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Civil-Comp Proceedings
ISSN 1759-3433
CCP: 83
Edited by: B.H.V. Topping, G. Montero and R. Montenegro
Paper 220

Building on IFC: E-Interaction for Computer Aided Structural Design

M. Hassanien Serror1, J. Inoue2, Y. Adachi3 and Y. Fujino1

1Department of Civil Engineering, 2Department of Material Engineering,
The University of Tokyo, Japan
3IAI Japan Chapter, SECOM Co. Ltd, Intelligent Systems Laboratory, Tokyo, Japan

Full Bibliographic Reference for this paper
M. Hassanien Serror, J. Inoue, Y. Adachi, Y. Fujino, "Building on IFC: E-Interaction for Computer Aided Structural Design", in B.H.V. Topping, G. Montero, R. Montenegro, (Editors), "Proceedings of the Eighth International Conference on Computational Structures Technology", Civil-Comp Press, Stirlingshire, UK, Paper 220, 2006. doi:10.4203/ccp.83.220
Keywords: interoperability, industry foundation classes, construction industry, structural design domain, conventional interaction, e-interaction.

Current conventional interaction with or within the structural design domain of the construction project ends up with cost ineffectiveness and low-level quality product because of the following drawbacks:
  1. Hard-copy interaction between structural domain parties.
  2. Manual checking with multiple sources of information, i.e. tedious work.
  3. Individual interpretation for design codes, i.e. inconsistency.
  4. Heterogeneity, or violating structural design criteria.
Lack of interoperability among structural analysis software packages is the main reason for the above mentioned drawbacks.

In this research work, the authors did build their methodology on Industry Foundation Classes (IFC) which have been developed by the International Alliance for Interoperability (IAI) [1,2]. All effort is reflected in a multi-vendor capable standard, the Industry Foundation Classes (IFC). The goal of this product model standard is to define an integral, object-oriented and semantic model of all components, attributes, properties, and relationships of and within a "building product" and to gather information about its originating process, life cycle and disposal. The IFC product model is specified using the modelling language EXPRESS, which has been used to define STEP-based product models within ISO 10303 before.

Interoperability in the structural design domain of the construction project has been started by the work done in the ST series projects: ST-1 emphasized steel frame construction, ST-2 emphasized reinforced concrete construction, ST-3 emphasized precast concrete construction, ST-4 emphasized structure analysis, ST-5 emphasized structural timber construction, ST-6 emphasized further extension for steel construction. It is obvious that the previous ST series of projects had paid much attention to the construction-oriented data models for structural design domain such as geometric representation for the design of steel members and connections and how to exchange such representations throughout the project life cycle. Analysis-oriented data models, however, have been started in the ST-4 project that defined only the structure mechanical model in addition to static loads. To complete the structural analysis process, analysis of the discrete model (Finite Element Model, FEM) needs to be defined in addition to structural dynamic loads and analysis results.

Accordingly, the objective of this research work is to extend the work done in the ST-4 project to complete the structural analysis process. Hence, enable interoperability among structural analysis software packages to afford a new methodology of interaction with or within structural design domain namely Electronic Interaction (E-Interaction).

The authors submitted their interoperability proposal to the IAI International Technical Management (ITM) and it has been accepted as formal project, namely ST-7 [3,4]. Hence, the IAI mission has been extended to the structural design domain of the construction project. In other words, interoperability has been enabled among structural analysis software packages. This, in turn, replaces the conventional interaction by electronic interaction through importing and exporting standard format files.

In this research paper, current conventional interaction drawbacks have been clarified. In addition, the new interaction methodology has been addressed as remedy to empower and promote the computer aided structural design. The proposed interoperability has been tested in an integrated earthquake simulation as a numerical experiment.

IAI, Release 2x2 of the IFC, Webpage: URL, 2003.
IAI, Implementation Software Packages Compliant to IFC, Webpage: URL, 2004.
IAI, IFC Extension Projects, Webpage: URL, 2005.
ST-7 Extension Project, Webpage: URL, 2005.

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