BIM in Structural Engineering: A study of Interoperability between BIM tools on Structural Modelling, Analysis and Design

Session synopsis

My presentation will be based on the outcome of the case studies contained in my ongoing thesis project at the European founded Erasmus Mundus BIM A+ master program. This work studies interoperability in BIM structural engineering. Interoperability is the ability of two or more systems or components to exchange information and to use the information that has been exchanged (ISO/ICE 33001:2015). Difficulties in interoperability among platforms has been identified as the main barriers to the adoption of BIM by AEC industry. BIM engineers and project designers save a lot of time when they are aware of the appropriate level of interoperability for their data exchange. First, an overview of BIM is presented, outlining general perspective and theories. In-depth examination of BIM in structural engineering has been explored, highlighting the benefits and pitfalls, the impacts on structural design and workflow. Secondly, and most importantly, the three main levels of interoperability that facilitate the exchange of model data between BIM-software and FEM-software (structural, engineering software) are theoretically investigated and explained. These interoperability levels, which are at the very heart of BIM application in structural engineering domain are, direct native file, direct link and IFC (Industry Foundation Class), exchange, respectively. Interoperability level 2 or direct link (bi-directional) has been identified as one of the most effective means of data exchange between mainstream BIM platform and structural engineering platforms. To further investigate the effectiveness of this level of data exchange, we investigate the conversion from BIM-software to FEM-software with a case study by exchanging a central Revit Model data with each of the following widely used FEM platforms through their existing bi-directional links with REVIT: SOFISTIK DLUBAL, SCIA ENGINEER. The goal is to explore how seamlessly structural data in REVIT BIM platform – material properties, boundary conditions, load and load cases, and load combinations – can be exchanged with each of these analysis programs, and how well these programs map and interpret BIM data. The second case study uses Revit-sofistik link to demonstrate the entire BIM workflow in structural engineering, ranging from model creation, analysis, design, detailing and documentation. These case studies will be fully accessed, descriptive findings presented, and recommendations proposed.

Why should people attend?

Interoperability and data exchange is important in the architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) sector because of the collaborative nature of the sector, and the many differences in the tools and data formats used by different stakeholders. The overall goal of my work is to examine the success factors and challenges in the application of BIM in structural engineering: to understand the technical capabilities of the data exchange between main stream BIM platforms like Revit and FEM software. Thus anyone who attends my lecture will have appreciable understanding of:
  • the current state of art of BIM, its applications in the construction sector, and how it can be a beneficial platform for structural engineers;
  • the applicability of art of BIM to structural engineering, and how it impacts the structural design and its workflow;
  • the various levels of interoperability or data exchange;
Interoperability problems in structural engineering through the case studies to be presented




  • Muniru Nyei
    Muniru Nyei
    Research Student - European BIM A+ Master Course

    I am Liberian by nationality. I hold a master degree in Civil/Structural Engineering from University of Bologna, Italy (2017); and one-year Postgrad certificate in Urban Infrastructures from University of Stuttgart, Germany (2016). I obtained a bachelor degree in Civil Engineering from Harbin Engineering University, China (2013). My research interests are in the areas of concrete and masonry structures.

    I am currently a research fellow in Structural BIM Engineering at Ljubljana University (Slovenia) – a joint European Erasmus Mundus Project on construction project data management. As a Fellow, I am currently collaborating with two engineering companies (in Italy and Germany, respectively) to analyze the applications of BIM in the European Construction Industry; examine the applicability of BIM to structural engineering, and how it impacts design and workflow; through case studies investigate the levels of interoperability or data exchange scenarios.

    I am passionate about the infrastructural development of my country and Africa in general. I hope my presentation will inspire fellow participants, BIM enthusiasts, engineers, architects, developers and planners across Africa.


Oct 19 2020

Event types

Case study