BIMcollab Twin | Spatial structure as the foundation for document management

How should we organize our folder structure? That question has been asked hundreds of times in various projects and real estate portfolios. Additionally, there is often a bit of uncertainty about setting up databases. We get it: storing data and (especially) finding it is difficult. That is why we share our vision on document management in this blog.

First, back to the basics. When we talk about a ‘folder structure’, we are actually talking about Document Management Systems, also known as DMS solutions. These DMSs are built in databases with a user interface often shaped after the familiar Windows folder structure, simply because everyone understands that structure. However, using this structure for building document management has proven to be unclear. Several customers have experienced discussions and ambiguities using this structure, which is why a different solution was needed for our document management platform BIMcollab Twin.

Metadata and filters to find documents

In addition, a new challenge presented itself. In recent years there has been an increasing number of 3D models. We want customers to be able to store the information from these models in BIMcollab Twin. Data is multi-dimensional: every stakeholder has a different view of the data and therefore expects a different tree structure/folder structure. This accounts even more for 3D models. That is why one folder structure does not work. You need several metadata fields that you can use to search and filter.

However, 3D models contain a lot of information. So how can you access all that data in an accessible way and combine it with a DMS? That is why we have developed a ‘framework’ in the current version of BIMcollab Twin, using metadata and filters instead of folders. All documents, data and geometric data are stored on the platform and with the help of the metadata and filters. This way, users can quickly and intuitively find the desired files.

Sorting documents based on spatial structure

In fact, we no longer use folders at all. The solution comes from the building itself, namely from the spatial structure of the building, which is the graphical representation of the building. The spatial structure of the building (location, site, building and floors) is the coat rack on which all documents and data in the database (structure) hang. BIMcollab Twin provides a representation of that spatial structure.

The structure is recognizable for all those involved in the building, enabling them to work with it intuitively. If there is already an existing folder structure in the database, then that default is visible to customers. In any case, it is not leading for the storage of data about the building (model). The structure follows the building based on the information from the IFC infrastructure.

So, how does it work? All types of documents and files can be uploaded to the DMS and the system links those files directly to the spatial structure of the building. Customers can upload files to the cloud and once the system has imported all data, geometry and documents into the database, countless possibilities arise.

Searching becomes finding

In short, we should no longer think in terms of databases or folder structures. Instead, consider the result you want to see and what information you want to zoom in on. If you are looking for documents about the front door, don’t look at the F for front door, as a colleague may have saved it to the I for entrance or the D for doors. Instead, click on the front door in your 3D model. You can create a system that intuitively takes you to the document you want to consult at a specific time. It is that easy

Ready to explore the possibilities of document management with BIMcollab Twin? Schedule a 1-on-1 with one of our BIM experts or book a demo!