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August 2019

30. Asset Hierarchy (updated)

Updated August 9, 2019 (Original post October 23, 2014): To enable the definition of physical deliverables (Physical Assets) in a flexible manner, the concept of Asset Unit is needed (to be covered in a separate post). An Asset Unit combines: (i) a variable Asset Scale (e.g. a component, an assembly, a building, or a whole city) derived from the Asset Hierarchy (see below), with (ii) an Asset List defined by the Demand Entity (Employer, Client, Appointing Party) within an Information Cycle (a list of assets to be designed delivered, and/or utilised), and (iii) Asset Attributes derived from the Conceptual (BIM) Ontology (e.g. Asset Function, Asset Location, and Asset Cost).

image from
Asset Hierarchy – v2.0, 2018 (full size image) - Link to older version (v1, 2011) 


The Asset Hierarchy organises Physical Deliverables/Assets by relative scale by combining taxonomies developed by OSCRE[1] and Transport for North South Wales[2]. The diagram does not differentiate between assets – Buildings as a sample scale - by their size, monetary value, location, or designated function[3] - e.g. Cultural, Transportation, or Recreation[4] but by their granularity relative to each other. The diagram includes a numbering system (scale 10-70) to establish an Asset’s relative position on the scale. The diagram also highlights how:

  • The Assets Scale bridges the semantic and informational divide between three complementary industries and their respective information domains. At the upper-end of the scale, the Geospatial Industry and its Geographic Information System (GIS) domain overlaps with the Construction Industry and its BIM domain; while at the lower-end of the scale, it overlaps with the Manufacturing Industry and its Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) domain[5].
  • An Asset can be a member of three Asset Clusters:
    • An Asset Portfolio (scale 300) is a clustering of assets for the purposes of strategic investment, operation, and management. Asset Portfolios may also be referred to as ‘asset groupings’ or ‘asset systems’[6];
    • A Modular Assembly (scale 500) is a functional clustering of assets for the purposes of Design for Manufacturing and Assembly (DfMA) and similar offsite methods. Examples of Modular Assemblies and Sub-Assemblies include prefabricated houses, pre-assembled mechanical risers, and pre-constructed wall sections[7]. Treated as a single Asset Unit, a Modular Assembly can be (a) first developed and tested in digital space; (b) prototyped, manufactured, constructed, and/or pre-assembled offsite; (c) packaged and readied for transportation; (d) transported for storage on site or delivered Just-In-Time (JIT); and (e) unpacked, erected, and/or assembled; and
    • A Temporary Package (scale 700) is a clustering of assets for the purposes of transportation and storage logistics. Examples of Temporary Packages include standardised shipping containers and logistical package[8]. Temporary Packages also include bundled materials (e.g. a sandbag, load, or palette).
  • Systems are treated as dynamic sub-scales that – depending on the Physical Asset being measured – may be more/less granular than other assets. Systems span the entire hierarchy (from scale 15 to 65) and can flexibly connect information deliverables and requirements across the BIM, GIS, and PLM domains.


Using a variable Asset Scale allows the dynamic assignment of less granular assets at the start of an information cycle. More information about how Asset Scales and Asset Units are used will be explained in future posts.



[1] Fuhrman, A. (2007). The Hybrid Taxonomy Real Estate Focus, The Open Standards Consortium for Real Estate (OSCRE).

[2] TfNSW. (2015). Systems Engineering, Transport for NSW, New South Wales Government (T MU AM 06006 GU). Retrieved from Last accessed Aug 9, 2019

[3] Assets can be classified under many concepts which should not be combined in a single taxonomy. Information Actors will need to identify the number of classifications needed to manage their asset information. For example, an Information Actor may use three primary classifications to identify a Physical Asset: Asset Scale (e,g. Lighting System), Asset Function (Lighting), and Asset Location (e.g. In Room 391 or along Highway A5, Exit Ramp 17).

[4] OmniClass. (2013). OmniClass | Construction Classification System, Retrieved from; and NBS. (2015). UniClass 2015 (1.7 ed.). Retrieved from Last accessed Aug 9, 2019.

[5] Overlaps between the BIM and GIS/PLM domains are well-covered in: Song, Y., Wang, X., Tan, Y., Wu, P., Sutrisna, M., Cheng, J. C., & Hampson, K. (2017). Trends and Opportunities of BIM-GIS Integration in the Architecture, Engineering and Construction Industry: A Review from a Spatio-Temporal Statistical Perspective. ISPRS International Journal of Geo-Information, 6(12), 397; and in Jupp, J. R., & Singh, V. (2014). Similar concepts, distinct solutions, common problems: learning from PLM and BIM deployment. Paper presented at the IFIP International Conference on Product Lifecycle Management.

[6] ISO. (2014). ISO 55000:2014 Asset management - Overview, principles and terminology. Retrieved from Last accessed Aug 9, 2019

[7] BWTL. (2018). Platforms Bridging the gap between construction + manufacturing, Brydon Wood Technology Limited (BWTL) for the Centre for Digital Built Britain (CDBB), University of Cambridge. Retrieved from Last accessed Aug 9, 2019

[8] Saghir, M. (2004). The concept of packaging logistics. Paper presented at the Proceedings of the Fifteenth Annual POMS Conference, Cancun, April.