SPINALCOM is Enabling Collaborative, Real Time BIM Level 3 Applications for All Stages of a Facility's Lifecycle

May 14, 2018

image courtesy of SPINALCOM

Autodesk Forge is our application program interface (API) platform and supporting materials (sample code, manuals) as well as a community of developers who uses those APIs. Although Forge is intended for our customers and 3rd party developers to be able to use our web services, we use Forge for our development of the cloud-based services that we offer. You can leverage Forge in the same ways that we do.

Forge is defined by 7 groups of APIs:

SPINALCOM is a Forge Systems Integrator Partner that provides software development and consulting services to independent software vendors (ISVs) and enterprise organizations for any phase of an Architecture, Engineering, and Construction (AEC) project. Using Forge, SPINALCOM has developed a Building Information Modeling (BIM) Level 3 Application Enablement Platform (AEP) for clients in the AEC and Operations and Maintenance (O&M) fields. Recall that BIM Level 3 means that full collaboration between all disciplines is possible by means of using a single, shared project model that is held in a centralized repository. All parties can access and modify that same model which removes a layer of risk for conflicting information. In the case of SPINALCOM, the company has integrated Forge with real-time operational data and its process management platform to develop the SpinalBIM Suite. The suite allows stakeholders to work with an accurate digital twin of the physical facility.

EDF Group is one of SPINALCOM's customers that has reduced building management errors and delays using their 3D visualization solution. The largest supplier of electricity in the world, and a global leader in low-carbon energy, the EDF Group was facing a challenge with their Building Management System (BMS). Their BMS was very complex and siloed with separate systems for everything like machinery monitoring, security access, and Heating Venting and Air Conditioning (HVAC) — all separate. As a result, the Facility Management (FM) team at the center couldn't quickly respond to alarms such as malfunctioning equipment, unauthorized access to proprietary laboratories, or rooms that were too warm. This was a real problem because the team had to handle multiple alarms on a daily basis. This resulted in delays in fixing issues and security breaches. The EDF Group wanted to identify and provide the highest quality of building management at its new, 70,000 sq. m. R&D center in Paris, France. A new facility is a perfect opportunity for a new BMS.

SPINALCOM, using Forge technology, is addressing EDF's challenge by providing the FM team with a BMS Supervisor (control center) that contextualizes the data in their BIM model and intelligently filters alarms to save time on each alert, regardless of the silo it comes from. For example, unauthorized to the most sensitive areas can be flagged differently than entry/exit doors being left open for more than one minute. The first phase of the project consists of the delivery of an Emergency Exit System and the Access Control Management System for EDF.

3 - Operation phase screenshot_spinalBIM1024
image courtesy of SPINALCOM

SPINALCOM is using the Forge Model Derivative API to upload Revit and Industry Foundation Class (IFC) models of the building and create their BMS Supervisor database. The Model Derivative API lets SPINALCOM extract valuable metadata into various object hierarchies. In addition, SPINAL can use the API to translate the BIM model into different formats, one of which is SVF for extracting data and for rendering files in the Viewer. The Forge platform has simplified and accelerated the integration and installation process substantially for SPINALCOM.

The SPINALCOM-enabled Forge Viewer is the main user interface of the BMS Supervisor database. SPINALCOM uses this WebGL-based, JavaScript library in 3D and 2D model rendering. The Viewer communicates natively with the Model Derivative API to fetch model data, complying with its authorization and security requirements. The functionality of the Viewer increases productivity for the Security Manager and FM team. For the first time, the EDF team can understand the behavior of the building at a glance! They can locate the equipment attached to an alarm in a few seconds directly from the BIM model, saving them the time and effort of opening technical documentation. Now, with a single click, users at EDF can check an alarm status and drill in for details in real time regardless of which siloed system the alarm originated from because building monitoring personnel see the alert in the context of a model of the physical facility. They know right where the problem is.

Autodesk has always been an automation company, and today more than ever that means helping people make more things, better things, with less; more and better in terms of increasing efficiency, performance, quality, and innovation; less in terms of time, resources, and negative impacts (e.g., social, environmental). Thanks to Autodesk Forge and SPINALCOM, EDF can provide a better response to more alarms in less time. It's true what they say: less is more.

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Scott Sheppard
Program Manager

Program Manager in the Office of the CTO