COBie trials: industry gives feedback

Phase 2 of the COBie field trials is nearing completion. A half-day event at the Royal Academy of Engineering in London on 12 November, chaired by Jeff Stephens of the buildingSMART User Group, heard the experience of industry participants and the preliminary findings.

What started as a ‘proof of concept’ back in 2012 has blossomed into a hands-on trial using a live building project as a test case. The buildingSMART User Group worked with Gatwick Airport Ltd (GAL) who provided building designs for the Phase 2 tests.

Client participation

With 227 buildings and 23,000 staff on-site, GAL is working to realise its long-term vision for the airport, known as Vision for 2020. At present, asset information does not meet all its operational needs, so it was keen to take part in a project that would tackle real-world problems head-on.

The GAL building – small but complex – was split into eight discipline models, which were re-authored into six platforms, using software from different vendors. The contractors taking part had to federate the models and produce a COBie output using tools of their own choice.

Industry feedback

Following a keynote address delivered by David Philp from the UK BIM Task Group, the trial project manager, David Jellings, summarised the importance and background of the trials.
The path to COBie was not always smooth. This was the whole point of the trial: to throw light on the problems and produce recommendations.

Representatives of participating contractors then offered their feedback. From VINCI Construction, Yazhe Li detailed several technical issues with various software. The aim was to highlight areas where more work is needed.

Alan Lamping, Laing O’Rourke, explained the problems encountered and how they were fixed. David Throssell, Skanska, emphasised the need for an early definition of what the client wants from COBie and the ideal of a ‘reliable “one-click” IFC export’.

Steve Lockley, of the University of Northumbria and the BIM Academy, then gave a taster of the COBie trial findings he aims to publish in December.

A panel comprising David Philp, James Daniel from Willmott Dixon, Philippe Sauvageot from Mace and Jeff Stephens representing VINCI Construction considered the role of lead contractors and vendors and debated the future focus for BRE/buildingSMART trials.

Find out more

The final report on Phase 2 is being drafted and will be made available on the bS UKI website when published.