Monday, 31 December 2012

Xmas fun

Kindle take off platform balanced on four toilet rolls. iPad landing platform, again balanced on four toilet rolls.



Friday, 21 December 2012

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

Last work day of 2012 today. So a big Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all those that occasionally stumble across my blog ramblings on this site.
Some stats from the blog this year...

Unique visitors:
  • 2010 - 2,060 unique visitors
  • 2011 - 5,480 unique visitors
  • 2012 - 14,180 unique visitors

The rise of the mobile device:
  1. PC visitors - 74%
  2. Mobile device visitors - 15%
  3. Mac visitors - 11%

The rise of social media:
  1. Twitter - 1,840 referrals
  2. Linkedin - 1,260 referrals
  3. Facebook - 124 referrals
  4. Google+ - 21 referrals
And the most popular posts:
(People clicking to go to a specific article - not just scrolling down the blog)
  1. 3,320 - Seven slides to include in every BIM presentation
    For all the effort on serious posts, the one p8ss take post I do gets more than double the hits of any other. Typical :)
  2. 1,410 - NBS for Autodesk Revit plug-in now live
    Users of both NBS and Revit get a plug-in connecting the two products.
  3. 1,030 - NBS and Autodesk Revit linkage enhancements
    This was the preview of the above release discussing how the Keynote process would be improved with the plug-in.
  4. 970 - BIM for free - The Inside BIM event
    I did quite a few conference write-ups - ICE, RICS, BSI, BIM Show Live - unexpectedly though, this free event towards the end of the year received the most blog hits.
  5. 870 - BIM Summit Qatar - Day three
    Phil Bernstein turns up and announces that UK is second behind Finland for BIM adoption in EMEA and the blog post reporting this gets well read.

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Specifying a Sandwich

Would this sandwich meet the brief?
With NBS Create you can specify building fabric, the landscape, minor civils, mechanical and electrical engineering - but the big question is... can you specify a sandwich?

Well surprisingly NBS does not have template specification clauses or detailed technical guidance for sandwich specification. But considering something as simple as a sandwich illustrates some interesting specification principles. Also, if something as simple as a sandwich is quite involved and makes you think - then imagine specifying a curtain wall or air conditioning system?

So - consider a sandwich... (and if you could avoid the pun - please take this with a pinch of salt*)

Figure 1 below shows that the brief for the sandwich has been brought through digitally to help the specifier. An excellent specification template set of clause items exists that allows the specifier to select different structures of sandwich. Is this an open top, a standard two slice or even a double decker sandwich? The "Middle layer" is being removed in the example below as the brief clearly states that this is a standard sandwich.
Fig 1 - Viewing the brief and determining the basic structure of the sandwich
Figure 2 below shows that the specification system has suggested "products" to construct the sandwich from. The specifier is selecting wholemeal bread over the less healthy white or more boring brown bread alternative. The property sets within the "system outline" clause have a hierarchy - it can be seen that the wholemeal bread is part of the base layer.
Fig. 2 Selecting the products
Within each product option the user may not simply want one product. Sandwiches would be pretty bland if you could only have one filling. In Figure 3 below the specifier is selecting not one, not two - but in fact three fillings. Cheese, ham and tomato.

As each selection is made, then the corresponding product clause is brought into the specification. This check box/additive way of working means that clauses that are not required (say a clause specifying a slice of beef) are not accidentally left in the specification by mistake.
Fig 3 - Add multiple fillings
By this stage we now have an outline specification for the sandwich (as shown in Figure 4). Not enough to go to tender with if real quality is going to be achieved. But enough information to give a good indication of what the intent is an early stage. Each of the individual "products" have their own clauses that allow further detail to be added.
Fig 4 - The system outline is complete
Two methods of specifying products are shown in Figure 5. For the butter, the specifier is not fussed on the brand of butter - just some of the important properties. However, for the bread the specifier would like a specific manufacturer (Hovis) and also specifies some variations within that brand.
Fig 5 - generic vs proprietary specification of products
And of course, putting a sandwich together is a skill. Too much butter and you ruin it. Not enough and it's going to be pretty dry. So the specification goes down one more level so that the execution can be clearly stated (shown in figure 6). Notice that the relationship between the butter product clause and the butter execution clause exists.
Fig 6 - Specify the workmanship
I think the analogy can stop there. But you could go further and specify the overall performance of the of the sandwich (tastiness, overall crunchiness, expected life…) or how to complete the sandwich (put the sticker on) or whether samples and spares were required etc…

This sandwich definitely doesn't
meet the brief.
Also, how is each item classified so the café owner knows how many slices of ham they have sold each year and how this compares with the ham sold in their sister-café. A big well-structured spreadsheet/database could hold this data and the café owner could filter by the classification pick-list.

Maybe the big spreadsheet/database could be called SOBie - Sandwich Operation and Building Information Exchange format?

[* Apologies for the terrible attempts at humour - but it is nearly Xmas]

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

2012 - A year of BIM

I am having the last two weeks before Christmas in the office up in Newcastle.  This gives me a little bit of time to catch breath and look back on a year of getting out and about and speaking on the topic of structured data for the construction industry. BIM - and how our products such as NBS Create and National BIM Library are trying to support this.

So, ten BIM events to remember below...

1. January - London Revit User Group
Drew and I were asked to come and speak to a few Revit users in London about our upcoming National BIM Library by Case Design Inc's David Light. This turned out to be a bigger event than I had expected as the UK Government's Chief Construction Advisory Paul Morrell turned out to be the other speaker. After the event, I found out that 200 people had actually signed up for the 100 spaces.

A message from Paul I remember, "If your business plan is 'sit tight and wait for the good times to return' then you are going to fail".

2. February - RICS BIM Conference, London
2. BIM Report
The first of the big BIM conferences of the UK calendar was from RICS, Paul Morrell (again), Mark Bew and Simon Rawlinson all delivering the Government's message. From the private sector there was also presentations from Balfour Beatty, John Lewis and Rider Levett Bucknall.

I had the job of presenting a preview of our findings in the 2012 National BIM Report. The key finding was that the number of construction professionals using BIM had risen from 13% at the end of 2010 to 31% at the end of 2011.

3. March - Ecobuild, [2], [3], London
3. NBS Create launch
Ecobuild was huge. We had a joint RIBA and RIBA Enterprises "village" and launched a number of offerings. NBS Create  National BIM Library  National BIM ReportRIBA CPD, CIS v4, BRAD iPhone app and our TSB iCIM research were all presented. The picture to the right is of the Newcastle staff linking up on a live video feed for the launch of NBS Create.

There was also the "Better with BIM" sessions that were part of the main seminar series. This was standing-room-only. One of the most interesting sessions was one looking into BIM and interoperability.

4. April - ThinkBIM, Leeds
4. OpenBIM Dave Jellings
Just down the A1 from Newcastle/Durham the team at Leeds Met run the fantastic "ThinkBIM" series of events. Claire from Leeds asked me to chair these this year - and the event in April had a fantastic set of speakers who had been persuaded to come "up north".

The topic of this particular event was "Open BIM". Speakers from the BIM Task Group included Nick Nisbet on open standards and Adam Matthews on training. Dave Jellings launched the Open BIM Network and what seemed like the "who's who in BIM event" was topped off with sessions from Rob Jackson Bond Bryan, James Austin BIM Technologies and George Mokhtar BIM Academy.

5. June - Czech BIM Day, Prague
5. BIM in the UK
The news of the NBS work around BIM seems to have spread a little internationally, and I was invited to Prague to do the keynote address on "Made in UK: BIM". Prague was beautiful and either side of the conference day I had a little time to see the city.

The conference had speakers from Czech, Scandinavia and Germany (with headphone translations). But there was a real buzz around BIM in the UK. Dr Tuba Kocaturk from Salford Uni and Richard Shennan from Mott MacDonald from the UK also presented.

6. September - BIM Summit Qatar, [2], Doha
6. BIM market analysis
Looking back through July and August it seems it was a little quiet (although we did have an excellent National BIM Library user feedback day). But September, it was back on the aeroplane again and this time to Doha Qatar.

With an enormous amount of construction work about to start linked with the 2022 World Cup there was no shortage of people willing to travel to this event organised by buildingSMART Middle East. The Vice President of Autodesk was a speaker, Exec Director of NIBS USA, Chief Exec of Solibri and Synchro. But again, like Prague in June, it was "what's happening in the UK?" that really seemed to catch the imagination. Lee Zebedee from Ramboll UK,  Mott Macdonald's Derek Murray and Nigel Clark from Hilson Moran all did fantastic presentations.

7. October - RIBA Insight for Manufacturers, Manchester
7. BIM at NBS
After speaking to designers, contractors and clients for most of the year, October saw the first of our manufacturer-facing conferences. There were speakers from the RIBA Journal, RIBA CPD and also sessions on creating great websites.

However, the BIM session was particularly strong. A number of the manufacturers were new to BIM. So to help understand we had David Miller from DMA presenting from an architect's point of view and then Kevin Lloyd from Balfour Beatty representing contractors. Finally Bill Gibson from Kingspan Insulation presented on their BIM journey. Kingspan Insulation were the first manufacturers to launch their objects on the National BIM Library. A show of hands at the end of the session indicated that well over half of the manufacturers in the audience intended to be delivering BIM objects within 12 months.

8. November - Autodesk Conference, London
8. Matthews, Bhandal, Campbell
One of the highlights of the BIM year is always the Autodesk Conference. Mark Bew and Paul Morrell again delivered the UK Government's message. Autodesk Vice President Phil Bernstein was full of praise for what Mark and Paul have done, “In three years the UK had achieved what had taken 10 years in the US and 12 years in Scandinavia”.

Guest speaker Alastair Campbell was very interesting to listen to also. Lots of tips around change management and agreeing strategy, “Developing strategy is about having arguments – not avoiding them”.

9. November [also] - BIMForFree, London
9. BIM for free
There seemed to be a number of pretty expensive construction industry conferences in the space of a few months. Graham Stewart and Nigel Davies decided that what was needed was a half day get-together where people could talk about what they were doing for free. One hour later, 100 people were booked up for a session at Ramboll London.

Phillippe Sauvageot from Mace Group presented on his experience taking part on the openBIM COBie trial (results out very soon). Also sessions from David Light (Case), Casey Rutland (Arup), Rebecca De Cicco (KSS Group) and Graham and Nigel themselves.

10. December - BSI BIM, Manchester
10. Mr Bew
The last event for me of the year was the BSI BIM conference in Manchester. it was an honour to be on the top table for the first session alongside Mark Bew and Dave Philp discussing the data requirements for UK Government.

Mervyn Richards and Marek Suchocki who both sit on the B/555 BIM standards committee talked British Standards in use and in development. Nick Nisbet finished the year off with an interactive session on open standards and BIM. It's also really nice at events like to meet up with people you have followed on twitter and then finally meet in person (one more hyperlinked name drop - Elrond Burrell).

...and finally...

...half way through writing this list I have realised I forgot a few - so some quick mentions... (11.) BIM Show Live which was a fantastic two days - blog post one and blog post two. ...and of course there was our (12.) NBS NLA BIM conference - all presentations from this available online.

...and finally, finally the (13.) ICE BIM Conference too. The best use of technology to support a conference all year - Tweet Walls, iPad for questions and interactive voting buttons.

Monday, 17 December 2012

Triton Systems - Information for construction professionals

The ethos behind BIM is all about the quality of information. It is about agreeing protocols and structure early in a project so that digital information can be used downstream by other members of the project team.

At NBS we don't work on construction projects, but we do provide the information you need for your construction projects. A big part of this is the information provided by the manufacturers of the products that will ultimately form part of the building that is designed, constructed and maintained.

Traditionally manufacturers do provide good information - but they provide this in paper/brochure format. This is inefficient. It means that the information needs re-keyed from one format to another. However, across the RIBA Enterprises online offerings manufacturer information is now being provided in a rich digital format that is relevant throughout the construction project timeline.

Take Triton Systems as an example - click each screenshot below for a larger image:
The RIBA Product Selector home page links all of the information together

Further down this RIBA Product Selector overview page featured downloads are highlighted as are key contacts and important links to Triton's own website.
Featured products, downloads and contacts
Inspirational images, third party approvals and web hyperlinks
From RIBA Product Selector it is possible to link across to RIBA CPD to see what learning material is available.
Information is linked to learning material with double RIBA CPD points
Case studies showing product use in actual projects 
Triton Systems want to be market leaders in the provision of digital information to the construction industry. The workflow is really enhanced by providing BIM objects of their products that designers/contractors can import into their models. Each of the products contains rich standardised property sets, this allows performance analysis prior to construction and also provides detailed information to the client once the building has been built. Triton's content on the National BIM Library can be seen below:
In addition to specification and data sheets, rich digital BIM objects are now included
Available in ArchiCAD, Bentley, IFC, Revit and Vectorworks format
At NBS we are seeing more and more manufacturers adjust their priorities now away from producing promotional catalogue material and focusing on providing structured technical information. It'll be very interesting to see how fast this acceleration is throughout 2013.

Useful links:
Manufacturers wanting to find out more:

Monday, 10 December 2012

Think BIM 2012 - Video Clips

I've just noticed on Twitter that the video clips from the recent Think BIM 2012 half-day conference are now on YouTube.

Not *fantastic* quality - but the audio can be heard OK. My two little bits embedded below...

1. Build Qatar Live 2012
A seven or eight minute summary of what we did through the 48 hours of Build Qatar Live:

2. Uniclass 2
I gave myself the 'fun' task of trying to do a Pecha Kucha 20 slides/20 seconds a slide presentation into why Uniclass 2 is necessary and the benefits it brings:

Also, @EEPaul's Flickr page has a few decent pictures from the day:

BSI BIM Conference

The last BIM event of the year for me was the BSI BIM event at The Palace Hotel in Manchester. This was a free event and a nice location - so quite a good event to finish the year off on, also a lot of familiar faces.

Session 1
The first person up was Mark Bew from the UK Government BIM Task Group who was chairing the day. He started by introducing Dave Philp was the first speaker. Some quick summary points from Dave's presentation:
Palace Hotel Manchester
  • We now have a new Government BIM logo – BIM and Government Soft Landings in a circle.
  • Use information - Make decisions - Add value - Reduce risk.
  • "What actually is level-3 BIM?" This will be defined next year.
  • Government Soft Landings (GSL) – a big part if the Post Occupation Review that will then feed the lessons learnt back into the next brief.
  • Software vendors have got to make it very easy for customers to generate COBie data
  • “Build Digital Britain” will be the legacy from this BIM ride we are all on.
  • The right amount of information at the right time has provided £100,000 worth of savings on the first BIM trial project.
  • The information is more important to Government than the geometry.
  • Precisely what information the Government wants is very important for the BIM programme going forward.
The Philpster - Aiming for first place

My presentation was a bit of a mash-up between the “information in BIM” ICE event and the Uniclass 2 slides from the day before.

And then finishing the first session we had Alan Muse from RICS. Alan explained what RICS was doing to support its members in a BIM world:

  1. How will it be possible to get capital cost and operational cost databases linked to objects around BIM? There are a lot of Cost Consultants with very well developed databases with fantastic information in. The challenge now is linking this into the BIM process. Where environmental cost data exists? – this would be fantastic too.
  2. There was discussion on whether BIM will "automate a percentage of QS work". And if so, will this mean a loss of professionals? Alan was of the strong opinion that the sort of professional judgement that RICS members bring will be increasingly valued in a digital world - and that any automation will allow organisations to give better value and improved services.

There were two or three delegate questions about the publication of a Uniclass 2 classification system by CPIC and an NRM system from RICS that do not align. Clearly this is not ideal, but there has been close collaboration between institutes in the recent past with SMM7 and CAWs – this can hopefully happen again. Equally, objects in a BIM world can contain many parameters – IFC supports multiple classification. So BIM will allow information to be translated to a format that is required for a specific purpose.

Session 2
After break time there were a number of sessions on the various British Standards that have been released around structured information for the construction industry. Marek from Autodesk gave a high level overview before Mervyn Richards look at BS 1192:2007 in detail.

Essential reading as recommended by Marek:

  • BS 1192:2007 - Collaborative production of architectural, engineering and construction information - code of practice, 2007
  • BS 8541-1:2012 - Library objects for architecture, engineering and construction. Identification and classification - code of practice, 2012
  • BS 8541-2:2011 - Library objects for architecture, engineering and construction. Recommended 2d symbols of building elements for use in building information modelling (incorporating corrigendum No. 1), 2011
  • BS 8541-3:2012 - Library objects for architecture, engineering and construction. Shape and measurement - code of practice, 2012
  • BS 8541-4:2012 - Library objects for architecture, engineering and construction. Attributes for specification and assessment - code of practice, 2012
  • PAS 1192-2:draft - Building Information Management – Information requirements for the capital delivery phase of construction projects
[Hopefully copies of all of these will be under your Xmas tree for the 25th December?]

Mervyn is one of those that has been around BIM since the very start. I was interested to scribble down his top 5 tips for BIM:

  1. No cheating – (example don’t over-ride dimension text – get it to work properly)
  2. Agree a common project origin and coordinates across the project team
  3. Model your objects once, maintain them centrally and reuse them again and again.
  4. Deliver structured data
  5. Manage structured data

You want to save some money? - see Mervyn
Autodesk Customer Success Manager Paul Markovits then presented on how they had taken British Standards and worked with their solutions to develop a process for Jacobs world-wide.

After lunch
I missed the first part of the afternoon session, but when I caught up with things Nick Nisbet was delivering a master class in open data standardisation. Nick many references to the work we’re doing around our and NBS Create property set initiatives (thanks Nick!).
  • What is critical to include in any as-built set of information is the specification properties. Only this will allow the client to replace any systems and products as the building ages”.
  • If you give us rubbish COBie, we’ll know. Because we have programs that automatically check it
It was fascinating to see the existing Government FM systems – for MoJ they have their own 99 point classification system. Will be a fun job trying to sort the existing data or map new data???
Supply chain can use the tools they like - but this is what the Government as client demands
Roundtable discussions then followed in which the tables were asked to advise the BIM Task Group where they should next focus. Our table really pushed strongly for standardised object property sets so that the end users and manufacturers could communicate effectively. The final votes from the tables were (1 vote per table):
  • Better client education – 2 votes
  • Standardised object property sets – 2 votes
  • Focus on IFC/interoperability between software – 2 votes
  • Accredited training – 1 vote
  • Proper university engagement – 1 vote
  • A greater focus on FM – 1 vote
Bew and Nisbet ask the delegates for their thoughts on the "focus for 2013"
Mark Bew then summarised. In the next 12 months Mark predicts that there will be more standardisation of construction products. Cemex and Saint Gobain were named. This will accelerate and there will be more international opportunities. Off-site manufacturing will also grow to lend itself to more “manufacturer and assemble” style construction.

Friday, 7 December 2012

Think BIM 2012 – Design and pre-construction

Throughout 2012  I have chaired the Think BIM half-day conferences at Leeds Met Uni. Today was another good one.
Old and new - Leeds Met ThinkBIM

RIBA Plan of Work 2013
First up was John Orrell from DLA Design Group who presented the changes to the RIBA Plan of Work. The new plan of work will be published at the end of the first quarter of 2013 after consultations with members earlier this year. John explained:
  • The previously published green and BIM overlays to the plan of work will be incorporated into the new publication.
  • There will be variable work streams for procurement, programme and planning to allow for the differing needs of members (from domestic extension to multi-million pound development).
  • The stages will change from letters (Stage A, Stage B…) to numbers (Stage 0, Stage 1…) to align with the CIC and other institute plans.
  • An interactive web version will accompany the hard copy publications [Note – our NBS R+D team are developing this currently – but I don’t think I can say too much about it yet].
There was also a presentation on the new plan of work at the recent RIBA guerrilla tactics event – see link below:

Round-table sessions
The room was then split into four round-table discussion sessions. These looked at the level of detail/development that would be expected at various stages along the plan of work. I decided to go to the two sessions that were most closely linked to NBS.

1. BIM level of detail at “developed design”
“Developed design” was interpreted as roughly RIBA Stage D or E. Twitter-er Rob Jackson from Bond Bryan Architects hosted the session. Some notes below:
  • At this stage there would ideally be certainty about the spaces in the building and also the usage. From this the room dimensions, key performance data (heat/light) and important finishes would be developed.
  • Lots of polygons would not be needed in the model. The layered objects would be made from concept materials and have a notional thickness. Any doors would be box like without the need for vision panels or any other geometric data.
  • Where the rooms are fixed then work could be done in terms of designing the performance of the concept objects – maybe fire and acoustic performance.
Rob Jackson Bond Bryan demonstrates level of detail through beautiful sketches of walls
However, everyone accepted that clients do change their minds, so a balance had to be struck in terms of how much design work was done at this stage.

I then did a quick 10 minutes presentation on Build Qatar Live - but maybe this is a subject for a future blog post.

2. BIM level of detail at “technical design”
Duncan Reed from Balfour Beatty (also a twitter-chap) hosted the second session I attended. This was one stage short of “specialist design” so the general feeling was that pretty much everything was in place. The client and main contractor would probably want certainty on cost, quality and schedule. So enough information to accurately build and price the job would be necessary. A lot of “prelims” information would be complete – temporary work, health and safety reports, CDM. The building user guide (soft landings) would be well developed. I suggested to the group that by the stage there would be clarity on the products specified:
  • Which had been specified by brand
  • Which had been specified by performance and were to be “contractor’s choice” or “submittals”
  • Which systems were performance specified and would get specialist design
Duncan Reed from Balfour Beatty runs the next session
Keynote speaker – Rob Charlton _Space Group
Rob Charlton Chief Exec of _Space Group was the keynote speaker. He explained how a changes in technologies had allowed them to diversify as an organisation to offer more services using an entrepreneurial spirit. Within _Space Group they are now involved in BIM consultancy, BIM object creation services, software development, off-site construction – all in addition to the more traditional architectural services.
_Space Group Rob Charlton - Keynote Speaker
The need for organisations to reinvent themselves has come from both the technological opportunities as a pull force and the push from the tough economic conditions. This has forced many practices to adapt and in some cases practices to disappear. And who is driving this change? Clearly there is the top down push from UK Government. But equally there is the “young professionals” coming through hungry for new more efficient ways of working.

There is a bubble in London at the moment that is forcing practices in the regions to look for work there more often. In terms of improved UK skills, this is also presenting opportunities overseas. Rob also mused how there is a lack of really talented BIM people around and this was creating a market for those with the skills – especially in and around London.

Looking at a construction project timeline and how digital information develops. A V-diagram was shown in which questions could analysed – “has the building been built as designed?” – “does the building operate as intended?”. Rob spoke of how buildings loosely could be split into two categories 1. A building with a clear function and shelf life (build it operate it no value at end-of-life) – maybe a supermarket or a petrol station, and 2. A high profile beautiful building that would be an investment and would actually increase in value in x numbers of years. This is the sort of business discussion that is essential at the outset of any project.

As a final note, Rob commented that the industry had now accepted that the “good old days” of BSF were not going to return. As an organisation you had to be leaner and had to work harder to be a success. And those that were adopting BIM were the ones that would succeed.

Pecha Kucha
Quick fire Pecha Kucha presentations finished off the day. I didn’t take many notes:
Beers donated by Leeds Brewery
- celebrating a great 2013 set of sessions
  • Paul Coates talked about the Infra project and how structured standardised data was essential
  • Paul Wilkinson and Martin Brown who work so hard through each event doing the social media promotion then had separate sessions on technology changes wider than just construction and how our world was changing because of it.
And finally, I did 20 slides on the changes to Uniclass – see the blog post below:

And then finally, (finally), it was time for some free beer kindly donated by Leeds Brewery. I did my best to help those attending to empty the keg of 76 pints – but I then had to make my excuses and get the train over to Manchester for the BSI event. (Blog post still to upload at time of writing).

Quick comment to finish to say a massive “well done” to Claire and Darryl for organising these events. Martin, Paul, Duncan and Rob also need a mention for helping making them so successful.

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Uniclass 2

I am doing a Pecha Kucha presentation today as part of the Leeds Met ThinkBIM conference.

I like a good challenge - so I decided to pick Uniclass 2 as the subject matter. It should be a joy of a topic to cover in 20 slides with 20 seconds a slide. A summary of the presentation is below:

What is wrong with existing Uniclass?
Ironically, it is not unified.

  1. There is no logic between many of the tables. For example Table G Elements and Table J Work Sections. An internal wall is G-252. Plasterboard within this wall is J-K10.
  2. Civil Engineering and Buildings have no relationship. So we have H-7321 Lighting for Civils and G-6431 for Buildings. This is a real problem for rail projects - these typically have buildings (station waiting rooms) as well as civils (rail, tunnels, bridges).
  3. All of these tables were designed for a paper way of working. The future is digital objects representing the real world. Not paper.

Silos for buildings and civils - change is needed
So how do the new tables work?
There are a number of new tables now under review. The new classification is logical and unified. There is also a single Work Results table that unites all of the tables. Some slides to demonstrate this below...

Table CO - Complexes (eg. a recreation complex)
Table EN - Entities (eg. a building or a bridge or a tunnel)
Table AC - Activities (eg. dining or changing)
Table EE - Elements and Table SP - Spaces (breaking down your building further)
Table SS - Systems and Table PR - Products (eg. a washbasin assembly or a tap product)
As this is unified. And as this is all "built for BIM". It makes a perfect classification system for BIM data such as COBie. This is shown in the screenshot below:
Uniclass 2 - Perfect for COBie
I'd suggest that the benefits of good classification grow as you move from practice to project to portfolio. Clearly a client with a large portfolio of buildings with a well-classified digital record of these is the holy grail. It could be argued that you could even go to the next stage with Government and portfolios.

How can I find out more about Uniclass 2?
My blog post above is a bit of a "dummies guide". There are some far better resources on the web:

The tables are currently up for consultation. The first tables should be published in January.

Monday, 3 December 2012

Please take part in our National BIM Survey

It is time again for our annual National BIM Survey. To take part visit the on-line survey at the link below:

This is the third annual National BIM Survey. The reports from the previous surveys may be downloaded below:
2012 National BIM Report
The 2012 National BIM Report in association with RIBA, BSI, BSRIA, CIAT, CIRIA, CIC and ISE. We got over 1,000 participants. We also had expert comment from Dave Philp, Richard Waterhouse, David Miller, Patrick MacLeamy, Mark Bew, Angela Brady and Hannah George.

2011 National BIM Report
The 2011 National BIM Report had around 400 participants. It has expert comment from Robert Klaschka, Richard Waterhouse, Dick Barker and Steve Lockley.

So please share this link with your colleagues and make the 2013 BIM Report the most comprehensive yet:

Thursday, 29 November 2012

Overall winners of Build Qatar Live

Unbelievable news coming through off the web - "Team BIM Academy" (BIM Academy, Cundall, Mott MacDonald, NBS, Ryder Architecture, Turner + Townsend and Colour Urban Design) won the main award for the Build Qatar Live 48 hour competition.
The final design
41 countries took part. In the year of "BIM UK" - it was fitting that a team from the UK took the prize.
NBS played a small part
Read all about it and watch the video blogs at our special Build Qatar website:

How Group Chief Executive of ASite Tony Ryan announced the winners...
"The overall winner goes to BIM Academy, congratulations guys. Fantastic, an absolutely fantastic effort – it was just incredible watching you guys work. And the amount of social connectivity and communications that you guys were putting out also – as an aside was incredible. We enjoyed following you."
Final word on the subject - a big up to BIM Academy's George Mokhtar who project managed the bid - nice work George. Now get some sleep.

What role did specification play in Build Qatar Live?

As part of the final BIM Qatar Live submission I wrote a few lines of text explaining what part specification had played in our team's challenge. The text from this is below:

1. Specification 
One aspect of Team BIM Academy’s submission that is believed to be unique is the inclusion of well-structured specification data that is linked to the federated central model. This was possible through using the UK’s NBS Create specification system. The specification journey through the 48 hour challenge is outlined below relating it to the RIBA Plan of Work stages.

1.1 RIBA Stage B
At RIBA Stage B the model was at a concept stage with the buildings shape starting to be defined. The specification at this point in time covered three main areas – (1) the project brief, (2) a list of design team members and (3) a whole building performance specification.

The whole building performance specification was perhaps the most interesting at this early stage. Fig 1 and Fig 2 below show typical property sets for the whole building performance specification. The first looks at the environmental performance of the building. The second clause specifies the design parameters with respect to some of the service engineering.

Fig 1 - LEED requirements
Fig 2 - Designing to Qatari standards
As the technical specification team were from the UK, and were more experienced with BREEAM, a number of hours were put in prior to the task looking in LEED and the Qatar Sustainability Assessment procedure.

Two uploads were made to ASITE:

  • Stage B specification report (PDF)
  • LEED and Qatar Sustainability Assessment report (PDF)

1.2 RIBA Stage C
The model was at a more developed stage now and it was possible to start working on the objects within the building. The “Generate outline specification” functionality within the NBS for Autodesk Revit toolbar was used here. This loops through all of the objects in the model and generates an NBS Create specification with synchronised system objects. This functionality has not been released to market yet and Build Qatar Live 2012 was a good project to fully test this process. Fig 3 below shows the model in the design software. Fig 4 shows the NBS Create outline specification that was generated with a single click of a mouse.

This process is demonstrated in the video:
Fig 3 - Model with geometric objects
Fig 4 - The generated outline specification
The NBS Create specification system allows the level of specification development to grow from a single-line outline description through to a set of properties describing the performance of the object and also to a fully designed object that includes property sets for all component parts.

Fig 5 below shows a screenshot showing the performance specification developing for the concrete structural systems:
Fig 5 - The property sets detailing structural performance
A Stage D specification report was uploaded to ASITE. This covered both the outline specification and also gave examples of performance and fully designed systems.

The verify annotations functionality was utilised in the NBS for Autodesk Revit toolbar to ensure that model and specification stayed coordinated.

1.3 RIBA Stage D
At stage D the generic objects in the model were being replaced by detailed objects from the UK National BIM Library ( This free resource was also used for component objects such as windows, signage, doors and sanitaryware.

Fig 6 below shows how the objects in the central model and the specification were coordinated throughout the challenge. Also shown is the detailed technical guidance and links to construction standards that was available to the team.
Fig 6 - the objects linked to the specification and technical guidance
 As time was ticking down we wanted to finish with something special. Two options were discussed – (1) generating COBie UK 2012 data from specification or (2) generating IFC 2x3 from specification. We decided to be bold and go for the IFC option. Using the open source xBIM toolkit developed by BIM Academy the NBS software developers spent a number of hours proving that information from the specification could be exported to IFC. Fig 7 below shows performance specification information for a fire door. Through a software export process this information is merged with the IFC from the central model. This data can then be viewed in free tools such as Solibri Model Viewer that work off open-standard format data. A screenshot of the specification data in Solibri is shown in Fig 8.

This process is shown in more detail in the video:

Fig 7 - Performance specification for a fire door in NBS Create
Fig 8 - The information flowing through to a single IFC file
It is believed that the inclusion of well-structured specification information adds a new dimension to BIM. This gives a real focus on the information, the “I” in BIM, and also shows that the specification process is one that can take place in parallel to the design and can form a major contribution to the final integrated data set.
Team - BIM Academy