Let me present a scenario, we are working on a project requiring the construction of a particular retaining wall. During the course such project, this retaining wall is built a total of three different times. Each time demolishing the previous and rebuilding from scratch. If this actually happened on a project, someone may be losing their job over the amount of rework.
Now let us turn our attention at how data is handled during the course of a project. From project inception to completion, the data for a project may be recreated multiple times. At project genesis, the design team creates a program that develops into a working model. This model then generates the construction documents and specifications. As the project is awarded to a contractor, that contractor will proceed to go through their processes in creating more data, unique to their workflows.
Even during the course of construction, data is duplicated and triplicated as submittal data and specification data begins to accumulate. When Commissioning starts, it’s entirely possible that this data again may be recreated in order to satisfy owner requirements for facilities maintenance, etc. However, this may not be the case at every company or for every project. Some may be more efficient at managing their data during the project life cycle. Yet I venture to say, that a lot work within this type of model. The rebuilding of this data just isn’t as “in your face” as a retaining wall built three times over.
The problem is quite simply this: How do we avoid the recreation of project data during the life of the project? How do we harvest the data from the design team in order to begin the propagation of data that can eventually be used by all project team members? Why can't we use the data from the MEP BIMs to start identifying specific equipment needed for the Owner's facilities group? I know that I am not the only one who feels this way.
How do we go about harvesting the data from a BIM to begin this process?
Currently, a few programs and/or companies exit to offer services to help facilitate this process. However, these can be pricey and potentially lock an Owner into a long, drawn out process of bringing in a third party to 'help' manage this data and the transition into their CMMS systems. The common thread in all of this is the 1s and 0s. As Dr. Evil said, "I'm the boss, I need the info." The current available options are limited in means to extract the data from BIMs. You can export schedules out to Excel, then copy and paste into spreadsheets. I'm not a big fan of a copy paste workflow. It's prone to errors and mistakes. The other option is export the data to a database, manage that data in that database and create exports to different formats - such xml, spreadsheets or another database type. This is probably the best solution to managing large amounts of data for different sources.
But how do we do this?
Currently you are extremely limited in linking a database to a BIM model. Your options are even less when it comes to leveraging anything AutoCAD related. As a BIM person, how do we go about harvesting, managing and collectively managing the data? Currently, there is no one perfect solution but probably a hodge-podge of methods that get results, but at what cost? BIM builds its reputation upon the usage of technologies....is the copy paste method an acceptable usage of the technologies we have in place. Can you go around with a sense of pride saying, "I copied and pasted that!" Should this be our battle cry? I hope not.
The question is.....Where do we go from here?
In order to answer that question, we need to know exactly where 'here' is. All of us are at a different place on this path, some just beginning the journey, with possibly going down the wrong path. The effort is there. The solution lies in the extraction and migration of data for different sources, then merging that data into one source where the project team can pull specific data to fill out whatever is required. This can range from equipment matrices to specific data sets for FM imports to performance evaluation on how the process was managed. The potential is mind boggling. The mindset needs to change from wholesale model management to overall data management. It can be possible to create an as built model with all pertinent project data integrated into it with this type of data management. I know some can claim that this is possible at the present moment, but again, how many hoops and barrel rolls do I have to complete in order to make it work. Until we create a true information exchange on a BIM level, by this I mean models, submittals, manufacturer data and anything else desired, we will resort to the tried and true 'copy/paste method.'