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CIS/2 Workshop Includes Process Mapping, IFC Debate

CIS/2 Workshop Includes Process Mapping, IFC Debate

On May 11, 2010, Barry Butler — Design Data's executive vice president — attended an AISC-sponsored CIS/2 workshop, held the day prior to the NASCC conference in Orlando, Florida.

The workshop was split into two sessions: the morning session involved creating a process map of file transfers between the players in the structural steel industry; the afternoon session dealt with the gap between IFC and CIS/2 standards.

The process mapping session — led by Shiva Aram of the Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech) — identified 14 distinct places models could be transferred, with a scope that started at the architect and ran through steel erection. During the session, it was noted that while it would be impossible to create a process map that included every possible workflow, this one could easily be adopted for use with IPD, design-build, and traditional design-bid-build.

Robert Lipman with the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) led the IFC and CIS/2 standards session. These two standards are very different in nature: IFC is currently strong at creating visual representations of all building data, but lacks in the actual definition of the data; CIS/2's strength is defining the data, but it is only for the steel information of the structure.

The session included a debate on whether to use CIS/2 or IFCs for the steel industry, with the core of the discussion centering on two key questions:

  • Why use CIS/2 when IFCs can define the entire building?
  • Why take a step backwards with IFCs when CIS/2 already handles steel well?

While no clear choice emerged in this argument, it was stated that AISC does support the CIS/2 standard for the transfer of steel-related models.

"In my opinion, CIS/2 is currently the best means of transferring steel-related data. I do think the building / construction industry as a whole is leaning toward the IFC standard, which may someday be able to contain the same amount of steel-related data CIS/2 currently holds. Today, SDS/2 will continue to support both standards, making sure we have the best of both worlds," said Butler.