Laser Scan to BIM and Facilities Management Using COBie

In the facilities industry, finding information about data location or data assets is quite a tedious process. As the industry continues to expand, we have come up with a much easier option to retrieve specific information via COBie.

Construction Operations Building Information Exchange, COBie, provides information about equipment lists, spare parts lists, product data sheets, warranties, maintenance schedules, and the point of origin. This information is crucial to support the operations, asset management, and maintenance of the buildings.

We, at the Virtual Building Studio, provide COBie services for facilities management to our clients in the USA, the UK, Singapore, Australia, and the UAE.

COBie file contains all the relevant data that can be of use during the building lifecycle. In a typical COBie file, we can find important specifications, drawings, and Bills of Quantities (BOQ).

This data needs to be updated in real-time. Therefore, it is collated in a digital format and shared with all of the stakeholders.

COBie is a subset of the Industry Foundation Classes-IFC. This subset relates to operations and maintenance (O&M) and facilities management of assets. We deliver these non-graphical data to our clients in a spreadsheet. Two types of assets are included in this dataset: equipment and spaces.

It may appear to be a complex system, but it is pretty simple. It provides a system-to-system exchange of information about both the assets, without user intervention. The files are anyway not intended for end-users. To put it clearly, COBie helps facility managers answer two fundamental questions about their assets: What? and Where?

The Computerized Management Maintenance System (CMMS) is a software that is essential to uphold data about maintenance operations and it schedules maintenance tasks.

The CMMS organizes work orders and helps the management make informed decisions. It is a widely used approach to support facilities management.

As more and more tools adopt COBie, it is essential that facilities management, construction, architecture, and engineering teams develop effective methods to use the tools available readily.

It is significant because the inefficient tracking of assets is likely to incur additional costs and unnecessarily increase the project timeline. BIM can collate data effectively early on in the building lifecycle.

The integration of COBie to your BIM project makes it easier to collate and handover contract information to the owners. Facilities management can highly benefit from COBie as it streamlines operations and makes all of the data digitally available to the owner through all phases of the building lifecycle. From design to facilities management, the owner can easily track the progress of the building.

Laser scanning for facilities management has also become popular lately. Conventionally, the idea is to convert point cloud data to BIM and later integrate with COBie.

This task is often repetitive and cumbersome, which is why new studies are looking at possibilities to omit BIM reconstruction and retrieve COBie data directly from laser scans.

Based on this research, COBie majorly relies on the identities of objects and spaces and the relationship that they share and does not define the geometry. Contrary to what was initially speculated, it is possible to obtain COBie data directly from laser scans.

The research is underway, but it proposes a direct processing method from point cloud data to COBie and substantiates the state-of-art advances in laser scanning.

Information exchange between several stakeholders can be rather expensive if not managed properly, but COBie lowers the costs of this information exchange by streamlining the flow.

It also helps to reduce the overall data management costs for facilities management. COBie can be very helpful if integrated effectively. More and more tools are adopting COBie for the reasons stated above.

It is only a matter of time before we’d be able to obtain COBie data directly from the point cloud, which would further enhance the properties of COBie effective for facilities management.

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