Thursday, 11 October 2012

CIBSE Building Services Conference - BIM and Engineering Services

Yesterday I was part of a panel discussion at the CIBSE Building Services Conference on BIM and service engineering. At NBS we'd recently had a user focus group on the same subject so I’d put some thoughts together in advance.
London Olympia from the outside
There were all of the usual BIM discussions such as “who benefits most from BIM?”, “should the private sector clients follow in the Government’s footsteps?” and “What are the barriers to BIM adoption?”. But as this was a services event I personally thought the most interesting question was “what does BIM mean from a service engineering point of view?”. Some thoughts below:

1. Developing the level of detail
The level of detail surrounding the objects develops slowly throughout a project. Objects such as boilers, chillers, air handling units and tanks need generic place holders with approximate basic geometry. This geometry must include not only the physical space – but also the maintenance regions required around the object. As the design progresses then the generic performance properties need to be completed on the objects in the model. And then finally this information should be developed to a stage where outputs for fabrication, installation and operation are all possible.

2. Concentrate on the information
An international BIM design package is very unlikely to include all of the analysis tools required to meet the needs of a local market (this is clearly true for structural and architectural software as well as engineering software). Information must flow from one software package to the next without the need for the user to re-key data. If you have to rekey information... is it really a true BIM process? Common schemas for engineering systems and products for the UK market need agreed – and this should respect the international open data formats such as IFC and gbXML.

3. Collaboration
Speaking before the event with @IanChapmanNBS helped me prepare. Ian is Head of the NBS Technical Team and is also a CIBSE member with ten years of experience in practice. He commented that for many years architects and engineers have partnered to provide integrated services to clients. However, working digitally on shared models will bring even more efficiencies and success. At an early stage the disciplines can integrate their models to show concept designs to clients – and these concept designs can combine visual intent from the architects and an indication of the performance of the building to the occupiers. By collaborating early, this information can continue to grow to provide the best outcome to the client and the future occupiers.
London Olympia from the inside
Example performance specification in NBS Create
The screenshot above shows that across mechanical, electrical, structural, landscape and architecture - NBS Create has around 8,000 system and product schemas. We are currently integrating this information with our National BIM Library objects.

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