IFC Maritime Project

buildingSMART is developing an openBIM standard for Harbours and Ports in response to a new demand to extend the family of digital requirement exchange models to maritime facilities.

The reason for this demand is primarily driven by the New Silk Road ('One Belt One Road' ). This is a new double trade corridor, on land and by sea, to reopen trade channels between China and its neighbours in the West, in projects worth - according to the World Economic Forum - $900 billion. While China's port and harbour projects remained domestic, the country's lack of international standards had less significance, but as Chinese contractors embark on global projects, they are demanding openBIM standards.

Growth of the maritime industry

Sea transportation and maritime structures form a substantial part of the global economy and have been growing consistently over the past 20 years. Total transport capacity has steadily grown from 800 million tons in 2000 to 1,200 million tons by 2010. But there is a clear gap in the coverage of IFC for infrastructure and growing demand to extend IFC to maritime infrastructure.


A leading player is the China Communications Construction Company (CCCC), the country’s largest port design and construction company. CCCC has already started work to extend the IFC schema and is involved in maritime projects that use openBIM in Tianjin, Shanghai and Vietnam. Another important contributor in China is the Dalian University of Technology (DUT), one of China’s world-class universities.DUT is bringing its expertise to the new IHP project, supported by its three national engineering laboratories for civil, structural and maritime infrastructure.

Other project contributors are; Louis Berger, Royal Haskoning, Waldeck, KICT, buildingSMART Japan, RDF Ltd, Atkins, BRE, Mott Macdonalds, OPUS and Activeplan.

Response from bSI Infra Room

The project is being managed by buildingSMART International Infrastructure Room (part of the Standards Program) using the bSI Standards Process.

Professor HaiJiang Li of Cardiff University, UK is the project coordinator. ‘We are pleased to be able to draw on such wide-ranging expertise,’ says HaiJiang. ‘It covers project management, engineering, GIS, computer science and more.’

An expert panel with industry and academic representatives has been set up but places on the panel are still available. ‘We urge anyone who would like to serve on the panel to get in touch,’ adds Hai Jiang.

As part of the groundwork, IHP will focus on four primary maritime infrastructure types: port engineering, channel regulation (improving the condition of a channel to provide better navigation), ship locks (enabling travel up- and downstream rivers) and ship-building. Maritime facilities range from simple buoys to large container ports, but a very long list of components will need to be defined in IFC.

To keep the project manageable, it will run for two years and select the most important components.

The project on its way to developing the extension of IFC, IFD/bSDD, MVD and relevant supporting tools. ‘The Harbour and Ports work will be ongoing but we want to set tight guidelines so as to make this valuable IFC extension rapidly available to the industry,’ concludes HaiJiang.

If you would like to be involved with this initiative please email contact@buildingsmart.org