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buildingSMART alliance The COBIE Challenge

The COBIE Challenge

MARCH 11, 2009

Executive Summary

The Construction-Operations Building Information Exchange (COBIE) format facilitates the delivery of building information during planning, design, construction, and commissioning for delivery to facility owners and operators. The National Facilities Maintenance and Technology Trade Show held in March 2009 was the site of the 2nd demonstration of software systems' compliance with COBIE. Three new vendors, ArchiCAD, TOKMO, and MicroMain participated in the challenge. For two of the vendors, Onuma Planning System, and TMA Systems, it was their second COBIE Challenge. The Challenge was held during the July 2008 BIM Information Exchange Demonstration. The purpose of this page is to summarize results of the March 2009 COBIE Challenge. Linked to this page is detailed information and results from each of the five participating vendors. This information is also linked to an updated page entitled COBIE Means and Methods.

The COBIE Challenge

The generic contract specification covering the use of COBIE identifies specific information deliverables to be provided at different project stages. As a result, the requirements for the COBIE Challenge are based upon the market segment targeted for a given software system. The paragraphs below describe the specific challenges for each of the stages of a project.

Architectural Programming Challenge

At the architectural programming stage functional requirements and spatial stacking diagrams for the facility are determined. The COBIE Challenge at this early stage is to input a set of space requirements, defined as room areas classified based on function, in the COBIE format. Appropriate commercial software is used to layout the spaces to create the stacking diagrams. Expected features and contents of the spaces are also added at this stage. Finally, this software will export the project back to the COBIE format with the associated layout and any planned equipment, furniture, doors, etc.

Design Challenge

At the design stage critical information needed by facility operators is added to the conceptual design completed during the architectural programming stage. First, building services and types of equipment, products, and materials are identified. Next, specific pieces of equipment are identified. The equipment typically appears on schematic diagrams, on floor plans, and is summarized in design schedules. The COBIE Challenge at the design stage is to export the design model containing both the space layout (as updated from the programming stage) and building services, product types, and named equipment.

Construction Challenge

During the construction phase several types of facility information need to be captured for transfer downstream. COBIE design spreadsheet (or project BIM file) to the construction contractor is provided from the designer or owner. The COBIE Challenge at the construction stage is composed of several key parts. First, the manufacturer, model, and serial number of the equipment documented in the design must be captured. Second, those products that are identified by the builder, typically bulk items such as valves that are tagged by the contractor or a subcontractor are Next, the warranty dates and guarantors must be identified. Replacement parts providers must be identified. Finally, approved manufacturer data, test and certifications, shop drawings and other submittal documents are linked into the product type information through the submittal process. COBIE construction deliverables containing this information are provided prior to commissioning and again at beneficial occupancy.

Commissioning Challenge

During the commissioning stage maintenance manuals typically based on the manufacturer's recommended maintenance schedules are compiled. Operational issues such as start-up, shut-down procedures are also captured. The COBIE Challenge at the commissioning stage will demonstrate that commissioning agents are able to augment the information provided by construction contractors with maintenance and operations procedures.

During the March 2009 COBIE Challenge, there were no vendors providing support to commissioning agents represented. Until such time as there is COBIE compliant software it is possible for vendors to compose COBIE Commissioning data directly in the COBIE spreadsheet. While this is not an optimal result, it will provide a computable set of information rather than a set of books on a shelf in a boiler room.

Facility Management Challenge

Before the facility handover the facility manager must budget for appropriate staff and at beneficial occupancy the facility manager must begin maintenance of the facility. The FM Challenge is to demonstrate that the Computerized Maintenance Management System (CMMS) and/or Computerized Asset/Facility Management (CAFM) software is able to load a complete COBIE worksheet containing all the data from upstream in the project.

The Sample Models

The COBIE Challenge employed three different building models. These models are available for your download and use free of charge.

The first model, used by ArchiCAD, was a portion of an actual office building. While the model is not a complete design model, it contains a complete spatial layout and includes selected equipment records for specific areas within the building. You may download the IFC version of this model.

The second model, used by TOKMO, was an IFC file used to demonstrate compliance with COBIE during the July 2008 Demonstration. You may download this building model.

The third model, used by Onuma Planning System, MicroMain, and TMA Systems, demonstrated the life-cycle capture of building information data from architectural programming, through design, into construction, and ultimately shows the a sample of the full data set that would be provided in lieu of paper handover datasets. You may download the COBIE spreadsheet of this model. An example set of related documents that would be included with the COBIE deliverable are also provided for download.

The Results

COBIE files submitted prior to the facility management phase were subjected to two types of checks. The first check was a quantitative check using an automated model checking tool that identified differences between the submitted COBIE spreadsheet XML file was and COBIE specification. A full COB IE Checker was not completed for the March 2009 Challenge, as a result, COBIE construction files were only evaluated, using the automated tool, against the designer-side worksheets. As a result, a second check was a qualitative check to "spot-check" that the information contained in the COBIE spreadsheet matched the required set of information contained in the sample project.

Qualitative checks conducted during the architectural programming challenge spreadsheets were checked to ensure that the space and function names matched the required set of information contained in the sample project. Of particular interest in qualitatively checking in the designer's model was the identification of the different types of equipment and the listing of each specific instances of that equipment. Spot checks that were of particular interest during the construction stage ensured that all identified equipment had required installation information and that warranties and parts suppliers were identified.

FM vendors are the consumers of the information provided upstream. The FM systems do not produce a direct COBIE output. FM software data bases cannot be automatically checked as were the files delivered by those upstream. As a result, the type of evaluation conducted for FM related vendors could be considered a "quality assurance" check rather than the more active "quality control" checks conducted for those providing. In keeping with the QA approach, FM vendors were asked to provide a letter certifying the extent to which they could import COBIE data without any manual intervention. During the COBIE Challenge QA checks were conducted before a live audience to determine any possible problems with these vendor certifications.

The table below shows the individual challenges, the vendors participating in that challenge and the summary grade based on the quantitative and qualitative evaluations conducted live at the COBIE Challenge. While one of the vendors did not receive a passing grade during the challenge, it is this vendors first attempt to support COBIE. At the time of the publication of these results all vendors, including the vendor who did not receive a passing grade, expressed interest in continuing to improve their implementations of COBIE.

Architectural Programming Onuma Planning System Pass
Design ArchiCAD Pass
Onuma Planning System Pass
Construction TOKMO Pass
Onuma Planning System Pass
Facility Management MicroMain Pass
TMA Systems Pass

* TOKMO resubmitted their files in June 2009. Evaluation of these updated files indicated that TOKMO has Passed the COBIE Challenge.

Related Information


The COBIE Challenge was sponsored by TradePress, buildingSMART Alliance, and the U.S. Army, Corps of Engineers. Particular thanks are expressed to Ms. Wendy Dietzler at TradePress for her assistance setting up and during the meeting and to Mr. William Brodt at National Aeronautics and Space Administration Headquarters for his leadership of the NIBS Facility Management and Operations Committee.

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