Wednesday 30 November 2016

Please take part in our national specification survey

Please give us your views on the place of specifications in the construction industry.

Our survey closes on Sunday and we've had a fantastic response so far. But this is one final call out to help us push those numbers up even higher so that we can deliver as strong an insight as possible into this topic.

Our Research and Analysis team do surveys and publish the corresponding reports for free to industry throughout the year. Recent examples being our BIM report and Brexit report.

For a little more background and a link to the survey, please click below:

Please distribute around colleagues and/or project teams if you are willing ;)

Thursday 24 November 2016

A new building for NBS in Newcastle

We officially opened our new NBS building in Newcastle this week.

The local media was at the launch...

Check out the following video from our Twitter account telling the story of the building and an amazing story of a couple who met in the building in 1942!
...and for all stories on our website on the building please see:

...and the building model of course has been used in our recent promotional videos such as the 'NBS for BIM projects' story below:

Friday 18 November 2016

Machine Learning demonstrated beautifully in a fun game

The website of the year winner has just been won...

It is cool and fun for three year olds up to 103 year olds... and demonstrates machine learning beautifully. Lovely to play around with on a desktop with your mouse - or on a touch screen device with your finger.

Watch the video...

...and how did I do when I gave it a go?

It guessed four out of six of my sketches (you get 20 seconds for each).

A bit disappointed that my brilliant penguin sketch though. Come on a fire hydrant!!!???

Check it out,..

Wednesday 16 November 2016

Enhancements to the NBS plug-in for Autodesk Revit

A quick blog post below with some screenshots showing the functionality in our recent update to our NBS plug-in for Autodesk Revit.

The plug-in allows users to link their models and NBS specifications, view design guidance and drag-and-drop National BIM Library objects directly into their models.

1. Better integration into Revit
The National BIM Library panel and the NBS design guidance panel are now integrated into Autodesk Revit. This provides a better user experience and makes the NBS plug-in feel like an integrated part of Revit as opposed to just a floating window...
Dockable window
2. A more personalised experience
Once logged into the NBS National BIM Library you can add tags against your most used objects and also these will be easily accessible from the home page and from search results...
Logged into the 'My Library' area of the NBS National BIM Library

Viewing only the items tagged against a project or subject
3. Update functionality
It is now possible to check whether there are more current versions of the BIM objects you have downloaded from the library. In the example below, the object has been updated to include values for providing guidance on the positioning of the component with respect to the floor...
A report on which objects in the model are no longer up to date with the library
Details of the changes to the object are shown to the user

4. Assistance in aligning your objects to the NBS BIM Object Standard
By clicking the 'Add Properties' button the basic set of parameters specified in the NBS BIM Object Standard may be added to your objects...
Selecting a BIM object for modification
Stamping in the properties from the NBS BIM Object Standard

5. Accessible from the Autodesk App Store
Until now, the NBS Plug-in has only been available from the NBS website. But now the plug-in may be downloaded from the Autodesk App Store.
NBS on the Autodesk App Store
To download the plug-in for free please visit:

Tuesday 1 November 2016

The Mining Institute

Today I was fortunate enough to have a tour of the North of England Mining Institute in Newcastle City Centre.

Two hundred years ago, the North East led the way in terms of engineering techniques around deep mining. In this building the lead engineers from collieries around the UK came together and shared knowledge so that the UK were world leaders in mining and so that safety and efficiency could be continuously improved.

Some photographs and links to further information below...
As featured in the RIBA love architecture series
The Neville Hall Library
"I advise and protect"

Marble statue of ex-chairman Nicholas Wood

Fantastic carvings and details everywhere
The historic steep sided lecture theatre - inspired the room in London's Royal Institution
Stuff lying about in the storage rooms - like a 200 year old map of Newcastle
If you are ever in Newcastle - I can recommend planning a visit.

Visit their website -
Check out the Wikipedia page -

Friday 28 October 2016

UK Construction Week 2016 - BIM Level 2 - Was it worth it?

Last week I was at UK Construction Week and participated in a panel discussion on the main stage.

The title for the session as set by the organisers 'BIM Level 2 - was it worth it?' was deliberately provocative. The BBC's Victoria Fritz did a very good job of adapting to the subject matter and chairing it. Malcolm Taylor Crossrail, Mac Muzvimwe Faithful+Gould, Guy Hammersley BRE and Sasha Reed, Bluebeam where also panellists.
Malcolm Taylor from Europe's biggest construction project Crossrail talks BIM
In terms of preparing for the discussion, I thought I'd ask Twitter what it thought of the key question...
My snap poll on Twitter the morning before the event
As we discussed the topic, an artist illustrated the discussions
Innovation Arts drew what we discussed
...and finally, I tidied up my preparation notes and popped them on our NBS website as an article...
My thoughts
If you have an opinion on the subject - please add it as a comment below...

Thursday 27 October 2016

Graduate careers at NBS

Our @theNBS twitter account tweeted quite a nice video last week showcasing some of the NBS team members who joined us as graduates.

Claire who designed the new look National BIM Library, Calum who has worked on NBS Create and our Revit plug-in, Andrew who manages the software development of our product offerings for manufacturers and Jane from our BIM authoring team are all featured.

Eagle eyed National BIM Library fans, may notice that the back of Claire's head is now on the website homepage too :)
The new look National BIM Library website
For more information about careers at NBS please see:

Wednesday 5 October 2016

First Fiver - Newcastle Snow Dogs

I saw the #firstfiver campaign on Twitter last month, where everyone is encouraged to give the first new design five pound note to charity and thought, it was a really nice idea.

Earlier this week I got my first fiver (the change from a lovely jacket potato at independent Newcastle sandwich bar Hippo House) and wondered who to give it to?

Well, the easy decision was St Oswald’s Children’s Hospice who NBS are currently supporting as part of the Newcastle Snow Dogs initiative. Our snow dog was painted by Newcastle College - black and white - and called WorGeordie.

Lots of fund raising activities are planned over the next few months - but nice to be able to give my #firstfiver to a good cause.

Some Snow Dog photographs from lunchtime walk around the Quayside and then evening walk up to Newcastle University and back...
Arriving into Central Station - On the right in the distance is the 'New castle'
Our very own Wor Geordie Snow Dog with our Old Post Office building in the background

Three snow dogs on display in the Sage Gateshead with RIBA Sterling Prize winning Millennium Bridge in the background

Outside of the Sage Gateshead
Pitcher and Piano pub with Tyne Bridge in the background
Newcastle Eldon Square shopping centre
The beautiful Theatre Royal on Grey Street
Looking up Grey Street to Central Arcade, Greys Monument and the Monument Mall
So, if you are wondering what to do with your first fiver - then maybe a donation to one of your local charities would be a nice touch.

Tuesday 4 October 2016

Free resources from NBS

At NBS, we have our paid-for subscription offerings such as our specification tools and the services we provide to help connect manufacturers with specifiers. But, over and above this, we have a number of resources that are free to the industry to make use of.

With this in mind, it was fantastic to see an email pointing out one example of how the NBS Periodic Table of BIM was being used to help inform the industry about the subject.

The following video shows Berian Davies from BAM Group Ireland deliver an introduction to BIM using the NBS Periodic Table as the structure of the session:

Other free resources you may want to explore include:

Hopefully, a few of these help with your daily project work. It's great to see professionals making use of these when I am out and about (and of course, occasionally on youtube!).

Friday 30 September 2016

One of the best places to work in the North East

Fantastic to be recognised by the local Newcastle paper The Journal as being one of the best places to work in the North East.
NBS in The Journal
Some of our NBS team in our new office
The article looks at the people that make up NBS and the various roles across the business. It also looks at our soon to be complete refurbishment project of the historic Grade II listed Old Post Office building at the heart of Newcastle city centre.

To view the visualisation of our newly refurbished building please see the video below...

For all articles on our website on the subject of our city centre refurbishment project please see

Tuesday 27 September 2016

Autodesk Forge Viewer

Not really a blog post to any extent.

Just checking out the sharing features within A360 and seeing the Forge 3D viewer in an embedded window...
Sharing the uploaded model

Update - seems to work fine in Internet Explorer - but Google Chrome is currently not allowing it work...
Definitely working in Internet Explorer

Friday 16 September 2016

Three new enhancements to the BIM Toolkit

The latest update to the free-to-use BIM Toolkit has some nice new enhancements included.

Since the launch of the BIM Toolkit in April 2015 we have been steadily adding improvements in response to feedback from those working on live projects. This work to date has included the ability to search and filter the data, the ability to provide access to other members of the project team, the delivery of an API to access the library data and also a full set of classification tables.

However, the most recent enhancements include:

1. Help your clients at strategy and brief stage
At the start of the project, prior to the team being assembled, the client may work with a consultant to put together a digital plan of work.

At this stage of a project, the specific deliverables will probably not be known. For example, it will be known that the architect will be responsible for the design of the doors. But it will not yet be known whether there will be sliding, automatic or folding doors. Equally, it will be known that the maintenance information for the heat emitters will be required at handover - but will not be known whether air curtains, fan convectors or radiators will be specified.

In this new update, the consultant may work with the client to add items at the third level of the classification structure into the plan of work, assign them to the likely discipline and add a brief note against each item.

As an example, the screenshot below shows that structural framing systems have been assigned to the Structural Engineer and a briefing note has been added based on the client's similar previous projects. Note that at this stage a firm decision has not been made as to what type of framing system (whether steel, concrete, timber etc...)
Defining responsibilities prior to the design stages starting
For those working to BIM Level-2, this information can be exported to form part of the Employer's Information Requirements and then the BIM Execution Plan.

As the project develops and the concepts have been agreed the design team that has been appointed will then make these decisions. The screenshot below shows that the structural engineer has now selected the specific systems using the new 'system picker'.

Also shown in the screenshot is an indicator to the project team on how many decisions are remaining. The initial digital plan of work acts as a checklist for the design and specification decisions at Stage 3 of a project.
Selecting the systems to be designed and specified.
For those project team members using NBS Create, the data from this digital plan of work can then be used to generate a specification that is ready to be prepared. This can be achieved by selecting each of the specific systems and then clicking the 'Generate Specification' button.

Although the above example looks at design, this BIM Toolkit 'picker' functionality also works for the handover stage too. An example would be where the heat emitter deliverable is replaced by air curtains and fan convectors once this is known.

2. Start a job with template deliverables
The previously described ability to bridge the information flow gap between strategy/brief and design was the number one request. However, shortly following this was the feedback that it would be really useful to have an '80/20' list of the likely deliverables on a project.

The basic RIBA Plan of Work template project now contains around 160 systems for a 'typical' building. It is hoped that this helps users get started and aids the initial conversation between the consultant and the client when considering information requirements. If at the start of a project it is known that no excavating and filling is needed - this item can be deleted. Equally, if a more unusual item such as straw bale walling is to be used, then this can be added to the list using the 'Add deliverable' button.

80/20 inclusion of systems in a typical building
Thanks must go to our NBS Advisory Panel who helped put this list together over the last few months based on their experience on recent projects.

3. See a case study of a real project
The third main enhancement is the ability to quickly open up and glance through a real life project. The screenshot below shows that the user can select a case study example from the new project wizard.
Select a case study
At the time of writing this blog, there is a case study for a school project. Hopefully over the coming months we'll get a few more case studies in from different sectors. Example content from this case study can be seen below. It should be noted that example briefing notes can be seen against each deliverable that are relevant to a school project.

Example school project.
Many thanks to Alistair from Manchester City Council and Mark S from PCSG for their support with this case study :)

So, it's great to see the BIM Toolkit continuing the improve in response to customer needs. The whole web application is completely free to use and this includes (a) the level of definition guides, (b) the classification tables and (c) the digital plan of work functionality. We hope you are finding it a great resource whether you are working to BIM Level 2 - or whether you simply just want a well-structured design responsibility matrix and schedule of services.

Please check out:
- A three minute video introduction to the BIM Toolkit
- A detailed introduction to the BIM Toolkit
- Case study - The BIM Toolkit being used on a Secondary School project

Also, a free webinar will take place at 11.15am on Friday 7th October 2016 where my colleague Sarah Grey will be demonstrating these recent enhancements and answering questions. To book your place - please see the webpage below:

Tuesday 6 September 2016

Periodic Table of BIM and Social Media

Back in June we published the Periodic Table of BIM. This was basically a table of contents covering all aspects of BIM to introduce the industry to this topic.

In July, my colleague Stefan Mordue decided to stick it on the side of a mug and ask social media who wants one.

I've just returned from a two week holiday to see that the hashtag #cuppabim went a little crazy when I was away.

A selection of some of the best ones below...
My clear favourite
National BIM Library objects in action
Flown all of the way to Dublin
Stop the meeting for a photo of the periodic table on the big screen!

One sent to our #BIMGeordie friends up the road
Every noticeboard needs a period table of BIM
Loving the selfies
Hard hats and cool mugs
The revolving door BIM object seems to be a bit of a favourite
A cuddly panda, a cuddly owl and the periodic table of BIM - the three essentials for any workspace
To see what all of the fuss originally was about...