Working to Make BIM Software Compatible

Staff | September 28, 2010

The Applied Technology Council is working to create a neutral file format that can reliably transfer structural engineering information from one form of BIM software to another. The ATC is a nonprofit that was established to serve the role of moderator in technology transference.

The $400,000 project is being funded by the Charles Pankow Foundation, which was started by California builder Charles J. Pankow of Pankow Builders to support advances in building design and construction.

The project brings together panels of researchers, engineering professionals and software developers to create structural component Industry Foundation Classes, a BIM file format that was developed by the International Alliance for Interoperability to create interoperability in the building industry.

Representatives from software companies such as AutoDesk, which created BIM program Revit Structure, and Bentley, which created Bentley Structure, will participate on the project management committee with industry representatives from the American Institute of Steel Construction and the American Concrete Institute, according to the Portland, OR, Daily Journal of Commerce.

The ease of exchanging information on BIM using these neutral files has been proven abroad; the Danish government has already made IFCs a standard for its public building projects. It is also used by the automotive and aviation industries in the U.S. But the technology hasn’t yet taken off in the structural engineering industry because it is made up of disassociated, small companies that can’t support the effort on their own.

The buildingSMART alliance, which developed the National Building Information Model Standard, identified that loss of productivity from glitches in BIM software costs firms nearly $399 billion each year.

The Applied Technology Council, 40 percent complete with the project, is currently generating the initial software code for the IFCs. In August, the software exchanges will be tested by using sample projects.