Saturday, 23 June 2012

Seven key slides to include in every BIM presentation

1000 tweets
Over the last two or three years I have been to a number of BIM presentations. To celebrate 1,000 tweets I have written a short sketch taking a light-hearted look at the slides that are required to make a truly great BIM presentation.

1. The wedge diagram
Every presentation needs this. It shows the BIM maturity development process from Level-0 to the holy grail "Level-3 BIM".  Never mind the UK Gov mandating BIM on projects, all events should mandate the inclusion of this diagram in every presentation. Imagine eight presentations in one conference? - you'd get to see this slide eight times - and it gets better each time as the day goes on.
Slide 1 - Bew-Richards diagram
2. Clash detection illustration
This must show a clash between a structural and services element. Bonus points are given if the colour "Ceefax-Magenta" can be used.
Slide 2 - Clash detection
3. The BIM circle of life
The Disney film The Lion King introduced the "circle of life" - but BIM fans have their own diagram showing the "BIM circle of life". Right click "save as..." and remember to include this one.
Slide 3 - The circle of BIM
4. 3D? No way! How high can you go?
Everyone knows that BIM is more than just 3D. It's 4D - cost. It's 5D - schedule. It's 6D - carbon. But wait, it's 7D - labour, can we go 8D and maybe 9D. Reminds me of the seven day abs idea the hitchhiker has in the film Something About Mary.
Slide 4 - BIM is nD
5. BIM model
The actual content of what you are saying will be lost on half the audience if you ever are naïve enough to say the phrase "BIM Model" as they'll spend the next 20 minutes on Twitter poking fun discussing #fluffykittens.
Think “ATM Machine”. Think “PIN Number”. Think “NUFC Football Club”. Think “BIM Model”.
Slide 5 - BIM Model
6. The COBie man
This is the bloke from the USA who was once pictured next to a few boxes of drawings and manuals in a basement. Now he features worldwide in every presentation as an illustration of what clients don't want. They don't want this bloke standing next to big boxes of paper. They want COBie! *
* Update - @liccle_em reliably informs me that this chap is called COBie Carl
Fig 6 - The COBie Man

7. Quite literally BIM-believable
Finally, nobody even gets off the starting block unless there is a truly terrible BIM pun used in the title.

  • To BIM-finity and beyond
  • To BIM or not to BIM?
  • It's BIM up north
  • From builders BIM to builders BUM
  • Living in BIM
  • Ring-a-ding-BIM
  • Tim nice but BIM
Fig 7 - Nothing is BIM-possible
...So next time you put a BIM presentation together, remember the seven golden tips above. See how many of the seven you can get in.

(and I am sure I have managed to do seven out of seven a few times).

And remember - always be passionate about BIM.

Update 23/06/12 - 17:15
Shame to stop at seven - let's go for a nice round ten...

8. Comparison with automotive and aerospace industries
The process for designing, constructing and testing in the building industry is not as advanced as in the automotive and aerospace industries. A slide therefore is necessary showing how many parts go into a car and how that industry manages the process.
Don't however mention that producing 13million identical Nissan Micra's has a slightly different dynamic to it than refurbishing a huge 1960s office block with six fellow consultants from different companies that all detest each other.
Fig 8 - Cars are built using digital models
9. The complex chart proving the benefit
Curves going down, curves going up, arrows, areas under humped lines.
That's that BIM is proven without doubt. Fact. Next slide...
Fig 9 - The complex chart
10. The visualisation of the skyscraper
Nothing will convince the sceptics of the benefits of BIM more than a visualisation or two of a skyscraper. This helps people visualise how BIM can work for them on their next attic conversion project that is starting later that month.
Fig 10 - The power of visualisations
Update 31/10/12
Due to *incredible* demand - an accompanying free #BIMBingo resource pack is now available:
Download your BIMBingo pack now!

Thursday, 21 June 2012

ICE BIM Conference 2012

The programme for the Institution of Civil Engineer's annual BIM conference was published today.

I'm really pleased to be one of the speakers and to be talking about the importance of the information that flows through the BIM process. When people talk about BIM they often discuss technology. Others discuss educating the industry or the fact that BIM is a process. But one key thing that underpins technology, people and process is information.

Other speakers include:

  • Paul Morrell and Mark Bew from the UK Government Working Group.
  • Terry Stocks from Ministry of Justice
  • Gary Furphy and Chris Cann from Jacobs
  • Malcolm Taylor, Crossrail
  • Abelardo Tolentino, Aidea
  • Pete Baxter, Autodesk
  • Richard Shennan, Mott MacDonald
17th October is the date for the diary. Over 300 delegates are expected and the event is targeted at engineers, contractors, architects, quantity surveyors, clients, owner/operators.

Monday, 18 June 2012

Managing your Buildings using BIM

I managed to get up to Northumbria University today for one of the BIM Seminars that BIM Academy are currently running:

I attended a fascinating presentation from Iwan Peverett and two of my former NBS colleagues Dr Jane Matthews and Prof Steve Lockley.
Iwan Peverett looks at visualisation techniques for City Planners
Iwan started by presenting some of his work from the Newcastle-Gateshead project to model the city. Iwan had previously worked on the modelling of Glasgow city centre. The initial aim of the project had been to help with the planning process in terms of visualisation. But it was was interesting to see how this had progressed to look at additional issues such as street lighting and tree preservation. The huge 3D model was being seen as an "anchor" to place business information against.

One of the key considerations was said to be "level of detail". Make sure you can maintain what you model, else confidence will be ruined as items go out of date pretty quickly.
Dr Jane Matthews looks at the model of Northumbria University Campus
Jane then looked at how detail had been added to the Northumbria University Campus area of the Newcastle-Gateshead model. This had three main uses:

  1. To assist with the FM tasks carried out by Northumbria Uni Estates Dept.
  2. To be a catalyst for further research projects
  3. To be a starting point for student projects
This model was actually being used and updated for the new university nursery building. In addition, one building "The Ellison Building" had been modelled to greater detail - all rooms and FF&E including fire equipment. Fantastic to see how you can go from an area the size of Newcastle-Gateshead to a university campus to a building, to a room, to a fire extinguisher.

Prof Steve Lockley demonstrates some of BIM Academy's big projects to date
Steve then talked about some of the unexpected benefits such as asbestos and carcinogenic material registers. He also discussed how Google had now sold SketchUp as they were automating the creation of buildings on Google Earth.
A beautiful visualisation of Newcastle upon Tyne generated from the City Model
Other fantastic projects mentioned were

  1. - the xBIM toolkit that works around IFC.
  2. The National BIM Library that NBS have launched with the help of BIM Academy
  3. The iCIM TSB project
  4. The 4BIM TSB project
And then finally, plenty of good discussion on standards and software for BIM.

Also good to see many familiar faces such as Clare from Leeds Met, Catriona from CENE, Adam from BIM Technologies, Ed from kykloud and of course all of the BIM Academy gang.

More seminars are coming up in July - check out the schedule at:

Sunday, 17 June 2012

In Praise of: Bridge Constructor iPhone/iPad App

I like little daft puzzle games for my iPhone - Cut the Rope and Angry Birds probably being the best so far.

But as far as I am concerned, there is a new king in town. I downloaded Bridge Constructor a few days ago and I have been playing on it every spare second I have had.

Anyone who has built bridges out of straw and pins at university or school will love this game. You are presented with a gap in the road, then using building materials provided you must make a bridge. You must stay within a budget to ensure you don't over-engineer the solution. Finally, you test the bridge by firstly sending two cars across - then for the big test, two trucks.
Island 1 Bridge 4 - Problems - Trucks about to go in the water
If your bridge is badly designed then the trucks (or the cars) will load test it to destruction. The members under the most load turn red then fail and the vehicles go into the water.
Island 1 Bridge 4 - Problems fixed. Success at 13% under budget
 If your bridge works then trucks drive off into the sunset beeping their horns to confirm success.
Island 3 Bridge 5 - What is this steel and concrete monster? But it works!
After the first few levels the gaps get much larger - but you get more building materials and a bigger budget to solve the challenge. Concrete, steel cables, steel beams and timber beams are at your finger tips ready for you turn into the ideal solution.

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Czech BIM Council - BIM Day 2012

Yesterday I attended the Czech BIM Council annual conference in Prague. A big focus of the conference was BIM in the UK. I personally think that the recent enthusiasm for digital construction in the UK strengthened by the UK Government's BIM strategy is now really getting noticed around the world.

One particular movement that is gaining a lot of momentum is the OpenBIM movement. The two opening speakers Lutz Bettels from Bentley and Leif Granholm from Tekla both promoted this. Lutz opened the conference with the super short promotional movie for OpenBIM. He then looked at a number of case studies from Denmark where the return on investment had been clearly demonstrated. Small housing refurbishment projects with 10% savings through to the £100m KPMG HQ that has demonstrated 15% savings.

Dr Tuba Kocaturk from Salford University then spoke about the conceptual "single model" approach and looked at whether this may be possible now or in the future. I think the feeling was that currently multiple integrated models are required. It was nice meeting another member of the Salford University team involved in BIM - alongside universities like Northumbria it looks like some great research is taking place. A big "well done" to Dr K too for standing in and doing an ad-hok second presentation after a speaker had cancelled!

Pavel Hladik then presented a number of huge sports stadium projects that AECOM are involved in. Some of these construction projects take your breath away. Check out the designs for the Singapore Sports Hub from AECOM/Arup...
Pavel Hladik presents some amazing Sport Stadium designs
One refreshingly honest benefits of using BIM that Pavel stated was "so that our design teams can be better than the competition".

Richard Shennan from Mott MacDonald was another of the UK speakers. Richard gave a pragmatic view on how BIM is happening at the moment. Multiple models with touch points (see diagram in photo below). The contract documentation is still 2D and on paper/PDF - but the companies that can generate this from a BIM are the ones that can produce the contract documentation the most efficiently and accurately. There was a nice quote from Richard when discussing why the big contractors are using BIM, "The big contractors are not using BIM because the government are telling them to... they are using it simply due to the benefits it is giving them".
Richard Shennan from Mott MacDonald
It wasn't all speakers from the UK. When a Czech presentation took place then headphones had been provided so that English translations could be heard. When Ing. Milan Hampl spoke it worked well to listen to the translation whilst watching him and following his slides. Hampl looked at standards through the ages, from the Egyptian prototype models for pyramids through to how the standard we take for granted the metre was defined.
Headphones for delegates that couldn't quite follow in Czech, or English... or Geordie :)
The slide below looks at BIM adoption across the world. Fantastic to see our NBS National BIM Survey being quoted by presenters from the Czech Republic.
BIM adoption around the world
I was the final speaker of the day and had an hour for the lecture. I think twenty minutes is the longest I have ever spoken for previously, so it was interesting planning for a longer period. The first twenty minutes I spoke about BIM in the UK and in particular the UK government's BIM strategy - similar to the presentation I did at ecobuild. I had had the privilege to watch Mark Bew present to buildingSMART international committee members last month - so I hope I managed to pick up some tips and do a decent job. The picture below shows the website being promoted. It is fair to say that there is huge interest in what is currently happening in the UK.

For the second and third part of the presentation I decided I wouldn't send everyone to sleep by continuing with Powerpoint, so I switched to demonstrating National BIM Library content and also how the specification can play a big part in BIM by playing around with software. No crashes = success :)
My concluding thoughts on the day was what I find strange is that people say that only "50-60% of the construction information is in the BIM". "Realistically, that is what is modelled". My view on this is that we must be more ambitious. We must not fall into the trap of equating "The BIM" with just the ArchiCAD or Bentley or Revit model. By digitalising all of the information - the full specification, including workmanship and FM information we can push that percentage of modelled information nearer to 100%. And if we can have clever software to help export to a single model representation such as COBie (or even dare I say it IFC?) then this must be our aim.

(Finally a big thank you to Petr and Marika for making the day such a success and also making me so welcome. It was certainly a good night in the bar afterwards too - until the early hours of the next morning - that Czech beer is certainly quite strong :)).

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Careers at NBS

There are a number of jobs are currently advertised at NBS.

There is an Interface Designer and three Graduate Software Developer posts in our Research and Development team. For more information on how we design and develop software please see the following blog posts:

We also have a BIM Author and Freelance Structural Engineer in our Technical Team and a BIM/NBS Create trainer in our Training Team.

For more information on this area of work please see our BIM topic area of our website:
For the full job adverts for each of these posts please see -

Pictures from Prague II

Some more pictures from day two...
The university campus
Nice mature landscape in amongst the buildings
Work from the final year students on display
Weather no different from UK
Poor pig - didn't know that it's life was recorded forerver
..and to finish with, the full size models of blokes having a wee

openBIM - The Sky is the Limit

Czech BIM Day opens with the openBIM "The Sky is the Limit" video. This is the same video previewed at the buildingSMART Singapore conference. It's quite a nice introduction to BIM, embedded below from

Monday, 11 June 2012

Pictures from Prague

Tomorrow I am speaking at the Czech BIM Council's conference in Prague.

I found time to time to take one or two pictures on the way down to the city centre to watch the England Euro 2012 match...

Cathedral and castle
Beautiful cathedral
Chap slaying a dragon
The view from the hill
Czech TV Tower
Busker alley down from the cathedral
The bridge with the statues on
Over the centuries people have touched this scene for luck - makes it more shiny - Charles Bridge

Friday, 8 June 2012

How was developed

Occasionally, it's nice to look back on a project once it has gone live. To see similar posts check out the "Behind the scenes" label for this blog.

Earlier this year the new site went live. Below is a bit of background to how we went from requirements through to the finished product. Those readers of this blog from the construction industry will probably see some big parallels between software development and construction.
(and as always with these things - the hard work was not done by me - well done Chris and Chris and John the main designer, developer and QA-er behind this project).

Fig 1 below shows the main requirements document. This forms part of the project plan after a business case has been agreed. Requirements are testable - you cannot have a requirement if you cannot verify it has been met. Each requirement is categorised as "Must be done", "Should be done", "Could be done" or "Won't be done". The volume of comments and track changes in the document below clearly show what an important process this is.
Fig 1 - A well commented fourteen page requirements document is where it all really starts 
Fig 2 below shows an example of a concept design sketch for the homepage. By designing on paper or a whiteboard it is possible to get broad agreement prior to investing time in more detailed designs. This blog is a promoter of "digital is best" 99% of the time. But sometimes it is best starting out with pen and paper.
Fig 2 - Example concept sketch design on paper for the home page
Fig 3 shows that the designs then need worked up to the stage where a software application can be developed from. This tends to be a mix of Fireworks and HTML mock-ups which get passed over the fence from design to development. By breaking the developments down into stages (homepage, search returns, manufacturer page, shortlist etc...) then developments can happen on certain stages before designs have started on others. This can be thought of as Staged Delivery software development methodology - somewhere between traditional waterfall and the more radical agile methods. This gives efficiency in workflow but also greater certainty in terms of delivering requirements.

Fig 3 - A detailed design document then gets down to the nitty gritty of how things work  on each page
And then Fig 4 shows the actual site as it was built...
Fig 4 - And then through some clever software development the final site pops out
Fig 5 and Fig 6 show this process again for the basket/shortlist area of the site...
Fig 5 - Another example of concept designs - this time for the "basket"
Fig 6 - And the finished product - note that the "basket" changed to "shortlist"
And finally throughout this process requirements, designs and software are put to our Advisory Panel, Beta Testers and other user groups for their feedback. The picture below shows QA Manager Clair Hillier and Head of Specification Ian Chapman hosting a break-out group from our Advisory Panel.
User feedback