“Are you ready for BIM?” – BIM and the Elevator Industry

“Are you ready for BIM?” This article talks about the influences and challenges of BIM in the elevator industry. It explains BIM on a very high level and looks at the current adoption of BIM. An overview about today’s elevator BIM tools explains how architects and elevator companies may communicate today, if they have the right tools in place. At the end of the article, you will understand how you can prepare your company for the BIM in the future.

What is BIM?

“Building Information Modelling (BIM) “is a method to optimize the planning, implementation and management of a building using a digital 3D BIM model. According to the European directive 2014/24/EU, all public buildings should be planned using BIM methods. In some countries like the Netherlands or the United Kingdom, this is already mandatory. There are similar directives in US and APAC.

It is important to understand that BIM is not a tool or software. It is a process that covers planning, designing, building and managing the building. With BIM all involved parties, like architects, builders, elevator companies and facility managers work together in one digital building model. They all can add and modify content in this model. BIM describes the methods and ways of information requests and delivery. That ensures a proper collaboration.

Elevator companies are affected by BIM from the initial quotation phases until the operation phase of the building, which is where they usually do the maintenance of their elevators. There is no global BIM standard available so far. The buildingsmart organization is the international home of openBIM. Most of the country specific BIM initiatives try to follow the terms and suggestions of buildingsmart.

For Europe the British BSI is quite important. The UK government is strongly supporting BIM technologies and therefore it is no surprise that UK is one of the most advanced countries in Europe in this matter. The most important standard is the PAS 1192, which has been in place since 2013.
Moving from “Product modelling” to “Process modelling” is one key of BIM. The BIM process covers the building phases “Brief”, “Concept”, “Definition”, “Design”, “Build” and “Handover”. The operational phases are “In Use” and “Maintenance”.

In BIM it’s all about assets: even your elevator will become an asset. For each asset there will be an Asset Information Model (AIM) in the digital building. It consists of Documentation (e.g. Elevator operation information), a graphical model (e.g. 3D model of the elevator) and non-graphical data (e.g. 4D, 5D, and even more D). The employer determines which information of your elevator must be delivered into the AIM.

BIM distinguishes 3 main phases: Design, construction and operational phase.

Figure: BIM Project Lifecycle Phases

Level of Development

In each of these phases the requirements for the AIM change. A good example is the Level of Development (LOD). Depending on the current phase the 3D requirements change. It starts with a very basic representation up to an “As Build” (LOD 400) representation.

Figure: Level of Development illustration

As an elevator company you might have been already asked for a “3D model” of the elevator. Depending on the current building phase the 3D-model that you need to deliver should look different based on the requested LOD. There are different benefits of using a digital 3D model. Typical benefits are the possibility of model walkthroughs, project visualization and clash detection. Incorrect floor to floor heights will no longer happen as it can easily be checked in the digital 3D building.

Other information that goes into the AIM is 4D information: Time, which allows for detailed construction planning and schedule visualization. 5D covers cost information like quantity take offs and real time cost estimation. 6D can be facility and life cycle management.

Do you know one of these statements: “Can you deliver it as BIM?”, “Please send a BIM model” The previous explanations make it clear that the employer is responsible to determine more precisely the information he is requesting.

The elevator supply chain

The elevator company is not necessarily the last instance in the supply chain. They might have a door, guide rail or drive supplier. In this case the elevator company also needs to define the required AIM information and establish a working BIM process with its vendors.

Figure: BIM and the supply chain

As a result companies, in the supply chain of elevator companies, should prepare for BIM:

Image: Elevator suppliers as part of the BIM process

Elevator BIM tools today

There are different specialized elevator BIM tools in the market. DigiPara Elevatorarchitect is a tool used by architects. It supports in finding a good vertical transportation solution. Once they have selected the elevator vendor, they can easily install a simple (LOD 100) BIM model into their building.

On the other end, VT-consultants and elevator companies work with DigiPara Liftdesigner. In this tool, they can customize the whole elevator based on their own requirements. DigiPara Liftdesigner supports all BIM relevant LOD levels. It also supports the supply chain, since it unifies the way on how to deliver the required 3D models.

Figure: BIM model (LOD 300) by DigiPara Liftdesigner

BIM Adoption

BIM is on its way, some countries have a high adoption others have a lower one.

Figure: BIM adoption by country

BIM Usage in elevator construction

According to a DigiPara Market study, there is a high BIM adoption by VT-consultants. This is clear, since BIM processes are widely in place for most high-rise buildings. The big four elevator enterprises are already using BIM tools and are better prepared than the SMB business. Elevator suppliers are still rarely affected by BIM but we are sure that this will dramatically change in the next few years.

Figure: BIM usage in the elevator industry today and in 2020


Are you “Ready for BIM?” Consider your technology like software, hardware and the network. A fast network bandwidth is important to support all type of cloud technologies. Do you have elevator BIM software that supports LOD 100 to LOD 400?

Consider your processes like resources, knowledge and skills of your team. Do you have product and service specifications on how to handle BIM requests? Do you have the full leadership and management support? You also need guidelines, procedures and workflows in your company.

Do you have a “BIM champion?” If not, you need one! I can recommend trainings at the BSI in London

By Andreas Fleischmann, August 11th, 2016
CEO, DigiPara GmbH, Germany

Elevcon 2016

I collected the content of this article to held a presentation at the Elevcon 2016, the conference for VT experts, on May 11th, 2016 in Madrid. See also: http://www.elevcon.com/

A recording of this presentation is available on Youtube