Thymo van den Brug, René Wubbels


Semantic Asset Management in the Dutch Rail Engineering and Construction industry (ProRail)

Subtitle: ProRail takes its first steps in semantic information exchange in the Dutch Rail Engineering and Construction industry, using the (Dutch) open BIM standard COINS.
ProRail will share its general view on ‘semantic asset management’. ProRail will discuss what is learned so far from semantic information exchange and what promises can be seen for the future.
Within ProRail, new ways of working are adopted, among them building information management (BIM). One of the key concepts of BIM is using coherent and linked information, organized around assets. ProRail has recently started to identify its assets in an Object Type Library (OTL Spoor), based on semantic modelling.
Information about assets is exchanged between a public asset owner (ProRail) and privately owned engineering, construction and maintenance companies. BIM provides in an open information exchange standard, Constructive Objects and the INtegration of Processes and Systems (COINS). COINS is based on the W3C semantic web standards RDF and OWL.
In a BIM Laboratories (BIM lab), in which ProRail explores new techniques and concepts, ProRail used COINS to exchange information with an engineering firm and a construction company.
The end result of this BIM Lab COINS was promising for using semantic technology.
In this session, ProRail will discuss the processes, knowledge and tools used during this BIM Lab COINS.

Introducing COINS
Constructive Objects and the INtegratie of Processes and Systems (COINS) is a flexible, open standard to exchange information. The standard ensures different types of information to be exchanged coherently in a container. Aspects like functions, demands and object trees, GIS- DATA, files, 2D drawings, 3D drawings, IFC models and the Object Type Library.
The standard involves a COINS core model and a COINS container.
COINS is a ‘smart’ container. COINS has similarities with a standard ZIP container. It contains three defined compartments.
Files can be stored in the document (DOC) compartment. The BIM compartment can contain data in RDF / OWL format. In the repository, the used semantic vocabularies can be stored, when not referring to a vocabulary endpoint.  In the Window of Authorization (WoA) compartment is arranged which user has which access rights.
Within the three different components, objects can be linked to other objects, documents and objects in documents (e.g. an IFC file, which also contains objects) in the same container, as well as deep links in other systems, like a document management system.
How did we use COINS in this BIM Lab?
[1] The commercial companies generated several COINS containers, using both OTL semantics as well as COINS semantics to model the objects and their properties.
[2] The COINS containers were received by ProRail. The semantics of COINS were removed, using SPIN, and the information is transferred to the ProRail collaboration and integration platform, a triple store. On this platform, ProRail was able to query and validate the contents of the container, using sparql on the semantics of OTL Spoor.
[3] From the collaboration and integration platform, the data was translated and mapped (using SPIN) to IMX, the XML exchange format ProRail uses to transfer data internally.
Outcome and recommendations
Working with COINS in this BIM Lab has shown ProRail that COINS can improve the semantic interoperability between ProRail and its partners in the Dutch rail sector. Information exchange works more smoothly, less misinterpretation and human error is involved.
Software support (tools) needs to be further developed and made COINS enabled, to support people in working with semantic information.


Thymo van den Brug is program manager BIM at ProRail Asset Management. His goal is to create excellent data with railpartners (Engineering Companies, Contractors, etc.) to become the World Class Asset manager. To transform the rail industry in the Netherlands his team is creating a new digital world based on (open) standards. In his job he loves to create new ways of working, to make happier employees and better data.

Program manager BIM | semantic asset management evangelist