Tuesday 29 November 2011

Construction Computing Awards 2011

NBS sponsored the recent Construction Computing Awards. Richard Waterhouse from RIBA Enterprises presented the awards. It was really nice to see so many faces from the various construction computing companies that we have been collaborating with this year in the lead up to the launch of NBS Create and the National BIM Library. A selection of some of the pictures from the website ConstructionComputingAwards.co.uk are below. Also, great to have some fantastic company for the night on our table Eric, David, Robert, Nick, John and Alistair.
"One to Watch" - Vectorworks

"Collaboration Product of the Year" - 4Projects Solutions
"BIM Product of the Year" - Graphisoft - ArchiCAD 15
"Project Planning Product of the Year" - Asite Key Professional
"Structural Design Product of the Year" - Tekla Structures
"Building Services Product of the Year" - Autodesk Building Design Suite
"Structural Analysis Product of the Year" - Bentley Systems STAAD.Pro V8i
"Company of the Year" - Causeway Technologies
A great evening - let's hope NBS Create is on the winners' list next year.

Thursday 24 November 2011

NBS Domestic Specification - One year on

It's now one year since we launched our digital version of NBS Domestic Specification.
- theNBS.com/Domestic

In this last year, it's been used by well over 500 practices. Many of who have used it on multiple projects. A few screenshots below to demonstrate why it has been such a success:
Figure 1 above shows that the specification system is entirely "cloud-based". It is accessed through your preferred web browser on any platform. This means that there is no need for you to install or purchase any software - it's pay-per-project - and very reasonably priced at £40. In terms of scope of content, NBS Domestic Specification is ideal for domestic clients, professional designers and domestic builders, including home owners/occupiers who may or may not have engaged a consultant to oversee the work.
Figure 2 above shows that after you have taken the specification template and made it project specific then you can publish and issue a professional looking specification document.

Many core NBS benefits such as technical guidance, template clauses and suggested drop down values are included in the web application. The technical content is updated throughout the year, so at the point of specification creation you can be confident in the currency of the content.

So one year on, it is great to see that our first step into a 100% software-as-a-service (SAAS) offering is going from strength to strength.

Monday 21 November 2011

NBS Create

NBS Create was installed and used by the first customers on Friday. A lot has changed since 1973. Exciting times.

RICS BIM Conference 2012

It's now possible to book slots at the RICS BIM Conference 2012 on their website:
- http://www.rics.org/site/scripts/events_info.aspx?eventID=4528

An opportunity to learn about BIM, how it will impact you and how it can benefit your business. The speakers include Paul Morrell and Mark Bew who have been instrumental in terms of developing the UK Government's construction strategy. Also speakers from URS Scott Wilson, EC Harris, CIC Task Force, Pinsent Masons, Rider Levett Bucknall, Balfour Beatty, John Lewis and RIBA Enterprises (me :)).

Wednesday 16 November 2011

NBS Create Roadshow

I attended the NBS Create Roadshow in Newcastle yesterday and it was fantastic. Some pictures below:
David Grainger outlines the key benefits
Head of Specification Ian Chapman - live product demonstration

Still some places for Bristol, Manchester, Leeds and Birmingham next week - book a place below:
- http://www.thenbs.com/createroadshow/

Essential reading - Ian's Chapman's article introducing the product:
- http://www.thenbs.com/topics/DesignSpecification/articles/nbsCreate.asp

Essential reading #2 - John Gelder's article introducing the CPI Committee's new work section table classification structure:
- http://www.thenbs.com/topics/PracticeManagement/articles/newUniclassWorkectionsTable.asp

Tuesday 15 November 2011

Naming Convention for the National BIM Library

This blog post details the initial naming convention that will be used for the library objects for the launch of the National BIM Library. This is not being presented as a standard, this is simply the initial naming convention we have chosen to go for with release one. The National BIM Library will be a maintained library of BIM objects that will grow and develop over time.

1. Introduction
The principle is to provide just enough information to allow the user to find the object they want quickly. It is then the end-users responsibility to configure this object and adopt a project naming convention of their choosing to ensure unique names within a project.

To demonstrate this point, I will put my Software Development hat on and give a Visual Basic example.

Consider an object representing a car:

Class Car
    Public NoOfWheels As Integer
    Public Colour As String
    Public Model As String
    Public Property Get DescriptiveName() As String
        DescriptiveName = "Car_" & Model & "_" & Colour & "_" & NoOfWheels
    End Property
End Class

Using this object, good practice may be:

Dim objCarType1 as New Car
objCarType1.NoOfWheels  = 3
MsgBox “The number of wheels the car has is: “ & objCarType1.NoOfWheels

What would be not so good would be:

Dim objRedCar4Wheels as New Car
objRedCar4Wheels.NoOfWheels = 3
MsgBox “The number of wheels the car has is: “ & objRedCar4Wheels.NoOfWheels

Immediately we have a clash between the object name and the parameters within it.

In this example the return from the parameter “DescriptiveName” would give a fuller name that is accurate and constructed through adding specific parameters together.

Moving on to BIM now, for this reason, just enough information is provided in the National BIM Library object names to allow users to find what they require quickly. The reference to parameter values are kept to an absolute minimum to avoid the possibility of conflict.

“Tag” descriptions based on the actual parametric values are encouraged within the proprietary BIM tool and in the context of a project.

2. Library Object Naming Convention
  • Fields to be separated with the “_“ symbol
  • We suggest that Field 02 is the only compulsory field, although National BIM Library objects will have"nbl" for Field 01.
  • Data within fields to be separated with the “-” symbol
Field 01
  • Optional field to indicate the author of the library object.
  • This is chosen as the first field to allow objects from different authors to be grouped when sorted alphabetically.
  • No more than six characters will be used.
Field 02
  • Compulsory field to indicate the system or element
  • The full name or shortened name may be used. Must be camel case for multiple words.
    For example: Door, Wall or AirConUnit.
  • Note that where types of a common parent are used then the parent name may be dropped. So “Ext” may be used for “External Walls” where Wall is clearly the inherited item.
  • The common names used will be provided within supporting documentation.
Field 03
  • Optional field to indicate the supplier name for objects representing proprietary items.
  • The full name or shortened name may be used. Must be camel case for multiple words.
    For example: WidgeLtd.
Field 04
  • Optional field to indicate the supplier’s model code for objects representing proprietary items.
  • The full name or shortened name may be used. Must be camel case for multiple words.
    For example: Widge1000
Field 05
  • Optional field to indicate the content that is within the object.
  • Just enough information should be added here to allow the user to successfully select the library object the user requires.
  • Shortened names should be used.
    For example: ClyBrck-Insul-Blck or Sgl-Pnl-02
  • The common abbreviated names used will be provided within supporting documentation.
Further notes
  • Classification will not be included. This information is best placed within the property sets.
  • Version information must not be included. This information is best placed within the property sets.
  • Field 05 will not attempt to list all of the information within the object as this will lead to conflicting information as the user changes property sets and materials within the context of a project.
  • nbl_DoorExt_Sgl-Vsn-Pnl-01 for a generic door object
  • nbl_WallExt_Stone-Cavity-Insul-Blck-GypPlstr for a generic wall object
  • nbl_WallExt_Stone-Cavity-Insul-140Blck-GypPlstr for a generic wall object where a similar object with 100mm of block is offered.
  • nbl_Chair_WidgeLtd_Widge1000 for a manufacturer chair object

Friday 11 November 2011

NBS Create - The revolutionary new specification system

Anyone wanting to know more about NBS Create, the new revolutionary specification system from NBS - please try and catch us on our road shows around the country. More details at the URL below:

- theNBS.com/CreateRoadShow

To read my blogs on NBS Create from the last 6 months click the label "NBS Create" to the right of this page.

If you cannot make a roadshow - check out the list of webcasts:

Monday 7 November 2011

National BIM Library - Draft Content for Comment

Those on the National BIM Library linkedin group may now download a sub-set of draft content to review and comment on. A bit of an overview on the why and how behind NationalBIMLibrary.com is below.

Why use National BIM Library Content?
  1. Richness of data
    The quality of property-set information attached to the object is of a high quality in the NBL objects. Acoustic designation, Fire designation, Electronic Lock, Break out facility, Hold open… this is in addition to the standard COBie parameters. This is the information that is required behind the basic geometrics. It’s been designed for what is required in schedules and care has gone into deciding whether these are instance or type properties
  2. Supports effective workflow
    Where manufacturer objects exist – their proprietary information will populate these standard property-sets. This allows the scheduling of generic and proprietary objects together. This also helps with product selection. This also assists with the maintenance of the facility after it is built.
  3. Intuitive geometric behaviour
    Whether a door is double action or has a planted stop. Whether it has architraves front or back or adjusting the sizes of the vision panels. All parametric behaviour for the geometric visualisations that is typically required on a project.
  4. Designed for UK custom and practice
    Where British Standards or Building Regs define dimensions these have been considered in the design of the objects. Equally objects are pre-configured in common UK metric sizes so they are ready to use immediately.
  5. Maintained objects
    The NationalBIMLibrary.com objects will not simply be written once and then left. They will be maintained over time. As standards and regulations change and new building technologies emerge, then the objects will be reviewed and updated.
A simple walkthrough
A walkthrough in Autodesk Revit 2012 is shown below. Those not using Revit may view the content in IFC 2x3 format using the free BIM viewing tool Solibri Model Viewer.

Fig 1 - Detailed help files are provided to get started

Fig 2 - Design a basic floor layout using the external and internal walls

Fig 3 - Load some door objects into your project and position in the building

Fig 4 - Where different wall type objects are used, rename these so they are unique to the project

Fig 5 - Make your door objects project specific too by modifying the detailed parameters

Fig 6 - Geometric parameters may influence the appearance of the object in elevation or plan

Fig 7 - Modify the COBie parameters

Fig 8 - Export the model to IFC2x3 and see the parameters come through in a platform neutral format

Friday 4 November 2011

Howitt Consultancy – What is BIM? Conference

Many thanks to the guys at Howitt Consultancy for inviting me to speak at their “What is BIM?” conference yesterday. It was great to get in front of a big audience of construction manufacturers again and talk about the changing world of CAD and specification with respect to BIM.

The day started with David Philp the Head of BIM Implementation for the UK Cabinet Office. And as always, David presented some inspirational slides.

There's always room for improvement in the industry...
Comparison to 7 years of feast and then famine in the Joseph story...
Don't be fearful of the government BIM strategy...
A light hearted look at when things go wrong...
If you want to watch a full David Philp presentation, here is below from our NBS BIM conference a few months ago:

Next was Nick Nisbet from buildingSMART. The government cannot mandate any proprietary software packages. So the data must be to open standards… And if you want to know about open standards, Nick has forgotten more about this subject than pretty much everyone else knows. Nick presented on BS 1192, the upcoming BS 8541 and IFC and COBie2.

Nick Allen and James Blood from Metz Architects then gave a live demo of the BIM  software package Autodesk Revit. Looking at a large building, the ease at which sections and plans automatically update when objects are modified really push the message home.

Steve Wright from Ramboll gave a BIM point of view from a structural engineer’s perspective. One stat that stood out was that through the use of BIM Ramboll have reduced RFIs by 80%. One particular case study that was used was the Ramboll Headquarters. I had the fortune of visiting this building – http://constructioncode.blogspot.com/2010/09/ramboll-head-office-copenhagen.html

Phil Palmer then presented from a contractors point of view. One striking stat from this presentation was that on their first BIM project they spent £25K on software and training but then saved £300K on construction. Phil was refreshingly honest on the drive to save money, this led to an animated Q+A session from the manufacturer audience on product substitution and how to maintain quality on D+B jobs.

I then presented NBS Create and the NationalBIMLibrary.com showing how rich-digital object orientated  information gives manufacturers real benefits. Especially those that decide now to be one of the early adopters.

Finally, Richard Blakesley from Howitt Consultancy said a few words on how manufacturers should take a step back and get their BIM strategy correct. Key messages included (a) ensure your information is interoperable and authored to standards and (b) ensure you own you BIM content so you can distribute through as many channels as possible.

A really good day.