PLM v BIM: Common or Different?

by Oleg on January 1, 2014 · 10 comments


As a matter of fact, PLM and BIM domains are quite independent. Nevertheless, I can hear more and more voices recently trying to create a marriage between these two. The latest one that caught my attention just before New Year party was Jos Voskuil’s blog – 2014 The year the construction industry will discover PLM? It is a bit long, but very thoughtful article speaking about variety of topics related to history, development and perspective of PLM and BIM usage. Have a read. My favorite passage is the following one:

An intermediate conclusion might be that construction companies follow the same direction as early PLM. Standardizing the data (model) to have a common understanding between stakeholders. Construction companies might not want to implement a PLM system as ownership of data is unclear as compared to manufacturing companies every discipline or department in PLM might be another company in the construction industry.

Data collaboration between people having different ownership and purpose on working with data is something that clearly can provide PLM and BIM perspective. At the same time, as you getting down to the earth, you might discover so many differentiability.

Thinking about technology and data deliveries as we move from files on hard discs to data in the cloud, lots of “application specifics” can disappear in the future by providing single collaborative cloud data platform to run variety of calculations and processes.

So, I can see a point why technologically driven people can see how to combine PLM and BIM to provide a broader unified platforms. At the same time, going down to bits you can discover lots of differentiations in data, terminology, processing and more. All together made think about what are top 3 common and different characteristics of PLM and BIM.

Top 3 commons:

1- Data Sharing. Both PLM and BIM solutions have a need to share and access a combined set of 3D and 2D product and project data with different roles and access requirements. Data can belongs to the same organization as well as different organizations.

2- Project management. Whatever we do, we call it projects. You can find some specifics between discrete manufacturing and building projects, but we would like to organize people and teams around deliveries and timeline.

3- Visualization. Both PLM and BIM have a strong tendency to visualize the objects. It doesn’t matter what – airplane, building, car or just office design. We want to see and experience it virtually before making it real. It even come in commonality of processes such as clash detection.

Top 3 differentiations:

1- Single model. You can hear both PLM and BIM people are talking about single model. It sounds similar, but I can see a big difference in handling of variety of Bill of Materials (EBOM, MBOM, etc.) vs. different elements of information about building (architecture, construction, equipment, etc.)

2- Processes and changes. Even every definition of what is process in the world sounds similar, I can see significant difference in the way changes and data integrity should be maintained between manufacturing product development and construction projects. The variety of specific models, data definitions, reporting, updates and many other specific won’t allow to create a single solution to support both manufacturing (PLM) and construction (BIM) domains.

3- Tools, Apps and terminology. At the end of the day, we are talking about people. Both PLM and BIM are representing almost different set of programs for design, planning, etc. These two tool sets are providing specific language and terminology. Even if some techie people can see similarity between them, it is often goes very down to HEX code, rather than to practical similarity. People are regular to use their apps and terminology and to make them change their behavior for sake of PLM and BIM unification sounds like a crazy task and mission impossible.

What is my conclusion? I can see some infrastructure commonality that can come in the future between PLM and BIM implementations. It will come first from tech and computing infrastructure. As much as we go towards cloud based solution, we might see some re-use of sharing of multidisciplinary solutions for data management, project organization, visualization, mobile access, etc. However, both manufacturing (PLM) and construction (BIM) industries will keep specific data organization, processes and terminological differences that will drive diversity in solution delivery. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

  • e_shirinyan

    Hi Oleg,

    “Single model” in BIM is really rare notion. Common database, federated, composite model, but not single. Something can be single during several stages, e.g. design stages. I would say it modeling processes strive to become a single one.


  • beyondplm


    thanks for this clarification! I found techno-terminological discussion around “single model” quite interesting. Many in CAD / PDM / PLM and BIM domains are taking straightforward “database” or “file” implementation internals as a guidance when talk about single model. It doesn’t happen in other domains. Like nobody is interested how many files used for the WP website unless it behaves in a correct way. However, when I say “single model” in BIM or PLM, lots of people will raise their hands and say… it cannot be ONE file.

    I agree with your view on a single process. However, I would also propose some transparency in case databases, files, models or whatever else will need to interplay together.

    Best, Oleg

  • e_shirinyan


    I didn’t say “a single file”, or “a one file” as you can see. Of course modeling in case of BIM uses many subdividing/linking techniques within a “single” platform (maybe here is the linguistic trap).

    Now I’m sitting in the lounge of the family house my wife has designed. It was conceived as a quite “sustainable” building. Solar panels, some basic sensors etc. And we decided to model it for maintenance as it’s built. Here the question rise: what platform could become unifying substrate for all important information (3d-model, 2d-drawings, product specs, photos etc)? And it shoud be sustainable for years.

    If we manage, we will have a structured model of data storage that can be used easily by a non-CAD user. Interesting vision of it, btw:

    Is it a single model or something else? Maybe something becomes a model when purpose of data fits purpose and features of platform? Well, when we discuss BIM notions we often miss the domain features it strives to link – design, construction, maintenance. And they are so different as we look at their modeling paradigms. Is there anything single? It could be – but it emerges as a neutral modeling process, and design is the first activity that is marginalised.

    Ok, just my thoughts too.


  • beyondplm

    Evgeny, thanks for sharing this interesting example. I can see “single experience” more important than “single file” or notion of “single model”. Best, Oleg

  • Pingback: PLM v BIM: United Or Separated?

  • Pingback: PLM v BIM: United Or Separated? | Daily PLM Think Tank Blog

  • Pingback: Beyond PLM: Top 10 most popular posts of 2014

  • Pingback: Beyond PLM: Top 10 most popular posts of 2014 | Daily PLM Think Tank Blog

  • David

    Hi all, I favour the conceptually single model but federated reality, in the industries I work in (Oil & Gas and Shipbuilding) as this suits the multiple ownership nature of the business process. Ultimately the master is where you go to edit it in our industries, and the focus is more on creating and maintaining a single data model that allows the seamless communication between different software architectures and class libraries.

  • beyondplm

    David, I like the way you defined “single model and federated reality”. I think, the reality is pure silos with very little federation. IMHO, companies are recognizing the problem, but speed of change is too slow… as many other things in enterprise.

Previous post:

Next post: