Tackling Data Exchange for AEC
An industry-wide consortium of partners including Buro Happold, 3D Repo, Speckle Works, UCL Bartlett School of Construction & Project Management and Rhomberg Sersa Rail Group, with external support from HOK, Atkins, and Arup joined forces to tackle some of the key issues in Architecture, Engineering, and Construction (AEC) as part of the UK Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund.
The aim of the Innovate UK-funded project was to increase productivity, performance, and quality in the construction industry via a £1m innovation grant.
The consortium set out to address two industrial issues with their project named ‘AEC Delta Mobility’:
- Help engage manufacturers in the early design stages and result in the increased pre-manufactured value of build assets across the construction sector.
- Increase the productivity of construction projects by over 15%.
The project focused on the manual process whereby software users exchange large files and 3D models to communicate design changes (deltas) between designers, integrators and fabricators. Issues arise due to proprietary file formats and commercial vendor lock-in causing significant overheads especially in design for manufacturing. Even though open standards such as IFC, COINS and BCF paved the way for collaboration, they are neither suitable for manufacturing nor scalable to large architectural and infrastructure projects.
IFC, for instance, requires enormous amounts of memory to process (a single 1GB IFC file will easily consume 32GB of RAM over several hours of processing on a powerful server), not to mention inconsistent support across different applications.