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Delivering COBie data is a team sport


If there’s something that we have learned from working with owner-operators, it is that the team wins, not individuals. Each project team has their area of expertise – architectural, mechanical, electrical and plumbing – and they provide support with their specific skill set but they must play together for success.

Never is this more apparent than when we start to talk about asset information requirements. Creating the information around an asset for managing the building requires input from each discipline in a planned, structured manner.

So, what assets are we tracking?

We don’t plan to track information for each component of the building. Just as car owners don’t need to know about every nut and bolt in their car, owner-operators don’t need to know about every nut and bolt in their building.

We only track those components that need to be serviced to ensure the building can be operated safely, without interruption, and within warranty requirements. The asset information requirements are those pieces of information needed to answer critical questions, make informed decisions or to carry out key activities throughout the lifecycle of a component.

These components which we call Tracked Assets, vary depending on the actual facility being built. One of the most important goals during the design process is to identify which assets will be tracked, their relationship to the facility, what information about these assets will be collected, and by whom.

In a typical project, with multiple Revit models, the Tracked Assets will represent a subset of all Model Elements. The graphic below, shows Model Elements from each discipline as circles of different colors. The white circle represents the Tracked Assets, those model elements within each model that will be harvested to generate the required COBie data.

Different models will host different tracked assets. However, all assets need to understand the building, level and room that they are associated with, no matter which model they are generated in. This means that the architectural model is particularly important as it defines the room location information.

Nomenclature and information around the Tracked Assets looks like:
Building – Level – Room – Asset
+ Information (meta data) about these installed assets vary depending on the actual asset type.

In other words, Tracked Assets must answer two questions: what is it, and where is it? Some typically Tracked Assets , broken down by discipline, include:

  • Architectural: Doors, hatches, elevators, etc.
  • Heating Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC): Boilers, AHUs, fans, etc.
  • Electrical: Transformers, panels, motors, etc.
  • Plumbing: Valves, tanks, sumps, etc.

It is this hierarchy of asset information that requires all disciplines to have accurate and correctly aligned information. At a basic level, an asset will often require information from two disciplines: architecture for location and engineering for asset properties.

Alberta Infrastructure – What is tracked?

Alberta Infrastructure’s COBie requirements default to the National BIM Standard-United States® (NBIMS-US™) which has an “Entity exclusion set table”. Tracked assets are defined by excluding items rather than naming specific elements. The exclusion table contains expected items such as stairs, ramps, pipes and ducts. Some items, like furniture and outlets, are not excluded, so they must be a part of the COBie deliverable for AI.

Alberta Infrastructure – Working as a team

The team aspect of producing COBie from BIM authoring tools comes from the fact that every asset must report a location: floor and space (or in Revit-friendly language: levels and rooms). For this reason, to be successful and efficient, the architect must model rooms appropriately to capture all equipment in other models. This involves placing rooms of adequate height extents in shafts and exterior spaces such as roofs.

Similarly, mechanical and electrical consultants must make sure that all items are modeled and not faked using 2D elements. More importantly, duplication across different models which is commonplace in our industry (floors, lighting, plumbing fixtures), needs to be managed to prevent the creation of multiple tracked asset entries which are in fact the same thing. One valuable benefit of an improved collaborative strategy is that it supports other BIM uses such as quantification and virtual coordination.

In our next article we will delve deeper into COBie modeling strategy that will ensure that the data generated within the model environment will comply with the AI COBie Requirements

How Summit BIM can help

We can provide support by:

  • Training and helping to set up your model workflows to support the COBie requirement
  • Assuming the required Asset Information Management (AIM) role to manage and QA/QC COBie generation process
  • Providing access to our cloud interface to easily capture, review and manage the COBie data and document requirements during Construction

Contact us at 604 568 8325 to discuss how we can help you meet the Alberta Infrastructure COBie requirements.

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