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Prepared by



October 2008

Information classification systems and the Australian construction



1 Introduction ... 3

2 Classification – A brief overview ... 3

3 References ... 11

4 Referenced Standards... 11

5 Appendix A: Terminology ... 12

6 Appendix B: Relationship of current information classification systems to international standards . 14 7 Appendix C: Degree of parity between individual tables of Uniclass and Omniclass... 15

8 Appendix D: Uniclass and Omniclass tables ... 16

9 Appendix E: Work section Tables from Uniclass, Omniclass and NATSPEC ... 17



1.1 The need for classification systems in the construction industry

The built environment is the most salient physical product of human society, requiring enormous collaborative effort.

Collaboration on this scale entails extensive exchanges of information between large numbers of people for

extended durations. Depending on their role, each participant has different information needs and responsibilities at different times during the construction process.

Even the most rudimentary project relies on the participants being able to create, communicate and find relevant information at the appropriate time. The larger the scale of the project, and the greater the number of participants, the more essential it becomes to use methods and systems able to handle the associated complexities of information exchange. Classifying information in a consistent way, agreed by all participants, facilitates clear communication of intent and reduces the incident of misunderstanding, conflict, and wasted resources – this is particularly important in the construction industry because the parties involved usually change from project to project.


2.1 Classification schemes

In essence, classification simply means the grouping together of like things according to some common quality or characteristic. This automatically implies the separation of the unlike.1

In order to be able to classify a collection of subjects it is at first necessary to define the purpose of the

classification. Then the properties of interest to the classification may be distinguished, and finally the subjects can be sorted into classes with regard to the chosen properties.

2.2 Faceted classification

Here, each item is comprehended from multiple conceptual perspectives, or facets. The Oxford Dictionary defines facet as ‘one side of a many-sided body’. Individual subjects are classified by describing them by the appropriate combination of each facet.1 Facets are usually referred to as ‘Tables’ in most of the classification systems examined later.

2.3 Hierarchical or enumerative classification

A hierarchy, as used in classification, is a series of classes or groups in successive subordination; for example;

Literature / English literature / English poetry / Early English poetry, etc. Thus each subject class, (for example, English poetry) falls into a subgroup of a larger group (English literature), which in turn forms part of an even larger group (Literature). Such a classification scheme is created by a process of division, according to certain

characteristics. As the process of division continues the hierarchical classification lists or ‘enumerates’ complex subjects. This may be contrasted with a faceted approach, which would list ‘English’ and ‘poetry’ as separate concepts, but not as a complete subject. In a properly designed hierarchical classification each subject should have only one place where it fits into the scheme.1

Rather than becoming preoccupied with the abstract intricacies of any given scheme, the guiding principle for ordering subjects should always consider how helpful it is likely to be for most of its intended users.2

2.4 Consistent terminology

Different people may use different terms to describe the same item, and individuals may use different terms to describe the same item on different occasions. For day-to-day purposes this might not cause any problems, but within a classification scheme this can cause confusion. For this reason, classification schemes usually rely on agreed definitions of terms and consistent usage.

1 Hunter, J.E. (1988). Classification Made Simple. Gower, Aldershot.

2 Foskett, A. C. (1996). The Subject Approach to Classification. Library Association Publishing, London.


2.5 Notation

Notation is a very important consideration. However, a common error is to think that choice of notation is the first step in the compilation of a classification scheme – on the contrary, it is one of the final steps. Notation provides a classification system with a short, unambiguous subject identifier facilitating quick orientation and navigation of the system.

(For fuller coverage of this topic, refer to ‘Principles of Classification’ by John Cann’3 http://www.icis.org/siteadmin/rtdocs/images/5.pdf)

2.6 Primary uses of classification systems in the construction industry

Typical items assisted by an information classification system include:

• Organising reference material on construction products, technical matters, costs, etc.

• Structuring the contents of individual documents in a consistent manner.

• Co-ordinating information between individual documents found in sets of documents.

• Facilitating communications between different members of a construction project team.

• Facilitating interoperability of digital systems.

2.7 Existing classification systems for the construction industry

2.7.1 Standards relevant to construction classification systems

See Appendix B for a summary of the relationships between current classification systems and the following standards:

• ISO TR 14177 Classification of Information in the Construction Industry:

• ISO 12006-2 Organization of information about Construction Works – Part 2: Framework for Classification of Information (an evolution of ISO TR 14177).

• ISO 12006-3 Organization of information about Construction Works – Part 3: Framework for Object-oriented Information. In recognition of the need for an alternative ‘object oriented’ approach. (see Appendix A for an explanation of terms).

ISO 12006-2 has had the most immediate influence on the development of a number of classification systems currently being implemented in Europe (Uniclass) and North America (Omniclass). This influence is a reflection of the trend away from the separate development of incompatible systems by individual countries and the

convergence of systems based on shared standards.

2.7.2 The relationship of classification systems to specifications

ISO 12006-2 is very broad in scope. It sets out a framework of Tables for classifying construction information, and recommends titles for these Tables, but generally does not detail their content or structure.

The distinction needs to be made between complete ISO 12006-2 based classification systems, such as Omniclass and Uniclass, and the individual facets or ‘tables’ of these systems, which provide a classification system within the broader framework, for a specific purpose. The ISO 12006-2 Table A.9 Work Results (by type of work) is where the classification system for specification work sections is usually located. Work sections are defined as:

‘One or several parts of a building or other facility viewed as the result of particular skills and techniques applied to particular construction products and/or elements during the construction phase. Work sections are usually executed by particular types of subcontractor or groups of operatives. The class is influenced by both inputs (the construction products used) and outputs (the parts of the building or facility constructed) and thus represents a dual concept’ – ISO/TR 14177: 1994

2.7.3 Australia

NATSPEC, the pre-eminent master building specification in Australia, is based on a classification system developed by its founder, Bryce Mortlock, in 1989. NATSPEC notation consists of numerical codes of up to four digits. The notation is hierarchical – for example 0311 Formwork is a subclass of 031 Concrete, which in turn is a subclass of 03 Structure (see Appendix E for a summary). There is currently no unified construction information classification system, similar to Uniclass or Omniclass, used nationally for a broad range of classification purposes.

3 Cann, J. (1997). Principles of Classification. NBS Services, UK and ICIS.


The NATSPEC classification system was amended in 2005/2006 when NATSPEC and Masterspec of New Zealand agreed to align their systems more closely. The most recent amendment was in 2007, when a large number of new worksections were introduced following the incorporation of AUS-SPEC, a master specification system used nationally by state and local government bodies for documenting civil engineering, landscaping and infrastructure works, including their maintenance and operation.

2.7.4 New Zealand (NZ)

Masterspec is New Zealand’s default standard specification system, managed by Construction Information Limited (CIL) a company owned by the New Zealand Institute of Architects, Registered Master Builders Federation and the Building Research Association. In 1998 CIL took over the work of a previous construction industry organisation and adopted the Coordinated Building Information (CBI) national classification system as the basis for organising Masterspec.

CBI is based on the British Common Arrangement of Work Sections (CAWS) system and Uniclass (See 2.7.10 United Kingdom). CBI modified these systems to take account of local construction customs and practices, and to incorporate a four-level numeric notation that can be used to co-ordinate specification data as well as drawings, product data and research information.

2.7.5 Europe

ISO 12006-2 or its drafts have been applied in the development of the following European classification systems:

2.7.6 Denmark

ISO 12006-2 formed the basis of the Danish DBK system (Dansk Bygge Klassifikation), developed in 2006. Prior to this, a system based on the Swedish SfB system (See 2.7.9 Sweden), called BC/Sfb, was used. The DBK system is part of a wider program called Digital Convergence, which focuses on introducing and implementing shared Information and Communication Technology (ICT) standards in the entire construction sector: email standards, discrepancy lists and web-based project management.4

2.7.7 Finland

The Finnish Building 90 system developed by the Building 90 Group and the Finnish Building Centre was published in 1999. It is widely used in the Finnish engineering community.5

2.7.8 The Netherlands

The NL/SfB, or ‘Elementenmethode’, is based on SfB, and is used in the Netherlands for the classification of building elements. The Dutch building specification system, STABU2, is produced by STABU, which is the abbreviation (in Dutch) for the ‘Foundation for a National Standard Building Specification’. STABU was founded in 1975 and produced its first specification in 1986. From its earliest stages, the STABU2 system was based on a relational database.

In 2005, NL/SfB was connected to the STABU2 system, making it possible to reorganise work sections to building elements and vice versa. The next proposed development is to link the classification of elements to performance specifications, allowing users to start developing their specifications early in the design process.

Civil engineering works are specified using the RAW specification system. RAW is the abbreviation for ‘Standard Conditions of Contract for Works of Civil Engineering Construction’, published by the Centre for Research and Contract Standardisation in Civil and Traffic Engineering (CROW). RAW specifications do not use a formal classification system, but are broadly based on work sections and product groups.

2.7.9 Sweden

The first Swedish classification system, developed in the 1950s, was called SfB (Samarbetskommittén för Byggnadsfrågor, Co-ordination Committee for the Construction Industry). The limitations of this system in addressing new developments in the industry led to the introduction of the BSAB (Byggandets Samordning AB, Construction Co-ordination Limited) system in 1972. The Swedish Building Centre (SBC) released the latest revision of the BSAB96 system in 1999. The Swedish national building specification, the AMA, which uses the BSAB96 classification system, was revised and republished by the SBC in 2001. AMA is the abbreviation (in Swedish) for

‘General Material and Workmanship Specifications’ 6.

4 Digital Convergence website: http://www.digitalkonvergens.com/

5Building 90 Group and The Finish Building Centre Ltd (1999) Building 90 – The Finnish building classification system The Finnish Building Centre Limited, Helsinki.

6 McGregor, C. (2001) A description and comparison of national building specifications. International Construction Information Society.


2.7.10 United Kingdom (UK)

The most recent construction information classification system to be implemented in the UK is Uniclass (Unified Classification for the Construction Industry) driven by developments in ICT and international standards for classification systems. The first edition of Uniclass was published in 1997.

Uniclass is a faceted system designed within the parameters of ISO TR 14177. [3] A number of pre-existing classification systems, used for specific purposes, were also incorporated into its 15 Tables; for example:

• CI/SfB (Construction Index/SfB), a derivation of the Swedish SfB system. It forms the basis for table D.

• CAWS (Common Arrangement of Work Sections for building works), developed in 1987, was adopted by the National Building Specification (NBS), the Standard Method of Measurement of Building Works (SMM7), and the National Engineering Specification (NES). Until recently CAWS formed the basis of Uniclass Table J Work sections for buildings. (See Appendix E for a summary of Table J). This Table is currently under review.

• CESMM3 (Civil Engineering Standard Method of Measurement) forms the basis of Uniclass Table K Work sections for civil engineering works.

• EPIC (European Product Information Cooperation) Construction Product Grouping (CPG) – or EPIC for short, a common European classification system for construction products, was first published in 1994. EPIC forms the basis of Uniclass Table L Construction products.

• UDC (Universal Decimal Classification) system, a derivation of the US Dewey decimal classification system forms the basis of Uniclass Table Q Universal decimal Classification (see Appendix D for a list of Tables). [3]

Uniclass notation consists of a single capital letter followed by zero or more digits, except Tables J and K, which have two initial capital letters to allow the incorporation of the CAWS and CESMM3 codes. The notation is

hierarchical; for example D21, D22, D23, etc. are always subclasses of D2. A number of signs: + / : (colon) < >

are used to combine simple class numbers for complex subjects and define relationships of subjects.

2.7.11 North America

The most recent construction information classification system to be implemented in North America is Omniclass. A group of volunteers from organisations and firms representing a broad cross - section of the construction industry recognised a need for classifying construction subjects, the increased use of electronic information technology, and the expanding focus on the complete life cycle of construction. The majority of the 15 Omniclass Tables were published in 2006.

Omniclass is a faceted system designed within the parameters of ISO 12006-2 and ISO 12006-3. Also, Omniclass freely adapted and used Uniclass in its development, and therefore shares many of the Uniclass legacy documents – for example, both use EPIC as the basis of their construction product Tables. The most significant points of departure include:

• The adoption of Masterformat as the basis of Omniclass Table 22 Work results. In the same way CAWS is used in the UK, Masterformat is the pre-eminent means of organising commercial and institutional construction

specifications, such as Masterspec, in North America. It is published in by the Construction Specifications Institute (CSI) and Construction Specifications Canada (CSC). The most recent edition was published in 2004.

• The adoption of Uniformat as the basis of Omniclass Table 21 Elements (including designed elements). Uniformat provides a standard method of arranging construction information, organised around the physical parts of a facility called systems and assemblies. These systems are characterised by their function without identifying the technical or design solutions that may comprise them. It is used for formatting documents on project scope, quality, cost and time, such as cost estimates or reports (see Appendix D for a list of Tables). 7

Omniclass notation consists of numerical codes, generally of six digits. These can be extended by adding more digits after a decimal point. The notation is hierarchical (see Appendix E for a summary of Table 22).

2.8 A comparison of existing classification systems

2.8.1 Comparison of Uniclass and Omniclass

• While both systems are based on ISO 12006-2; or its precursor, ISO TR 14177; and there is generally parity between the Tables in each system, each places them in a slightly different order, and each splits or combines some Tables differently. Uniclass adds an extra Table Q, based on the UDC system; for classifying subjects not covered elsewhere in the system.

7OCCS Development Committee. (2006) OminClass Introduction and User’s Guide – Edition: 1.0, 2006-03-28 Release.

Construction Specifications Institute and Construction Specifications Canada.


• There is a high degree of parity between Tables based on the same source documents, for example, Uniclass Table L Construction products and Omniclass Table 23 Products, which are both based on EPIC. With Tables based on different source documents, we see significant differences in their internal order (see Appendix C for an assessment of the relative parity of Tables in the two systems).

• Omniclass classifies subjects in more detail and information is more clearly presented. This is probably a reflection of the fact that Omniclass was published 9 years after Uniclass, giving Omniclass the opportunity to build on the work of Uniclass.

• Omniclass does not appear to provide an index like Uniclass.

• Omniclass is more readily available – the Tables and supporting documents can be downloaded directly from the web at no cost. The Uniclass manual can only be purchased from RIBA bookshops. Also, there is more evidence of on-going support and development for Omniclass, especially in the guise of Masterformat, than Uniclass.

Although there have been recent revisions to Uniclass, and a number of Tables are now under review, it has not been republished since the first edition of 1997 – not insignificant considering the changes that have occurred in the construction industry during this period.

2.8.2 Comparison of Uniclass Table J and Table K and Omniclass Table 22.

These work section Tables are used as the basis of comparison of the classification systems used by the NBS (Uniclass) and the American Institute of Architect’s MASTERSPEC (Omniclass) specifications, and as potential influences on Australian specification classification systems.

2.8.3 Preliminary assessment

• Omniclass groups work sections for buildings and worksections for civil engineering works together. Uniclass splits these into separate Tables J and K (see Appendix E).

• Omniclass documents many more subdivisions of each Table than Uniclass.

• Uniclass Table J, Work sections for buildings has an internal structure much closer to the Australian approach used by NATSPEC than Omniclass’ Table 22 Work results. Table J more closely matches the overall sequence of items, and grouping of items. Omniclass Table 22; Division 10 Specialties, for example, groups a number of items together which, by Australian conventions, would be located in a variety of locations. This could very well be because Australian construction and subcontracting practices derive much more from English models than North American.

• The structure and notation of Uniclass Tables J and K is very simple, making it more readily comprehensible and easier to navigate. The downside is that it would be more difficult to assign a unique place or notation to items being classified.

• The structure and notation of Omniclass Table 22 are highly subdivided, which makes it easy to find a unique place for many different items, but also makes it difficult to navigate quickly. Although good reasons are given for the notation system,8 the six digit format is not very user-friendly, though the amended format adopted by Masterformat 2004 has improved legibility. While the difference might not seem that great when viewing Tables in isolation, the larger codes from each Table would become very unwieldy if combined with codes from other Tables – the basis on which faceted systems are designed.

• Omniclass Table 22 provides dedicated maintenance and operation worksections at the beginning of each division – a very useful feature that corresponds to AUS-SPEC worksections recently incorporated into NATSPEC.

Most of the previous comments have been directed at the intrinsic qualities of each system, but issues such as access and availability, which impact on their adoption, also need to be taken into account. In this regard, Omniclass is more readily available, and appears better maintained and supported.

It is encouraging to note that despite the differences between British and North American systems, in broad terms, they have more in common than they have ever had in the past – largely because of the adoption of ISO 12006-2.

2.9 Current trends in the construction industry impacting on classification systems

2.9.1 The impact of information and communication technology (ICT)

ICT has had a profound impact on the working methods of the construction industry. ICT is well suited to the fluid and dynamic environment of design and management processes, compared to traditional paper-based methods.

Developments in communications, such as the internet, have also significantly improved the ability to access and distribute information.

The concept of Building Information Models (BIM) is one ICT application to emerge recently that is likely to have significant implications for the construction industry (See Appendix A on BIM).

8OCCS Development Committee. (2006) OminClass Introduction and User’s Guide – Edition: 1.0, 2006-03-28 Release.

Construction Specifications Institute and Construction Specifications Canada.


2.9.2 Interoperability

With respect to software, the term interoperability is used to describe the capability of different programs to

exchange data via a common set of exchange formats, to read and write the same file formats, and to use the same protocols. Interoperability relies on software developers adopting agreed standards when creating their


Interoperability is facilitated by standards being open, their specification public, and without restrictions in their access or implementation. It improves communications, maintains the integrity of data, and reduces the prevalence of conflicting and ambiguous information which leads to construction errors, defects and wasted resources.

Interoperability is crucial to realise the full potential and benefits of ICT, including applications such as BIM.

The International Alliance for Interoperability (IAI) is the most active organisation promoting interoperability in the construction industry. It is a worldwide alliance of construction industry organisations, comprising 12 international chapters from 21 countries representing over 550 private industry and government organisations. It is dedicated to bringing about coordinated changes for the improvement of productivity and efficiency in the construction and facilities management industry. Australia and New Zealand joined as a chapter in 1997. The IAI now operates under the name BuildingSMART International.

2.9.3 IFC, IFD, IDM and MVD

One of the key strategies of BuildingSMART is the promotion of the Industry Foundation Classes (IFC), a

specification for a neutral data format to describe, exchange and share information typically used within the building and facility management industry sector. BuildingSMART have developed and maintained the IFC and facilitated its implementation through mission programs which offer industry-wide forums to identify, test, review, recommend and implement ways delivering quality buildings and services to the facility owner.

The IFC data model consists of definitions, rules, and protocols that uniquely define data sets which describe capital facilities throughout their lifecycles. IFC is the only non-proprietary, open global data model specification available, and in 2002 it became the international standard, ISO/PAS 16793. Software applications supporting IFC are able to exchange data with other applications that support IFC. See http://www.iai-international.org

BuildingSMART has been working with its member organizations and major CAD vendors to put the standard in place. The latest release of the standard, IFC 2x specifies over several hundred object types and related concepts, which support the core exchange needs of the building industry.10

Two of the world’s largest CAD vendors, Autodesk and Bentley, have both developed BlM solutions (Revit Architecture and Bentley Architecture respectively), which support IFC. Many BIM-associated applications, like those for thermal or structural modelling, are appearing with IFC capability.11

Another important interoperability program is the development of the International Framework for Dictionaries (IFD) Library, an object terminology library for the building construction industry. The name is used both for the IFD Library and for the organisation running and maintaining it. The simplest description of IFD Library is that it is a kind of dictionary of construction industry terms that must be used consistently in multiple languages to achieve

consistent results – this will enable reliable automated communications between applications.

The structure of IFD is given in ISO 12006-3, which is an EXPRESS model with a short explanation of its purpose and use. (See Appendix A) The first implementations of this standard were the Norwegian BARBi library and the Dutch LexiCon by STABU. Other implementations include EDIBATEC in France. In 2006, on behalf of BuildingSMART, STABU and BARBI combined their efforts on the IFD. The IFD Library is compatible with IFC. See http://dev.ifd- library.org/

The three pillars of the BuildingSMART initiative are IFC, IFD and the Information Delivery Manual (IDM). While IFC is about HOW data is exchanged and IFD defines WHAT is exchanged, IDM is about information requirements, defining WHICH information to share WHEN. The IDM/MVD (model view definition) approach (also an ISO standard in development) forms that specification. IDM regulates the controlled flow of information in and out of a BIM. It’s like a contract defining which information will flow, defined by whom, and when. A MVD is more like a subset of the IFC model representing the information of interest to a user, or user group, for a particular purpose.

2.9.4 The continued relevance of classification systems

The need for information classification systems within the construction industry is more pressing today than ever.

The information-rich environment of the construction industry increasingly demands appropriate classification systems.12

9 Wikipedia on-line article. (2008) Interoperability. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Interoperability

10John Mitchell What are IFCs? How can they benefit your company and your projects? (2008) http://www.graphisoft.com.

11Royal Australian Institute of Architects. (2007) Towards Integrated Practice – A Rapid Tour. (2007) RAIA conference paper.


Some might argue that full text search and keywords make classification obsolete, but data needs to be organised somehow, and it is very convenient if the supplier and user of the data can use the same structure. 13

Robust industry classification systems have the potential of forming the firm foundations necessary for realising the full benefits of BIM. There are already many existing, widely used computer applications whose full potential could be realised by the adoption of uniform classification systems.

2.9.5 Implementation of classification systems

ICT will have a fundamental impact on the way any new or amended information classification system will be implemented, compared to the implementation of previous paper-based systems of the past. Any classification system is now likely to be created on a computer, distributed by digital means, and used in a digital environment. It would be unrealistic to expect someone working most of the time in a CAD or word processing environment, for example, to refer to a large printed classification manual or index. The nature of classification systems suggests a database platform as their natural vehicle.

2.10 Classification systems for the Australian construction industry

2.10.1 The current position

The need for a comprehensive, widely adopted information classification system for the Australian construction industry has become imperative with the emergence of increasingly data-based applications such as BIM.

The adoption of ISO 12006-2 enables mapping between localised classification systems which have developed worldwide.14 The increasing numbers of Australian construction industry companies operating in the global market suggest that it would make strategic sense to adopt ISO 12006-2 as the basis of any new classification system.

2.10.2 Development options for a classification system

ISO 12006-2 provides a framework of Tables for a faceted classification system without details about how the content of these Tables should be structured. The NATSPEC classification system is the most widely used national system. It corresponds to the Work Result/Work Process Tables of ISO 12006-2. Few other classification systems exist that immediately suggest themselves as the basis of the other remaining Tables.

The least-effort approach to creating an ISO 12006-2 compliant classification system for Australia would be to simply incorporate the NATSPEC classification into the Work Result/Work Process Table of an existing system such as Uniclass or Omniclass. While expedient, it is unlikely that this would be as well suited to local requirements as a more comprehensive approach.

2.10.3 Requirements statement

With this in mind, any amendment or adoption of a new classification system for the Australian construction industry should meet the following requirements;

• ISO 12006-2 and ISO 12006-3 based.

• Provide high functionality for core needs focusing on the co-ordination of information in all forms of construction documents used throughout the construction process.

• Based on BuildingSMART and open standards to ensure interoperability.

• Facilitate a forward migration path, accommodating current work practices and tools, and anticipating future likely developments in work practices and tools.

• Extensible, making provision for expansion of capabilities.

• Adaptable, allowing individual users to use the parts they require without being obliged to understand the whole system.

• Tailored to the digital environment that most practitioners work in, linking it to CAD, BIM, word processing, email and internet browser applications.

2.10.4 Guiding principles for a classification system development program

• Prioritise development goals according to the immediacy of need.

• Maintain a strategic perspective to avoid closing off future development options.

• Apportion effort on the basis of expected benefits.

12 OCCS Development Committee. (2006) OminClass Introduction and User’s Guide – Edition: 1.0, 2006-03-28 Release.

Construction Specifications Institute and Construction Specifications Canada.

13Howard, R. (2001) Classification of building information – European and IT systems. Construction Informatics Digital Library.

14OCCS Development Committee. (2006) OminClass Introduction and User’s Guide – Edition: 1.0, 2006-03-28 Release.

Construction Specifications Institute and Construction Specifications Canada.


• Make any system only as complex as it needs to be to satisfy user requirements.

• Borrow from, or adapt, existing systems as much as possible – Do not reinvent the wheel

• Recognise the constraints of local resources for developing systems compared to larger countries – monitor programs elsewhere to avoid duplication of effort.

• Co-operate with CIL (New Zealand) where this is to the advantage of the industry in both countries.

• Monitor the development of systems elsewhere to assess whether industry standards are emerging, and to ascertain when they have reached sufficient maturity to warrant adoption or incorporation into the local system.

• Adopt an open collaborative approach. Apart from the benefits of a wide range of inputs, this would encourage widespread adoption and support – the ultimate measure of a system’s success. Contributors would need to be aware that this entails relinquishing intellectual property rights to the project group.

2.10.5 Assessment criteria

• The primary assessment criteria should always be: ‘How useful will this be for users?’

• All recommendations and proposals need to be measured against their implications at the implementation stage.

For example, if user requirements suggest a custom-designed software application, identify what sort of development program and costs would be associated with it, whether it is likely to be widely used, and whether the benefits will outweigh the costs.

• Specific proposals for the classification system and any associated product, such as computer applications, need to be assessed not just in terms of their production cost, but also their promotion, distribution, support and on-going development costs. That is, a whole systems approach is required to avoid the waste of significant effort. A number of classification systems have only achieved limited adoption due to insufficient promotion and support – for example, the Co-ordinated Classification System (CCS). Other systems, such as those used by construction product information suppliers, such as Infolink and Selector.com, are structured for a web-based environment, and are not necessarily suitable for other classification purposes.

2.10.6 First steps undertaken by NATSPEC to develop an Australian classification system

On the 29th April, 2008, NATSPEC hosted an informal discussion group in Melbourne on classification systems and their relationship to BIM with representatives from architectural and engineering practices. The purpose was to assess the current state of development in this area, and to discuss likely trends and ways of responding to them. A number of points were agreed:

• There was a mandate to make necessary changes to address anticipated developments.

• That steps needed to be taken in this direction straight away because of uncertainty about how long it would take for international standards to be formally adopted.

• Not to try to solve everything at once, but to take cost-effective steps in the right direction.

• The immediate requirement was to develop a consistent indexing/tagging system that provided a correlation between items on drawings, specification clauses and material and product information.

In response, NATSPEC has made the following recommendations:

• Comply with the framework for classification of construction information provided by ISO 12006-2. The reason for adopting this standard is that it has already been adopted by North America and a number of European

countries. Not only does this provide a number of potential models for an Australian system, but it is more likely to facilitate the exchange of information between national classification systems and interoperability between ICT applications like BIM.

• Adopt NATSPEC classification for the Work results and Work processes Table of the proposed classification system.

• Expand listings in the NATSPEC classification to include items suggested by the construction industry.

• Outline a number of key tables including those for Elements, Work results and Work processes, Products and Materials.



Building 90 Group and The Finish Building Centre Ltd (1999) Building 90 – The Finnish building classification system The Finnish Building Centre Limited, Helsinki.

Crawford, M., Cann, J., O’Leary, R. (1997) Uniclass; Unified Classification for the Construction Industry RIBA Publications, London.

CRC Construction Innovation. (2007) Adopting BIM for facilities management – Solutions for managing the Sydney Opera House. CRC Construction Innovation.

Digital Convergence website: http://www.digitalkonvergens.com/

Foskett, A. C. (1996). The Subject Approach to Classification. Library Association Publishing, London.

Howard, R. (2001) Classification of building information – European and IT systems. Construction Informatics Digital Library.

Hunter, J. E. (1988). Classification Made Simple. Gower, Aldershot.

John Mitchell (2008)What are IFCs? How can they benefit your company and your projects?


McGregor, C. (2001) A description and comparison of national building specifications. International Construction Information Society.

OCCS Development Committee. (2006) OminClass Introduction and User’s Guide – Edition: 1.0, 2006-03-28 Release. Construction Specifications Institute and Construction Specifications Canada.

Royal Australian Institute of Architects. (2007) Towards Integrated Practice – A Rapid Tour. (2007) RAIA conference paper.

Wikipedia on-line article. (2008) Interoperability. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Interoperability


ISO TR 14177: 1994 Classification of Information in the Construction Industry.

ISO 12006-2: 2001 Organization of information about Construction Works – Part 2: Framework for Classification of Information.

ISO 12006-3: 2007 Organization of information about Construction Works – Part 3: Framework for Object-oriented Information.

ISO/PAS 16739:2005 Industry Foundation Classes, Release 2x, Platform Specification (IFC2x Platform)



5.1 Classification terminology from ISO TR 14177: 1994

Classification: a set of concepts arranged systematically according to chosen characteristics or criteria.

Classification class: a high-level unit within a classification expressing a main concept.

Class definition: a formulation of the essential characteristics of a classification class which draws a clear boundary between it and other classification classes.

Classification item: a single defined concept, unique within a classification class.

Classification notation: a system of codes expressing the arrangement of a classification.

Classification term: a designation of a classification class or classification item by a linguistic expression.

5.2 Object class terms from ISO 12006-2: 2001

Construction agent: human participant in the construction process.

Construction aid: material construction resource not intended for incorporation in a permanent manner in a building or other construction entity.

Construction complex: two or more adjacent construction entities collectively serving one or more user activity function.

Construction entity: Independent material construction result of significant scale, serving at least one user activity or function.

Construction entity lifecycle stage: period of time in the lifecycle of the construction entity identified by the overall character of the construction process, which occurred within it.

Construction entity part: solid (as distinct from liquid or gaseous) material part of a construction entity having physically delineated boundaries.

Construction information: information used to support one or more construction processes.

Construction object: object of importance to the construction industry.

Construction process: process which transforms construction resources and construction results into construction results.

Construction product: material construction resource intended for incorporation in a permanent manner in a building or another construction entity.

Construction resource: construction object used in the construction process to achieve a construction result.

Construction result: construction object which has formed or changed in state as the result of one of more construction processes, utilising one or more construction resources.

Designed element: element for which the work result(s) have been defined.

Element: construction entity part which in itself, or in combination with, other such parts fulfils a predominating function of the construction entity.

Management process: construction process with the purpose of planning, administering or assessing.

Object: any part of the perceivable or conceivable world.

Project stage: period of time in the duration of construction project, identified by the overall character of the construction processes which occur within it.

Space: three-dimensional, material construction result contained within, or otherwise associated with, a building or other construction entity.

Work process: predominant construction process, which results in a work result.

Work result: construction result achieved in the production stage, or by subsequent alteration, maintenance or demolition processes.


5.3 Other terms


BIM stands for Building Information Models or Building Information Modelling. The American Institute of Architects (AIA) has defined BIM as "a model-based technology linked with a database of project information”, and this reflects the general reliance on database technology as its foundation. 15 While BIM incorporates the 3D modelling

capabilities of earlier software, its real power is derived from the fact that individual objects representing component parts of the total model have data files associated with them. In traditional CAD systems 3D objects were graphical entities only, such as lines, arcs and circles. With BIM systems the data file associated with each object in the model can hold information on a large number of attributes, such as weight, structural, thermal and acoustic properties, power requirements, heat and light output, cost, manufacturer’s details and maintenance requirements. In addition, relationships to other objects, beyond simply spatial ones; such as constraints and rules of interaction; can be defined.

BIM is called a rich model, because all objects in it have properties and relationships and this information can be mined for data. 16 Quantities and shared properties of materials can easily be extracted. Scopes of work can be isolated and defined. Simulations can run to determine the structural, thermal and acoustic behaviour of a proposed building. BIM can be used to demonstrate the entire building life cycle, including the processes of construction and facility operation.

BIM provides the potential for a virtual information model to be shared by the whole design team (architects, surveyors, consulting engineers, and others), allowing all parties to work on a single, up-to-date model – a concept called integrated practice. This information model can also be passed on to contractors, facility managers, etc so that they can extract information of interest to them. The major benefit of a BIM is that individuals with different information needs can filter out the bulk of information not relevant to their needs, while still knowing it has been co- ordinated with the total model, and is up-to-date at the time of inquiry.

5.4 Express

A conceptual schema language which provides for the specification of classes belonging to a defined domain, the information or attributes pertaining to those classes (colour, size, shape etc.), and the constraints on those classes (unique, exclusive etc.). It is also used to define the relations which exist between classes and the numerical constraints applying to such relations.

5.5 Object oriented programming

A type of programming in which programmers define not only the data type of a data structure, but also the types of operations (functions) that can be applied to the data structure. In this way, the data structure becomes an object that includes both data and functions. In addition, programmers can create relationships between one object and another. For example, objects can inherit characteristics from other objects.

One of the principal advantages of object-oriented programming techniques over procedural programming techniques is that they enable programmers to create modules that do not need to be changed when a new type of object is added. A programmer can simply create a new object that inherits many of its features from existing objects. This makes object-oriented programs easier to modify.

15CRC Construction Innovation. (2007) Adopting BIM for facilities management – Solutions for managing the Sydney Opera House.

CRC Construction Innovation.

16Royal Australian Institute of Architects. (2007) Towards Integrated Practice – A Rapid Tour. (2007) RAIA conference paper.



(Refer Appendix A for some definitions)







Below is a full list of tables in Uniclass.

A Form of information B Subject disciplines C Management D Facilities

E Construction entities F Spaces

G Elements for buildings

H Elements for civil engineering works J Work sections for buildings

K Work sections for civil engineering works L Construction products

M Construction aids

N Properties and characteristics P Materials

Q Universal Decimal Classification (UDC)


Below is a full list of Tables in Omniclass, released in 2006, showing their status.

Table Status

Table 11 - Construction Entities by Function Released

Table 12 - Construction Entities by Form Released

Table 13 - Spaces by Function Released

Table 14 - Spaces by Form Released

Table 21 - Elements (includes Designed Elements) Conditional Draft

Table 22 - Work Results Released

Table 23 - Products Draft

Table 31 - Phases Released

Table 32 - Services Released

Table 33 - Disciplines Released

Table 34 - Organizational Roles Released

Table 35 - Tools Draft

Table 36 - Information Draft

Table 41 - Materials Released

Table 49 - Properties Draft




Table J - Work sections for buildings (concise form)

Table K - Work sections for civil engineering works (concise form)

JA Preliminaries/General conditions KA General items JB Complete buildings/structures/units KB Ground investigation

JC Existing site/buildings/services KC Geotechnical and other specialist processes

JD Groundwork KD Demolition and site clearance

JE In situ concrete/Large precast concrete KE Earthworks

JF Masonry KF In situ concrete

JG Structural/Carcassing metal/timber KG Concrete ancillaries

JH Cladding/Covering KH Precast concrete

KI Pipework pipes

JJ Waterproofing KJ Pipework – fittings and valves

JK Linings/Sheathing/Dry partitioning KK Pipework – manholes and pipework ancillaries JL Windows/Doors/Stairs KL Pipework – laying and excavation ancillaries

JM Surface finishes KM Structural metalwork

JN Furniture/Equipment KN Miscellaneous metalwork

KO Timber

JP Building fabric sundries KP Piles

JQ Paving/Planting/Fencing/Site furniture KQ Piling ancillaries

JR Disposal systems KR Roads and paving

JS Piped supply systems KS Rail track

JT Mechanical heating/Cooling/Refrigeration systems KT Tunnels

JU Ventilation/Air conditioning systems KU Brickwork, blockwork and masonry JV Electrical supply/power/lighting systems KV Painting

JW Communications/Security/Safety/protection systems KW Waterproofing

JX Transport systems KX Miscellaneous work

JY General engineering services KY Sewer renovation and ancillary work JZ Building fabric reference specification KZ Simple building works


9.2.1 Table 22 – Work Results – Table of Contents 22-01 00 00 General requirements

22-02 00 00 Existing Conditions 22-03 00 00 Concrete

22-04 00 00 Masonry 22-05 00 00 Metals

22-06 00 00 Wood, Plastics, and Composites 22-07 00 00 Thermal and Moisture Protection 22-08 00 00 Openings

22-09 00 00 Finishes 22-10 00 00 Specialties 22-11 00 00 Equipment 22-12 00 00 Furnishing

22-13 00 00 Special Construction 22-14 00 00 Conveying Equipment


22-21 00 00 Fire Suppression 22-22 00 00 Plumbing

22-23 00 00 Heating, Ventilating, and Air - Conditioning (HVAC) 22-25 00 00 Integrated Automation

22-26 00 00 Electrical 22-27 00 00 Communications

22-28 00 00 Electronic Safety and Security 22-31 00 00 Earthwork

22-32 00 00 Exterior Improvements 22-33 00 00 Utilities

22-34 00 00 Transportation

22-35 00 00 Waterway and Marine Construction 22-40 00 00 Process Integration

22-41 00 00 Material Processing and Handling Equipment 22-42 00 00 Process Heating, Cooling, and Drying Equipment

22-43 00 00 Process Gas and Liquid Handling, Purification, and Storage Equipment 22-44 00 00 Pollution Control Equipment

22-45 00 00 Industry – Specific Manufacturing Equipment 22-48 00 00 Electrical Power Generation

9.3 NATSPEC worksection classification list

00 PLANNING AND DESIGN (AUS-SPEC) 0011 Development and subdivision of land 0012 Waterfront development

0013 Bushfire protection 0021 Site regrading 0041 Geometric road layout 0042 Pavement

0043 Subsurface drainage (Design) 0044 Pathways and cycleways 0061 Bridges and other structures

0071 Water supply - reticulation and pump stations (Design) 0074 Stormwater drainage (Design)

0075 Control of erosion and stormwater management 0076 Sewerage systems - reticulation and pump stations (Design)

01 GENERAL 0111 Specification cover sheet 0112 Tendering cover sheet 0113 Amendment sheet 0115 Referenced documents

0120 Information for tenderers (AUS-SPEC) 0121 Tendering

0121 Conditions of tendering (AUS-SPEC) 0122 Tendering (Interior and alterations) 0123 Tender submission documents (AUS-SPEC) 0130 Contract preparation model (AUS-SPEC) 0131 Preliminaries (Generic)

0133 Preliminaries (Generic interior and alterations) 0138 Multiple contracts

0141 Preliminaries - ABIC MW-1 0142 Preliminaries - ABIC SW-1 0143 Preliminaries - AS 2124 0144 Preliminaries - AS 4000 0145 Preliminaries - AS 4905 0146 Preliminaries - AS 4902

0147 Conditions of contract (AUS-SPEC)

0152 Schedule of rates – supply projects (AUS-SPEC) 0153 Schedules - period supply and service (AUS-SPEC) 0154 Contract schedules for parks and recreation areas (AUS-SPEC)

0155 Contract schedules for buildings and facilities (AUS- SPEC)

0156 Contract schedules for road reserves (AUS-SPEC) 0160 Quality (Design) (AUS-SPEC)

0161 Quality (NATSPEC)

0161 Quality (Construction) (AUS-SPEC) 0162 Supply quality plan (AUS-SPEC) 0163 Contractors quality plan (AUS-SPEC)

0164 Parks and recreation area management plan (AUS- SPEC)

0165 Buildings and facilities maintenance plan (AUS-SPEC) 0166 Road reserve management plan requirements (AUS- SPEC)

0169 Green star – office as built submissions 0171 General requirements

0172 General requirements (Interior and alterations) 0173 General requirements (Mechanical)

0174 General requirements (Hydraulic) 0175 General requirements (Electrical)

0176 Technical specification for supply (AUS-SPEC)


0177 Technical specification for service (AUS-SPEC) 0179 General requirements (Construction) (AUS-SPEC) 0181 Adhesives, sealants and fasteners

0182 Fire-stopping 0183 Metals and prefinishes 0184 Termite management 0185 Timber finishes and treatment 0186 Building IT components

02 SITE 0201 Demolition

0202 Demolition (Interior and alterations) 0221 Site management

0222 Earthwork 0223 Service trenching 0224 Stormwater - site 0240 Landscape - gardening 0241 Landscape - walling and edging 0242 Landscape - fences and barriers 0243 Landscape – water features 0250 Landscape - gardening 0251 Landscape - soils 0252 Landscape - soft surfaces 0253 Landscape - planting 0254 Irrigation

0255 Landscape – plant procurement 0256 Landscape – establishment

0257 Landscape - roadworks and street trees (AUS-SPEC) 0261 Landscape - furniture and fixtures

0271 Pavement base and subbase 0272 Asphaltic concrete

0273 Sprayed bituminous surfacing 0274 Concrete pavement

0275 Segmental pavers - mortar bed 0276 Segmental pavers - sand bed 0277 Pavement ancillaries

0281 Bushfire perimeter tracks (AUS-SPEC) 0292 Masonry walls (AUS-SPEC)

0293 Crib retaining walls (AUS-SPEC)

03 STRUCTURE 0301 Piling

0310 Concrete – combined 0311 Concrete formwork 0312 Concrete reinforcement 0313 Concrete post-tensioned 0314 Concrete in situ 0315 Concrete finishes 0316 Precast concrete 0317 Tilt-up concrete 0318 Shotcrete

0319 Minor concrete works (AUS-SPEC) 0321 Monolithic stabilised earth walling 0322 Earth block walling

0323 Straw bale

0331 Brick and block construction 0332 Stone masonry

0333 Stone repair

0334 Block construction 0335 Brick construction 0341 Structural steel 0342 Light steel framing

0343 Tensioned membrane structures 0344 Steel - hot dip galvanized coatings 0345 Steel - protective paint coatings 0346 Structural fire protection systems 0381 Structural timber

0382 Light timber framing 0383 Flooring and decking


0411 Waterproofing - external and tanking 0421 Roofing - combined

0423 Roofing - profiled sheet metal 0424 Roofing - seamed sheet metal 0425 Roofing - shingles and shakes 0426 Roofing - slate

0427 Roofing - tiles 0431 Cladding - combined 0432 Curtain walls 0433 Stone cladding 0434 Cladding - panels 0435 Cladding - planks

0436 Cladding - profiled sheet metal

0437 Cladding - sheet and pre-assembled systems 0451 Windows and glazed doors

0452 Window hardware 0453 Doors and hatches 0454 Overhead doors 0455 Door hardware 0456 Louvre windows 0457 External screens 0461 Glazing

0462 Structural glazing 0463 Glass blockwork 0467 Glass components

0471 Insulation and sarking membranes 0472 Acoustic insulation

05 INTERIOR 0511 Lining

0521 Partitions - demountable 0522 Partitions - framed and lined 0523 Partitions - brick and block 0524 Partitions - glazed 0525 Cubicle systems 0526 Terrazzo precast 0527 Room dividers

0531 Suspended ceilings - combined 0532 Suspended ceilings - flushed lined 0533 Suspended ceilings - panel systems 0534 Suspended ceilings - tiled

0541 Access floors 0551 Joinery 0552 Metalwork

0553 Stainless steel benching


0554 Stairs, ladders and walkways 0571 Workstations

0572 Miscellaneous furniture 0573 Extinguishers and blankets 0574 Window coverings 0575 Tapestries 0581 Signs and display

06 FINISH 0611 Plastering

0612 Cementitious toppings 0613 Terrazzo in situ

0621 Waterproofing - wet areas 0631 Ceramic tiling

0632 Stone and terrazzo tiling 0641 Applied wall finishes 0651 Resilient finishes 0652 Carpets

0654 Engineered panel flooring 0655 Timber flooring

0656 Floor sanding and finishing 0657 Resin based seamless flooring 0671 Painting

0672 Textured and membrane coatings 0673 Powder coatings

0679 Wall papering

07 MECHANICAL 0701 Mechanical general requirements 0702 Mechanical design and install 0711 Chillers - combined

0712 Water heating boilers 0713 Cooling towers 0714 Mechanical pumps 0715 Tanks and vessels 0716 Chillers – centrifugal 0717 Chillers – water cooled screw 0718 Chillers – air cooled screw and scroll 0721 Packaged airconditioning

0722 Room airconditioners 0723 Evaporative coolers

0724 Air handling plant - combined 0725 Air handling plant - built up 0726 Air handling plant - minor 0727 Air handling plant - packaged 0731 Fans

0732 Air filters 0733 Air coils 0734 Humidifiers 0741 Ductwork

0744 Ductwork insulation

0745 Attenuators and acoustic louvres 0746 Air grilles

0747 Variable air volume terminals 0751 Mechanical piping

0752 Mechanical piping insulation

0753 Water treatment 0754 Liquid fuels

0755 Medical gas systems 0771 Automatic controls 0772 Automatic controls - minor 0773 Building management systems 0781 Mechanical electrical

0782 Mechanical electrical - minor 0784 Motors and starters

0791 Mechanical commissioning 0792 Mechanical maintenance

08 HYDRAULIC 0801 Hydraulic general requirements 0802 Hydraulic design and install 0811 Sanitary fixtures

0812 Tapware 0813 Water heaters 0814 Hydraulic pumps 0821 Stormwater - buildings 0822 Wastewater

0823 Cold and heated water 0824 Fuel gas

0825 Rainwater storage systems 0831 Hydrants

0832 Hose reels 0833 Sprinklers

09 ELECTRICAL 0901 Electrical general requirements 0902 Electrical design and install 0911 Cable support and duct systems 0921 Low voltage power systems 0931 Power generation -diesel 0933 Power generation - photovoltaic 0937 Uninterruptible power supply 0941 Switchboards - proprietary 0942 Switchboards - custom-built 0943 Switchboard components 0947 Power factor correction 0951 Lighting

0952 Luminaires - custom-built 0961 Telecommunications cabling 0962 Television distribution systems 0971 Emergency evacuation lighting 0972 Fire detection and alarms

0973 Emergency warning and intercommunication 0979 Lightning protection

0981 Electronic security

11 CONSTRUCTION - ROADWAYS (AUS-SPEC) 1101 Control of traffic

1102 Control of erosion and sedimentation 1111 Clearing and grubbing

1112 Earthworks (Roadways) 1113 Stabilisation

1121 Open drains, including kerb and channel gutter 1122 Kerb and channel gutter replacement


1131 Rolled concrete subbase 1132 Mass concrete subbase

1133 Plain and reinforced concrete base 1134 Steel fibre reinforced concrete base 1135 Continuously reinforced concrete base 1136 Cold milling of asphalt and base course 1141 Flexible pavements

1142 Bituminous cold mix

1143 Sprayed bituminous surfacing 1144 Asphaltic concrete (Roadways) 1145 Segmental paving

1146 Bituminous microsurfacing 1151 Road openings and restoration 1152 Road openings and restoration (Utilities)

1163 Rigid concrete and road safety barrier systems (Public domain)

1171 Subsurface drainage 1172 Subsoil and foundation drains 1173 Pavement drains

1174 Drainage mats 1191 Pavement markings 1192 Signposting 1193 Guide posts

1194 Non-rigid road safety barrier systems (Public domain) 1195 Boundary fences for road reserves

13 CONSTRUCTION – PUBLIC UTILITIES 1341 Water - reticulation and pump stations (Construction) 1351 Stormwater drainage (Construction)

1352 Pipe drainage 1353 Precast box culverts 1354 Drainage structures

1361 Sewerage systems- reticulation and pump stations (Construction)

1391 Service conduits

1392 Trenchless conduit installation


1401 Technical specifications for parks and recreation areas

1411 Street landscaping

1412 Grass mowing in road reserves

1413 Tree and vegetation control in road reserves 1414 Weed control in road reserves

1415 Weed control

1416 Planting of annuals and trees 1417 Care of trees and shrubs 1418 Gardens

1419 Care of grass and turf 1420 Grass mowing 1421 Native bushland 1422 Dunal areas 1423 Pest control

1424 Landscape – maintenance (NATSPEC) 1431 Footpath paving repairs

1432 Gravel footpath repairs

1433 Footpath and kerb ramp repairs adjacent to roadways 1441 Bituminous surfacing repairs

1442 Boat ramps maintenance

1461 Swimming enclosures maintenance 1462 Boundary fence repair

1471 Barbecues maintenance 1472 Drinking fountains maintenance 1473 Fences, rails, racks, guards and barriers 1474 Lighting maintenance

1475 Playground equipment maintenance 1476 Park furniture maintenance

1477 Sports ground facilities maintenance 1481 Accident repairs (Recoverable) 1482 Accident repairs (Non-recoverable) 1483 Emergency call out

1484 Storm damage response 1491 Open space litter collection 1492 Open space graffiti removal


1501 Technical specifications for buildings and facilities 1531 Floors

1532 Walls

1533 Doorways and windows 1534 Ceilings

1535 Roofing

1571 Mechanical systems 1572 Hydraulic systems 1573 Electrical systems

1581External building surveillance

1582 Accident repairs management (Recoverable) 1583 Emergency call out

1584 Storm damage response 1585 External cleaning 1586 Internal cleaning 1587 Sanitary cleaning 1588 Windows cleaning

1589 Cleaning - blinds and fire proofing of curtains


1601Technical specifications for road reserves 1611 Pavement sweeping

1612 Auxiliary work for reseals 1613 Repairs to bituminous surfacing 1614 Crack sealing

1615 Local shape correction 1616 Grading unsealed roads 1617 Resheeting unsealed roads 1618 Heavy patching

1619 Minor patching 1620 Pothole repair

1621 Concrete pavement repairs 1622 Concrete slab stabilization 1623 Emergency pavement repairs 1631 Edge break repair

1632 Grading unsealed shoulders 1633 Resheeting unsealed shoulders 1634 Local scour repair

1641 Kerb and channel gutter repairs


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