A Knowledge-Based Approach Towards Automated Manufacturing-Centric BIM: Wood Frame Design and Modelling for Light-Frame Buildings


  • Mahmud Abushwereb Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Alberta
  • Hexu Liu Department of Civil and Construction Engineering, Western Michigan University
  • Mohamed Al-Hussein Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Alberta




Building information modelling (BIM) technology has the potential to improve communication among multiple stakeholders and to streamline construction projects. In order for the BIM model to be fit for use in the construction field generally and in modular construction projects specifically, it needs to be designed with sufficient construction details. However, in current practice, this requirement necessitates substantial manual modelling efforts, which limits the use of BIM in the construction field. In this context, the objective of this research is to automate BIM of construction details for modular construction (i.e., manufacturing-centric BIM) with a focus on the wood-framing design and modelling processes. Specifically, this paper presents a portion of the research undertaken at the University of Alberta to develop FrameX, an Autodesk Revit add-on under development for the purpose of automating the framing design of light-frame wood structures. It represents a rule-based modelling approach that is capable of analyzing and designing building frames automatically in accordance with building codes, transportation regulations for modular components, and industry-wide best practices. Various best practice scenarios described in this paper represent ways the industry is seeking to reduce the material, time, and effort required to manufacture prefabricated building panels. A case study is presented to demonstrate the effectiveness of the rule-based modelling approach and the prototyped system, FrameX. The results reveal that the prototype system, FrameX, can automatically output manufacturing-centric BIM model and shop drawings in accordance with formalized rules, to assist field specialists from the outset of a given construction project.