Under the automated process, a single file is issued from the detailed model, instead of multiple files exported through many file-exchange formats. Fabricator production planning and CNC machinery can extract and manage the data needed from the single file. Feedback can be sent back to the detailed model via the single file.

The single file is based on a neutral file format data-exchange specification, called an industry foundation class (IFC) file, developed by buildingSMART. For the strategy to work, BIM vendors must incorporate the IFC specification into their software. To date, nine software vendors and five machinery manufacturers are involved in the AISC-led project.

Phase one of the project was "proof of concept," which involved exchanging files for a beam or a column. Phase two, which involves exchanging files of all elements of a fully detailed structure, is currently in final scope definition and, in some cases, under implementation, said Moor. After several rounds of testing through the fall, end users will start to use the specification, which is being developed for global use under buildingSMART.