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IFC. What is it, what for and what is its relationship with BIM?

March 11, 2020

Industry Foundation Classes

IFC (Industry Foundation Classes) is a standard data format which objective is the exchange of information between files that have been made by different authors; something like a PDF applied to BIM. It is an open, neutral format, not controlled by software producers, born to facilitate interoperability between various operators.

It is the main tool for the realization of the Open BIM, which represents a universal method for collaboration in the design and construction of buildings based on open standards and workflows.

Current BIM systems can create proprietary representations of construction components. IFC adds a common language to transfer that information between different BIM applications, while maintaining the meaning of different pieces of information in the transfer. This reduces the need to remodel the project in each different application. It also adds transparency to the process.

In the BIM methodology, professionals can use software from different companies, but the IFC format can link them together when exchanging valid information, regardless of the base software used.

What are the advantages of the IFC:

The main advantage offered by the IFC format is the possibility of collaboration between several figures involved in the construction process allowing the exchange of information through a standard format, in addition to easily linking alphanumeric information (properties, classification, quantities …)

It also speeds up the work, all the information of the constructive object is defined only once, providing consistency to the shared information of the project. It unifies the language of the different elements of the project, enabling the detection of possible errors or clash detection.

This leads to a higher quality, a decrease in design errors, a reduction in costs and time savings with consistency of data and information throughout the execution and maintenance process.

This format has been created by the BuildingSMART organization, formerly known as the International Alliance for Interoperability (IAI). BuildingSMART is an international organization that aims to improve the exchange of information between software applications used in the construction industry.

Currently,work in being done to formalize the IFC in other projects, such as linear engineering projects.

What is the relationship between IFC files and tenders?

With the arrival of the mandatory BIM requirements in certain tender processes in the public sector, the IFC format becomes more important, since the tender documents specify deliverables with the standardized IFC.

In summary, administrations will request the drawings in pdf and the IFC of the BIM model.

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