Nat ional Inst it ut e of Bui lding Sc ie nc es

Fac ilit ies Inform at ion Counc il

Nat ional BIM St andard

buildingSMART with COBIE: the Construction Operations Building Information Exchange
William Brodt1, E. William East2 and Jeffrey G. Kirby3 Prepared for the Government-Industry Forum: Engineering, Construction, and Facilities Asset Management: A Cultural Revolution, The National Academies, Washington, DC, October 31, 2006 BACKGROUND. Throughout each phase of the facility life-cycle information is created, transferred, augmented, and then typically lost. From an infrastructure owner’s point of view, the missing warranty, the lack of correct operating instructions, or not having a list of spare parts increase the cost to operate the facility. Missing information also impacts upon the ability of the facility to support the user’s requirements. Several years ago the Federal Facilities Council addressed the need to develop data standards for the exchange of building information needed by the facility maintenance and operations community.[1] Many benefits were identified at the symposium including improved customer satisfaction derived from proper maintenance. However, the attendees recognized that achieving the benefits would be difficult because considerable information about each piece of equipment to be maintained must be ferreted out of manufacturer’s literature and then re-entered into the maintenance database. Five years later, the Federal Facilities Council revisited this issue through a workshop which introduced a proposed model data exchange standard.[2] Subsequently, the National Institute of Buildings Sciences’ Facility Maintenance and Operations Committee began the process of testing the data exchange model. This model was contributed to the International Alliance for Interoperability and incorporated into the Industry Foundation Class (IFC) model in 2003, but was never implemented as a construction industry business practice.[3] COBIE. The Construction Operations Building Information Exchange (COBIE) builds upon the earlier work. COBIE is a buildingSMART initiative of the National Institute of Building Science’s Facility Maintenance and Operations Committee, the Facility Information Council, the International Alliance for Interoperability, and the National Building Information Model Standard. It is a federal government sponsored effort to support the development of Building Information Model(s) (BIM) via information exchange between the construction and operations phases. COBIE is sponsored by NASA and the National Science and Technology Council’s Physical Infrastructure and Security Interagency Working Group. It is being implemented by the U.S. Army Corps

buildingSMART with COBIE


At the top level is a business process model that motivates the need for information exchange and allows validation of the effort. but is not mandatory. spare parts. COBIE permits facility managers to know the specifics of each piece of equipment including serial number. Add no cost to operations and maintenance. buildingSMART with COBIE 2 . from paper-based to electronic data exchange from the original source to the final user. In state-of-practice systems. submittal registers were among the first to be created.of Engineers’ Engineering Research and Development Center’s Construction Engineering Research Laboratory by the Project Extranet staff. Provide a framework to store information for later exchange/retrieval. These registers contain the information needed to identify the location of each submittal. Permit direct import to owner’s maintenance management system A three component spiral-development process has been employed. COBIE does not require that information be provided by designers to initialize the model: transfer of BIM from the design stage is useful. maintenance manuals. installer. At the middle level is an identification of the data exchange elements and constraints on their use.[4] COBIE expects to transform the practices for gathering and assembling product information such as warranties. The first COBIE project to reduce loss of data between construction and operations is a real-time submittal processing application developed as part of the Project Extranet (ProjNetsm) suite of tools. Concurrently. Specific COBIE objectives are: Provide a simple format for real-time information exchange for existing design and construction contract deliverables Clearly identify requirements and responsibilities for business processes Cost less than current paper-based method Be acceptable to all large and small contractors. and monitor review times. etc. owners. etc. Table 1 lists some of the data that may be required for a valve in addition to a valve cut-sheet. REAL-TIME SUBMITTAL PROCESSING. When construction related computer applications for personal computers first began. For example. find late or missing submittals. and warrantor. suppliers. The Cut-Sheet Reference field directly links the meta-data provided to specific submittals allowing the cut-sheet for the valves data to be retrieved. At the lowest level is a translation of business rules and data exchange elements directly into the IFC model. These tools allow submittal content in PDF format and specific meta-data to be exchanged along with the administrative tracking of submittals. location. submittals are still provided in paper format and manually routed for approval. an EXCEL option provides an opportunity for those who do not use ProjNetsm(sm) to employ COBIE. special tools.

equipment information and location. and enters the equipment’s serial number and name plate data. Valve Cut-Sheet Attributes Field Name Cut-Sheet Reference Valve Type Valve System Valve Count EQUIPMENT SERIAL NUMBER CAPTURE. Once the valve tags arrive on the site. still provides easy access for operators and will decrease the duration accomplishing of work orders and down time due to lackof readily available schematics and part lists. identify corresponding equipment. The location where the valve was installed. system descriptions and warranty information are captured. For example. its normal operating position. MAINTENANCE INSTRUCTIONS CAPTURE. The contractor.Table 1. The contractor can link data provided in PDF format to the related type of equipment found in the submittal register. The Cut-Sheet Reference value allows the cut-sheet and Table 1 data to be retrieved. each individual valve tag can be referenced to its appropriate valve. documenting valve tag data during construction provides automated valve tag lists which are difficult to create after valves are hidden by various obstructions. An example of the type of location specific information is shown in Table 2. Facility buildingSMART with COBIE 3 . MAINTENANCE SYSTEM EXCHANGE. and a brief descriptive phrase are provided. EQUIPMENT AND MATERIAL PLACEMENT. Capturing this information in a central repository. although not in computable format. who receives equipment and knows equipment serial numbers. selects the corresponding submittal. At the end of construction. WARRANTY CAPTURE. Valve Location Attributes Field Name Cut-Sheet Reference Room Number Valve Normal Position Valve Location Description Valve Tag Number Construction contractors will benefit from using COBIE because it will decrease the cost of providing required information. The contractor can provide equipment locations as the equipment is installed. Table 2. link to a specific warranty certificate. and identify the terms of the warranty. The contractor can identify the name of the party holding the warranty. The decrease in cost of site surveys to gather information during commissioning will more than offset the cost of collecting the data when it is initially available.

Manufacturer supplied information will be expanded over time to include meta-data needed for COBIE. Tools will be constructed that allow the collation of submission of various submittal documents from the complete set of construction team members. Table 3 provides an example list of those attributes needed for the IfcFan object. The set of required data will be based on established sources such as the buildingSMART IFC Model. According to anecdotal evidence. To assist manufacturers to provide complete and correct sets of product data. A web service provided by NIBS will allow the automated submission of ProductGuide buildingSMART with COBIE 4 . the National Institute of Building Sciences (NIBS) has developed “ProductGuide” as part of its Whole Building Design Guide.maintenance offices who utilize maintenance and facility management systems should be able to accept/exchange information captured through the submittal register. construction contractors often collate submittal packages to ensure completeness and compliance with individual client’s requirements. Partial Listing of IfcFan Attributes Field Name Data Type Size PrimaryEnergySource Text 50 ImpellerDiameter Number Double AirFlowType Text 50 StaticPressure Number Double FanPressureClass Text 50 FanWheelType Text 50 WheelMaterial Text 50 WheelTipSpeed Number Double DischargeVelocity Number Double HousingMaterial Text 50 DischargePressureLoss Number Double FanDischargeType Text 50 FanArrangement Text 50 FanRotation Text 50 FanDriveArrangement Text 50 DrivePowerLoss Number Double MotorDriveType Text 50 MotorInAirstream Yes/No FanMountingType Text 50 FUTURE COBIE SUPPORT FROM PRODUCTGUIDE. Table 3. Meta-data needed for various pieces of equipment and building materials will be transitioned from contractor manually entered limited meta-data to a full data description provided by manufacturers. COBIE intends to support the processes used by construction contractors to prepare submittals. FUTURE COBIE CAPABILITY: CENTRALIZED EQUIPMENT CATALOGUE.[5] One ProductGuide objective is to work with equipment manufacturers to create a centralized equipment catalog which complements buildingSMART.

A future COBIE phase will validate IFC. To support the As-Maintained facility inventory.opengeospatial. FUTURE COBIE CAPABILITY: AS-MAINTAINED FACILITY INVENTORY. a facility may be upgraded and renovated many times.opengeospatial. and software developers – with balanced participation from within the . has done benchmark comparisons between using the COBIE standard and conventional information acquisition practices with its customers. Manufacturer’s current submittals reference these standards to signal to approving officials that the equipment meets the specification requirements.opengeospatial. To ensure that the information in the building model is accurate over time. One maintenance management software firm. or they may examine the following websites: COBIE Overview Briefing: http://nbims. FUTURE COBIE CAPABILITY: PERFORMANCE SPECIFICATION COMPLIANCE.opengeospatial. the National Building Information Model Draft COBIE Requirements Analysis and Pilot Implementation Standard Specification: http://nbims. and other data requirements. In addition to representatives from previously cited agencies and organizations. The intuitive. maintainers. The Army’s Installation Management Agency – Northwest Region has incorporated the draft COBIE Pilot Implementation Standard into contract requirements. operations and maintenance personnel will need to update the BIM to reflect 2006-09-20 COBIE Pilot Implementation Spreadsheet: http://nbims. Those seeking additional information regarding COBIE. Future projects will identify streamlined methods for service and other small contractors to interact with the model as part of their standard business process. During the operational phase of the project. the domains. a survey tool is planned to allow maintainers to quickly gather information as they perform routine maintenance activities. or buildingSMART may contact the and the empirical evidence gathered to date all confirm the hypothesis that COBIE achieves its objectives. Performance-based specifications require that products and equipment perform to standards identified in the specifications. TMA COBIE PARTICIPANTS AND EARLY RESULTS. constructors. Thirteen commercial firms providing software currently participate in the effort to implement the COBIE maintenance information exchange. commissioners. to ensure that meta-data provided allows the automated evaluation of performance specification compliance. .documents and meta-data into enhanced submittal registers such as that being included in ProjNetsm. ADDITIONAL COBIE INFORMATION. COBIE is the product of contributions by many others –owners. .org/files/?artifact_id=357 buildingSMART with COBIE 5 . and .org/files/?artifact_id=353 Draft Pilot Test Implementers Information: http://nbims. designers.

j-kirby@cecer. fax 202. p.w. W. DC. 3Senior Researcher.6730.358. Evolving a building information model. (2006). National Academies Press. citation on October 12. Champaign. 300 E St. 2902 Newmark Dr. June 14-16. [3] International Alliance for Interoperability – North America Chapter. Engineering Research and Development C enter.” http://wbdg. phone 217.usace. 2006. citation on October 12. Proceedings of the Joint International Conference on Computing and Decision Making in Civil and Building Engineering. phone 201. phone 217.REFERENCES [1] Developing Data-Input Standards for Computerized Maintenance Management buildingSMART with COBIE 6 .6710. wbrodt@nasa. Montréal. National Academies Press.east@erdc. 1 Experimental Facilities Engineer. DC.. 2302-2310. DC. Board on Infrastructure and the Constructed fax 217. and Kirby. [4] East. 2006. 2902 Newmark Research Civil Engineer.1117. G. [5] National Institute of Building Sciences (2006) “ProductGuide.358. ISBN: 0-309-07131-3. Washington. FFC Technical Report #123.373. Summary of Symposium/Workshop (1994).D. Facilities Engineering and Real Property Division.. Washington. bill. Canada. IL 61826-9005. IL 61826-9005. Champaign.php. Washington.iai-na. OMSI Final Report and Flat XML http://www. Engineering Research and Development Center. National Research Council. SW. [2] Linking the Construction Industry: Electronic Operation and Maintenance Manuals: Workshop Summary (2000). J.2861. E.

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