The three knights: BIM, CAFM and IFC

A long time ago, I have reported in my blog about the hostile red and blue knights. The fight went back and forth. It was not that all the red and blue knights were united. It was the only one of her belonging to a color.

At the beginning of the year a purple knight appeared on the battlefield. The red and blue knights hoped that the purple knight would join them and thus decide in the battle. The purple knight, however, did not want to choose one of the two sides.

He convinces the red and blue knights to tackle the next challenges together with him, because all knights are needed together.

How this story continues, we will pursue. Will all the red and blue knights follow the purple knight or will one or the other refuse followers and stand against the community?


With the BIM process, we consider and accompany the entire lifecycle of a building, construction or infrastructure from development, planning, creation, use to demolition. The phase of utilization and maintanance is by far the longest phase by far. During the BIM process, we create three-dimensional models which are continuously maintained and updated as part of the process.


With the CAFM processes, we consider the sum of all buildings, structures and infrastructures of a company, a municipality or a country. The desire for renewal, expansion or change is the initial spark for a new BIM process. The focus of the CAFM processes is the maintenance and rapid elimination of faults. The elimination of defects from the creation phase does not belong to this. While the graphical models are a high priority in the planning and creation phase, the graphical models in the CAFM are only a means to the purpose to implement the CAFM processes more quickly and precisely.

Modification or reconstruction

During the utilization phase the type of use changes due to restructuring. This leads to an initial ignition, which leads to the resumption of a BIM process. The current graphical models are needed and the phases of development, planning and creation take place again. The graphical models are edited and then transferred back to the CAFM competence area.


Graphical models are generated using CAD software. This is done in all areas of industry. For the many different software products to correspond, we need a data format accepted by all software vendors. At the beginning of 2017 the industry in Europe officially adopted the IFC format as a standard. The worldwide certification of the IFC format was already an ISO standard. The corresponding DIN standard for Germany is in process. Several years ago, machine and plant engineering has already agreed on the JT file format for the description of components. There are also the corresponding standards.


Standards ensure reliability for all stakeholders. Every planner can use his beloved CAD software. The final version is delivered as an IFC file unless another format is explicitly requested. Each facility manager gets reliable IFC models and not a collection of two-dimensional or three-dimensional formats. Buildings, constructions and real estate not only consist of locally produced objects. Many components are supplied. The supplier industry can now supply its customers with virtual components for the real components.

Most CAD software vendors have already been familiar with the IFC format for some time. The IFC standard will make sure that the sometimes-semi-hearty implementations will give way.

The manufacturers of AVA software or technical calculation software, which are generally open to all sides, can now finally resort to standardized graphical models.

The manufacturers of CAFM software no longer must decide for a specific CAD software as a basis. You now need to find a way to integrate the graphical models into their databases and to find a strategy for how the graphical models are exported during a conversion and are reimported after the conversion. (I’ve already done this and developed a strategy for it.)

But, everything takes its time. The IFC standard, which is important for us in Europe, has only been a reliable factor since the beginning of 2017. Before the customers at the end of the chain benefit from the results, all companies involved in the digital processes must become active. However, the customers may well motivate their suppliers to become active.

There are also the customers who would like to have everything as it used to be. The customers will then only get the problem that there are no more suitable suppliers.

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