Wednesday 30 April 2014

Embedding BIM objects within a manufacturer website

Kingspan Insulation's website now displays all of their National BIM Library objects:
Kingspan Insulation BIM objects

It was also great to see the tweet from Kingspan Insulation saying how easy it was to embed the objects and the advantage of having to maintain the objects in a single location (but distribute from many).
For more information for manufacturers on joining the NBS National BIM Library see:

Wednesday 23 April 2014

NBS National BIM Report 2014

Our 4th annual NBS National BIM Report is now available to download...

As always - a top infographic to go with it...
(click to make it bigger)
The key findings...
  • Awareness of BIM is now nearly universal
  • In the last year 54% have used BIM on at least one project – 15% more than in 2012
  • The Government’s 2016 deadline is achievable
  • 93% of those who know about BIM believe they will be using it in three years’ time (by 2016)
  • A majority of active BIM users tell us they have reached ‘level 2’ BIM
  • Adoption of BIM is seen to bring competitive advantage
  • Smaller practices are lagging behind their larger competitors
Director of NBS National BIM Library Ian Chapman presenting the findings...
Findings revealed at BIM Show Live
...and for BIM fans, here are the direct links to the four annual reports..

Augmented Reality BIM

For BIM Show Live 2014 we took some of our objects and had a bit of fun with them. A great way of visualising information and extracting key information.

Check out the video below...

BIM Show Live 2014 - Review

There was a strong NBS presence at the fourth annual BIM Show Live 2014. This year the location was Manchester as the UK’s largest BIM event moved up from London.

The traditional opening addresses were from BIM Show Live founder Rob Charlton and UK Government’s BIM Task Group’s David Philp. Both commented on how far the industry had moved in three years and spoke with optimism about the future of digital information, processes and technology.

The keynote speaker this year was Marc Priestley who worked as a senior member of the pit stop crew for McLaren for 10 years. The presentation gave a great insight into technology and process change in Formula One and some very interesting parallels with the construction industry were made.

1. The need to adopt for change
The biggest change in Formula One in the last twenty years was the banning of tobacco sponsorship. Practically overnight, the most significant funding stream was removed from the sport. Some teams did not survive. Other teams worked extremely hard to replace this ‘easy’ funding stream and adapted to the change. The slide below shows Lewis Hamilton celebrating showing off every single sponsor’s logo with his top zipped fully up (and sporting a watch that he quickly put on after the race). The Marlboro logo was replaced by Vodafone.

2. How to analyse your processes and improve them
Ten years a pit stop took just over 4 seconds. Now it takes just over 2 seconds. A video was shown where McLaren’s 2 second pit-stop allowed Jenson Button to beat Sebastian Vettel who only managed a 3 second pit-stop. This was only achieved through improved technology and a microscopic analysis of the process.

3. How cutting edge technology becomes the norm
Formula One is the pinnacle of motor racing. However, the latest technology in the sport eventually works its way down to family cars. Recent examples have been anti-lock brakes and hybrid electric/petrol engines. A parallel will be seen in the construction industry here as top quality visualisations, 3d printing, scanning, reusable object libraries and other cutting edge developments will soon be affordable and in the hands of all in the construction industry.
What are the parallels between Formula One and BIM?
The first NBS involvement of the day was at the lunchtime session where the 2014 National BIM Report findings were revealed.

Director of National BIM Library Ian Chapman presented the findings. Some photographs from the session are below:
Our 4th annual BIM report
What BIM information sources construction professionals turn to
For the first time a BIM tool is the most commonly used for generating drawings
An impressive 49% of those using BIM, download objects from NBS National BIM Library
What standards organisation using BIM look to
The full NBS National BIM Report 2014 may be downloaded for free at:

Ian also was one of the speakers at the session ‘what manufacturers need to know about BIM’.
Pragmatic advice was given on creating objects that satisfy the needs of BIM users and adhere to the latest standards. Advice was also delivered on what level of detail should be put in objects and how much information should be included and what information should be linked to. All good advice for a room full of construction product manufacturers.

To learn more about the NBS National BIM Library please visit:

How construction manufacturers can support designers and contractors in helping the industry meet its targets
I was also fortunate enough to have a class accepted and gave a live software demonstration of the NBS BIM ecosystem. It is always fun to do a live software demonstration as opposed to going through pre-prepared Powerpoint slides. The atmosphere of a ‘Tech Stage’ is always good too as you attract more people from the break out area as the presentation develops. As time was reasonably short I tried to keep the demonstration to three main themes:
  1. How to coordinate modelled information with specification information using plug-in technology for system, component, material and 2D objects.
  2. How specification information can be referenced and viewed from the linked objects in the model.
  3. How NBS are giving functionality that they use internally on National BIM Library away for free to users that create their own objects and want to stamp standard NBS and office master properties into their own objects.
For more information on the NBS BIM ecosystem see:

The NBS Lakeside Restaurant video still going strong after two years
Standing room only at the back of the Tech Stage
Finally, check out the fun, innovative use for National BIM Library objects we demonstrated on our stand:

Tuesday 22 April 2014

NBS at BIM Show Live 2014 - Preview

NBS will be at BIM Show Live on Wednesday 23rd and Thursday 24th April at stand GS10.

In addition to one-to-one demonstrations of NBS Create, NBS Building and NBS National BIM Library at our stand, we are also involved in three presentation sessions on day one.

Wednesday 23rd April

1300-1330 - Launch of National BIM Report 2014 (Main Auditorium)
Now in its 4th year - the most established report into BIM attitudes and adoption will be presented and launched at the lunchtime session in the main auditorium. We've published some of the headline findings in advance and received some excellent coverage in the media - but it will be at BIM Show Live where you can get your hands on the first copies.
  • Awareness of BIM is now nearly universal. The majority of practices have now adopted BIM.
  • If intentions become reality, some degree of BIM use within practice will become the norm.
  • Awareness of the levels of BIM, as defined by the UK Government has grown from 51% in 2012 to 73% in 2013.
  • 45% of those using BIM are now using IFC on projects
Building Magazine's illustration summarising the findings
The 2014 report - so hot off the press it isn't getting picked up from the printers until tomorrow morning
We also have some fantastic expert articles in the report again this year including contributions from Arup, Turner+Townsend, HOK, Balfour Beatty, ALUK, Celotex, Ibstock, Kalzip, SMET, Triton, Poulter, Metz, Jonathan Reeves, Eurobuild, JHD, Axis, Niven and Constructive Thinking.

Download the NBS National BIM Report from our website:

1345-1445 - BIM knowledge for manufacturers (Stage 03)
Ian Chapman, Director of National BIM Library will join representatives from other object libraries for an hour long special on BIM for manufacturers.

The National BIM Library has gone from strength to strength and now has thousands and thousands of objects.

It has generic objects for architecture, landscape and service engineering. It also has generic objects from the trade organisation SPRA.

Standard generic objects
There are also now objects from over 50 manufacturers.
Quickly filter the objects to find the item you require
If you are a manufacturer interested in getting your products on the National BIM Library please see:

If you are a BIM user who'd love to see objects from a certain manufacturer - please direct them to the web address above.

1550-1605 - Specifications and BIM (Tech Stage)
I'll be doing a live demonstration of the NBS BIM Ecosystem on the Tech Stage at 1550. It'll be great to see any folk who visit my blog there.

A couple of teaser screenshots from the latest NBS plug-in that helps coordinate information in the model with the information in the specification below...
Enhanced specification viewer
The all new material picker for layered objects
In addition to the main presentations - there will be a chance to meet and chat with many NBS staff including Drew Wiggett who heads up the BIM manufacturer content team at NBS and also Stefan Mordue the co-author of the recently published BIM for Construction Health and Safety.

Wednesday 16 April 2014

From Digital to Physical to Digital

One of the emerging trends in the construction industries digital journey is how to go from digital to physical (3d printing/assembly) and how to go from physical to digital (laser scanning to a model).

Well, this little video below shows the full round trip. Not 'quite' construction though - it's a bear walking up the stairs...


Wednesday 9 April 2014

NBS Specification Report 2013

Our NBS Specification Report 2013 was published recently.

Some interesting findings:
  • 1/2 of users are using RIBA POW 2013 on at least one project
  • 2/3 believe that the brief is the first stage of specification development
  • nearly 80% reuse old specifications
  • 1/4 still mark up a paper copy
  • The biggest cause of difficulties is "the drawings and spec contradicting each other"
  • 95% agree that "there should be a direct link between specifications and drawings"
  • 94% now believe that in the future specifications will be distributed digitally only
...and in addition to the analysis, also some very good articles.
  • An insight into specification future from our CEO Richard Waterhouse (@rpwaterhouse)
  • Some thoughts from specification expert Andy Jobling from Levitt Bernstein
  • Specifications through the project lifetime from our Content Development manager John Gelder (@JohnGelderNBS)
  • Thoughts on how specification is taught from Architectural Technology student Elisabeth Matuki, graduate Alex Nesbitt and Nick Ivill.
So download your free copy from...

Thursday 3 April 2014

thinkBIM – Spring Conference 2014

There was a super line-up of speakers at the first thinkBIM conference of 2014.

First up was Richard Ogden from Build Offsite. I’d first came into contact with Richard at the RIBA Build Offsite conference in 2011 where the Leadenhall Building and Circle Private Hospital case studies were presented (read this blog post here).

A few screenshots from Richard’s presentation are below. Building offsite and then assembling on the construction site is one proven method of bringing the cost of construction down. The UK Government 2025 Construction Strategy is demanding some big efficiency and environmental impact enhancements and this was discussed. The analogy with the auto-mobile industry was given. Volkswagen have a standardised process, 80% of their cars come from the same components – yet the customer still gets 2million+ possibilities in terms of customisation. Can the same be done for buildings to achieve the efficiency and environmental impact savings?
Ogden puts up the 2025 headline goals
How big is the parallel between assembling cars and assembling buildings?
Richard also mentioned that a lot of the thinking is not new - it's just the technology is enabling better things now. Check out the History Channel documentary on Building the Empire State Building on youtube.

Jaimie Johnson from Bryden Wood then gave a web presentation from St Petersburg Russia. Jaimie started by presenting a case study from some of their work for Anglian Water. They designed and digitally built modules on the computer. They then prototyped and built them in a factory. Then when they were sure they were correct they then formed a build-offsite-kit-of-parts for numerous Anglian Water facilities.

The St Petersburg project that Jaimie is currently working on is a $1.2bn new district. The largest level-2 BIM project ever (although the Qatar world cup may have something to say about that). Brydon Wood have followed the same principles as before on this project. They built a digital kit of parts using BIM methodology. The architects on the project now know to use these components and assemblies to design their buildings.

Jaimie reflected that they had tried to do the same on the Olympic athlete’s village project, but on reflection they did not have enough time to achieve this. How this current project is progressing is an excellent example of getting things right at the strategy stage and preparation+brief stage of a large project. Get things right at the start. Learn from previous projects.

Some headline statistics where that the modular buildings were 1/3 of the mass which produced a large saving in embodied carbon and 25% cheaper in terms of materials. The delivery time was also reduced by 8 months.
A selection of digital library objects that were developed in preparation for the design of the buildings
How the objects come together to form a floor of a building
Check out a PDF case study on this project so far at -

The thinkBIM conferences always have a set of excellent roundtables that the delegates can select from and take part in. It was pleasing to see that there was a full table for the session I was hosting on BIM and LODev. (See my previous post on BIM and Level of Development for a bit of background information on this).

There was a good consensus of opinions on BIM and LODev. To summarise:
  • Having a set of LODev guidelines available is the ‘construction language’ that is needed for the collaborative project team to agree *who* is responsible for *what* and *when* information is needed to be delivered through the project.
  • There is a vacuum here in the UK in terms of guidelines. Those working on BIM projects are using the American guidelines. These are considered the best in the world, however, it would be really good to have a set authored for UK construction. It would be even better if this was available in a digital online database and not just a PDF.
  • It was clear that there was not a ‘one-size-fits-all’ for each system and product across all of the disciplines. Specific properties are required. Certain items need designed to a greater level of development earlier in the project.
  • Equally, every project is different. A ‘built-offsite’ project with standard components has a greater level of development early on. A bespoke project may go well into the design stages before as much information emerges.
  • Strong consistent project leadership is advantageous. A good project lead from concept stage onwards can really help.
  • Many professions were represented at the round tables (engineers, design managers, architects, manufacturers, civils…) – it was felt that a consistent approach would help all in construction.
  • Consistent classification is required and this must map to rules of measurement for costing.
  • If the LODev guidelines are digital, this should lead to a certain amount of digital validation. A client can request a certain amount of information. They can then automatically check this has been provided.
Two sketches are shown below that were developed as part of the discussion in terms of the design (LOD) and information (LOI) part of the levels of development.
LODev round-table one sketches
LODev round-table two sketches
The final presentation was from SKANSKA’s Rob Francis. Rob gave an insight as to what SKANSKA have been doing in partnership with Arup and Forest City to develop Brooklyn in New York.

The joint venture put in $12million in developing a factory to build modular housing to form part of high rise developments in the Brooklyn dock’s area. 80% of effort offsite in the factory and then 20% on the construction (assembly) site. Building offsite was the only feasible option here as there was very little space available on the tight building area available.

The photographs below nicely illustrate the designs progressing, the sequencing in the factory and then the assemblies being lifted onto the structure. Also fascinating was the extremely tight standards and regulations that come from building high-rise in New York. The building must be able to stand 8 on the Richter Scale – 200 mile an hour hurricanes and have a progressive collapse sequence.
The build-offsite and assemble process
The factory layout
'Made in Brooklyn' - the assemblies get lifted onto the structure
Here is a video of a factory tour I found on youtube below and link to the SKANSKA presentation.

The next thinkBIM is July. Looking forward to it already.