Thursday 19 October 2017

Digital Construction Week 2017 - Day Two

Following on from yesterday's Day One review post - here is a quick review of Day Two...

Andrew Wolstenholme - Construction Leadership Council
I've been to many BIM events, but until today I have never had the chance to listen to Andrew Wolstenholme who is CEO of Crossrail and chair of the CLC.

Some of his key slides below. Some of his big messages:
  • Look at how automotive and aeropspace industries collaborate and work together on standards and innovation and work to get Government funding. Construction industry is way behind. The two big innovation areas for cars are (a) batteries and (b) self-driving cars - the industry really gets behind the challenge.
  • When it comes to the big projects. You must focus on the outcomes. Focus on the business case. The spending is then worth it. Example being Crossrail - spend £14.8bn - for a return of £42bn to the economy.
  • Three areas of focus for the industry - (a) procure for better value, (b) industry-led innovation with matched Government funding and (c) skills for the future.
Andrew also looked at the 'sector deal' - the investment on its way:
A lot of money is about to be spent
We don't currently have enough capacity in the industry to deliver

Be sure of the business case - and then spend

Andrew wants to get construction the same sort of funding for innovation that other industries get 
AI in construction - Akos Pfemeter
This was largely a look at the history of AI - and then a reflection on where it wil benefit construction. Some links below:

Alex Lubbock - Delivering against Government Construction Strategy
Alex is part of the Digital Built Britain team. He reported on how BIM Level 2 was being pushed through departments to try and make it 'business as usual'.

He also looked at all of the priority areas...
The priorities

Emerging technologies will create amazing productivity opportunities

It's not just about the big companies - it's about SMEs and sharing the passion through social media

David Philp - City Modelling
Dave removed his Digital Built Britain hat and put on his Aecom hat to present the work they were doing around city modelling and big data.

A pretty cool software package was demonstrated (the guy behind Google Earth is the owner):
How will emerging technology allow us to monitor our assets?

The existing estate (with no BIM) is huge
Su Butcher - Collaboration
Then it was off to the BIM Village stage. Su Butcher did a nice job of presenting using only a whiteboard and markers.

What can help/hinder collaboration? Technology... Legal issues... Behaviour...
Forget your flashy Powerpoints - Su Butcher brings out the whiteboard!
Me - Structured data through the timeline
My class was accepted (thanks Olly :)) - so I got a chance to present to 50 or so delegates at the BIM Village.

My three take-home points were:
  1. Get the start of the project right - support the client with the EIR/BEP process
  2. Use standardised information structures for objects and specifications
  3. Consider how emerging technologies will change the way we work
Check out some BIM case studies below...
Case study 01
Case study 02

Case study 03
If you want to watch me talk about this stuff - please see the link below:

...and, it wasn't all work, work, work, a bit of fun below...
(Thanks Anthony from James Ward Architects)

Separated at birth?

PlanBEE - NBS Tech Experience

At NBS we are part of the PlanBEE initiative in the North East. This is an intense higher apprenticeship programme, spending four month spells with the industry’s leading companies, getting on and off the job training and earning from day one. It is a fast track to graduation, a professional qualification and a guaranteed job opportunity.
Collaboration from some of the largest AEC companies in the North East
As part of the four month experience at NBS, each student has a month in our BIM content team, our specification content team, our web team and also our tech team. I had the pleasure of putting together our tech programme and also mentoring the first of our PlanBEE students Jodie.
Our first two PlanBEE students
The tech month has four parts - the first three build up the basic skills needed to work on a real life industry problem and try and solve it using technology.

Week 1 - Web skills
With the help of the excellent w3schools website and Microsoft Visual Studio Community Edition the student learns basic web programming. Topics such as HTML, CSS, Javascript, JSON and XML are studied.
Loading data stored in XML into a website using AJAX
Week 2 - Desktop skills
To keep things simple on the desktop programming side, VBA within Microsoft Excel is taught to introduce the basics such as variables, loops, conditions, functions, user forms etc... The excellent Home and Learn website gives great training exercises.

As a data set to play with, Uniclass 2015 tables are provided.

Week 3 - Quality assurance
In week three, the student is introduced more to the NBS product range and spends a week in the QA team exploring and testing desktop and web solutions that are being updated for our customers. A lot of this is basic 'user acceptance testing' but there is also a little bit of time spent learning how to write automated testing.
Automated testing
Week 4 - Project
The project week is a chance for the student to put the skills into practice. They are given a pre-written web application which has three panels. The central model contains a 3D model of a building. The left hand panel allows objects in the model to be selected by GUID. The right hand panel receives events from the objects that are selected. The Autodesk Forge Viewer is used for the 3D model viewing.
The starting application
Jodie has just completed her tech month - so some screenshots from what she did in project week below...

The Challenge - Prototype a website that allows the facility manager to view and record the water temperatures for all hot and cold water taps in the NBS Old Post Office Building

Interview and video Mick, our maintenance guy, on how he takes and records the monthly readings

Put a plan together for the week (four day week! College on Monday)

Sketch design on the back of an envelope what the solution will look like

Start styling and laying out the test on the basic application

Add properties (using the NBS BIM Object Standard!) to a cube that will represent the tap
The SerialNumber property from the COBie PSet was used for the GUID

Place the cubes in the building - a beautiful representation of our lovely taps

Upload the new model to the website that has been created

Click on a tap to see where it is in the building, what the maintenance data is and instructions on how to maintain each month
So in a month, without much previous coding experience, I was amazed at what Jodie managed to put together. We'll have a student into the tech experience every two months now, and each one will be mentored by one of my colleagues at NBS. Hopefully some of these students will be inspired by what we do and will start successful careers in our industry.

From a BIM point of view, it's a simple example, but it shows how well-structured data from a common standard can be used to locate and use model data in FM. Some of the information is in the model (unique ID, classification, manufacturer name, description etc...) - some of this information is external to the model (photo, youtube video, maintenance records etc...). The end user can then access all of this connected information in a web application and use the 3D model to provide context.

To find out more about PlanBEE please visit:

A special mention to Ryder Architecture who started off this initiative:

Wednesday 18 October 2017

Digital Construction Week 2017 - Day One

Those of you that follow my blog know I like doing a review of the day whenever I am at a conference. So here goes the review of day one at Digital Construction Week 2017...

...I noted down an enormous amount of content - so in an attempt to keep it reasonably brief, mainly photos and bullet points below.

1. Mark Bew, Digital Built Britain
Mark reflected back on the Level 2 journey and looked forward to the Digital Built Britain programme. The Digital Built Britain slide deck now has some new impressive graphics - some of these are shown below...
Where can savings/improved outcomes be made?
Mark took time to reflect on how the British standards around BIM are now being promoted and adopted around the world.The ISO 19650 initiative, the EU client guide and the MoUs with government's around the world are all evidence that the UK is supporting others through leadership and also making it easier for UK companies to operate internationally.
How BIM Level-2 standards are now moving world-wide
...and finally, another slide demonstrating how things can get better - and going digital can only help.
Where the problems/opportunities are
2. Terry Stocks, Digital Built Britain
Terry followed Mark and concentrated on the message of how we must all get behind BIM Level 2 and make it business as ususal.

There must be a big focus around supporting clients on how to procure well-structured data in addition to the physical asset itself.

Terry promoted the MofJ documentation that is now publically available:
- MofJ guide documents for employers
The Productivity Opportunity
The final call to action was for clients to read the Govermnet 'What you need to know' guide:

3. Autodesk
Mike Haley, Head of Machine Intelligence at Autodesk showed off some of the latest emerging technologies.

Data is the new oil. The five biggest companies in the world are now digital data companies.

A couple of links to follow below:

There was also a look at how Google Maps has used millions of humans around the world to read signs (letters and numbers) for them, so the machine could be trained to instantly recognise letters and numbers better than humans.

And this on a day when a new Google computer has beaten a human 100-0 at AlphaGo after only three days of training by itself.

4. Smart Cities
Smart Cities were a big theme of the conference.

Gavin Summerson from BSI presented all of the new standards around Smart Cities.
The BSI Smart Cities standards
NBS Paul Swaddle also looked at Smart Cities and focused on the data security considerations and the guidance that can help project teams be security conscious.
NBS Paul Swaddle talks smart cities and data security considerations
5. Soluis and Spurs
Soluis have done a number of promotional videos for NBS over the years.

But their case study on what they have produced for Tottenham Hotspur in terms of helping stakeholders understand the designs and vision for their new stadium is absolutely stunning.
Soluis and Spurs new stadium
The video below shows off the work...

6. Google and Balfour Beatty
Balfour Beatty showed off how they have invested and gambled in innovative technology to solve internal challenges.

They called in the Google Flux team to do a three day hackathon around four key challenges they had never managed to solve. They were that impressed that all four projects were commissioned and these stories were showcased.
Balfour Beatty get challenged to a game of pool at Google's offices
...and three months later they have an app telling them where all of their vehicles are

7. HP goes to Mars
HP presented two pretty cool competitions with some amazing results.

The first was around modelling the Bank of England building from the original 17th century drawings:

The second was around modelling a city on Mars:

Both well worth a look at!
Nevermind Level 2 BIM, let's design a new city for 1 million people... on Mars

8. Bryden Wood
I've always been impressed by the work from Bryden Wood.

In the final presentation of the day I attended they showcased how they help clients with Design for Manufacturing and Assembly through consultancy and BIM object creation.
Where the 49% of waste goes (click for bigger)

A BIM library tailor made for a client
Two free downloads accompany this work that I may blog about in the coming weeks...

If you are a classification-fan then the series of pages on Uniclass 2015 in the second of these downloads is fantastic. Showing how each table can be used to classify items of different scale using the appropriate table (from complex, to activity, to space etc... down to products). And then showing how assets can be analysed and grouped by classification - fantastic stuff!
Best Uniclass 2015 case study ever

Finally, a couple of videos I recorded from the exhibition stands.

Me getting stuffed off a robot at Jenga :)

Me finalising the colour options on my NBS company car

...and a big shout out to Invest In Ireland for hosting the reception at the Irish Embassy the night before. Great hospitality!
A welcome from the Ambassador and then a Minister!
Sadly, no Ferrero Rocher :( - but the disappointment more than made up for in liquid alternatives