What does OpenBIM mean to you?
BuildingSMART defines OpenBIM as:
“a collaborative process that is inclusive of all participants, promoting interoperability to benefit projects and assets throughout their lifecycle… a universal approach to the collaborative design, realization and operation of buildings based on open standards and workflows“.
However, xbim’s collective 70 years’ experience of working in the built environment means that we know that there are distinct barriers to collaboration and inclusiveness across projects’ and assets’ life. Amongst other things the industry has to deal with:
- combative procurement
- siloed working (often attributed to rigid professional indemnity insurance stipulations)
- proprietary software tools used across the board, for design, information management, supply chain communication, process management et al.
The BuildingSMART definition states, “promoting interoperability” which sounds tentative, thankfully the 2018 Hackitt Report was more assertive, “digital records are to be in a format which is appropriately open and non-proprietary”. Working with BIM using Open Standards is what we do at xbim, as well our industry has standards to back up OpenBIM processes, see ISO19650, ISO21500 series, etc. But unfortunately, the AEC (architecture, engineering, and construction) industry still has many, many proprietary software tools locking people into their ways of working, processes and management.
Xbim has been committed to OpenBIM since its inception and with the development of the open source xbim Toolkit in 2007, Steve Lockley opened up the way for developers to free proprietary BIM data as IFC , so that the collaboration and inclusiveness referred to in the BuildingSMART definition could be realised. Thousands of developers from all over the world have used the xbim Toolkit to circumvent the challenges of vendor proprietary BIM files and processes. Xbim’s ethos is to actively discourage silo’d ways of working and enable open, accessible, collaborative, and altruistic working.
“Open, shareable information unlocks more efficient, transparent and collaborative ways of working throughout the entire life-cycle of built assets.” BuildingSMART
Not everyone has the software development expertise and infrastructure in place to develop software using the xbim Toolkit, so Steve and his xbim Ltd co-founders, Martin Cerny and Andy Ward, created a platform called Flex, which accelerates the use of Toolkit and allows partners to develop OpenBIM tools much faster and in the cloud; as several of our partners have said “it’s an IFC based equivalent of Autodesk Forge” if you like.
Benefits to using Flex over and above other BIM platforms include:
- a BIM server which supports multi-project, multiple users, thus enabling you to manage and utilise your asset data across your entire estate / project portfolio,
- managing asset data in a secure audited collaborative environment,
- fast IFC model processing
- Xbim taking care of hosting and deployment,
- partners develop cloud-based software that facilitate open information and data flow across building and infrastructure projects’ during construction AND while in use.
So, in the words of BuildingSMART, let’s work together to “extend the benefits of BIM by improving the accessibility, usability, management and sustainability of digital data in the built asset industry.” If you have this common aim and would like to talk to us, please get in touch or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We welcome your ideas for our future development. You can also connect with us on LinkedIn or Twitter.