Friday, 27 January 2012

buildingSMART - Data Dictionary

Today I attended the buildingSMART Data Dictionary (formerly known as IFD) event. It was a great forum for sharing what countries around the world are doing in terms of agreeing property sets for construction products. Chairman of buildingSMART and HOK CEO Patrick MacLeamy hosted the day and, as always, he was a very motivational and inspirational speaker.

One of the driving forces behind the buildingSMART Data Dictionary is Jacob Mehus from Standards Norway. The Data Dictionary takes the base IFC property sets for a construction object and then extends them for a local country. By keeping a central dictionary that contains a definition of each property in the native language and international English then this becomes very powerful.
It provides a common set of property sets for a construction product in a particular country. The additional benefit is that it allows the translation of these property sets, with their meaning, across international boundaries.

The benefits for international construction manufacturers are clear to see as they can document their product's property sets once and then pass this information internationally. Some big product multi-national manufacturers attended the day and all seemed on board with this vision.

There are currently four partners in this project: buildingSMART Norway; Construction Specifications Canada; Construction Specifications Institute USA;  and STABU Foundation Netherlands.

In addition to this, internationally, other parallel activities are happening. In France the AIMCC that represents 100 trade organisations representing 7,000 manufacturers is working on a project to standardise product property sets. Today, the Germans also presented their work on new standards and in the USA, the SPecifiers property Information Exchange (SPIE) project is underway.
This SPIE project is live and usable to all. It combines IFC, COBie and property sets unique to the US to produce a pretty comprehensive definition of a large number of construction product types.

In the UK, the RIBA Enterprises National BIM Library and NBS Create projects have tried to embrace IFC and create the starting point for a UK engagement with the buildingSMART Data Dictionary. Consider a National BIM Library door. The parameters are a mix of IFC, COBie and NBL defined property sets. One or two screenshots below...

Many consider IFC to be all about the exchange of complete models, but by standardising property sets then smaller parts of the BIM may be exchanged. By defining property sets for objects then all members of a building project may have a schema from which to select what information is required and when.

Monday, 23 January 2012

COBie parameters within the National BIM Library objects

In response to question on this blog from Rahul Shah to the post "NBL - LRUG"...

The COBie parameters that will be included within National BIM Library objects are as follows. All are type parameters unless stated otherwise. These are from COBie version 2.26, but it is our understanding the the UK Government COBie file format will be slightly different from this and will be published at the end of Q1 this year. National BIM Library will be adjusted to reflect any changes.
  • BarCode [Instance] The identity of the bar code (or rfid) given to an occurrence of the product.
  • Colour Characteristic or primary color of product.
  • Constituents Optional constituent features, parts or finishes.
  • ServiceLifeDuration The service life that an artefact is expected to have under current operating conditions.
  • Features Other important characteristics or features relevant to product specification.
  • Finish Characteristic or primary finish of product.
  • Grade Standard grading which the product corresponds.
  • InstallationDate [Instance] The date that the manufactured item was installed.
  • Material Characteristic or primary material of product.
  • NominalHeight Typically the vertical or secondary characteristic dimension.
  • NominalLength Typically the larger or primary horizontal dimension.
  • NominalWidth Nominal width of product, typically the characteristic or secondary horizontal or characteristic dimension.
  • ProductionYear The year of production of the manufactured item. (Note that this is from the IFC property set Pset_ManufacturerTypeInformation and not strictly COBie)
  • ReplacementCost An indicative cost for unit replacement.
  • SerialNumber [Instance] The serial number assigned to an occurrence of a product  by the manufacturer.
  • Shape Characteristic shape of product.
  • Size Characteristic size of product.
  • TagNumber [Instance] The tag number assigned to an occurrence of a product (by the occupier).
  • WarrantyDescription Description of the warranty.
  • WarrantyDurationLabor Duration of labor warranty (years).
  • WarrantyDurationParts Duration of parts warranty (years).
  • WarrantyGuarantorLabor Organization acting as guarantor of labor warranty.
  • WarrantyGuarantorParts Organization acting as guarantor of parts warranty.
  • WarrantyStartDate The date on which the warranty commences.
I wrote a short article on this subject:

The best place for information on this is:

The above page has links to YouTube lecturers from Bill East and also sample files (screenshots below) that include model files, IFC exports and COBie exports in MS Excel format.

If you have any specific questions on COBie, there is a linkedin group
Both Bill East and Nick Nisbet are active on this group and answer questions quite promptly.
1. Example Apartment

2. Example Office Building

3. Example Clinic

Sunday, 22 January 2012

National BIM Library - London Revit User Group (LRUG)

I had the extremely difficult task of following UK Chief Construction advisor Paul Morrell as the second presenter at the London Revit User Group last Wednesday. However, with assistance from BIM Academy's Drew Wiggett, the presentation seemed to go pretty well and the LRUG members seemed to be interested and asked plenty of questions at the end.

A selection of slides from the presentation below...

1. Why use the National BIM Library (NBL)? What are the key benefits?
2. When doing concept designs, it is possible to use very lightweight concept NBL objects to help develop the spaces and the user paths in the building.
 3. As the design develops the concept NBL objects may then be switched to more detailed objects that define the materials within them, the properties and their behaviour.
4. The detailed objects may then be developed into full proprietary objects with rich pre-populated property sets to help produce specification, construction and FM datasets... 
5. The second half of the presentation detailed ideas of how the objects in the CAD model and the specification model can be linked and how users would like to see these ideas be developed into useful tools.
In the pub afterwards a number of people mentioned that I was a "brave man" and probably the only person ever to have demonstrated ArchiCAD at a Revit User Group meeting. :)
Thanks to all of those who filled in the feedback sheets. This was really appreciated.

Top level findings from feedback sheets...
  1. An average answer of between 7-8/10 on the questions "How likely are you to use..." the NBL generic, proprietary objects and proposed plug-ins. I was really happy with this score considering that most of the audience had already invested time in creating their own objects.
  2. You want us to create the generic objects for the basics (walls, floors, doors, windows) and then create other objects such as sanitary ware, rooflights, floor coverings and at least some basic MEP.

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Paul Morrell - London Revit User Group

This evening I was the second presenter on the bill for the London Revit User Group. The first presenter on the bill was Chief Construction Adviser to the UK Government Mr Paul Morrell.

This is the third time I have heard Paul speak, and as expected it was a super, inspirational, presentation. Some snippets below from my scribbled notes...

  • In tough economical times
    "If your business plan is 'sit tight and wait until the good times return' then you are going to fail".
  • Quoting Ernest Rutherford
    "We haven't got the money... so we have to do the thinking".
  • We have to build digitally first
     "...instead of building something first time in 3D with bricks"
  • What is the UK government focus
    " not just about building the building, but managing the asset and the data you need to manage the asset".
    "Great design, but how often do I need to paint it?"
  • The best will look after themselves, we care about the middle
    "The BIM Strategy is not for leading edge - good on you. It's about the middle of the field".
  • Setting a realistic goal
    "When Kennedy set the goal to go to the moon, he already knew where the moon was and that they had a rocket that could go that far".
  • In terms of mandating software technology,
    "there may be market leaders, but we're not trying to guess a winner. We're defining the outcome, the market will decide through innovation."
  • Keeping things lean and avoiding data rot
     "As important as data drops are dropping data".
  • When asked by the 'doubters' to prove the return on investment.
     "It's obvious, you may as well cost the value of  'traffic lights' or 'whether cars are good idea'".
  • Asked about open data formats
    "COBie is the first step towards interoperability".
    "We want have convergence on standards without locking out innovation".
Then followed 30 minutes networking and then the National BIM Library presentation from myself and Drew from BIM Academy. I'll write these notes up later and post the presentation.

As a final point, just to say well done to Carl, Alan and David for organising the event. Completely free of charge and with 100 attendees and with 100 more on the waiting list it's a fantastic effort. Exciting times for UK BIM.

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

BIM Activity Coming Up

Three weeks into 2012 and it's busy, busy, busy. Some events coming up for the diary...
  1. London Revit User GroupOn Wednesday 18th January, Drew Wiggett from the BIM Academy and I have been askedto present the National BIM Library (NBL) developments to the London Revit User Group:
    We plan to have NBL content in IFC and a number of proprietary formats (ArchiCAD, Bentley, Revit, Vectorworks), but this is the first demonstration of the content in action to a particular user group.
    The other speaker on the evening is the Chief Construction Advisor to the UK Government Mr Paul Morrell.
    100+ attendees from different practices have signed up - so it looks like a full-house.
  2. RICS BIM ConferenceOn Thursday 9th February I'll be presenting the findings of the National BIM Report 2012 at the RICS BIM Conference.
    We got 1,000 replies in the end to our survey. More than double the response from last year.
    We're just putting this publication together now. A fascinating insight into BIM Adoption in the UK, especially comparing the last year's research with this years.
  3. ecobuild
    Finally, there will be lots of opportunities to listen to and speak with us ecobuild (Tue 20-Thu 22 March).
    - Throughout the whole event we'll have a RIBA/RIBA Enterprises/NBS area where there will be many presentations of our products and services for designers and manufacturers .
    - I'll be involved at the "Better Through BIM" main seminar series on Wednesday 21st March:
    - Martyn Horne from Vectorworks and I will be presenting National BIM Library at the Vectorworks stand on the Tuesday and the Wednesday.