Thursday 24 March 2016

Think BIM - Spring Conference 2016

I had the pleasure of chairing the half-day Spring Think BIM Conference in Leeds. As always it was a top event mixing great speakers with interactive round tables for discussion.

The first speaker was the UK BIM Task Group’s Dave Philp who gave an update on the activity delivering against the UK Government’s Strategy. Dave was actually overseas in Australia, so through the power of technology he presented over the web. Dave looked back at the last five years and the level-2 BIM journey developing the standard, tools and guidance.
Phil on Skype live from Perth, Australia
For Dave’s most recent presentation on this please see:

Next up was James Austin who was one of the original participants in the very first Think BIM in 2011. James who was an architect at the time at Space Group but has since joined Autodesk reflected back on this UK journey. Some photographs from his slide deck are below…
James looks back five years ago
Key milestones in the UK Level-2 BIM journey 
I'd strongly recommend having a flick through this presentation - so much good stuff from the last five years - this will be available soon on the Think BIM website:

For my own look back at five years of Think BIM - check out all of my blog posts with this tag...

The final speaker before the roundtable discussions was Adam Matthews who is the chair of the recently formed EU BIM Task Group. Adam talked about the two year programme to provide consistent guidance and a minimum level of performance across publicly funded construction work with respect to digital process and deliverables.

Where construction and built asset management is funded through tax payers money then there is a responsibility to increase productivity and get better value for the spend. Across the world, BIM is considered to be an enabler to do this – this initiative has the potential to put Europe and the UK into a position of world leadership.
Adam looks at productivity across industries and considers digital
The EU BIM Task Group -
The CEN/TC 442 structure defining BIM standards across Europe - Picture left of NBS R Waterhouse
The first roundtable I attended was delivered by Adrian Malleson from NBS. Adrian was exploring the topic of persistent digital object identifiers (DOI) for physical products. This is an Innovate UK research project that involved NBS, BSI and the Construction Products Association.

The sort of opportunities explored here included (a) if each type of product in a built asset and a fixed identifier that linked to information about that product  that would be persistent over time, would this be of value in FM? and (b) what would the scope of the parameters be that could be stored against this identifier so that information about this product could be easily accessible either at the design, construction or operation stage of the project.

How could a concept such as this fit into a data structure such as COBie or IFC (or a proprietary FM format)? In the case of COBie, the object class would be determined by the classification (Category field), the location of the object would be determined by the instance relationship to parent space/location, then floor and then building/entity. The DOI would be an attribute of the object that would resolve to a hyperlink that gave persistent additional information regarding that type of object held on the web.
The simple flow of information between manufacturers and those that need this data
The second roundtable I attended was chaired by the manufacturer Bosch. They talked about their BIM journey and the challenges faced when determining how much geometric detail to model in a manufacturer object, how much information to put into the object and how much should be on the web and also what information standards should be followed.

All interesting subjects – particularly important if information from manufacturers is to be provided to the industry in a standardised format. At NBS we have spent a lot of time looking into standardising BIM object information and more can be found on this subject below:

The conference concluded with a review of the roundtable discussions and then a final Q+A. The Q+A included the question about dominance of software providers and how competition around open standards was good for the industry. There was also discussion around whether organisations were willing to share their native models or whether they’d only share IFC and other fixed data formats to protect IPR. The feeling was that sharing is good for the industry.

So all in all – a really good day. As usual Think BIM was a super event – I look forward to the next one in the Summer.

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