Friday, 28 June 2013

BIM Task Group - Weekly Newsletter

Recently, the HM Government BIM Task Group Weekly Newsletter got a revamp - it's also expanded from a 2 or 3 page round-up to almost a mini-magazine. Big thumbs-up to those involved in producing this each week!
Follow BIMgcs on Twitter

Those that follow @BIMgcs on Twitter will receive notifications each week when the newsletter is ready to download:

It's also nice to be able to contribute a little bit to the newsletter. In the latest edition (issue 23) there is a few pages from me looking and reviewing the BIM Task Group Labs area.

I give an overview of the beta work looking at part of the "level-3-vision" around the digital plan of work, the information requirements to answer the client questions, Uniclass 2 and the sample data and tools provided in the labs area.
BIM in Beta
The newsletter also has a bit of light hearted/fun slant in places with interviews with some of the BIM influencers in the UK and around the world.

It was also nice to see the #BIMBingo "cut out and keep" bingo board featured in the newsletter 20. This bingo board was designed by Russell in the NBS R+D team. I'm sure he'll be delighted to know that it's now in an official Government publication :)
BIMBingo - how many people will play this at the upcoming Government Construction Summit?
Find out more about BIM Bingo at:

Thursday, 27 June 2013

Then and now

In recent conversations with architects, a few people have fondly recalled the days of using "stencils" provided by bathroom manufacturers to do their drawings...
Using the latest technology to help generate drawings
Baths and toilets
Fast forward a few years...
Browse for sanitaryware - filter by Baths
Coordinated 3D geometry and specification

Update 28th June 2013...
Response from Francesco
Response from Neil

Friday, 21 June 2013

BIM for the Terrified - NBS and CPA free report

The free report BIM for the Terrified authored by NBS and the Construction Product Association was published this week.

The report is primarily aimed at manufacturers but I'd say that it's a good read for anyone interested in BIM.

CPA deputy chief executive John Tebbit said: “In order for any of the BIM agenda to work and benefits to be delivered, manufacturers and suppliers will need to put significant resources into the data and models underpinning BIM.

Some have been doing this for years but for others the market case has not yet been made.  The publication is a small part of making that case. Others will need to play their part too, primarily through demonstrating demand and sticking to open, non-proprietary standards for both data structures and data itself.”

The report is in five main parts:

  1. What is BIM?
    A basic introduction to BIM and who the report is aimed at.
  2. The background to BIM
    A history of coordinated project information and object modelling
  3. What manufacturers should do
    Recommendations in terms of developing a BIM strategy and analysing your client's requirements and how to structure your project information so it can most easily be taken into the BIM process.
  4. Open standards
    A look at standards such as GBXML, IFC and COBie and how open standards can create efficiencies and certainty within the industry. There is also information about the latest Government information requirements linked to plain language questions within the BIM Task Group Labs Area.
  5. BIM and FM
    Most industry commentators recognise that the biggest benefit of BIM will be in the operation stage. This section of the report looks at this.
It then has some manufacturer case studies from Kingspan Insulation, Glazing Vision and Kalzip followed by a glossary of terms used commonly in BIM.

In terms of the input from NBS - big shouts out to John Gelder, Drew Wiggett and Stefan Mordue for their authoring contributions.

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Review - The business case for BIM - What manufacturers need to know.

Today was the the BIM4Manufacturers conference at the London Building Centre. It was put together by the Construction Products Association (CPA) and NBS. The media sponsors were the RIBA Journal.

As part of the welcome pack the joint CPA/NBS publication "BIM for the terrified" was unveiled. This contains a great introduction to BIM for manufacturers. If anyone wants a free copy of this please drop an email to
BIM for the terrified
It was an honour to be part of a terrific set of speakers for the opening panel. Dave Philp (Cabinet Office/Mace) chairing, Simon Rawlinson (EC Harris/BIM Task Group core team), Mervyn Richards (OBE for services to BIM) and Paul Woddy (BIM consultant - worked for Revit before Autodesk bought them).

The panel - raring to go
In terms of this blog - I'm going to keep it short and sweet - one slide and a quote or two from each...

1. Dave Philp
The Ministry of Justice circle-of-success below. The vision is to have an office library of BIM objects that can be maintained and improved over time. This information is then used to develop client requirements for any project, before the information transfers to the main contractor to agree a maximum price, complete the design, build the building, provide "soft landings" and then feedback into the maintained library of BIM objects for the next job...
The BIM circle of life - MofJ style
Dave Philp, "We need to focus on the total expense (tot-ex) which is a balance between the capital expenditure and the operational expenditure".

2. Me
I had the job of explaining "BIM for beginners" - so lots of nice screenshots of BIM from briefing, through design, to construction and then FM. The three key messages were (1) There are benefits for the whole supply chain throughout the project lifecycle, (2) it does require business change and (3) above everything else, concentrate on the information.

Whether you are a client, contractor, designer, manufacturer, information provider or software vendor - it does mean business change. The slide below shows how as an information provider in paper 15 years ago NBS/RIBA Enterprises have changed.
From paper to digital
Hamil - "A few years ago Blockbusters had the chance to buy Netflix for $50m dollars. Now Blockbusters are at rock bottom and Netflix are worth $2bn. As a business you have to recognise change and the digital revolution."

3. Mervyn Richards
Mervyn has an OBE for services to BIM. He joked that this meant "an Old BIM Expert". He focussed on the digital plan of work and PAS 1192-Part 2. Mervyn's clear message was that every member of the project team has a better outcome if we all work more efficiently together.
The BIM future
Mervyn Richards, "BIM provides every member of the project team more profit at reduced risk"

4. Simon Rawlinson
Simon looked at BIM, again in terms of the new digital plan of works and what that meant for information development throughout the timeline. The BIM Task Group labs material was presented - but there was also a pragmatic view on the need for traditional PDF content linked to the BIM for contractual reasons.
How do we bring the main part of the industry over the BIM chasm?
Simon Rawlinson "Credit must go to both the CIC and the RIBA for the recent efforts with the new plan of work".

5. Paul Woddy
Paul finished the session off looking at really practical advice to manufacturers on how to start their BIM journey. There was some excellent discussion about how to go about converting your physical products to BIM objects. How much do you go for in one go? How much graphical detail is needed? What information should be in the objects and what should be held externally?
Get the process right - and the benefits are there for all to see
Paul Woddy, "A designer may refuse an object for having too much geometry, but never for too much data"

6. Tim Clark

After the coffee break there was a presentation from Tim Clark director at Rockwool. He discussed Rockwool's BIM journey. I have observed a number of manufacturer presentations about BIM now (Kingspan Insulation, Celotex...) and they all seem to follow the same (successful) BIM journey.

  1. Accept that the digital revolution has begun and brochures, traditional advertising and exhibitions alone is not enough.
  2. Research what is in the public domain - watch videos, read industry reports, sign up for e-newsletters and attend conferences
  3. Speak to your key customers and find out what their current and near-future requirements are
  4. Select a specialist that can help author and distribute your objects
Talk to your key customers and determine their requirements
Tim Clark "Our round-table feedback sessions with tier-one contractors has helped shape our BIM strategy"

To wrap up the half-day conference Tim was joined by experts from the client side and design side of the industry.

Some quotes below...

Rebecca di Cicco said some lovely things about National BIM Library - so she is *definitely* getting invited to the next event :)
  • "At David Miller Architects we do all our projects in BIM. We use National BIM Library generic content early on in our designs then we switch this for manufacturer content as the design develops".
  • "For a SME architectural practice like David Miller Architects the National BIM Library is a great free resource".
Casey Rutland from Arup Associates, part of the Arup group, also spoke. As a large multi-disciplinary practice with in-house modelling and software development capacity it was interesting to hear about the a contrasting practice. At Arup they have developed an excellent BIM object library over a number of years - but they are still looking to the likes of NBS and BIM Task Group to provide guidance now on standardised property sets. This will allow consistency across their library and also with manufacturer provided content they receive.

Malcolm Taylor (Crossrail) and James Pellat (Great Portland Estates) also talked about BIM from a client perspective. There was a clear need for digital well-structured data to be delivered to the client. But refreshingly there was also a very clear requirement for great designs and great architecture too. 
I think the CPI committee need to issue a big apology to those manufacturers with Uniclass 1.4 registration plates
Kings Cross - home time - after a long day in London

Monday, 17 June 2013

7 great new features in the NBS for Autodesk Revit plug-in 2.0

The NBS for Autodesk Revit plug-in version 2.0 is now live. It works with Revit 2012, 2013 and 2014. I summarise some of the great new features in this free tool below.

1. Drag-and-drop objects direct from National BIM Library
All of the content is available in the NBS panel within Revit. Users can drag and drop component objects straight from the National BIM Library cloud into their model. Layered objects can be opened directly from the panel and then copied and pasted into the model. All of the search and filter functionality available within the main website is also available in the plug-in.
Drag and drop generic objects directly from the National BIM Library
Drag and drop manufacturer objects direct from the National BIM Library
2. Synchronised design guidance
NBS subscribers can benefit from direct access to the NBS guidance within the panel. This maintained, expert, content is the equivalent of 10,000 pages of A4 printed at 8pt single line spaced. As the user selects objects in the model, if the panel is open, then the equivalent "general guidance" page in the NBS guidance displays. The "general guidance" shows information such as design principles, performance, health and safety, environmental and contractual issues.
Synchronised design guidance
3. Automatically create an outline specification
At a click of a button, an NBS Create outline specification can be created from the design model. This will be synchronised with the model and highlight any objects that may not have been added (as they haven't been correctly classified).
Automatically create an outline specification
4. Improved specification navigator
Once a specification is coordinated with the model. It is possible to continue to manage the links to the specification. The navigator component has been much improved.

View the specification clauses in a tree-view
Toggle from tree-view to list-view to enable sorting
Quickly search the specification to find the clause you need
5. Improved object navigation
A report on the associated objects may be generated. Each associated object is clickable so it possible to quickly locate the instances of this in the model.
Improved object navigation
6. Improved association report
The association report now indicates what objects are not associated to a specification clause, which specification clauses may have been renamed and which objects have no classification. The user is guided through the process of fixing these with QA information such as what user renamed an item and when.
Improved association report
7. Combined IFC generation (Beta)
Still at beta functionality stage is a new IFC export that allows the user to combine property sets from the linked specification clauses with the objects in the model. This functionality is explored in more detail at the blog post below -
Combined IFC generation (Beta)
Further information:
Video of plug-in in action
Update 20th June 2013
Nice to get a tweet from Autodesk HQ too...
Phil Bernstein - Autodesk VP responsible for their building industry vision and strategy for technology 
Update #2 21st June 2013
Also, in other news - there is a behind the scenes feature on how the plug-in has been developed and some example code for Revit API fans on Autodesk Developer Network's Jeremy Tammik blog.

NBS Domestic, CAD and Keynotes

NBS Domestic is our online "pay-per-project" specification product for small domestic building projects. At the weekend I was tweeted by NBS Domestic user Nick Jardine about whether specification information generated using NBS Domestic can be used within the AutoCAD keynoting system.

The conversation was as follows, and then Nick was kind enough to send some screenshots through showing how he got on.
The screenshots...
NBS Domestic generates a PDF and also a SDLX file for use in Cost Tracking and Annotation
The list of systems in the NBS Annotator
Export the list of systems to the required CAD format
Linked to the drawings via the Keynoting Settings dialog
Annotations now managed using Keynotes functionality
Useful links:

Friday, 14 June 2013

Crunch Time

People may want to check out the new BIM website in town - BIM Crunch has many interviews, article and videos from those involved at the cutting edge of BIM.

I've contributed a couple of articles now:

1. Three COBie Conundrums
An article that looks at three big challenges around creating COBie data drops (a) object structure, (b) software functionality to help and (c) technical guidance to help fill objects with information.
COBie Conundrums
2. BIM and Automation
An article that looks at how well-structured data and clever software allows the user to get their computers to do some of the more mundane tasks quicker and more accurately than traditional means.
BIM and Automation
I also make a brief appearance in the video below. Incredibly I manage to use the word "service" three times in one sentence. "It's not just servicing architects, but servicing service engineers". 33% of the words in that sentence - not an easy thing to do :)

Thursday, 13 June 2013

Our new neighbours - Moshi Monsters

RIBA Enterprises have new neighbours in the third and fourth floor of our London offices. A company called Moshi Monsters.

Anyone with kids between the ages of five and twelve will know Moshi Monsters - sort of a Facebook for kids.

Their office is so cool. Instead of carpet, it's got astro-turf and the area you'd normally find reception has a table tennis table and (of course) a dress made from toys. In addition to stairs between floors - there is also a banana slide.
Astroturf, ping pong and a dress made from toys in a glass bowl
I did a little search on the Internet and found a nice little video review on the Telegraph website:
- Is this the best office in Britain?

What is also interesting is the following article on the Guardian website:
- Who says print is dead?

It looks at how the success of Moshi Monsters online has actually created demand for a complimentary (very cleverly done) monthly printed comic. At a time when the Dandy and Desperate Dan has died and people blame the Internet - this is a really interesting development.

I'm sure there is some analysis that could be done to look at our own printed publications (NBS Binders, RIBA Product Selector directory, RIBA Plan of Work) and look at how hard copy compliments the online digital information. But maybe for another day - I'll just dream about sliding down the Moshi Monster slide in this post :)

Thursday, 6 June 2013

RIBA Insight - Manufacturer Consultancy Days

This week and next week we are running our manufacturer consultancy days. The blog below is from the Manchester event, next week it is the same event in London.

Session 1 – CPD and presentations
A sneak preview of our upcoming research into what topics construction professionals want in terms of CPD was given. The picture below gives a word cloud representing a summary of the most popular words in the replies. I think three capital letters stand out more than any others. If there are any manufacturers, BIM consultants, vendors or training organisations that would like to know more about RIBA CPD – please drop me an email for more information. All construction professionals must do CPD each year and they clearly want to know more about BIM. RIBA CPD is an excellent way of putting people together to share information and make connections.
What topics architects wants CPD on
Jill Cochrane did a fantastic presentation on presentations and delivering your message to the best effect.
A clever movie below in terms of how the wording of your message is so important…

A funny picture also about why you need to check exactly how your message is portrayed. If you look closely at the picture below (the location of the buses exhaust pipe) you’ll see why this messaging campaign was scrapped a few days after going live :)
Hampshire Police - Exhaust pipe spoils the whole campaign
Jill also gave lots of tips and do’s and don’ts about how to deliver a killer presentation. Under normal circumstances this would be brilliant, but as I was on following Jill this was basically a big check list for the delegates to tick off as they were then watching me. Sort of Eye Spy for how many mistakes I could make.

Session 2 - BIM
I opened up the BIM session and gave a 15 minute introduction to the topic. I basically looked at how a door object could travel through the project time line. From starting as a package of objects given to the design team as part of a brief from an intelligent client, then being used to replace a concept door object in the design, being part of the model being analysed as part of construction – and then finally having the information inside it exported to an FM system.
It’s my third year of doing BIM presentations to manufacturers. The sense of feeling I have got seems to have gone from “do we really need to do BIM?” in year 1, to “when will do BIM?” in year 2 – to year 3 (today) either “we are doing BIM” or “we really need to do this in the next 12 months or we’ll be left behind”.

Jon Roper from then presented Celotex’s BIM journey. It’s really nice now to see National BIM Library manufacturers present how pleased they are with their decision to join the service and talk about the number of downloads they are now seeing from construction professionals. Key points included:

  • “Our entire marketing strategy is now centred around specification and BIM”
  • “The National BIM Library and NBS Plus combination together is what we have focussed on”
  • “When starting your BIM journey – do your research – a great place to start is the last three National BIM Report publications from 2010, 2011 and 2012”
  • “Can you afford not to do it? At Celotex we knew that we couldn’t”
  • “Our download stats indicate around 50% Revit usage, but we have also had a surprisingly large amount of ArchiCAD downloads”
  • “We see BIM as being a way to differentiate and create new opportunities. It’s a really good angle to target big clients and tier one contractors”

Liam Brady from Manchester City Council and Jon Roper Celotex
Liam Brady from Manchester City Council then presented BIM from a client’s perspective. The case study was Manchester Town Hall. Liam had a nice illustration showing how the BIM could be filtered to show the MEP, then the sprinkler system and then finally the specification/maintenance information from one of the products from the system.

Liam talked about how they were pushing the boundaries of BIM and how they had had some excellent support from the Government BIM Task Group and in particular Mark Bew. This had allowed them to request more support and attention from various software vendors than typical.
Some interesting discussions also on “soft landings”. Manchester Council took aspects of this initiative and trialled them. Two points in particular:

  • Analysis of environmental performance to ensure the targets they had set were going to be met.
  • A smooth handover process – as this project was sectional completion, they were going through this was being worked on. Liam said it was still stressful but forums to achieve a smaller handover were working and this was being done with trust and respect.

There was also a BIM maturity spider diagram shown where Salford Uni compare projects against each other. This was pretty interesting and showed that this project was much better than “the norm” but the potential is huge.
Blue = average BIM project, Red = Manchester Town Hall
Session 3 – Brand and knowledge based marketing
Dom Aldred from Gardiner Richardson then had some interesting points on brand and trust. In terms of levels of engagement with customers there was a nice sliding scale:
  • The product functions – at a basic level – “I need a pair of shoes – they will do
  • The product has some special features – “I’ll buy these shoes as they are better
  • Through a good relationship the customer is familiar – “I always buy my shoes from Clarks
  • And finally, the customers has allegiance with the brand – “I want to always by Nike trainers because I love them.
Tips were given on how to develop this stronger relationship. What to do - and what not to do. There was an interesting discussion on how this relationship can be built if you are a construction product manufacturer of a product that is not particularly “interesting”.

The discussion again turned to BIM and how early adopters now can grasp the early opportunity but then strengthen their relationship with their customers for years in terms of being seen as a leader and through being innovative.

My colleague and RIBAE Marketing Director Clare Watson then presented on marketing through delivering knowledge and expertise. As an example of this Clare presented the topic area of our website which delivers free reports, articles, videos and opinions on key topics such as sustainability, contracts and law, health and safety, building regulations and BIM. The BIM area has been particularly successful and is becoming more and more popular – 180,000 views in 2012 and track for more than 300,000 views in 2013.

Clare also mentioned the “BIM for the terrified” publication we are jointly authoring with the Construction Products Association.

Session 4 – Specification
My second presentation of the day was on “specification in a digital world”. Demonstrating NBS Plus within NBS Create is an absolute pleasure – NBS Plus is already a strong offering – but the software and data improvements in Create over NBS Plus in Building/Scheduler are really nice.
I’d consider the three main improvements to be:

  • The feeding of the manufacturer name and product references into the drop down values within the NBS generic clauses (shown below)
  • The ability to generate an instant report of all manufacturers and product references in the specification (see below)
  • The ability to report on the contractor decisions and then for the “contractor designer” to replace generic specification objects with proprietary specification objects

The fact that all of this happens in parallel to the development of the geometric model and information can be exported to a format suitable for COBie import is really nice to see.
Manufacturer options within the clause drop down values
Instant reports of all manufacturers and products specified
With over 600 manufacturers and over 20,000 product specifications being delivered to over 3,000 practices, each year NBS Plus goes from strength to strength.

Anthony Fusi from 3DReid then closed the session with an honest assessment of what architects want from manufacturers to help them with specification.

Over and above the basic product specification choices, Anthony asked for information on aesthetics, sustainability, expected life and maintenance. More specifically on sustainability items such as green guide rating, u-value, CO2 footprint, thermal mass, recycled content and source were desirable. This should be easily available, and if an architect contacts the manufacturer they should “know their stuff”.

Architects want to spec the best product for the job – but they also don’t have hours and hours of time for research. Anthony discussed how the NBS Plus system saves architects so much time as the information is at their finger-tips. Being delivered into the NBS spec products online also gives confidence on currency. No architect wants to spec an out of date product.

Anthony finished by thanking manufacturers who were pushing quality digital information and solutions to the market. Specifically he mentioned the manufacturers adopting BIM and those that were developing innovative online tools to help deliver the information he needed.

So – a pretty full day – I imagine the London event next week will be similar. Through the RIBA Insight offerings,, NBS Plus and National BIM Library we are putting well-structured manufacturer information in front of construction professionals in a way in which it is there “when it is needed”.
Nice cakes too