Facility managers (FM) need to know a lot of information about the building in order to maintain the facility and its assets effectively. This includes information about spaces, services, and key equipment, such as who to call when things break, what the model number is, the warranty period, associated certificates, what valve or circuit breaker must be shut off prior to maintenance, and a punch list of periodic maintenance tasks.

Traditionally, this information is collected in numerous operations and maintenance (O&M) manuals. IFC can collect this information incrementally throughout the design development, construction, and commissioning stages of a project. IFC’s standardised and rich digital relationships can describe the information that facility managers need. The most popular requirements specification for IFC-based digital FM data is known as COBie 2.4.

Despite already requesting and receiving IFC deliverables, many clients still request FM data in a spreadsheet format. Unfortunately, many of these spreadsheet deliverables are not produced from IFC databases. This defeats the purpose of BIM: asset data is no longer richly stored using international standards and the BIM model may no longer be trusted.

IfcFM is a highly standards-compliant tool to convert FM data in IFC databases to spreadsheets and other machine readable formats, such as ODS, XLSX, CSV, Pandas, XML, and JSON. These formats may then be easily read, audited, or imported into technologies that cannot work with IFC natively.

Supported data standards

IfcFM assumes that you want to convert IFC data grouped into one or more categories of data (e.g. list of assets, list of spare parts, list of documents and certificates, etc). Each category of data includes a list or schedule of information, and may reference information in other categories. In a spreadsheet format, each category correlates to a worksheet, where each worksheet focuses on one type of data and has multiple columns (e.g. name of manufacturer, point of contact, etc). There are four data standards compatible with this data structure that IfcFM supports:

  • COBie 2.4: the most popular requirements specification for FM data currently in use first published in 2007. It specifies requirements to collect almost 20 categories of data, focusing on maintainable equipment and finishes. It is published by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, National Building Information Model (NBIMS-US) standard, version 2, chapter 2.4, and in British Standard BS 1192-4:2014.

  • COBie 2.4 Legacy: During the original development of COBie 2.4, a mapping to IFC was developed as part of the now unmaintained COBie-plugins and loosely defined in Annex A with a number of ambiguities and oddities to accommodate the poor state of BIM vendors at the time. This preserves the original implementation.

  • COBie 3.0: an update to COBie 2.4 published by the National Building Information Model (NBIMS-US) standard. Unlike COBie 2.4, it is not a British Standard nor developed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

  • AOH-BSEM: a draft specification by buildingSMART based on the lessons learned from the implementation of COBie 2.4, as part of a modular approach to asset data exchange that supports not just buildings, but infrastructure projects too. AOH-BSEM is set to supersede COBIE 3.0 with a focus primarily on equipment maintenance.

  • Vanilla IFC: Regardless of any “named” requirement such as above, IFC itself contains a number of standardised property sets and object types related to assets, warranties, manufacturers, and construction / installation. As expected, the majority of these are already referenced in named standards. “Vanilla” IFC offers a “specification agnostic” approach towards facility management data collection.