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


  1. Very interesting comments from Anthony @ 3DReid, it reinforces our market research that architects want BIM components and accompanying technical product information available to download quickly and simply. This helped us form the brief when designing the UK's first fully BIM-enabled fabricated building solutions website, featuring our "Quick link" system. Could you please supply an outline for what the London event will include and if it is relevant to manufacturers? Thanks. Stuart @ Contour Casings.

  2. Stuart,

    The London event was yesterday. It was very similar but with some slightly different speakers (we had Balfour Beatty and David Miller Architects).

    There are places left for the joint CPA-NBS Manufacturer BIM conference next week though: