Report: BIM libraries – are Internal or External sources best?

Are External or Internal Building Information Modelling object libraries best for business? That could depend entirely on the company, yet Arup Associates’ Public Health Team Leader has weighed the pros and cons.

Kate Fletcher has weighed up the options concerning which path to take, particularly focusing on her company’s stance on the matter. Arup use their own internal BIM library, filled with over 25,000 objects that are suited to Arup’s own architectural and engineering needs. Fletcher believes that differences in the organisation of data within objects made by varying companies makes interoperability difficult. She said:


“The issues range from inconsistent data to too much data and no naming conventions for each parameter. Every object created by a different organisation or manufacturer organises its data differently, resulting in little opportunity for interoperability. The SPie (Specifiers’ Properties information exchange) project being developed by buildingSMART is attempting to address this by creating a set of product templates to be used by manufacturers, in a similar vein to COBie, but this is still in development stage.”


However, scale of a company is a big factor in choosing to invest in creating internal objects (a potentially costly process) or relying on external objects. Fletcher writes: “Of course it’s easy to find fault, especially in the fast-evolving world of BIM. There is a genuine need for BIM libraries – where else do smaller firms in particular go to get content? But there is still plenty of room for improvement so we can get good-quality, reliable products for our models.”


On the other hand, Fletcher argues that another reason she is glad her company make use of their own library is down to knowing you can trust the objects work correctly as your company made it. If it wasn’t complete or working, you would know about it and could seek a quick fix with your own staff. When sourcing content externally, firms are spending a lot of money on products and if they don’t work correctly, liaising over the phone or emails when not in the same office as content creators can make for a timely wait to get the problem solved. Fletcher elaborated:


“Poorly built objects have also tarnished these libraries’ reputations. Objects that break or connect incorrectly to the planes they are supposed to sit on only help to create a feeling of mistrust amongst many. Other objects come over-loaded with content, up to 2GB in one instance, making the model file size enormous for limited benefit.”


Fletcher also discusses the lack of external content for software formats other than Autodesk Revit and the future of Arup utilising their own BIM library. Check out her entire guest article on BDOnline by clicking here


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