ARCHICAD’s IFC Manager showing items as IFC Systems
BS 1192-4:2014 does not identify any additional requirements for Systems.
Tip: Systems can be preset up in a template in the IFC Manager.
Assembly, Connection, Spare, Resource, Job and Impact
These are not required from a design application and are therefore not available within ARCHICAD. If these are required then these would need to be done manually in the final output or using other tools.
This is the one part of COBie i’m not clear about when it comes to ARCHICAD. The Graphisoft guide explains that this is exported automatically. However, its not clear how the data for COBie is controlled within the authoring tool. I plan to contact Graphisoft to see how this data can be created and exported. I will update this with more information following a response.
The Attribute sheet is populated with the model parameters that are not covered on the other sheets. BS 1192-4:2014 identifies additional Attributes for Facility, Space and Component. These have been covered in the previous posts. These additional fields would appear on the Attributes sheet. However the Attribute sheet can contain any Attributes contained in the model other than those populated on other sheets.
Ideally these should be set out by a client in an Asset Information Requirements (AIR) document which would then be read in conjunction with an Employers Information Requirements (EIR) document. Many standard Attributes are identified in ISO 16739:2013 (IFC2x3) so these would be the best place to create a list of Attributes for handover. It is likely that some further Attributes would also be required to provide a full picture of information required to manage the preventative maintenance of the asset.
Image: COBie 2.4 Attribute example
The information that populates the Coordinate sheet is automatically created at export so a user doesn’t need to create any data manually. However, in order for this information to be correct the model itself must be in the correct project location within the environment from which the final output is created. This typically means that the model should be exported from a Site Model located in the correct location according the client’s requirements.
We are taking the approach that our models should be in real world coordinates. This means a client having multiple buildings on the same site can federate the models if required.
Image: COBie 2.4 Coordinate example
This is also not required from a design application and are therefore not available within ARCHICAD. If these are required then these would need to be done manually in the final output or using other tools.
Exporting IFC models for COBie from ARCHICAD
The exporting of an IFC2x3 model for COBie is very straightforward. Graphisoft have already created a standard translator for COBie. This is named “COBie 2 Export“ and complies with the buildingSMART Basic FM Handover Model View Definition (MVD).
Image: COBie 2 Export translator is setup for ARCHICAD users
Checking COBie compliance
Producing COBie information requires skill and care. However even with great care mistakes can easily occur. Some checking can be carried out in ARCHICAD including setting up schedules to ensure unique Space Names (Space Numbers) and Component Names.
However there is software that will ensure that ARCHICAD models will comply with the COBie schema.
A free COBie Toolkit is available from the National Institute of Building Sciences (NIBS) in the US. However it only works on PC (we are a Mac based practice so the Toolkit is of no use to us). The toolkit is available from here (see the free software list at the bottom of the page).
We are currently using Solibri Model Checker (available on PC and Mac) for this process as Solibri also allows us to federate other discipline models and export a federated COBie output.
COBie is typically delivered as a single deliverable from all models. Whilst it is possible that this could be a series of spreadsheets copied and pasted together it is in my opinion an inefficient method to deliver COBie. It therefore makes sense to focus on an open format that will allow any software to merge the design information together into a single federated model and then produce the output from there. The logical route for this is therefore IFC (Industry Foundation Classes), particularly as COBie is a specific set of information extracted from IFC. This approach means all team members can use the tools that are right for their businesses.
Theoretically the COBie data could be handed over as individual workbooks from each author provided the CAFM system could accept them. In some ways this approach might be easier but it does start to fragment the approach, reduce the need for collaboration and may present issues with developing the information during the construction phase.
On a recent project we worked with an engineer who used the Autodesk Revit COBie toolkit to deliver their information. This approach is focussed on exporting the COBie data directly from Autodesk Revit. Whilst this method is fine if you want to produce COBie solely from Revit, it is not fully aligned with an IFC workflow. For example, the Revit toolkit uses one methodology for creating Zones whilst the IFC workflow uses another. In order for ARCHICAD users to be able to federate models with Revit users the methodology should be set out in a Post-contract BIM Execution Plan (BEP) and tested at the earliest opportunity.
Blog Series Conclusion
I believe producing the required Contact, Facility (Project, Site and Building), Floor, Space, Component, Type, Attribute and Coordinate information from designers is fairly straightforward for all ARCHICAD projects irrelevant of whether there is a BIM requirement or not. Zones and Systems require more management from a user perspective within ARCHICAD but with a careful approach the data can be created. Setting aside the need for workflow improvements, creating data for COBie is deliverable from within GRAPHISOFT ARCHICAD.
Of course the use of COBie will take time for users to become familiar with this data and they will make mistakes along the way. This is to be expected. We are also in the process of tweaking our approach for ARCHICAD 19 so that we can automate more of the process and simplify the process for users.
In time I can see a COBie output as common as the traditional outputs we have created for years such as Door and Window Schedules. Much of the data that is required to be produced by the architect is required for other purposes such as costing so aiming to integrate this will bring benefits for others during the design and construction phases as well as providing valuable data for clients to import into their Facilities Management systems.
More information about COBie including a large selection of movies created by Bill East (the creator of COBie) and Graphisoft’s COBie guides for ARCHICAD are available on our COBie Resources page.
Rob Jackson, Associate Director, Bond Bryan Architects
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