Tuesday 24 December 2013

The seven most popular blog posts of the year

From the site analytics, the seven most popular posts of the year on this blog were...

7th place - National BIM Report 2013
The third annual national report into BIM attitudes in the UK from NBS received fantastic recognition again this year. The short overview at the above URL was the 7th most popular post on this blog.
Where the UK is at with BIM
6th place - The RIBA Plan of Work 2013
In 6th place was a summary of the RIBA Plan of Work 2013 from May this year...
The RIBA Plan of Work 2013
5th place - BIM Task Group - Labs Area - Overview
My overview of the BIM Task Group (BTG) Labs Area was featured in the BTG e-newsletter helping it get one or two views.
IFC does school classrooms
4th place - BIM Objects from Manufacturers
At the end of 2013, the NBS National BIM Library is filling up with manufacturers so fast they can barely fit on one screenshot. This post about the first three or four manufacturers (from January) comes in at 4th place.
Lots of great generic and manufacturer BIM content
3rd place - 7 great new features in the NBS for Autodesk Revit plug-in
The new features within our NBS plug-in for Autodesk Revit seemed to go down well for our users that use both NBS and Revit. Generating an outline specification, dragging and dropping objects from the library and reporting on information to ensure it is coordinated were some of the main features.
Synchronise model and specification
2nd place - BIM and LOD
How information develops through the project time line. What the client requirements for information are. How the project team delivers against these information requirements. These are some of the most discussed topics within BIM. This blog post on 'Level of development', 'Level of information', 'Level of detail' was the 2nd most viewed in 2013.

1st place - The National BIM Library Promotional Video
My blog post on our 'What is BIM?' promotional video received the most views. Watch the video below...

..and I think I agree with the tweet below... :)

Monday 23 December 2013

2013 BIM Diary

2013 has disappeared in a blink of an eye.

At the end of 2012 I did a little blog post looking back through the year at some of the 2012 highlights. So one year on, the same again. Please find the highlights of the year from my point of view...

1. January - NBS Green BIM Conference
Waterhouse and the wedge
We put on the third of our free (and standing room only) BIM conferences in association with New London Architecture (NLA). The theme of this particular conference was looking at both BIM and sustainability. Speakers from Arup Associates, Capita Symonds, Architype, UK Government, RLB, BRE and NBS put on a great event to start the year.
January also saw the publication of the joint NBS/OpenBIM COBie report that may be downloaded for free.

2. February - BDTwitter100
BD100 Twitter-folk
I was absolutely delighted to be listed as one of the top 100 tweeterers in the built environment by BDOnline. Also made it into the top 10 for BIM alongside Light, Stodgell, Store, Farrell, Austin, Charlton, Jackson, Philp and Klaschka.
- StephenHamilNBS

3. March - National BIM Survey 2013
National BIM Survey
March saw the results from our third national BIM survey get published. Headline figures included (a) less than half of the industry being aware of what level-2 BIM was, (b) Only 6% of those using BIM have regretted the decision, (c) 75% agreeing BIM is the future and (d) a rise in BIM adoption from 2011 to 2013 from 13% to 39% in the UK.
I also had the pleasure of doing what is becoming an annual presentation to the London Revit User Group which is always pretty lively in the question and answer session and good discussions in pub after the event [post 1 / post 2].
...and squashed in the middle was ecobuild - many of the NBS/RIBA village presentations are on the web to view for free.

4. April - CIC Growth through BIM Report
Growth through BIM
In April Richard Saxon published his Growth through BIM report on behalf of CIC/Cabinet Office. To summarise some of the key points (a) UK is/can continue to be a world-leader in BIM, (b) we can continue to grow in terms of an exporter of professional services, (c) UK manufacturers must embrace and lead with BIM, (d) BIM means greener construction in addition to cheaper construction, (e) the 'Digital Build Britain' intiative will transform the construction industry, (f) the need for more off-site manufacturing.

5. May - RIBA Plan of Work 2013
50 years in the making
The new 2013 publication is the most radical change to the RIBA Plan of Work since its launch 50 years ago in 1963. The new plan is aligned with the unified industry stages as agreed through the Construction Industry Council. It covers all forms of procurement and project sizes and it integrates sustainable design and BIM processes. More recently the free RIBA Plan of Work 2013 Toolbox was also published (October). At NBS we did the software development work around the new plan and supporting toolbox.
May also saw two top BIM conferences - BIM Show Live and also Dublin - Meet the Experts.

6. June - BIM for the Terrified
Terrified about BIM?
The CIC Growth through BIM Report had highlighted the need for manufacturers to embrace BIM. In June, NBS teamed up with the Construction Products Association to produce the free BIM for the Terrified publication aimed at manufacturers. The report looked into (a) what BIM is, (b) the background to BIM, (c) what manufacturers need to do, (d) open standards and (e) BIM and FM. It also contained a number of case studies from leading manufacturers such as Kingspan Insulation, Glazing Vision and Kalzip.
Also in June - at NBS we released the latest version of our plug-in for Autodesk Revit.

7. July - Construction News award winners
The double
In July at NBS we were absolutely delighted to win not one, but two Construction News Awards for BIM. The first was the Government sponsored 'Digital Built Britain Award' for NBS Create. The second was the 'BIM Initiative of the Year Award' for NBS National BIM Library. A nice quote from the judges was "NBS will become the industry standard location for reliable quality controlled information. NBS has shown real leadership in helping drive UK BIM adoption and consistently makes BIM accessible across the supply chain".
We also had some great fun taking part in the Singapore 48 hour BIM challenge with our friends up at BIM Academy - 4 blog posts on this [Post 1, Post 2, Post 3 and Post 4].

8. August - Everyone was on holiday

9. September - 40 years of NBS
Computers in the old days
In September we celebrated 40 years of NBS (1973-2013). theNBS.com/NBS40 documents our history with nostalic imagery and video. My favourite part of the 40 year history is the original NBS Specification Manager promotional video (from FaulknerBrown's offices) in 1990. By all accounts this was the first construction software in the UK on Windows 3.
Also this month there was a BE2Award for our Marketing Team for their use of social media and the Internet in their activities.

10. October - BIM International
Probably the best
diagram in the world
The highlight of October for me had to be being invited over to Denmark to speak alongside Arup, Laing O'Rourke and Foster+Partners at their 'BIM in the UK' conference.
October also saw the launch of the NBS plug-in for Vectorworks which we were delighted about. In addition to ArchiCAD, Revit and Vectorworks we are working on more collaboration plug-ins - so hopefully watch this space in 2014.

11. November - NBS Live
NBS Live
NBS Live was our first 'paid-for' conference. The conference split into four main themes - I chaired the BIM Room. It was a super event at the Business Design Centre in London with over 250 delegates. We hope to run more conferences throughout of 2014 with our official media partner RIBA Journal - so please keep an eye on our websites for more details on future events.
In November, we also won one final award - this time it was at the Construction Computing Awards and the prize was for the 'Team of the Year'. The fact that this went to our Research and Development team (the team I have been part of since 1999) was a very, very nice way to end the year.

12. December - Think BIM
Philp Leeds
The December ThinkBIM conference in Leeds always seems to be the final event of the year. With mssrs Philp and Klaschka getting on the train from London to come 'up North' to speak it was a good way to end the year. There was also time during the event for Rob Jackson to present from Autodesk University via Skype.

So another busy year. Thanks to everyone who regularly visits the blog. Thanks also to those that follow on Twitter. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year - All the very best in 2014.

Friday 20 December 2013

Digital survey, design, procurement and assembly

OK - the chap in the video isn't designing and constructing a building - but the cute little example shows off some nice principles...

...and I guess there could be worse things to do over the Xmas holiday than have a play with Lego Digital Designer online...

Wednesday 18 December 2013

A more detailed look at tagging in the NBS Plug-in for Autodesk Revit

There have been a few questions from users of the NBS Plug-in for Autodesk Revit asking for information on how the tagging works in more detail.
Question from linkedin
Question on this blog
In this blog post I try and answer (a) what it currently does, (b) what it currently doesn't do and (c) what we're working on.

The NBS Plug-in for Autodesk Revit is a free tool that can be downloaded from the URL below:
And overview of some of its features are given below:

1. Tagging system objects
In the example below there is a specification in NBS Create for an 'Internal floor tiling system'.
A floor tiling system specification in NBS Create
The corresponding object in the model may be tagged against the system in NBS as shown below.
The tagged equivalent object in Autodesk Revit
This is possible through the use of the two shared parameters 'NBSDescription' and 'NBSReference'. The NBS plug-in stamps these in through the 'Associate object' feature, so there is no need to manually add them through the Family Editor.
The type parameters required for the tagging
2. Tagging component objects
For component objects, the process is identical. In the example below there is a 'Gas fired condensing boilers' specification clause in NBS Create.
Boiler product specification in NBS Create
In the model the tag can be added to show the relationship between the two items as shown below.
The corresponding type of boiler in the model
The parameters required are again the same. These are 'NBSReference' and 'NBSDescription'.
The important parameters
In addition to tagging, the user can also view a report as to which items are coordinated between model and specification. The user can click on the items in the report to jump to instance of that type in the views within the model. This is shown in below.
Verify, fix and browse the associated objects using the report
There are other features that this tagging allows also such as the ability to view the technical guidance and also the generation of an outline specification from the model. Please see the link below for more information on this:

3. Tagging materials
Material objects can be tagged in a similar way, however there are limitations here in the current plug-in that is live.
  1. Within the Revit user interface it is not possible to select a material from within an object
    In terms of our developments, we could look to see if our plug-in could read the materials in a system object and offer the user to select the material they'd like to annotate. This is on our r+d list of things to look at for future.
  2. Currently it is not possible to view the material in the 'Verify objects' report.
    This, however is something that is reasonably well developed and will be in the next beta version of the plug-in we will release to NBS Beta Testers in January.
Tagging of material objects
An NBS product specification that maps to a material in the model
The material tagging/checking for errors will come from the two parameters 'NBSReference_mtrl' and 'NBSDescription_mtrl' as shown below.
The material parameters that are important
If any users of the plug-in would like have an early preview of this functionality - we'd love to have you as part of our Beta Testing programme:

4. Tagging 'elements'
The majority of NBS National BIM Library objects are at 'system' or 'product' level. However, some such as the external walls, floors or roofs are at an 'element' level.

An element contains more than one system. For example below, the external wall has a cladding system, a structural concrete system and a plasterboard lining system.
A wall 'element' in the model
To tag this in the model against NBS, there are two options:
  1. Pick the primary system to tag the object against (maybe the cladding system in the example above) and then manually annotate the additional systems in the wall object.
  2. Split the wall object into its systems (as in the example above where the cladding system is highlighted in blue). Then tag the systems at a one-to-one level against NBS. This is more involved in terms of modelling skills, but does better represent the building. For example it allows for a single system to cover the outer face of a building, but different systems to be modelled on the inner face to match the floors and rooms of the building. 
Finally, tagging still works with the in-built Revit KeyNote functionality. All NBS specification products allow users to export information from the project specification to a KeyNote file. It should be noted that objects tagged using KeyNotes will not have the spec linkage, guidance, spec creation, preview functionality.

Level-2 BIM quiz

Quite a fun level-2 BIM quiz at the BIMTaskGroup website.

Can you score 100% and become a level-2 BIM master?


Take the BIMQuiz
Good knowledge of BIM you have

Thursday 5 December 2013

thinkBIM Leeds – December 2013 Conference

Today was the final thinkBIM conference of the year. Held at the fantastic WSP offices in Leeds it was a fitting way to bring 2013 to a close in terms of UK BIM events (for me at least).

The keynote presentation was from David Philp, Head of BIM at Mace. David is also part of the HM Government core BIM team and he delivered a progress report on how UK industry is performing against the Government BIM strategy.

David started by expanding on the acronym BIM and said what the Government approach is all about is essentially ‘collaborative working in a digital environment’. The 2025 construction strategy published this year was summarised in a single slide looking at the headline targets. These targets are lower costs, faster delivery, lower emissions and improved exports through the government and industry working to the digital strategy. As the construction industry is 6.7% of GDP it is something that is given focus and it offers the opportunity for further growth if the industry can deliver against the strategy.
The UK construction industry in 2025
David also delivered a clear message in terms of education and development opportunities for young people who will seek a career in construction. He gave the example of a young child now purchasing an app on a tablet, designing with digital Lego, ordering the ‘parts’ and then constructing the design. This digital generation will come through into the construction industry and we must now innovate and adapt to meet the digital revolution.

Second to present was Robert Klaschka from Studio Klaschka. Robert looked at open data and the comparison between the software environment around the internet and BIM software. Developing for the internet, pretty much anything is possible and opportunities are there for all - innovation happens at an incredible pace. Due to the open standardised data structures, a (what was) small organisation like Google can create amazing applications and grow into one of the biggest organisations in the world. This is possible due to the open platform. Robert asked if the same can be said of construction software?

Two inspirational quotes from Tim Berners-Lee were used:

  • Customers need to be given control of their own data – not being tied into a certain manufacturer so that when there are problems they are always obliged to go back to them
  • Data is a precious thing and will last longer than the systems themselves
Robert also talked about the pace of technology advancements. For example, who would have thought that when taking photographs on their digital camera ten years ago that ten years later there would be software that digitally arranged those photographs based on face recognition technology?
Big data
Following Robert, there were a number of round-table discussion sessions that the delegates could choose to participate in.  These were:

  • Ben Wallbank – ‘The responsible client’
  • Me – ‘The new RIBA Plan of Work 2013 Toolbox’
  • Adrian Malone – ‘Putting BIM to work – lessons learned from live projects’
  • Gillian Smith – ‘Developing intelligent objects for the market’
  • David Philp – ‘Digital collaborative working aids better supply chain efficiency and added client value’
  • Robert Klaschka – ‘How data management is key to any design organisation’
An overview of the subject behind my round-table is at the link below:
The associated RIBA Plan of Work guidance publication is at:

When talking about the RIBA Plan of Work 2013 Toolbox there were many ideas as to how this could be taken onto the web as a digital application working off structured databases. The sort of questions and suggestions asked where as follows:

  • Could the project roles and schedules of services feed into professional agreement documents?
  • Could the design responsibility matrix also note those team members that were to be consulted in addition to those being given responsibility? (Sort of a RACI matrix for construction)
  • Where aspects of the templates are not required on a project, could they strike out to see that an active decision had been taken?
  • Could a permissions model be provided so that the project team members could write to and read from their relevant areas?
  • Could the design items be grouped into work packages for projects where the contractor design manager comes on board?
  • Could worked examples and suggested templates be provided for different sectors?

However, most of the discussion was around the level of detail/development/information for the design items and how this should be agreed and delivered. This was no surprise as it seems to be the hot topic of conversation at the moment in the BIM world. The UK seems to be a little behind the likes of USA and Australia on this (see my BIM and LOD blog post). So in preparation for this I had prepared some sketch proposals as to how LOD definitions and associated guidance could work together to provide the industry with a robust template.
Do we need LOD reference guidance for the UK?
The sketch above would have a definition that could be placed in the design responsibility matrix against an item at a particular stage. Then the project team could refer to the associated guidance to see precisely what this definition meant in terms of level of geometric information and specification information.
National BIM Library objects could potentially be used to develop the geometry guidelines and the NBS Create specification system could be the template for the key property sets and information.
This idea seemed to be warmly received, but at NBS we’ll have to do further user testing before progressing further.

The final part of the conference was the Pecha Kucha sessions and we had Rob Jackson, Paul Coates, Paul Wilkinson, Mark Stodgell and Peter Morton presenting. Pecha Kucha is exactly twenty Powerpoint Slides each progressing after twenty seconds.

First up was Rob Jackson from Bond Bryan Sheffield presenting from Las Vegas Nevada via Skype. Rob was at the Autodesk University conference – which admittedly  is (probably) not as glamorous as Leeds, but he didn’t seem overly sad not to be at thinkBIM.

Some pictures below from the Pecha Kuchas…
It's work, work, work for the guys in Las Vegas
Paul from InfraProject looks at the BIM ROI

Paul looks back at 1987
Mark from BIM Academy and the 'Information Manager' hat
BIMCampus - have placed 13 out of their first set of 15 students in jobs
Finally, the Leeds Brewery had provided a keg of beer again – so it was nice to finish the day with a couple of beers before getting on the train back to Durham again.

Well done to Claire and all of the thinkBIM team for another set of superb events throughout the year.
I recognise this WSP project
R Klaschka, not only a fan of the 'internet guy', but also the RIBA Plan of Work 2013 publications

Monday 2 December 2013

thinkBIM - RIBA Plan of Work 2013 Toolbox

I'm looking forward to chairing another thinkBIM half-day conference in Leeds on Wednesday (4th December).

http://ckehub.org/events/94 (there may be some remaining tickets left)

The line-up is tremendous as usual with contributors including Dave Philp from UK Government, Robert Klaschka from Studio Klaschka, Ben Wallbank openBIM, Adrian Malone Faithful+Gould amongst others.

I am running one of the round tables too - the overview of this is below. If anyone would like to comment on the questions that cannot attend the event - please feel free to comment below.

Overview for Round Table:
The new RIBA Plan of Work 2013 is now aligned with the unified UK construction industry stages agreed through the CIC. It also has a framework for the agreed information exchanges that are required on collaborative BIM projects.

This round table looks at the key tasks required to prepare for a successful BIM project including defining Project Roles, Design Responsibility and Schedule of Services.

Questions for Round Table:

  • Is the new RIBA Plan of Work 2013 and the associated guidance and tools a good framework for collaborative BIM projects?
  • How could the existing ‘Toolbox’ be enhanced with respect to BIM?
  • What existing tools and processes do the members of the round table have in place within their practices?
  • What additional guidance and tools are required to give the industry the support it needs with respect to BIM?