Xyicon: Asset Information Modeling for AEC

The concept of BIM or “building information modeling” in AEC is so well established by now that it does not even need to be explained any more to any AEC professional, just as we stopped clarifying CAD as “computer-aided drawing” once it had become ubiquitous in AEC firms. There are now more solutions for BIM and BIM-adjacent tools than one can count. As an offshoot of BIM, the concept of CIM or “city information modeling” has also seen some traction, with a few dedicated solutions already available (for example, see https://www.aecbytes.com/review/2024/Sova3D.html).

However, the information modeling of the individual assets that need to be accommodated in our buildings, which we can refer to as “asset information modeling” or AIM (Figure 1), is, by and large, still a service that is provided on a consulting basis (for example, see https://deworks.uk/asset-information-modelling and https://www.thecadroom.com/blog/bim-consulting-companies-guide-asset-information-management-model/) rather than a category of software solutions that are available to buy and use. Which is why I was intrigued when I came across Xyicon as a potential solution for AIM in AEC.


Xyicon is, in fact, not specific to AEC. It is designed to be used in any industry for processes that require integrating data from a spreadsheet with visual diagrams, enabling design to be combined with data analysis within a single environment. These industries include aviation, construction, healthcare, logistics, education, real estate, retail, and others.

The company behind the application, also called Xyicon, started all the way back in 2000 as an IT consulting company hired by large organizations such as Kaiser Permanente (Figure 2), Prologis, Starbucks, Netjets, and the US Department of Veterans Affairs to bridge the gap between design and data. Over the course of the two decades that it has been in business, Xyicon developed its own software that it could use internally for the design-data integration work it was being commissioned to do, and it is now commercializing this software as a standalone technology solution that can be directly deployed by companies who need a visual way of working with data. (Earlier versions of the application were called Fusion and SpaceRunner prior to the adoption of the name “Xyicon.”)

Xyicon in AEC

Construction is one of the main target industries for Xyicon, where it can be used for the detailed modeling of assets, not only during the facility management stage of a building but also, more critically, during the design phase. This is when projects such as hospitals, labs, schools, offices, etc., need to create detailed plans for the furniture, fixtures, equipment, cables, etc., that will be required in every space, and it requires the architect to work in close collaboration with the planners, manufacturers, and suppliers who will be furnishing a space based on its detailed specifications.

It is this “asset information modeling” phase of the design process that Xyicon is currently focused on. The concept of BIM hadn’t emerged when Xyicon was first developed, and it worked by modeling the assets in relation to 2D floor plans of the building that were imported in DWG or PDF formats and placed in a background layer. Once BIM had been introduced and established in the AEC industry, it seemed logical to tie in the information modeling of the assets to the BIM model of the spaces in which the assets would be located. Xyicon did this by creating an add-in to Revit that bidirectionally integrates the BIM model being developed in Revit with the asset information model being developed in Xyicon, allowing the two models to always stay in sync with each other.

Not only does this ensure the alignment of the building design with all the assets it needs to accommodate, it also allows the vast non-AEC community of planners, manufacturers, and suppliers the ability to do their work on top of an always up-to-date BIM model of the building, but without actually needing to work with the BIM application, which is Revit in this case.

How It Works

Xyicon is a SaaS (Software as a Service) application, accessible through any web browser. Logging in takes you to the Portfolios page which lists all the projects a user has access to, as shown in Figure 3. The interface is the same whether the user is from an interior design firm, an IT planner, a manufacturer, a supplier, and so on. Permissions can be fine-tuned in detail for different users as required, which is especially important since all the different user groups are consolidated in one platform (Figure 4).

Drilling down into an individual project, it can comprise multiple spaces. A “space” here refers to a part of the building that the user has access to for viewing or editing, and it can be an entire level of a building, say the entire first floor (Figure 5), or it can be a portion of a floor plan. Either way, it is imported into Xyicon as a PDF or DWG drawing (unless it is being brought in via the Revit plug-in which is discussed in the next section), and it gets automatically pushed into a background layer, providing the reference for the asset planning.  

You would typically start the asset planning process by drawing out the individual rooms within which the assets will be placed, using the floor plan in the background layer as a reference. (Again, with the Revit add-in, the rooms are imported from the model and do not need to be recreated.) You can also create larger department boundaries to encompass room boundaries, and the software automatically detects the relationship between a room and the department it belongs to, as shown in Figure 6.

Assets can be placed in rooms by selecting them from element catalogs, with each organization having its own dedicated Xyicon catalog of assets that it typically uses. Placing an asset within a room boundary automatically creates a relationship between the two (Figure 7), and this is updated if the asset is, for example, moved to another room. Assets can be connected to other assets, for example, a keyboard to a computer. It is even possible for an asset to be completed embedded within another asset. These capabilities, along with the ability of the application to include a vast number of catalog objects, allows very detailed asset planning to be carried out, specifying the locations of all the furniture, fixtures, and equipment in a room as well as how they are related to each other. The catalog objects themselves can be created by importing Revit families or from GLB files (see https://visao.ca/what-is-glb-file/), and they can be associated with a large number of properties, including cost.

Additional capabilities of the application to facilitate asset modeling include the ability to display custom labels and tags; generate reports with calculations such as the total cost of all the assets in a room or a department; and the ability to export asset lists to Excel as well as import them from Excel to populate the model. There is also an extensive suite of annotation tools to create markups, allowing Xyicon to replace tools like Bluebeam and Vizio for its users.

Revit Integration

Given that Xyicon is creating an “information model” of the assets required in a project, it seems logical to connect this model to a building information model so that they can inform each other and stay in sync. Xyicon has enabled this by creating a Revit add-in which brings in data from the BIM model into the Xyicon platform (Figure 8) and allows changes made in Xyicon to be taken back to Revit.

As shown in Figure 8, the room boundaries from the Revit model have been automatically created in Xyicon (shown in light blue) and do not have to be redrawn as we did in Figure 6 when a 2D floor plan was imported as reference. Switching the viewer to 3D shows that the room boundaries are three dimensional objects, with the heights coming in from the Revit model.

In addition to the room boundaries in 3D, Figure 9 also shows some of the Revit objects brought into Xyicon as 3D objects (shown in blue) while others remains part of the 2D background layer. These 3D objects are from those Revit families that have been “registered” with Xyicon, for which there is a separate command in the Xyicon add-in toolbar in Revit. This registration creates Xyicon catalog elements for the instances of the families in the Revit model and these are included in the synchronization of the models between the two applications. In addition to the geometry of the elements, all the properties also stay synchronized, allowing changes made in Xyicon to be brought back into Revit and vice versa.

Once the Revit and Xyicon models are synchronized, any changes made in either application are automatically detected and can be updated, ensuring that the two models always stay in sync.


Xyicon has a unique value proposition — building a bridge between the AEC and non-AEC users who need to collaborate on the detailed interior design of a facility. It frees the designer from populating spaces with generic furniture objects, knowing that the spaces will be designed in detail by specialists to accommodate the exact requirements that they are intended for. And it allows those working on the detailed specifications of a space to keep their data always aligned and up-to-date with the building design, making the necessary adjustments if the design is changed. With the Revit add-in, the collaboration is further streamlined, taking advantage of the intelligence of the BIM model to jumpstart the asset information modeling and continue to keep it in sync with the building design.

Above all, the fact that Xyicon was developed by the company for its own internal use and deployed in its consulting business for several years before becoming a commercial product gives it an almost-instant credibility that is hard to beat.

About the Author

Lachmi Khemlani is founder and editor of AECbytes. She has a Ph.D. in Architecture from UC Berkeley, specializing in intelligent building modeling, and consults and writes on AEC technology. She can be reached at lachmi@aecbytes.com.


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