Within the scope of the "Blockchain for Facilities" project, a prototype was successfully tested for the first time. Thanks to the blockchain technology, BIM and plant engineering 4.0 projects are carried out cross-company and in real time, thus reducing time, complexity and costs for the exchange of information.
Besides the cryptocurrencies like bitcoin, the blockchain can also be used for classic industries. LIBAL® combines existing and new methods that are used within BIM and Plant Engineering 4.0 projects to implement project management across companies. With the extension of the blockchain technology, LIBAL® is paving the way for its customers to make the planning, construction and operation phases even more efficient. Within further developments, payments can be linked to the transfers of ownership, with existing or in a separate cryptocurrencies or own tokens.
For the extension of existing open standards LIBAL® establishes the association "B4F""Blockchain for Facilities" and is looking forward to further members who would like to actively participate in shaping the Blockchain technology for plant engineering and technological construction.
Advantages of Blockchain
Within construction and plant engineering projects, the project participants usually use different applications with different databases. The current exchange of data takes place via standardized information models such as IFC, COBie, SPIL/SPIR, DFO or other solutions.
Instead of integrating project partners with different, multiple and expensive interfaces such as APIs or other data exchange channels, all participants can interact with each other in real time using standardized blockchain channels. Expensive interfaces are simplified, and the ownership of data and information is clarified.
Furthermore, new devices such as Augmented Reality glasses can be connected directly to the blockchain and display the corresponding information in real time.
The Blockchain Technology
The block chain is based on the Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT). For easy understanding, a ledger can be regarded as a form of a general journal analogous to accounting.
A distributed ledger is a type of data structure that extends across multiple computer devices/participants, usually distributed across locations or regions. In summary, the Distributed Ledger technology generally consists of three basic components:
- A data model that records the current status of the ledger.
- A language of transactions that changes the ledger status.
- A protocol used to build consensus among the participants on which transactions are accepted by the ledger and in which order.
Blockchain for facilities in construction and plant engineering projects
There are a number of important factors in favour of using blockchain technology in construction and plant engineering projects. Blockchain is best suited for projects where one or more of the following conditions apply:
- There is a need for a common database.
- The parties involved in the process have conflicting incentives or lack confidence among the participants.
- There are several parties involved or authors of a database.
- Data for a business process is entered into many different databases along the lifecycle of the process. It is important that these data are consistent across all entities and/or that the digitization of such a process is desirable.
- There are uniform rules for participants in the system.
Parts of the COBie were used for the test, which is very similar to the other standard models such as SPIL/SPIR, DFO etc. COBie is an industry-specific standard of information models for exchanging data on new and existing facilities, including buildings and infrastructures. This includes information on the location, equipment and components that make up the facility. The open standards enable cross-company lifecycle management of facilities and their components, documents and spare parts through to maintenance planning throughout the entire lifecycle, starting with planning.
Within the ledgers, the individual areas of the COBie (for example: “type”) are managed as individual lists, which are structured similarly to a table within a database. Participating project teams have access to a closed business network with corresponding write or read access to the blockchain. For example, if a participant has write access rights, he can write or read his authorized data records.
Access rules also extend the property rights assigned to participants. This makes it possible, for example, to transfer a product data sheet, including the recommended spare parts and maintenance, from the manufacturer to the general contractor. The general contractor consolidates the project data and transfers the data sheet to the end customer for operating the facility.
Furthermore, the ownership rights within the block chain are clearly regulated.
Difference between «Blockchain4Facilities» to Cryptocurrencies
Cryptocurrency-based Blockchains such as Bitcoin and Ethereum currently do not meet the requirements of many types of organizations. Platforms for companies and project groups that meet stringent compliance requirements must operate within the legal framework and comply with all new regulations.
The «Blockchain4Facilities» approach is to streamline information exchange in a digital connected network across companies and is:
- and for the time being without reeling on a cryptocurrency.
Only dedicated members build a channel (i.e. project team) to exchange their data by role in real time. The focus is clear on B2B solutions for industries with requirements on scalability, privacy and security during project execution.
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