Know-How of CoBie relating to BIM Services

An International standard Cobie – Construction Operations Building Information Exchange is the one related to the exchange of building information. It is a modern data format that is used to streamline the handover process from the construction team to the operation team or owners of a building for any BIM Services. CoBie Specifications are very well known to catch the industry’s best practices and knowledge for the data transfer, without directing what information or data is needed for a project handover. This task remains with the project owner. Cobie information can be viewed in the format of a simple spreadsheet or within a sophisticated design, maintenance, or construction software. Such versatility is what makes CoBie an ideal tool for all kinds of projects without depending on project scale, complexity, and size.

Under a grant by the National Aeronautics & Space Administration (NASA) and White House Office of Science & Technology Policy in the year 2005, CoBie was initially developed in America. It then transformed from an idea to a standard which became internationally recognized for information exchange during the construction and operations handover. This was led by the Engineer Research & Development Centre & Construction Engineering Research Laboratory, a US Army Corps of Engineers Laboratory. Later in the UK Cobie found a place in data requirements which is enlisted in the BIM Working Party Strategy published in 2011. In January 2019, it was the UK National Annex in BS EN ISO 19650-2 that made CoBie format structure mandatory for non-geometric information exchange in open data format.

Concept of CoBie:

Cobie is the set of information described in a simple spreadsheet that provides harmonious and structured information about an asset used in facility management and decision making related to the post-occupancy of that facility. The data format of Cobie advances the publication of a subset of the BIM model which is majorly focusing on delivering the data of assets which is different from the geometric data.

All the information which is important after completion of the project is put forth in a single format for sharing with the help of CoBie. This mechanism is much different from the traditional ways where the different AEC professionals relating BIM consulting services collaborate for documenting every data manually at different stages during the construction lifecycle. Utilizing the specifications of CoBie the members can comfortably update all the documents in real-time throughout the construction phase. Such a process makes the entire documentation easier for the end-client to understand.

It can be called as a performance-based specification which includes information about the equipment along with spaces. With Cobie it is known that organizing data about various installed equipment within the space along with giving an integrated O&M manual becomes much easier. The complete data can be inserted into the asset management system directly without any hassles and efforts.

Why and how CoBie came to be used?

The response of the UK Government announcing all projects to be completed with collaborative 3D BIM by 2016 which contained CoBie (data and software requirements) was due to the hassle’s handovers brought earlier. Construction handovers have always been a struggle for a fact that the information which is generally created to this point in the project is not much relatable for the operations team. This would mean that abundance of new documentation would have to be produced and then accumulated especially for them, which were usually in the form of paper drawings and documents in binders. So, this added documentation work was mostly put off till the end of the project which usually is the time when most of the budget is consumed and meeting project deadlines is on the head. So, with a digitalization concept swaying the world in general, this information moderately moved from the archive room to the file server area.

Principles of CoBie:

From switching all the construction information from paper format to online CoBie is a great way ahead since the main aim of this standard is to restore home-grown exchange templates and point solutions with digital building information management lifecycle. So there three basic principles of Cobie are:

  1. Format: This standard provides options for different delivery formats to its users. It supports the standard IFC one and can aid in many use cases, but it does add templates and specifications for spreadsheet-based data delivery or collection. With these simple structures of the sheets, it makes participation in an openBIM workflow possible without having any specific BIM modeling services tool or without having any knowledge of the IFC data model. Spreadsheets are one of the ‘least common denominator’ data management mechanisms which the subs and contractors are aware about. The exporters and importers to various databases and systems do commonly have the support to import spreadsheets.
  2. Classification: Using a classification system becomes one of the key foundations for Cobie. It adds a dimension to navigate the information and showcases possibilities of familiarity and aggregation across owners and projects. What classification system has to be utilized lies with the owner and becomes one of the essential parts of the requirements when CoBie is a part of the contract. Say for example a UK based owner may need Uniclass, a US-based owner might require Omniclass while a Norwegian owner would want Norwegian Standard 3451. Many Computer-Aided Facility Management (CAFM) and Computerised Maintenance Management Systems (CMMS) are using classification mechanisms to structure documentation work.
  3. Data Model: Cobie aligns with the open IFC Format-the buildingSMART data model and so would share the best industry practices which are put into a data model. Such a thing will make the collation with design and construction processes and tools simpler. Technically speaking CoBie is a model view definition for the IFC data model, just like the coordination view is for procedures like clash detection used by a BIM Outsourcing Services firm.

Data Model Structure for CoBie:

Sharing the structure of the building SMART data model and so Cobie features three main areas namely Design, Build, and Common.

  1. Design – This area is the core of the information and has data about the components (central piece of the asset register), zones (space groupings), the types (product category), spaces (rooms), floors and systems (equipment), and facilities (the building itself).
  2. Build – The building information covers resources, jobs, and spare and is an effort to try and gather the non-standardized info which is normally found in documents like operating manuals, maintenance guidelines, and spare part lists.
  3. Common – The common items will have information that will be linked to all the items in the other lists i.e. contacts of people involved in the project, attributes (a mechanism to tag custom data to any item type), documents ( testament about delivered equipment) and classification.

To conclude, Cobie is a relatively simple concept in which the system allows you to start small and then grow as and when your project grows in the information. The Spreadsheet will have information about the project’s facilities, installed equipment, floors, systems, and its corresponding documentation having detailed information about other aspects. All of the entries inside a CoBie are connected or hyperlinked to other entries which add value and make the access of information easier. The entries which are interconnected within a Cobie makes the entire information exchange process not only streamlined but super productive to all the stakeholders involved in the BIM Services project. With CoBie the facility managers (end users) will not have to worry around big piles of unorganized data or manual sheets to access information at various phases during the maintenance of the building facility.

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