Confusion over BIM files causes concern

Confusion still reigns over the correct files required to create computerised models of catering equipment for kitchens designed using BIM software.

All central government departments will be adopting Level 2 BIM in 2016, which means catering facilities for large public sector projects will need to be constructed using BIM principles.

However, it has emerged that some manufacturers are struggling to understand the process for creating BIM models of their products, with Revit, in particular, being wrongly referenced in discussions.

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To some, Revit has become synonymous with BIM and vice versa, but Keith Warren, director of CESA, said this was “incorrect” and likened the situation to a hoover and a vacuum cleaner.

“It is misleading,” he said. “Revit is one of the many designer programmes that use BIM models. We have heard of Revit files being requested, when what is actually needed is a BIM model.”

Warren noted that another misunderstanding is that BIM models made in IFC (Industry Foundation Class) format will not be compatible with Revit.

“IFC is interoperable with over 160 BIM software programmes, including Revit, ArchiCAD and all the other big names,” he said. “IFC models and data can be imported safely and with the data integrity assured. Also the file size will be manageable – small file sizes are essential in order to prevent the computer capacity being overwhelmed as whole projects are put together.”

Warren described IFC as the true ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution. “Using IFC means manufacturers only have to have one model, as it will work in any of the software packages used by designers,” he said.

CESABIM, the non-commercial library of BIM models and data for the catering equipment industry, uses models prepared in IFC. This makes the specification and design of kitchens easier, as all models are prepared to a standardised format structure and level of detail.

Models for CESABIM can be used on all proprietary software systems, including Autoscheme, ArchiCAD and Revit.

“What designers actually need is a base file that will work in any of the space planning software systems that can be used, including Revit,” said Warren.

“Manufacturers can be assured that having one model in IFC will save time and cost and will improve the service to a designer, regardless of the software used.”

A full list of the IFC-compatible programmes can be found here.

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