The BIM Modelling Convention

Dear TeamCAD website visitors,

We continue to cover interesting topics related to the BIM workflow. As I announced in my previous article, “What Is LOD – The Level Of Detail Of BIM Elements?”, in this article, I am going to cover the topic “The BIM Modelling Convention”.

In order to be able to delve deeper into the analysis of the BIM aspect related to the topic we are going to cover, I think it would be very useful to define, at the very beginning of the article, the context and definition of the word „convention“ put in the context of BIM workflow. There are indeed many definitions of what the word convention means exactly, depending on the context in which the word convention is used. In trying to find the correct definition of the word conventions, which would best fit into the context of a BIM workflow, I came across two definitions that, in my opinion, best fit this purpose.

By the first definition, the word „convention“ in the context of a BIM workflow can be defined as: “A rule, methodology or common practice established by long-term use by users.”

Another very appropriate definition of the word „convention“, which can help us put the word in the right context within the BIM workflow, is: “A convention is an agreement, an agreed use, and a standard procedure established by long-term use by users.”

Both of the above-mentioned definitions of the word „convention“ meaning fit perfectly in the context of the BIM workflow, and I took and translated them from Dictionary.com.

BIM Modelling Convention

After defining the meaning of the word “convention” in the context of a BIM workflow, questions such as the following are imposing:

  • What is the BIM modelling convention?
  • What is the purpose of the BIM modelling convention?
  • Is it possible to successfully automate the BIM project process and visualize data without the BIM modelling convention?
  • Can the BIM modelling convention become part of the BIM standard?

Below, I will do my best to answer each of the questions raised.

What Is The BIM Modelling Convention?

The BIM modelling convention is, in my opinion, an integral part of the BIM design process. The BIM modelling convention is a set of agreements, rules, methodologies and standard procedures concerning both the BIM modelling process itself and the naming of parameters and attributes in BIM discipline models and in a multidisciplinary BIM project environment.

It is common for the BIM modelling convention to be attached as a separate to BIM Execution Plan.

What Is The Purpose Of The BIM Modelling Convention?

The purpose of the BIM modelling convention is to ensure consistency of both aspects of the BIM project process – the BIM modelling process itself and the generation and management of data, whether we are talking about a multidisciplinary BIM environment or a BIM discipline model. What exactly does that mean?

As for the part of the BIM modelling convention on the BIM modelling process, it is common to define:

  • coordinates and the project base point;
  • methodology for modelling BIM elements in discipline models;
  • coordination of the BIM discipline models in a multidisciplinary BIM environment;
  • division of project zones, if it is a complex and large project;
  • levels height in each of the BIM discipline models.

The BIM Modelling Convention

The above-mentioned part of the BIM modelling convention is not as complicated to implement as it is mainly related to the skills of BIM modelers and BIM discipline coordinators in a multidisciplinary BIM environment. What requires a much more serious approach from participants in the BIM project environment of disciplines and in a multidisciplinary BIM environment is the part concerning data and parameter management. Therefore, particular attention should be paid to this aspect within the BIM modelling convention framework.

Namely, the part of the BIM modelling convention about data and parameter management within the BIM discipline model and in a multidisciplinary BIM environment is of the utmost importance when talking about the successful establishment of BIM design process automation, since only the preliminary definition and consistency of parameter naming ensures successful implementation of BIM design process automation and visualization of data obtained from that process.

So, in the part of the BIM modelling convention about the generation and management of BIM data, the most commonly defined are:

  • BIM elements naming convention;
  • the naming convention of parameters of BIM elements;
  • data management methodology in a multidisciplinary BIM environment;
  • filter color coding as preparation for BIM data visualization;
  • BIM data visualization methodology.

Unlike the part of the BIM modelling convention related to the BIM modelling process, which is more concerned with geometric data, the part of the BIM modelling convention on the methodology of generating and managing BIM data forms the core of successful or unsuccessful BIM implementation, because information – data in the BIM model make the key difference between 3D models and BIM models.

The BIM Modelling Convention

Therefore, we are going also to consider the issue of interaction, on the one hand, the BIM design process automation and data visualization, and on the other, the BIM modelling convention.

Is It Possible To Successfully Automate The BIM Project Process And Visualize Data Without The BIM Modelling Convention?

I have a very simple answer to this question and it says NO. Why is it not possible to automate the BIM project process and visualize data without a modleling convention? I think I am going to answer this question in one very simple example.

About half a year ago, I attended a very interesting webinar on data, where one of the presenters was a programmer from a company that wrote a package for the visual programming language Dynamo. Because part of the presentation also included a live demonstration of the Dynamo package tool, at one point the presenter wanted to filter and isolate all the trees in his BIM model to further process the data and then visualize that data. He chose the „tree“ parameter as the criterion for filtering elements in his BIM model and hit the “Run” button in his script. We all naturally expected that after the “Run” button in the Dynamo script was pressed, only the trees would be visible. However, this did not happen, the screen remained completely blank, so nothing was selected after the Dynamo script and the script reported that the number of elements that could be selected by the given criteria was zero…

What actually happened? The criterion in the Dynamo script (“Node” code block = tree;) for element selection in the BIM model was set to search for all elements containing the word “tree” in its name. The presenter typed “tre” in the name of its element – a tree – and made a mistake in naming the element. It turns out that the script looked for BIM elements – trees named “tree”, but in the BIM model used in the presentation, there was no such element. The reason is that the element tree in the BIM model is called “tre” by mistake of the BIM modeler. Therefore, since no element met the criteria of the predefined filter for the selection of the BIM element tree – „tree“, therefore the tree could not even be selected.

If we analyze this problem from a purely human – common sense, not programming or automation perspective, we come to the paradoxical situation that the object we see on screen is a tree. So we want to select a tree and know what a tree is in the BIM model, but scripts and automation tools do not allow us to select all trees in the model by a given criterion, for procedural reasons.

I hope this very simple example, in a picturesque and easy to understand way, explains the importance of the BIM modelling convention above all, and the predefined BIM element naming convention in a BIM discipline model and multidisciplinary BIM environment, and then the accuracy of data entry and filter use that give you the ability to visualize data from the BIM discipline model and multidisciplinary BIM data.

The BIM Modelling Convention

You can read more about the successful BIM project process automation, for which success is one of the preconditions and conventions for BIM modelling, at this web address. Video from the webinar on Serbian, you can watch here.

And about the data visualization from the BIM discipline model and the multidisciplinary BIM environment, more in the following articles…

Can The BIM Modelling Convention Become Part Of The BIM Standard?

The question posed does not require a vast BIM knowledge and experience, but is a more common sense question. If we look at the entire history of the human civilization development, it is clear that the very beginnings of the first language on our planet, used by the human species, are certainly based on the convention of naming objects in nature, phenomena and characteristics that surround us.

Every word that is in use today, in any language in the world, has its roots in the distant past, where the then members of the human species have agreed, or in the spirit of this article, have made a convention to name the objects that surround them. From the agreed names for particular objects, phenomena and characteristics for natural phenomena, we have come to standardized languages, which have a set of default rules, which can be called a standard.

Do you notice any similarities in the process, from agreement and convention to the standardization of the language creation process described above with the BIM modelling convention and the BIM element naming convention? I think you can see for yourself the answer to the question of whether the BIM modelling convention can become part of the BIM standard.

After all, let’s remember the CAD naming convention of a layer in AutoCAD, at the level of each company, when the CAD standard began to apply, and compare it with today’s AIA CAD standard for the layer naming.

I think it is quite clear that one day, instead of the BIM modelling convention, we will talk about the BIM modelling standard and that this article will be ridiculed, but to be honest, I cannot wait for that to happen, since the standardization of BIM modelling will bring us great benefits and savings in the BIM project process in the future.

The BIM Modelling Convention

At the very end of the article, I would like to give a recapitulation of the topic and give personal conclusions based on years of practice in implementing BIM technologies.

The BIM modelling convention is more often an integral and default part of the BIM Execution Plan and helps all participants in a multidisciplinary BIM environment to standardize both the BIM modelling process and the naming of BIM elements in BIM discipline models. The predefined naming convention for BIM elements is not an administrative or bureaucratic requirement on the part of the BIM Project Manager but aims at establishing data generation automation in BIM discipline models, which brings significant savings to all participants in the BIM project process. Also, the BIM modelling convention also significantly helps to automate the exchange of data between different BIM model disciplines in a multidisciplinary BIM project environment. Finally, the BIM modelling convention largely optimizes the establishment of data generation automation, which is later used to visualize data obtained from BIM models.

It can be said that the BIM modelling convention, mostly its part on the BIM elements naming, is the basis for the successful implementation of the BIM design process automation in a multidisciplinary BIM environment and the automation of data generation to visualize data obtained from the BIM disciplines or multidisciplinary BIM model.

I would like to conclude with the article on the topic „The BIM Modelling Convention“ and my view of how this document can help us to establish the automation of the BIM project process at all stages of the BIM project process, then to optimize multidisciplinary coordination, and ultimately to advance the implementation of the entire BIM project process. At the same time, I would like to take this opportunity to announce my next article “The Big Savings BEP Brings To The Investor”.

If you have any questions, comments or want to know more details about the topic I covered in the article „The BIM Modelling Convention“, please contact TeamCAD, who will be pleased to give you additional information.

Also, if you need any help in making the BIM modelling convention, BEP or BIM consulting services to optimize the BIM project process, TeamCAD will be happy to support you.

Until the next article,
Predrag Jovanović

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