Monday, 16 July 2018

BiLT NA 2018 in St Louis USA

Between August 9-11, NBS will be playing a big part in BiLT NA in St Louis USA.

In 2017 NBS acquired Digicon Information Inc, the market-leading specification company for Canada. Earlier this year, we updated our BIM Object Standard to make it applicable to Canada and we also launched the NBS National BIM Library in Canada.

At St Louis we will be giving an update on both our specification offering and how it will integrate with the BIM content in the model.

I cannot give too much away in this blog post - but we have some very exciting developments to show.

If you are attending BiLT NA, then please come and see us and also add the following sessions to your event calendar:

Thursday 9th August

9.50am - Keynote sponsor address
A chance to hear about what we do at NBS.

3.15pm - Session 1.4
Producing coordinated project information in a digital world
Specifying globally
A presentation from myself and Dave Watson from Digicon Canada. We'll look at information structures for specification and objects. As this is a tech event - it won't be 'death by Powerpoint' -  live demonstrations will be given throughout of our Canadian content within an NBS specification tool, collaboration over the cloud and integration between specification and model.

Friday 10th August

1.30pm - Session 2.3
Creating BIM Objects to International Standards
At NBS we have created objects for over 300 different organisations across the UK, Australia and Canada. These objects have ranged from ceilings to boilers to external furniture - and all objects are to the same content standard.

Again, it'll be me doing the presentation - we'll be steering clear of Powerpoint - and looking at some live demonstrations of how we create BIM objects and how we ensure that these objects are to a quality standard.
Creating quality BIM objects
3.00pm - Session 2.4
BCS Roundtable - The Construction industry needs to standardize its processes and data structures and enable value through the use of digital technologies
We'll be chairing this and will look forward to what delegates opinions are on this topic.

Throughout the event we will also have an exhibition stand and access to a room for one-to-one meetings.

We're really looking forward to meeting lots of people interested in BIM and specifications. If you'd like to chat with us - feel free to reach out to any of the NBS team who will be attending through Twitter or by email:

Please remember you can sign up for these sessions in advance at the BiLT website:

Wednesday, 27 June 2018

Come and visit NBS at the Great Exhibition of the North

If you are in Newcastle between now and 9th September 2018, please come and visit NBS as part of the Great Exhibition of the North.

We're on the Innovation Trail and we have loads of interactive experiences for 4 to 94 year olds! So if you want to be inspired by the fantastic things happening in the world of architecture, engineering and construction - please pop in and say hello.
On the Innovation Trail
A quick tour of our exhibition below using photographs taken over the first few days...

Our #FutureBuildings trail takes you from the 1860s to the present to the future

A 3D printed model of our NBS building

An Augmented Reality view of some of the best buildings in the North East
Learn more about these showcase buildings and browse them in a 3D viewer at:
Inspiring around six classes of kids from different schools each day

How connected technology and the internet of things is changing the world around us
Watch our connected tech video below:
Whether you are a little kid or a 'big kid' - it's fun to design in 3D
Follow the tutorial below and design a house in less than five minutes using the free educational resource TinkerCAD:
Everyone loves designing using magnets
What isn't always obvious is how many people put the hard work in behind the scenes to make this sort of thing happen
It always starts off with a sketch on the 'back of an envelope'
A pleasure to watch sketches turn into concepts turning into the real thing
So please pop in, bring your families and say 'hello'.

We're open every day 0930-1800 until September 9th.

I'll be volunteering next on Sunday 1st and Sunday 8th July if you want to be shown around.


Friday, 8 June 2018

NBS Create - Latest software enhancements

The May 2018 NBS Create software update has introduced a nice new feature that allows users to search the content of their project specification.

When a job is opened, the new search interface is positioned above the Contents panel.
New search feature
Searching for text within clauses

All products referencing 'BBA' certification
All mentions of prototypes being required.

NBS Create users can download this latest software update from the location below:

As the specification content and library is delivered via web-services into the product, the content is always the latest. But please remember to update your software.

For non-NBS Create users, check out the three minute video below:

Thursday, 7 June 2018

NBS - Now in Canada and Australia

Following the launch of NBS in Canada earlier this year, we followed this by launching in Australia at BiLT ANZ last month.

The first NBS offerings introduced into these territories are the NBS BIM Object Standard and the NBS National BIM Library.

Mike O'Brien our NBS Technical Manager in Brisbane led the presentations and exhibitions at the BiLT event. But for those not there, the NBS journey is articulated in four articles highlighted below:
  1. NBS in Australia - Introduction article from Richard Waterhouse
  2. It's all about the information - A focus on technical content from Mike O'Brien
  3. Coordinate and collaborate - A look at data connections and sharing from Jane Hibbert
  4. Emerging technologies - And some words from myself about tech in construction
NBS and the global journey
It was also nice being able to demonstrate some of the work we have already been doing in Australia with Transport for New South Wales. More on this story below:

Throughout the year we will be doing more overseas as our international journey - so watch this space.

To find out more about NBS in Canada or Australia, please see the links below:

Sunday, 3 June 2018

Digital Transformation in Architecture

A quick blog post to mention that our NBS Research Team have been involved in another interesting industry report that is free to download. Working with the RIBA and Microsoft we have published the 'free to download' Digital Transformation in Architecture report.

Having blogged about the recent Contracts and Law and BIM report already in the last four weeks, it's great to be able to talk about even more output in this area.

This report is the output of in-depth interviews and also surveys that involved over 300 architects. It looks at how new digital technologies are allowing for productivity enhancement and also improved client services.

9 out of 10 of the industry agree that digital technologies are currently transforming the industry works. The industry is also of the opinion that BIM is now maturing and, in turn, is reducing costs and lowering risks on projects.

There are plenty of extracted opinions from the survey throughout the report. In addition, there are short opinion pieces from industry professionals such as Aaron Perry from AHMM and Dale Sinclair from Aecom.

The report ends by looking at future trends and the following chart is an interesting one:
Emerging technologies
The NBS research team conducts research across a wide range of topics and for many different clients:

For more information on services provided by the NBS Research team please contact us at:

To download the Microsoft and RIBA report:

Sunday, 13 May 2018

Articles from this year's NBS BIM Report

Every year in the NBS National BIM Report we try and source some interesting articles to produce a great combination of survey analysis and some thought provoking content.

This year is no different.

The first article is from Bryden Wood's Jaimie Johnston. Jaimie looks at offsite construction strategies and working with Government clients to digitally model and analyse existing and planned built assets.
Jaimie Johnston - Bryden Wood

Uniclass 2015 analysis of existing estates
Peter Barker from BIM Academy/Ryder reflects back on the UK BIM journey and tells their journey on how they have made a success of the UK approach around the world.
Peter Barker - BIM International
The team behind the second edition of the CIC BIM Protocol, one of the essential BIM Level 2 publications, gives an insight into the revisions and learnings since the first protocol was released. Dale Sinclair provided the article along with contributions form the rest of the team.
Dale Sinclair and the CIC BIM team
There is an update from the UK Government BIM team. Dave Philp gives an update on the activities from the new Centre for Digital Built Britain to UK BIM Alliance to the international development work.
The BIM feedback loop to understand existing performance to inform future
NBS and BSI have jointly worked on an Innovate UK funded project to provide persistable, digital object identifiers for construction manufacturers. An overview of this project is provided by Simon Powell BSI and Adrian Malleson NBS.
Digital transparency in the built environment
The final article is from UK BIM Alliance members May Winfield and Sarah Rock that have analysed the legal picture in the UK with respect to BIM. Their recently published report is summarised here.

A big thank you to all the contributors and everyone who took the time to participate in the survey.

Download the NBS National BIM Report 2018:

Friday, 11 May 2018

NBS National BIM Report 2018

One of the best parts of the job is working with our NBS Research team each year to produce the NBS National BIM Report.

It's always fascinating to see the opinions from hundreds of construction professionals on the subject of BIM. It is also really interesting to compare opinions across the data set we have built up over eight years now.

The first thing to say about this year's report is that the adoption rates are most definitely not showing any signs of slowing down. Whether you look at the 'self claim' against the question around BIM adoption, or the usage statistics of the standards associated with BIM, the figures rise each year.
BIM Adoption over the years
Standard usage
When asked about the UK Government strategy and its success. The respondents are very supportive of the strategy, but believe that more now needs to be done to embed BIM Level 2 in industry. Personally speaking, I think this initiative has been a fantastic success and something to be very proud of - yes, it may not be as embedded in industry as it could be - but that could be looked on as a very 'glass half empty' view point.

Again, on a personal note, it's slightly disappointing to see that BIM isn't yet really delivering on one of the original objectives of creating an industry that has a lower environmental impact. Back in 2011, embodied carbon, recycled content and energy use were very high on the agenda - but we must ask, have the industry really delivered against expectations here?
Assessment against Government objectives
It is very pleasing to see that attitudes seem to be changing with respect to BIM technology being more than just 3D design and coordination tools. Usage of common data environments to manage data and information is happening on at least some projects for 2/3rds of the industry now. It's also great to see some very good competition in this field - the more competition then the better functionality we'll see in future years and the better interoperability.

Another statistic on the technology side is that 8 out 10 respondents are coordinating models and specifications on at least some projects. Clearly only a percentage of the information on a project lives in the 3D model - a big percentage is in data sources that should be coordinated with the 3D model.
Lots of healthy competition in the CDE world
Don't forget about the information in specifications!
One final observation was around BIM objects. There have been endless debates in BIM community about whether generic or manufacturer BIM objects should be used. The answers are pretty conclusive here. The industry wants both!

Early in the design process, it would be expected that more generic objects are used. As the design firms up, the majority of users appreciate the trend for more and more manufacturers to be providing quality BIM objects.
Can we have standardised generic and manufacturer objects please?
As always, we have a great selection of expert articles within the report too. I'll do a second blog post on these. But I've just covered a small section of the results in this post - please download the report yourself and form your own opinions:

Classification - 'Type of' or 'Part of'

Every few months there is a conversation on Social Media about what element or system classification code should be given to a pipe or a brick.

"Can a brick be classified 'Ss_25_13_50 Masonry wall systems' or 'EF_25_10 Walls'?"

"Can a pipe be classified 'Ss_60_40_37_81 Solar heating systems' or 'EF_60_40 Space heating and cooling'.

The answer to both questions is 'no'.

Classification deals with 'types of' things. Modelling is what defines what is 'part of'.

So a brick may be a type of 'Pr_20_93_52_15 Clay bricks' and the pipe may be a type of 'Pr_65_52_63_17 Copper pipelines'.

A modelling tool is what then determines whether that type of brick is part of a particular type of wall system. A modelling tool determines whether that type of pipe is part of a particular type of heating system.

This may not just be the modelled relationship between a product and a system, but any 'part of' relationship. Further examples would be:

  • A digital projector (Pr) is part of a classroom or meeting room (SL)
  • A security system (Ss) is part of health club or doctor's surgery (En)
The job of a classification system is limited to grouping types of similar items. A construction professional will then use modelling tools to link objects together to represent the physical built asset.

More advanced modelling tools may suggest relationships to help the construction professional do this modelling. For example, a design tool may allow the user to easily show which space type a door opens into and out from. Equally a specification tool may suggest suitable systems when a product is added to a job - 'would you like to add this ceramic tile to a wall tiling system or floor tiling system?'. But that is the job of the modelling tool, not the classification system.

Wednesday, 2 May 2018

BIM grabs the attention of the World Economic Forum

The Boston Consulting Group has recently published 'An Action Plan to Accelerate Building Information Modeling (BIM) Adoption' in association with The World Economic Forum, Arup, Aecom and the UK Government.

It looks at BIM as technology enabling collaborative project teams to work with consistent, standardised data. It asks why construction is less productive than other industries and proposes a 27 point action plan grouped in nine categories.

It concludes that the supply chain should collaborate and work more closely together. Clients, in particular governments around the world, should mandate BIM on their projects, running pilot projects and investing in training and incentives. Finally, it re-iterates the benefits such as improved quality, reduced costs, decisions that reduce environmental impact and greater certainty around outcomes.

It's always a nice suprise to see NBS initiatives mentioned in global publications - so it was great to see NBS National BIM Library being given as an example of creating a digital marketplace for construction.
NBS gets a mention :)
So maybe download the report and have a read. Link below...

NBS Contracts and Law Report 2018

Our NBS Research and Analysis Team published the 2018 Contracts and Law report in recent weeks.

As is typical with NBS research publications, the report is a mix of survey results and expert articles.

Download now for free at:

Some snippets from it below:
Sarah Fox examines why the construction contract process is not more digital

What the benefits of collaborative projects are

Building contracts get signed before building begins... right?
Thankfully the majority of projects do not go into dispute
Looking at professional services contracts, an update on the upcoming RIBA PS Contracts 2018
Download now for free at:

To find out more about the strategic market research services offered by NBS - see the link below:

Saturday, 3 March 2018

BIM Show Live 2018 - Review

Top marks to the BIM Show Live team and the delegates for putting on a fantastic show this week despite of the worst snow in Newcastle for the last decade.

A review and some useful links from some of the sessions below...

1. Dave Philp, Digital Built Britain
As always with BIM Show Live, Dave Philp opened the show. He arrived on stage with an electric guitar player playing 'I would walk 500 miles', which was fitting considering the weather conditions and the public transport options to get to the conference!

Dave gave an update from Digital Built Britain. He promoted the success of the standards, the difference this was making at home and the recognition this was getting overseas.

There was a mention of ISO 19650 parts 1 and 2 which are now well progressed and looked at the influence the PAS 1192 standards have had over these.

Looking to the future, the Government want to create a 'National Digital Twin' of the countries physical infrastructure. But let's get the foundations right.

2. Rob Charlton, Space Group
Rob gave the state of the nation address. He reflected on previous years where he looked at which disciplines were adopting BIM and which were not. Rob now believes everyone is committed. He then looked at some examples that he sees through his BIM Technologies business. The big private sector clients, the big tier one contractors and the university estates and building teams - all now fully committed to a digital future.

The Boiler Room in the North East - Where Innovation Happens
(like the design for the steam engine that was used for 150 years)
Is everyone perfectly adopting the PAS 1192 standards? Maybe not, but it's not similar to ISO 9001. Where we may not be perfect. But the majority are now 'there or thereabouts'.

AI, Blockchain, VR and AR were identified as emerging technologies. But then there was a reflection on Carillion going out of business and the disaster that was Grenfell. Why is the construction industry on the front page of the newspapers for the wrong reason.

How can we check that what is specified is specified correctly and then is followed through on site? There used to be a clerk of works working for the client that gave reassurance on quality. Can we use new technology to provide a 'digital clerk of works' checking that the products specified are installed and the quality levels specified are followed?

Personally speaking, this message is one that the data providers and software companies can help with. Provide standardised data structures, provide technology that helps coordinate this and provide technologies that help provide transparency of decision making.

3. Anders Hvid, Dare Disrupt
Anders looked at how digital technologies have changed and are changing the world.

He started by looking at the improvements in robotics in recent years.

In the blink of the eye we have gone from this...

To this...

One nice case study from the agricultural industry is how John Deere use data to get big advantages in farming. Combining data around feritiliser, the land, the weather and then combining that across common data from around the country to give efficiencies for all...

When looking at the difference between small improvements vs revolutionary disruptions he gave two examples:
- Kodak improved by taking their film capacity from 24 to 36 to 44 photographs. With digital you can now get 100,000 photographs on a 128MB memory card for £20.
- Opening a bookshops costs roughly the same every time you open a shop. Selling books digitally costs are very similar whether you sell 100 books or 1,000,000.

When Apple released their phone. It didn't do converstions as well as Nokia - poorer quality audio and a rubbish batter life. But users accept a little pain to get future gain. The lesson being that you may have to go through a little pain at first before seeing big enhancements.

Accept a little pain to get the big gain
Two further great examples of digital change:
- Solar to hydrogen powered house:
(also, check the cost of solar over time)
- Adidas printing your trainers in the shop:

4. Sarah Rock and May Winfield, UK BIM Alliance
Sarah and May presented their BIM+Legal report.
The Winfield Rock Report
One of the headline recommendations is saying 'This is going to be a BIM project' or 'This is going to be a BIM Level 2 project' isn't enough. As part of the contract documentation a set of Employer's Information Requirements and responding BIM Execution Plan is what sets the rules of (a) what is expected and then (b) what is agreed at the start of the project.

The BIM Level 2 standards give the framework, but on a specific project the rules must be agreed within this framework.

This can be downloaded for free from the UK BIM Alliance website:

5. Paul Swaddle, NBS
My colleague Paul Swaddle did a session on cyber security and it was fascinating with lots and lots of good links. A selection of these are below that are definitely worth reading:

The Stuxnet cyber attack on the Iranian nuclear centrifuges:

The attack on Ukraine's power grid:

The recent WannaCry NHS attack:

The Strava display of all military bases:

The house that spied on me:

Paul finished by highlighting the good work CPNI in the UK is doing to push a security minded approach to digital construction projects:

"Do the best you can until you know better...
...then when you know better, do better"

Finally, apparently this was the user interface that controlled the Hawaii missile alert systems:
Which link am I supposed to click?
6. My session
My session at 4pm on day two was slightly late in the day considering that red and orange weather warnings across the country telling people to get home :)

However, I really appreciated those that stayed back to take part.

I split the session into three

One - Get your BIM project off to the best possible start
Useful links:
- BSI BIM Level 2 website -
- Scottish Futures website -
- MofJ BIM templates - click here
- EU BIM Handbook -

Two - Use standardised data structures as the project develops
Useful links:
- Classification -
- BIM Object Standard -

Three - Consider how emerging technologies can help you
I looked at AI and AR and the rise of the cloud and big data.

I then reflected back on the challenge that Rob Charlton set at the start of the conference about creating a 'Digital Clerk of Work'.

A couple of video sequences below, click play and then maximise the screen if you'd like to see them:
Structured digital data = greater clarity and transparency

Publish a coordinated model and specification to the cloud

Finally, we've just posted a great team case study on of a collaborative team working to BIM Level 2 on a school project. Short video interviews with the client, the contractors, architect, building service engineer and structural engineer. Please check it out and share:

After three days in Newcastle - I return to the Hamil Garden in Durham
Pr_20_93_52_81 Snow blocks ;)