The precast industry is moving full speed ahead. In fact, many concrete structures today are so complex and so beautiful that most people don’t even realize they’ve been constructed using precast concrete. Modern projects, however, require modern ways of working—which is not always an easy task in a traditional industry like precast. That’s where IFC4 precast initiative comes in.
Data standard for seamless cooperation
The IFC4 precast working group, with the support of buildingSMART, is turning traditional precast on its head by bringing the industry’s stakeholders together to create an integrated, standardized form of data exchange.
“Major change in how data is exchanged is on the way for precast.” says a member of IFC4 precast working group Thorsten Hertel, Product Manager of Precast and Rebar at Trimble and. “This is very exciting,” Hertel says. “I can’t recall there ever being something like this before. Although we’re competing with one another in their fields, the leading industry suppliers are coming together to provide better technology and ways of working for everyone, for the greater good of the industry.”
The leading industry suppliers are coming together to provide better technology and ways of working for everyone, for the greater good of the industry.
Avoiding bottlenecks with a single file format
As projects, processes and manufacturing-related improvements become more and more complex, bottlenecks inevitably pop up. One aspect of the IFC4 precast’s mission is to mitigate these bottlenecks to bring about improved, more modern ways of working that are specific to the precast industry. “Although IFC4, is a modern file format, very compact and intelligent— it’s not made for manufacturing. That has been a big challenge. We needed to find a way to make it work within the scope of the file format specification, ” Hertel says. “This is why we formulated, based on IFC4, more standards within a standard to turn it into a manufacturing-related file format as well.”
Factory constraints are a thing of the past
Because factories can more easily access, read and use data, designers no longer need to take fabrication-related constraints into consideration during the design and detailing phase. “With IFC4, designers and detailers can concentrate on their main task: designing and detailing the building. All relevant and necessary information of the constructible model is transferred with the IFC4 precast. There’s no need to worry about which machine, later on, does what and how and in which factory,” Hertel says.
“This streamlines the entire effort from detailing to fabrication remarkably and decouples the constraints of factory and design offices. Those who should concentrate on the design concentrate on the design and those in the factory can now concentrate on the factory-related processes. We’ve chosen a proper file format to address each other’s aspect in a meaningful way.”
Modernization means expansion for precast
With one file format that contains information for manufacturing, ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) and MES (Manufacturing Execution Systems), precast will have a single information highway, making the old way of working with various specific file formats obsolete. “That will be immense because it simplifies the way of working,” Hertel says. “The project schedules are getting tighter. The more dedicated you can work on something, the more dedicated, correct and productive the outcome will be.”
IFC4precast will, in the future, be able to further expand IFC4’s functionality. With other stakeholders, such as embed suppliers and reinforcement suppliers on board, this expansion will create a more centralized way of working with each others’ information in a compact and streamlined way. “Join the movement, share your requirements, and we’ll expand this together so we can have a globally-accepted standard. We want to establish something intelligent and modern for the industry and at the same time overcome our own challenges,” Hertel says. “The IFC4precast working group invites everyone to join.”