The Complete Guide to Open BIM Explained: Enhancing Collaboration in Building Projects

Nziza Training Academy blog about open BIM

Building Information Modeling, including Open BIM, has revolutionized the construction industry by creating a digital representation of the building process. This technology, commonly referred to as BIM, allows for the exchange and interoperability of information in a digital format. 

A McGraw Hill study found that BIM delivers significant financial benefits. Two-thirds of all users reported a positive return on investment (ROI), with that number jumping to 83% for advanced BIM users. Impressively, nearly all users (93%) believe BIM offers even greater value in the future.

BIM has become a powerful tool in streamlining and improving construction projects by enabling collaboration and communication between all stakeholders involved. However, as Building Information Modeling continues to evolve, a new concept called Open BIM has emerged. It takes the collaborative approach of BIM to a whole new level. 

Open BIM is an approach that emphasizes the importance of open standards and data exchange in the construction industry. It is not just about using a specific software or technology, but rather it is a mindset and philosophy that promotes transparency, efficiency, and interoperability in the construction process. It aims to create a common language and framework that allows different software and tools to seamlessly communicate and exchange information. 

This universal approach to constructed asset data is known as ‘Open BIM’ – hence, this is the construction industry’s ultimate goal.

Exploring the Concept of Open BIM

Open BIM goes beyond the limitations of proprietary software and encourages the use of open standards such as Industry Foundation Classes to enable collaboration and data exchange between different software platforms. By using open standards, it ensures that data can be freely shared and accessed by all stakeholders involved in a construction project, regardless of the software they are using.

It enables the integration of various software tools and systems, allowing for a seamless flow of information between different disciplines and stages of a project. This integrated approach enhances communication and coordination among architects, engineers, contractors, and facility managers, leading to improved project outcomes.

Furthermore, It promotes transparency and interoperability by eliminating the data silos that often occur when different software platforms are used. With Open BIM, all stakeholders can access and contribute to a centralized, shared database of information, eliminating the need for manual data transfer and reducing errors and miscommunications.

Key Characteristics of Open BIM

There are several key characteristics of Open BIM that set it apart from traditional BIM approaches. These include:

1. Open Standards: It emphasizes the use of open standards, such as Industry Foundation Classes, to ensure interoperability and data exchange between different software platforms.

2. Interoperability: It promotes the seamless exchange of information between different software tools and systems, allowing for better collaboration and coordination among all stakeholders involved in the construction process.

3. Collaboration: It enables a collaborative approach to construction projects, where all parties can contribute and access the same information in real-time to make informed decisions and work more efficiently.

4. Transparency: It promotes transparency by providing all stakeholders with access to the same information, eliminating data silos and ensuring everyone has a clear understanding of project progress and requirements.

5. Data Sharing: It enables the sharing of data between different software platforms, allowing for a more integrated and holistic view of a project. This universal approach to constructed asset data is known as ‘Open BIM’ – hence, this is the construction industry’s ultimate goal.

Open BIM Vs Closed BIM

Building Information Modeling (BIM) has revolutionized the construction industry, but there are different approaches to how project teams can leverage its collaborative power. Understanding these will help you choose the best fit for your next project.

Open BIM: Collaboration at its Core

It prioritizes open standards and interoperability. Project teams use different software while exchanging data through non-proprietary file formats, like IFC (Industry Foundation Classes). This fosters seamless collaboration, allowing architects, engineers, and other stakeholders to work on the same model using their preferred tools.

Benefits of Open BIM:

      • Flexibility: Integrates diverse software and expertise.

      • Cost-Effectiveness: Avoids vendor lock-in and potentially reduces software costs.

      • Improved Communication: Enables real-time data sharing and minimizes miscommunication.

      • Enhanced Project Delivery: Streamlines workflows and optimizes project outcomes.

    Closed BIM: A Streamlined Workflow

    Closed BIM relies on proprietary software from a single vendor. Teams work within a single ecosystem, sharing data through the software’s native file formats. This approach offers a streamlined workflow, potentially reducing compatibility issues.

    Advantages of Closed BIM:

        • Efficiency: Can be faster for smaller projects with a homogenous team.

        • Reduced Interoperability Issues: Less risk of data loss during file conversion.

        • Standardized Workflows: May be easier to implement if all team members are familiar with the software.

      Choosing the Right Path

      The ideal BIM approach depends on your project’s specific needs. Here are some factors to consider:

          • Project Complexity: It is better suited for complex projects with diverse teams.

          • Team Software Preferences: If teams have strong preferences, Closed BIM might be easier to adopt.

          • Project Budget: It can be more cost-effective in the long run.

        Understanding the strengths and weaknesses of Open BIM and Closed BIM enables you to make informed decisions. This fosters optimal collaboration and success for your next project.

        Challenges and Solutions in Adopting Open BIM in countries like Rwanda

        Adopting Open BIM in countries like Rwanda may face several challenges. Some of them includes below:

        1. Lack of Awareness and Understanding of BIM Technology

        One of the challenges is the lack of awareness and understanding of BIM technology and its benefits. To overcome this challenge, construction technologies training center in Rwanda, Nziza Training Academy has started organizing awareness seminars, training programs, and workshops to educate professionals in the construction industry about BIM and its potential advantages.

        Companies like NPD, Real Contractors, PRISMA, and other major contractors and design firms has started incorporating Open BIM into their projects and sharing their success stories to inspire others.

        2. Limited availability and affordability of BIM software

        Another challenge is the limited availability and affordability of BIM software and technology infrastructure in Rwanda. To address this challenge, the government of Rwanda could facilitate partnerships with international organizations and technology providers to make BIM software and infrastructure more accessible and affordable.

        Additionally, the government could incentivize the use of BIM technology by providing financial support or tax incentives to companies that adopt and implement Open BIM in their projects.

        3. Lack of Skilled professional

        Furthermore, the lack of skilled professionals who are proficient in BIM technology and Open BIM practices could pose a challenge. To overcome this challenge, the government and educational institutions in Rwanda can collaborate to develop specialized training programs and courses that focus on BIM and Open BIM practices.

        These programs can provide the necessary skills and knowledge to professionals in the construction industry. This will ensure that there is a pool of skilled individuals who can effectively implement and utilize Open BIM in construction projects.

        The Future of Open BIM in Building Information Modelling (BIM)

        The future of Open BIM in Building Information Modeling looks promising. With the increasing recognition of the benefits and advantages of BIM technology, more countries and organizations are embracing Open BIM as a collaborative approach to project delivery and information exchange.

        Open BIM allows for the interoperability of different software platforms, enabling seamless collaboration and data exchange between various stakeholders in the construction industry. This ultimately leads to improved communication, reduced errors, and increased efficiency throughout the project lifecycle.

        Frequently Asked Questions about Open BIM

        1. What is Open BIM?

        Open BIM is a collaborative approach to building information modeling (BIM) that emphasizes the use of open standards and workflows to facilitate interoperability among different software applications and stakeholders involved in the building lifecycle.

        2. How to open a BIM file?

        Currently, there isn’t a straightforward answer to this question. The method of opening a BIM file depends on the software you are using. Typically, you would open a BIM file using BIM software such as Revit, ArchiCAD, or Tekla Structures, among others. Consult the documentation or help resources of your specific software for guidance on opening BIM files.

        3. How to open a BIM 360 model?

        Opening a BIM 360 model usually involves accessing it through Autodesk’s BIM 360 platform. You’ll need appropriate permissions and access rights within your project to open and view the model. Navigate to the project in BIM 360, locate the model, and click on it to open it for viewing and editing.

        4. What is IFC Open BIM?

        IFC (Industry Foundation Classes) is a specific file format commonly associated with Open BIM. It is an open standard for exchanging and sharing BIM data between different software applications and disciplines. IFC files facilitate interoperability and collaboration in Open BIM workflows.

        5. How to open a BIM 360 model in Revit 2022?

        To open a BIM 360 model in Revit 2022, you typically use the “Collaborate” tab in Revit. From there, you can access the BIM 360 project and open the desired model. Ensure you have the necessary permissions and access rights within both Revit and BIM 360 for successful integration and model opening.

        6. How to open a BIM 360 project in Revit?

        Opening a BIM 360 project in Revit involves accessing the project through the Collaborate tab in Revit, similar to opening a BIM 360 model. You should have appropriate permissions and access rights within both Revit and BIM 360 to view and work on the project.

        7. How to open a BIM 360 model detached?

        Detaching a BIM 360 model from its cloud-based environment may not be a common practice due to the collaborative nature of BIM 360 projects. However, some workflows may involve saving a local copy of the model for offline use or sharing. Consult the documentation or support resources of your BIM 360 platform for guidance on detaching models.

        8. How to open a BIM file?

        To open a BIM file, you typically need specialized BIM software such as Revit, ArchiCAD, or Tekla Structures. Once you have the appropriate software installed, you can open the BIM file directly within the application. Consult the software’s documentation or help resources for specific instructions on opening BIM file


        We has explored the world of Open BIM, highlighting its key characteristics and the numerous advantages it offers for project collaboration. From improved communication and cost-effectiveness to enhanced project delivery, Open BIM empowers project teams to achieve greater efficiency and success. 

        While Closed BIM presents a streamlined workflow for specific scenarios, Open BIM’s flexibility and focus on interoperability make it a powerful tool for the future of construction. As the industry continues to embrace collaboration and data-driven workflows, Open BIM is poised to become the standard for project delivery.

        Request Open BIM training program for your team at Nziza Training Academy today! 

        Invest in their future and unlock the full potential of collaborative construction with Open BIM. Visit our website or send us a message on WhatsApp via +250785568718 to learn more.

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