Common Data Environment, is this the new BIM?

By December 7, 2018 No Comments

Common Data Environment, is this the new BIM?

The Common Data Environment or CDE as outlined under the British Standard 1192:2007, A2 provides an interesting alternative view to the BIM at all costs approach.

The CDE outlined in the Standard provides guidance on “the methodology for managing the production, distribution, and quality of construction information including that generated by CAD systems”. In particular, it sets out a naming convention for project information covering document types through to roles, workflows, and timing. The CDE also uses the term “Containers” which can be for example a directory or sub-directory.

Interestingly the Standard recognises three different forms of project information:

  • Graphical Data
  • Non-Graphical Data
  • Documents

The Information Delivery Cycle for Construction

Is Common Data Environment an alternative to one BIM?

The CDE is in effect an alternate to the ‘one BIM’ to rule them all approach. A recognition that information is not always BIM and 3D design-centric. While the output of a design process could be seen as Graphical Data much of the inputs are non-graphical and or document-based information. The delivery phase is also not solely BIM or object-based with procurement, performance reporting, and other elements using non-graphical and document-based information. When the operational phase begins it also can be more focused on data that can be easily integrated into existing systems that already support the current asset base.

While the Standard is an excellent guideline it makes a common mistake. It assumes that the project is the start point for creating a CDE and the use of these ‘project’ codes. However, for many clients the project is only a small part of the existing asset portfolio and an existing system for the collection and use of the end information. The first step should be to look at what systems and codes are already in use.  That way information is captured to suit the end needs, not the other way around.

All too often clients are provided with project information that suits the project and it can be an expensive process to re-work the data back to a format that can be used. The PAS 1192-3:2014 (Publicly Available Specification published by British Standards) titled “Specification for information management for the operational phase of assets using building information modeling” provides some useful tips on creating an end users requirement.

In short, this standard requires the development of an Asset Information Model (AIM) which defines the various types and forms of information the organisation uses and the existing systems which store and use this data. Examples of this data can include

  • Non-Graphical such as an Asset Register
  • Graphical such as 3D and 2D Design and As-built files
  • Documents such as the Compliance, O&M Manuals and Safety in Design, etc

The next key requirement is the creation of a CDE for the project to capture and transfer this information.

Since 2001 WebFM has recognised the need for a CDE and has been providing its clients with a streamlined process that captures all three elements under one simple platform tailored to their specific needs. With over 3500 projects and in excess of $150b in the value we can provide a simple solution without big overhead.

WebFM provides OmTrak Software to the construction industry. This allows users to collaborate on projects and view BIM files. Find out about the OmTrak BIM Module here.

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