Wednesday 31 October 2012

Structured data and sustainability

I hate it when you get a question on Twitter that is impossible to answer in 140 characters...

Excellent question....

...but no chance of answering in 140 characters. So here we go - quick blog response and some screenshots...

The 37% waste figure came from a slide at our RIBA Insight Manufacturer Consultancy Day.
Can BIM/well-structured digital data reduce this figure?
Three examples below where at NBS we try and put the right data in front of the right person at the right time.

1. Recycled content
For a full article on this please see -
The screenshot below shows how the user is prompted to specify what minimum recycled content is required for individual products. The values suggested are taken from the WRAP website and this initiative is promoted throughout NBS in Create, Building and Scheduler.
Recycled content and NBS

2. Manufacturer content
The NBS Plus specification information is so much more than just the clause required to specify the product. The key performance data is also delivered to users and we work with the manufacturers to display this in a structured way. Examples include third party accreditations, BRE Green Guide ratings, recycled content and this will continue to develop where available for carbon and water data.
Manufacturer's environmental credentials
3. Refurbishment/Alteration work
The third screenshot below shows that in the suggested values for stripping-out in NBS - reuse and recycling again is an option that is there for the user to consider.
Reuse and recycling
  • Is the figure of 37% far too high? Yes.
  • Is BIM the silver bullet to solve the world's problems? No. But well-structured digital data at the decision makers fingers will improve things. Manufacturers with more sustainable products will be specified more. At NBS we will continue to promote this information clearly and concisely to users in a digital form that they can really make use of.
Also, check out NBS Head of Sustainability John Gelder's thoughts:

BIM on an iPad

At the recent NBS-NLA BIM conference Tuomas from CADFaster introduced himself. CADFaster have a neat application that takes a BIM from Bentley, Revit or Vectorworks and allows users to navigate this and comment on the model on an iPad.

The uses of this would include receiving feedback from a client or inspecting a building during construction for snagging.

Tuomas took the NBS Lakeside Restaurant model and filmed a little video showing off the capabilities...

Anyone who wants to get in contact with Tuomas - see or on twitter - @CADFaster.

If anyone in the construction industry wants to show what they can do using National BIM Library objects then please send me a drop box link to some screenshots and videos and I'll pop them up here.

Saturday 27 October 2012

BIM Bingo - The free essential resource pack

BIMBingo n. A game of chance in which each player has a card printed displaying the 10 slides of BIM. These are marked when the respective slides are shown in any presentation on the subject. The first player to mark an agreed number of slides is the winner. Presenters can also have their material assessed for a BIMBingo score.
''Dave, I see we are both attending the IOCP conference next month, shall we partake in a game of BIMBingo?"
"What a great presentation that was! It had a BIMBingo score of 8."

The 10 slides of BIM are fully explained in the following blog post:

The free resource pack is below. This may be distributed royalty-free.
Large A4 playing card
Eight cards on one sheet of A4

Thanks to @DerekMurray1975 for the Bingo card suggestion (who played this for real whilst chairing the BIM Summit Qatar):
And thanks also to Russell, who pulled the card together in his spare time yesterday...

Wednesday 24 October 2012

Bye bye Ceefax

Ceefax is no more.
Bye bye message
Quite a nice little retro video capture from Ceefax Thu 27 March 1980 below:

Read about the "boffins" that made it work:

And look at some nostalgic photographs:
Boffins - photographed in the olden days
What Wikipedia has to say:

And my personal three highlights:
  1. The "Mix" button - click this and you got a mixture of telly and Ceefax text - the text meant you couldn't see the TV program properly and the TV program meant you couldn't read the text.
  2. The "Reveal" button - as a kid I'd do the quizzes and through December I'd religiously do the advent calendar each morning.
  3. Watching the football scores on a Saturday. In the early 1980s this would be on a single page and it would notify you whilst watching telly (Bonanza/Dukes of Hazard) when there had been a goal. Later on they decided to put the goal scorer names on. This meant it constantly jumped through three pages. You site watching the counter race from 100 to 316 or whatever number the page was. Then you'd wait hours and hours for the Ceefax person to update the league table.

RIBA Insight Manufacturer Consultancy Days 2012

Yesterday I attended the first of our two RIBA Insight Manufacturer Consultancy Days.

Manchester IWM Nort
"NBS" is our construction-professional-facing brand within the wider RIBA Enterprises company. "RIBA Insight" is our manufacturer-facing brand. There are a whole host of services we offer manufacturers and others who advertise within to the construction sector - RIBA Product Selector, RIBA CPD, RIBA Journal, NBS Plus, National BIM Library and RIBA Mail to name just a few.

The Consultancy Day was at the Manchester's Imperial War Museum North the day is repeated next week in London. The conference was broken into four sections: (1) What specifiers want from construction manufacturers, (2) BIM - all angles covered, (3) Getting the best out of your website and (4) CPD.

The first session was split between our NBS Market Research team and RIBA Journal team. Our Market Research team have published a number of free reports in the last year or two. Lynda Thompson from this team presented an expert insight into this market. An example of some of the recent reports can be found below:
In July this year The RIBA Journal was transferred to RIBA Enterprises. First published in 1893 it has a circulation of almost 30,000. Richard Tomlin and Jan-Carlos Kucharek gave a good insight into what content architects look for in a magazine. They also gave a fascinating insight into the balance between providing good hard copy content and associated web content. "Technology changes, but principles don't". "As long as businesses need to promote their products, marketers will be more willing to pay for consumers than consumers are willing to pay for content".

One of my favourite parts of the day was when Richard presented some examples of adverts that have worked particularly well with architects. Some of these slides below...

BIM: All angles covered
After the break I then chaired the "BIM: All angles covered" session. It was nice to be able to say very little and just hand over to the fantastic speakers we had. First up was David Miller from David Miller Architects who has really embraced BIM and credits this in part for his journey over the last three years from a four-person practice to a fourteen-person practice. At a time of hardship in the industry this is a truly fascinating story.

Next stop was Kevin Lloyd from Balfour Beatty. Like David, Kevin also talked the delegates through his organisation's BIM journey over recent years. The requirements of a large tier-one contractor are clearly different to a small architectural practice - but there were also similarities. Kevin spoke of the need for quality BIM objects from manufacturers and encouraged the delegates to invest in digitalising their content.

The final speaker was Bill Gibson Head of Marketing at Kingspan Insulation. He spoke of why Kingspan Insulation had chosen National BIM Library for their objects. What was interesting was the twelve month BIM-journey that Kingspan Insulation had been on. They had looked at a number of potential partners, did their own market research and then conducted user testing to be certain that they were making the correct decision. Bill himself comes from the automotive industry and explained how he could see the parallels between the digital design and fabrication in that industry.

Incidentally, the photograph above shows a slide that lists the number of groups and organisations that NBS are members of that are looking into digitally structuring data:
  1. ISO 12006-2 - the international standard that is linked with Omniclass and Uniclass
  2. BSI B555 - BSI's construction, design, modelling and data exchange group
  3. BIM Technology Alliance - UK Government's BIM Technology group
  4. buildingSMART UK - The organisation behind BIM interoperability
  5. CPIC - The UK committee behind Uniclass
  6. ICIS - The International Construction Information Society
Architects Paul Swaddle and Andrew de Silva finished the day off giving tips on how deliver great CPD. All RIBA architects need to attain 35 CPD points each year as part of their professional accreditation.
  • "Energetic and professional"
  • "Not a hard sell - but a knowledgeable presentation of technical information"
  • "Face to face *and* online delivery"
    and finally...
  • "Marks and Spencer sandwiches (or equal and approved)" :)
And to finish off - some pictures from the fantastic venue - always nice to have an interesting venue:
Suitcases from displaced families in WWII
Information Poster #1
Information Poster #2
Steel from World Trade Centre
New BBC building across the canal
Aged 18-50 - join the RAF!

Thursday 18 October 2012

Institution of Civil Engineers ICE BIM Conference 2012

ICE BIM Conference 2012
Yesterday I attended the ICE BIM Conference, one of the highlights of the UK BIM calendar.

The day was split into different sections and to kick things off it was a chance for the UK Government BIM Task Group. The first speaker was Paul Morrell who as usual delivered a fantastic presentation:
A year and a bit's it going? Stocks, Johnson, Morrell and Bew
  • “The Government needs to learn how to be a good client for construction.”
  • “There are over 270 specifications for slightly different asphalt systems – we need to reduce the number. Stop tinkering. Stop inventing the wheel.”
  • “We need to track cost and carbon for all components that are used to build a building.”
  • “The construction industry needs a new brand” – demonstrated by the slide “Jim’ll Mix It”. (see image below)
  • “We need a library of objects. Defined property-set. The minimum required, what would be good to have and then leave room for innovation.”
Jim'll Mix It - or should that be "BIM'll fix it"?
Paul retires at the end of this month. And a huge amount of credit for the UK BIM push must go to him. Paul himself also found time to give credit to Mark Bew, “Two years on, the BIM strategy has stood up pretty well.”

It was interesting to see the UK global position slides that were first displayed at the Qatar conference were shown again:
Who is leading the world in BIM?
A little bit of comedy was also delivered when looking at COBie – we have to learn to love it…
But be careful when searching for it using Google Images…
We have to love COBie...
...but don't search for COBie using Google Images!
Jaimie Johnson was up next. Jaimie is on the core team leading the initial pilot projects. Some key points:
  • Go to the website and find out about everything - very transparent
  • The plans of work from the various institutes are uniting under common stages 0->7 - from "strategic definition" (stage 0) to "in use" (stage 7).
  • COBie is not just MS Excel - it is a data schema that will be an "invisible bucket" moving data from one software package to the next.
  • The BIM Task Group are working with Nick Nisbet from AEC3/buildingSMART UK and NBS to define the property sets needed for the UK and level of detail to really make BIM fly. (see image below)
Nice for NBS and to get a mention on an HM Government slide!
Although he on a far-away-beach sunbathing - @thephilpster still makes an appearance
Terry Stocks gave a report from the "client's point of view". What had the progress been on the MoJ projects to date
The first Government projects
Next year's Stirling Prize winner - who wants to live here?
Then it was me up to talk a little more about the object libraries and the work being done to standardise the property sets that Paul and Jaimie had touched on. My presentation was a slight variation on my recent article on the BIMTaskGroup website:
BIM - The information that matters
I couldn't possibly pass up the opportunity to play with the interactive voting buttons - questions and responses below...
Who is benefitting most from BIM at present?
Over time though - as information flows - the clients will get the best value
Nearly 100 of the 300 delegates hadn't heard of COBie
And finally I gave a little overview of the findings from the IFC/COBie trial - full report to follow in a few weeks time.
Who got a copy of the IFC/COBie report?
Before lunch there were a few excellent case studies from a civils point of view:
  • The Jacobs Blackfriars underground project
  • The £14.8bn Crossrail project - how they were building it all twice - once digitally and then physically
  • The Stockholm Bypass - 21km of tunnels to build a six lane motorway - "Ytterst Effektivt Samarbete" everybody agreed!
As main sponsors Autodesk did an inspirational presentation on where technology is going - I'll try and find the clips for a Parsons Brinckerhoff Earthquake simulation and an onsite solar powered self generation replication machine (Catalonia) that was truly mind blowing.

The technology message was (1) Cloud and (2) Digital Fabrication.

Over the day one of the best things to see was the involvment of all - through round table discussions, twitter and iPad questioning. All in all another super BIM conference. Well done to the organisers!

The big. big questions get asked on Twitter and beamed onto the big screen for 300 delegates to ponder
And technology also used to great effect through live iPad questioning on each table

Tuesday 16 October 2012

BIM Arguments

The BIM twittersphere seems to have descended into a bit of an argument over the following: Which is best: (a) sharing data between software platforms or (b) pressing on with new innovative software?

Do we have to sit in one camp or the other? I personally think that both are pretty good. I strongly believe it doesn't have to be one at the expense of the other.

For example, at NBS we have software that exports to open-standard COBie format and have some pretty innovative research work into IFC. We also have plug-ins that work directly with the ArchiCAD API and another that works directly with the Revit API. It is definitely not a case of picking one over the other.

A couple of examples that attempt to demonstrate my point:

Example 1
I was at the MicroCAD conference earlier today and Simon Dickinson demonstrated some of the latest technologies from Autodesk. A sold-out conference room watched as Simon showed a design model rendered in virtual-reality on a QR code card. He then showed this model be uploaded to the cloud and then rotated in augmented reality from an Apple iPad.

Live demonstrations of fantastic technology - absolutely brilliant stuff. I've sat at other software vendor events and have been equally impressed with similar technology.
QR codes and virtual reality building models
Augmented reality on an iPad
Example 2
At NBS we are working quite closely with the Finnish company Solibri. Solibri products work of buildingSMART IFC format that can exported from all of the main BIM design packages.

The example below shows a COBie data view of an IFC file at run-time that is linked to the 3D model. Note that Microsoft Excel is nowhere in sight. This is a well-structured relational database that the user can use to jump to the relevant space or component in the model as you click on it.

I think this is absolutely brilliant too. It shows that well-structured standardised data formats can work and that record information can be passed from one software product to another. As part of the open BIM network COBie trial we have seen this work from Revit, ArchiCAD and Vectorworks to IFC and then coming through to tools such as Solibri.

COBie as a integral dataset
Click on your object in COBie - see it in the model and the info behind it
As a final thought…
Technology must advance in an open market without restrictions. But user groups must keep the pressure on the software vendors to keep improving their quality of import and export to open-standard data formats. As we've seen in examples such as HTML5 and jQuery from the software development community - open-standard data formats can greatly improve user experience and help with innovation.

NLA NBS BIM Conference - The key questions

The write up from our NLA/NBS BIM Conference is now online:
One of the highlights of the day - Ben Marston from Jestico+Whiles
One interesting aspect of the conference was the interactive voting at the end. These questions were pulled together during the event based on the Q&A sessions throughout the morning. Over 200 delegates responded, mostly architects.
A little less than 40% now using it on live projects
Half of the delegates say clients should be driving BIM - less than 10% say contractors, but...
...more than half of the delegates think contractors will drive BIM - less than 5% say clients
The reasons that need to be removed if is to accelerate further
A big consensus that BIM does not restrict design