COBie for efficient Data Collaboration Between AEC Professionals

COBie is an excellent stepping stone in the process of moving construction information from paper to online.

COBie is a very simple and clear format for delivering building assets data. It is just an XML spreadsheet file with some rules on the structuring and content of the provided data. The COBie spreadsheet contains several tabs which list information on the building’s facilities, floors, spaces, systems, installed equipment, documents etc.

Understanding COBie :

The Construction Operations Building Information Exchange (COBIE) specification denotes how information may be captured during design and construction and provided to facility operators. COBIE reduces the current process of transferring massive amounts of paper documents to facility operators after construction has been completed.

During initial design, Architects develop the spaces and groups of spaces needed to help the activities required by the owner program brief.  This information is delivered through the Schematic Design drawings.  COBie delivers the subset of the Schematic Design information related to spaces, zoning, and room datasheets. Schematic Design stage COBie information is used to verify that the facility being designed meets the owner’s program brief. As the design nears completion, Engineers design the systems that deliver the required services, such as electricity, water, appropriate temperature, fire protection, security etc to allow the activities to take place.  This information is delivered at the Construction Documents design stage.

History of COBie :

The first version of the COBie standard was developed by the US Army Corps of Engineers. The pilot standard was published in 2007. In December 2011 it was recognized by the US-based National Institute of Building Sciences as part of its National Building Information Model standard. Back in 2011, the UK Government published its BIM (Building Information Modelling) Working Party Strategy which announced its intention that all projects should be completed with collaborative 3D BIM by 2016. The data and software requirements contained in this report are what we now call the COBie.

COBie is only regarded with the structure and format of the data and COBie templates are only a starting point for defining and fulfilling information exchange requirements. One of the big advantages of COBie is the growing support in both authoring tools and in Computer Aided Facility Management & Computerized Maintenance Management Systems.

Life before COBie - data transfer problems and solutions :

Construction handover has always been a struggle. The information generated in the project is only partly relevant for operations. In addition a lot of new documentation needs to be produced and collected for operational needs. The bulk of this work is usually put off until the end of the project when deadlines are looming and budgets are already spent. The information was traditionally provided as paper drawings and documents in binders. The industry has been slowly moving into the digital world and the binders have gotten their CD-ROM and memory stick equivalents. The digitalization has brought the info from the archive room to the file server.

The Construction Operations Building Information Exchange (COBIE) specification denotes how information may be captured during design and construction and provided to facility operators. COBIE eliminates the current process of transferring massive amounts of paper documents to facility operators after construction has been completed.

COBie as an Efficient Information Exchange System:

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COBie spreadsheet consists of information about a project’s facilities, spaces, floors, systems, installed equipment and corresponding documentation along with full information about other aspects. All the entries inside a COBie sheet are hyperlinked to  other entries to add worth and make information access more comfortable.

The interconnected nature of the entries inside a COBie spreadsheet or data gives the information exchange process streamlined and more productive for all the stakeholders. The facility managers don’t have to fiddle with huge piles of hand-operated sheets or unorganized data for accessing information at different points during the maintenance life cycle of a facility.

How COBie is facilitating data collaboration between Designers, Contractors, and Facility Managers:

COBie increased the quality of data delivered during the handover process as it gets organized in the digital format which makes it easier for the owners and the other stakeholders to review the handover documents. COBie specifications benefit the designers, contractors and facility managers at large.

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COBie for Designers:

COBie makes it easier for designers to match their drawings with the COBie data. COBie data for designers include the compiled set of all the design schedules associated with all the drawings. Using modern design software, designers can directly export COBie data related to their drawings without any hassle. All the major design software supports modern COBie specifications making it easier for designers to comply with COBie requirements.

COBie for Contractors:

COBie makes it simpler for contractors to collate construction submission data effectively. The process of information gathering and organization becomes quite easier as COBie eliminates the need to copy and reorganize data time and again.

COBie makes it possible for contractors to reduce the time and effort spent on equipment surveys. Using COBie, contractors can automate the task of O&M manuals, significantly reducing their effort on compiling and organizing information for handover.

COBie for Facility Managers:

COBie makes it easier for facility managers, occupants, and owners to access documentation related to equipment and understand spaces in detail. With a properly organized COBie sheet, facility managers can take care of building operations, maintenance, and management requirements throughout the entire lifecycle from the day of handover. No more are they required to go through bulky manual documentation in an unorganized format once the stakeholders move on to COBie.

Summing up:

The Construction‐Operations Building information exchange (COBie) format is the international standard for the exchange of information about managed facility assets. COBie Modeling boosts the collaboration which is the extension of BIM Technology. It can convert the paper-based data in the digital format that improves collaboration and smoothen the information exchange to all the world.

COBie does not add new requirements to contracts. It simply changes the format of existing deliverables from paper documents and proprietary formats, to an open, international standard format.  

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Author : Sasikala G
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