COBie 2.4, BS 1192-4:2014 and ARCHICAD 18/19 – Part 4: Type


In the previous posts we have covered Instruction, Contact, Facility, Floor, Space and Zone and Component. In this post we will focus on COBie’s requirements at the Type level. Types are something that the vast majority of ARCHICAD users will probably not be familiar with. However many other BIM tools filter data by Type so it is important to understand how this works when it comes to exchanging models both for IFC and COBie.

COBie 2.4 Type data

So a Component is basically every single item in the model other than Spaces, Grids and 2D items and a Type is a collection of those Components that are identical. So if we have 5 identical chairs then there are 5 Components but only one Type. Data can be added at either level but common data generally is placed at the Type level.

Types are created by placing Components in the ARCHICAD environment. ARCHICAD then sorts identical Components in the IFC Manager. These can be reviewed by looking at the bottom left hand menu with the middle icon. See image below.

Screen Shot 2015-07-16 at 15.16.23

Image: ARCHICAD’s IFC Manager (shown in version 19) showing Types. The items on the left are the Types with the Components listed below them and the right hand window shows an example of Type data.

The following information is required for handover: NameDescription, Category (Reference Classification)Asset Type, Manufacturer, ModelNumber, WarrantyGuarantorParts, WarrantyDurationParts, WarrantyGuarantorLabor, WarrantyDurationLabor, WarrantyDurationUnit, DurationUnitNominalLength, NominalWidth and NominalHeight.

Much of this information needs to be provided by others as it revolves around specific products which will ultimately be determined by the main contractor. We therefore believe during the design stages it is possible to provide the following: Name, Description, Classification Reference (Category)*, NominalLength, NominalWidth and NominalHeight. This information is typically what we will provide at RIBA Stage 3 for projects requiring a COBie deliverable.

All Type Names must be unique.

AssetType must have a value of Fixed or Moveable. This can be mapped and automated for all Types with the exception of Furniture which must be managed manually.

The following data is required if specified by the client for handover:  Replacement Cost, Expected LifeWarrantyDescription, ModelReferenceShape, Size, Colour, Finish, Grade, Material, Constituents, Features, AccessibilityPerformance, CodePerformance and SustainabilityPerformance.

Again most of these properties would be provided when the final choice of product is known. With mapping it is possible to map Size and Colour but other values would need to be manually completed or other import methodology used in other tools.

* As discussed in the last post we are putting this currently at Component level.

BS 1192-4:2014 Type data

No additional Type attributes are identified for Buildings by BS 1192-4.

Which Types are required?

Like in the previous post about Components not everything at Type level is required for COBie 2.4. The list below is in alphabetical order of what is and isn’t required.

Type classification is largely driven by the choices made when placing a Component/Element in the ARCHICAD model. I will cover this in a separate blog post so that this post doesn’t go off topic but in simple terms it is extremely important that the correct Element Classification is chosen in order to ensure that the structure of the model is correct and reliable.

IFC Scheme IfcTypeProduct

Image: IfcTypeProducts in the IFC Scheme (known as Types in COBie). Mapping can be carried out at both the Component (IfcElement) and Type (IfcTypeProduct) level.

Included COBie Types

*Only available in IFC4

  • IfcActuatorType
  • IfcAirTerminalType
  • IfcAirTerminalBoxType
  • IfcAirToAirHeatRecoveryType
  • IfcAlarmType
  • IfcAudioVisualApplianceType*
  • IfcBoilerType
  • IfcBuildingElementPartType*
  • IfcBuildingElementProxyType
  • IfcBurnerType*
  • IfcChillerType
  • IfcChimneyType*
  • IfcCoilType
  • IfcCommunicationsApplianceType*
  • IfcCompressorType
  • IfcCooledBeamType
  • IfcCoolingTowerType
  • IfcCondenserType
  • IfcControllerType
  • IfcCoveringType
  • IfcDamperType
  • IfcDiscreteAccessoryType
  • IfcDistributionChamberElementType
  • IfcDistributionControlElementType
  • IfcDistributionElementType
  • IfcDistributionFlowElementType
  • IfcDoorStyle
  • IfcDoorType*
  • IfcDuctSilencerType
  • IfcElectricApplianceType
  • IfcElectricDistributionBoardType*
  • IfcElectricFlowStorageDeviceType
  • IfcElectricGeneratorType
  • IfcElectricMotorType
  • IfcElectricTimeControlType
  • IfcElementAssemblyType*
  • IfcElementComponentType
  • IfcEngineType*
  • IfcEnergyConversionDeviceType
  • IfcEvaporativeCoolerType
  • IfcEvaporatorType
  • IfcFanType
  • IfcFilterType
  • IfcFireSuppressionTerminalType
  • IfcFlowControllerType
  • IfcFlowInstrumentType
  • IfcFlowMeterType
  • IfcFlowMovingDeviceType
  • IfcFlowStorageDeviceType
  • IfcFlowTerminalType
  • IfcFlowTreatmentDeviceType
  • IfcFootingType*
  • IfcFurnitureType
  • IfcFurnishingElementType
  • IfcGeographicElementType*
  • IfcHeatExchangerType
  • IfcHumidifierType
  • IfcInterceptorType*
  • IfcLampType
  • IfcLightFixtureType
  • IfcMechanicalFastenerType
  • IfcMedicalDeviceType*
  • IfcMotorConnectionType
  • IfcOutletType
  • IfcPileType*
  • IfcProtectiveDeviceType
  • IfcProtectiveDeviceTrippingUnitType*
  • IfcPumpType
  • IfcReinforcingBarType*
  • IfcReinforcingElementType*
  • IfcReinforcingMeshType*
  • IfcRoofType*
  • IfcSanitaryTerminalType
  • IfcSensorType
  • IfcShadingDeviceType*
  • IfcSolarDeviceType*
  • IfcSpaceHeaterType
  • IfcStackTerminalType
  • IfcSwitchingDeviceType
  • IfcSystemFurnitureElementType
  • IfcTankType
  • IfcTendonType*
  • IfcTendonAnchorType*
  • IfcTransformerType
  • IfcTransportElementType
  • IfcTubeBundleType
  • IfcUnitaryEquipmentType
  • IfcUnitaryControlElementType*
  • IfcValveType
  • IfcVibrationIsolatorType
  • IfcWasteTerminalType
  • IfcWindowStyle
  • IfcWindowType*

Excluded COBie Types

*Only available in IFC4

  • IfcBeamType
  • IfcCableCarrierFittingType
  • IfcCableCarrierSegmentType
  • IfcCableFittingType
  • IfcCableSegmentType
  • IfcColumnType
  • IfcCurtainWallType
  • IfcDuctFittingType
  • IfcDuctSegmentType
  • IfcElementType
  • IfcFastenerType
  • IfcFlowFittingType
  • IfcFlowSegmentType
  • IfcJunctionBoxType
  • IfcMemberType
  • IfcPipeFittingType
  • IfcPipeSegmentType
  • IfcPlateType
  • IfcRailingType
  • IfcRampType*
  • IfcRampFlightType
  • IfcSlabType
  • IfcSpaceType
  • IfcStairType*
  • IfcStairFlightType
  • IfcWallType

** Note: UK COBie does allow this list to be amended and still be compliant. BS1192-4:2014 Section 5.1 states “The employer should state their purposes for requiring information deliverables, including the aspects of the Facility that are intended to be managed”. Although it is unclear in the UK why this would deviate from the published US standard. The Responsibility Matrix on the BIM Task Group website makes no mention of the ability to deviate from the standard although Bill East the author of COBie has confirmed that the UK was looking to be able to deviate where required.

Type workflow issues with ARCHICAD

The following are issues we have identified in trying to apply COBie to real projects:

  1. Type data can only be edited if the Type Name is edited. However as soon as this is done the mapping for the Name is lost and it essentially becomes a static field. This means if the object size is changed the Type Name will be incorrect (based on our mapping approach).
  2. Type data can not be scheduled other than the Type Name (IFC Type Product Name). Category (Classification Reference) can be scheduled if placed at the Component level (although can’t be used in labels in either method).
  3. Type data can not be used in labels in ARCHICAD 18 or 19.
  4. If a Type Name has been edited and another Component is added to the model or an existing one duplicated that is the same, a new Type will be created. The new Component can be manually dragged into the correct Type within the IFC Manager but this adds a fair bit of complexity to the process for users and is not a very intuitive process.
  5. Mapping to ensure Types have unique Names is made extremely complex by a lack of consistency with out-of-the-box GDL object parameters.
  6. There is no way to embed Type data into Favorites. For example, AssetType would allow Furniture to be setup so that it already had the correct allocation of Fixed or Moveable.
  7. Edited Type data associated to a placed Component can not be copied between files without losing the Type data.
  8. Type data can not currently be exported to GRAPHISOFT BIMx Pro other than Type Name (IFC Type Product Name) as it is the only piece of IFC Type data that can currently be scheduled.


Much of the information required at Type level from designers can largely be driven through automation using the IFC Scheme mapping in ARCHICAD. Without putting the effort into mapping it would be almost impossible to produce COBie efficiently in my opinion.

As described above there are still a number of issues that need to be resolved within ARCHICAD in order to fully automate and simplify the workflow but with care and understanding it is possible to deliver Type data without too much hassle.

In the final post in this series we will look at the remaining sheets of COBie including Systems, Attributes and Coordinates.

Rob Jackson, Associate Director, Bond Bryan Architects


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