How IFC4precast is Revolutionizing Prefabrication

March 30, 2022

The precast industry has finally recognized the need of the hour: digitalization and automation are the new guiding principles of the precast concrete industry. However, a prerequisite for digital processes is seamless interaction between different systems and applications. As a first step, the main players of the industry have joined forces to develop a data format for the transfer of precast model data from CAD to Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES) based on IFC; namely, the IFC4precast format.

Manufacturer-neutral information exchange in BIM projects

Currently, engineering firms and precast concrete plants are still struggling with different file formats from different manufacturing companies. The key to improved interoperability – i.e. seamless interaction between the individual software systems – is open standards. That is why the key players in the precast industry have joined forces to shape future standards and norms as part of buildingSMART. The aim of the IFC4precast working group is to create a universally recognized, uniform format for the exchange of model-based data for precast elements. At the end of 2021, buildingSMART officially recognized the Model View Definition (MVD) IFC4precast as the “Final Standard”. This notable milestone means that a manufacturer-independent data exchange from CAD to MES systems is now available to the precast industry.

“The principal aim of the IFC4precast working group is to replace machine-specific – and thus, severely limiting – data processing with model-based or universal data processing. The focus of IFC4precast is more on ‘what’ is being manufactured, and less on ‘how’. Data exchange based on IFC4precast therefore ensures that the various systems collaborate seamlessly,” emphasizes Peter Kafka, member of the IFC4precast working group and BIM expert at Allplan Precast – ALLPLAN’s competence center for prefabrication.

Peter Kafka, who has a degree in mathematics, ensures that design and detailing software applications provide high-quality data that enable production machines to manufacture precast elements reliably and without errors. IFC4precast defines exactly how precast parts must be modelled in order to derive data for upstream and downstream systems; for example, for manufacturing.

Model-based data exchange with IFC4precast

The universal database contains all 3D model information, including complete geometries as well as unique IDs for the identification of precast parts. For the first time in the history of precast concrete, IFC4precast enables a clear structuring as well as the exact assignment of fixtures and reinforcement to the individual elements. Thanks to the complete visualization of the data along the entire process, all project partners can quickly and easily obtain the necessary overview.

Advantages of IFC4precast at a glance:

  • Lossless and platform-independent data exchange
  • Highly efficient and seamless interaction between all systems involved
  • Reduced coordination and administration effort along the entire design and production process
  • Detailed transfer of element, fixture, and reinforcement information
  • IFC4precast data can be read in full with all common 3D viewers

Allplan allows you to export all precast elements, including all attributes as well as fixtures, reinforcement, and formwork with the new IFC interface. The object structure of the precast elements corresponds to the IFC4precast standard. ALLPLAN is one of the first software providers worldwide to be certified for this new global standard. IFC4precast was developed by buildingSMART, together with industry partners.

Learn more about how ALLPLAN shapes the standards of the precast concrete industry.