buildingSMART alliance Life Cycle information exchange (LCie) Project

Life Cycle information exchange (LCie): BIM for PLM


Bill East
(217) 373-6710

Executive Summary

buildingSMART alliance information exchange projects may be used to directly support Chief Information/Technology PLM-based efforts to facilitate systems integration and associated change management. The purpose of the Life-Cycle information exchange (LCie) is to demonstrate this potential. The first demonstration in the domain of managed asset information has resulted in new submissions to NBIMS-US V3.

How to Use This Page

This page answers the following questions:

What is Product Life-Cycle Management?

How do bSa information exchange projects support PLM?

How did LCie for managed assets come to be?

What is the current implementation of LCie for managed assets?

What does LCie have to do with COBieLite presentation format?

How can those interacting with managed facility assets take advantage of LCie?


According to Wikipedia, Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) provides an information framework for "people, data, processes, and business systems" from the inception of a product to its recycling. The dimensions of PLM are explained in the table below:

people all stakeholders are identified in "ie" business process model swim lanes. "ie" projects require that a representative of each stakeholder group participate in the development of the project requirements.
data the Model View Definition provides the data schema plus the required business rules that specify the quality of that information. mapping rules allow data to appear in multiple equivalent presentation formats.
processes every process models needed to solve a specific interoperability problem are identified in an "ie" project. process models are evaluated by subject matter experts and systems engineers to ensure they reflect reality.
systems the identification of all classes of information technology used during the life-cycle of the information described by the "ie" project is required. specific implementations based on mappings of data and rules are mandatory parts of all "ie" projects.

Traditionally, PLM has been involved in the integration of systems and technologies of major international software vendors including Oracle, SAP, and Siemens. This integration is possible because of the power of the central driving organization creating manufactured products. While having a life-cycle data interoperability problem that is similar to that faced by PLM, The buildingSMART alliance has a much different industry structure. This is because the owner a building has a much smaller ability to control the means of production of the product that is being delivered. Even the largest owners in the design and construction industry have only a small individual share of the overall United States construction industry—an industry has swung between 14% of US GDP in the 2000's to only 4% of GDP in the 2010's.

While the objectives of PLM and buildingSMART alliance information exchange projects are the same, the approaches must, necessarily differ, due to the power of the process owners to impact change on their respective industries.


Understanding how to use BIM for PLM begins with understanding that buildingSMART alliance information exchange projects create consensus-driven standard based on common industry practices and requirements. To create a proposed US National BIM standard, information exchange projects define their requirements by looking at the processes, people, data, and systems needed at a specific point in the project. Investigations upstream and downstream to find the sources and uses of that information are also needed as part of most information exchange processes. That information is documented in the information exchange project’s Information Delivery Manual, Model View Definition, and implementation support resources found in the NBIMS-US standard.

LCie for Facility Assets

The first concrete example of using BIM for PLM was undertaken using the Construction-Operation Building information exchange project as its example. The sub-sections below describe the phases of this effort. These phases may provide a roadmap for others interested in similar topics. The final phase provides the current status of LCie for Facility Assets and how that work was submitted for balloting as part of NBIMS-US V3.

Phase 1 – Specification

One of the first investigations COBie identified each of the processes where information about managed and maintained assets that comprise COBie. At the 27th Annual International Council for Research and Innovation in Building and Construction (CIB) Conference on Information Technology in Construction (W078) the results of that study were released as a "Life Cycle Model for Contracted Information Exchange." These sources and uses of COBie data are defined below:

Initiation Phase

Requirements Phase

Design Phase

Construction Phase

Operations Phase

Phase 2 – Demonstration

Based on these initial specifications an early demonstration tested how such information could be exchanged on two of the three buildingSMART alliance Common BIM Files example models. These exchanges of the entire building models at major contract milestones shown at the Common BIM Files page, are expanded below to demonstrate the full set of transactional exchanges needed to create these major contract milestone deliverables.

For each example model, the state of the model, before and after processing an LCie file, is available in the COBie spreadsheet, IFC, and IFCXML formats. While the report link contains the reports generated after processing each LCie file, such as a space or system report, results of the compliance checking for each LCie file can be found by selecting assessments. Finally, the logs link contains all the logs related to the reporting and processing of the LCie files.

Duplex Apartment Example

Medical Clinic Example

Phase 3 – Evaluating the Business Case

To implement the LCie for building assets the entire set of project stakeholders would be required to transform their processes from paper-based document exchanges to information-based XML data packet exchanges. Before suggesting that such a whole-scale transformation should be accomplished, a gut-check of the costs and benefits of such a transformation was accomplished. This effort, eventually published as the COBie Calculator, predicts large savings through the entire life-cycle that result from the virtual elimination of non-value added activities in every phase of the project.

Phase 4 – User-Friendly BIM

Practically speaking, the complexities of Building Information Models and processes are of little interest to software engineers. To software engineers the efficiency of the exchange of electrons is the most important consideration. For example, updating a serial number on a piece of installed equipment need not require an entire IFC building model or use of BIM that require significant learning curves. To simplify that exchange a very lightweight, self-documented XML-based presentation of BIM information was required. Members of the buildingSMART alliance had been requesting such a presentation format for BIM data subsets since the start of the buildingSMART alliance. The problem was finding an existing nationally recognized schema framework and repository.

In the United States a National Information Exchange Model (NIEM) was been created to support such small, efficient, transactions. NIEM is used by many US federal agencies to support exchange of information about national security issues, including information about facility locations. To move BIM data into the wider world, to allow provide a national schema, and to allow NIEM to move inside a facility a translation of the COBie MVD was completed in NIEM. This schema COBieLite joins the ifcXML and SpreadsheetML as one of three expression of COBie using XML.

One of the major benefits of COBieLite is that for the first time professional programmers are able to access building asset information in an concise and self-documenting and self-testable format. The self-documenting and self-testable format is made possible through the use of the open source Component Assembly Mechanism (CAM) tool. Transformations between IFC, ifcXML, SpreadsheetML, and COBieLite are made possible by the open-source COBie Tool Kit that has been built upon the platform.

Phase 5 – COBieLite implementation

Implementations of COBieLite have been shown in commercial software participating in the bSa COBie Challenge events. Also products being developed by the Engineer Research and Development Center plan to implement the entire range of construction-oriented LCie sub-schema in COBieLite format to support the Corps of Engineers mandate for COBie scheduled to begin 01-Oct-14.

Phase 6 – The BI without the M

If you have an application that needs building information data but do not need the BIM, then consider the application of LCie sub-schema to product and/or consume the needed information. Also please consider that the COBieLite schema is a nationally recognized schema designed to support programmers and their efforts to work behind the scenes to simply make software work.


Creative Commons License
Life-Cycle information exchange by buildingSMART alliance is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

References to this work should be in the form of: East, E. William (2013) "Life Cycle information exchange (LCie)," buildingSMART alliance, National Institute of building Sciences, Washington, DC. (cited DD-MMM-YYYY).

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