Tuesday, 31 March 2020

Short codes for similar system types

At NBS recently, we've been doing quite a few webinars. One of the most frequently asked questions has been about how practices are using codes to group similar types of systems together.

For example, if your project has 5 of 6 different floor covering systems, then giving each of these a code such as FCS001, FCS002, FCS003 etc... so these codes can be used in planning sheets, annotations, schedules etc...

Examples of this are shown below...
Planning the specification and drawings


Annotating drawings from a linked model and specification
So to get further feedback, I posted a request within our NBS Chorus ideas forum.
https://support.thenbs.com/support/discussions/topics/7000040360
(to follow link you need NBS ID linked to Chorus subscription)
Chorus ideas forum

Request for contributions
It was great to then see some of our subscribers passing their codes to us to create a 'crowd sourced' Google Sheet. Thanks to Patrick C from AHMM for the list below...

Architectural codes
Lewis from Hydrock then pointed me in the direction of Carl from CIBSE who provided more...
Building services codes
It's an interesting subject. I personally really like the balance between Uniclass 2015 for the in-depth classification, but then an accompanying short code (a bit like a car registration plate) for packaging items and quickly verbally referring to a specific type.

Please keep the feedback coming in. Message me on Twitter or drop me an email into NBS.

Monday, 23 March 2020

Coordinated Project Information - 1987

Found this on youtube.

Promotional video from CPIC (Coordinate Project Information Committee) back in 1987.

The members of CPIC contributed towards publications such as BS 1192 and then the PAS 1192 series. They also published versions of Uniclass for many years.

This video below was put together by BRE, found by Keith Snook in the archives, and uploaded to the web by Stuart Chalmers...


A section worth watching is at 19:17 with the NBS binders visible on the table...
NBS Binders bottom right - huge set of paper drawings centre screen

Essential publications for every office library

Strike out the clauses not needed with a pen and complete the clauses relevant to the project 

Thursday, 19 March 2020

From the archives - Press articles on NBS from 1974

I got a nice email from Levitt Bernstein's Andy Jobling yesterday, he'd found some of the very first reviews of NBS from the Architects' Journal from back in 1974. Since I started working on developing NBS in 1999 Andy has always been one of those that has been hugely supportive with ideas on our customer groups and also one-to-one sessions. So a big thanks to Andy for sending this through.

Click the scans below to see them at a larger size.

10th July 1974 - Architects' Journal
Some interesting points from the first article:
  • An interesting debate over specification responsibility - architect or quantity surveyor?
  • Drawings, specifications, bills and schedules were not coordinated adequately
  • Controversary on classification :) - SMM or CI/SfB?
  • Computers mentioned - but generally 'architect makes amends to clauses and hands it to a secretary to type the clause in full'
  • Stressing that specification needs to be done by a professional - Modify NBS 'wisely rather than wilfully'.
  • Mentions of names from the past - Tony Allott (Technical Director of NBS Ltd) and Stuart Hendy (FaulknerBrown Architects) - notably FaulknerBrown's are still NBS users nearly 50 years later!
  • Early compters do not reduce the need for sound judgements - but do have the advantage of improving the speed and accuracy.
  • Using NBS on computer for a large job was estimated to have cost £1,000 - but this included a cost of 40p a page to print out!!!
  • Manufacturers should 'produce literature consistent with NBS'
  • Using NBS 'makes the job architect think'
  • 'It takes some initial courage and effort...but after that... its benefits are great' :)


31st July 1974 - Architects' Journal
And then a few weeks later.
  • Reflecting on the initial need for NBS - 'In 1968 the Economic Development Council for Building concluded that the general standard of building specification needed improvement, and that wide use of a national library of specification clauses would increase productivity and facilitate communication between the professions, the contractors and other limbs of the industry.'
  • This review is from two quantity surveyors from BDP. As with FaulknerBrown, BDP have been long-time NBS users.
  • A set of exemplar documentation from real projects had been published and reviewed.
  • A focus on drawing standards, referencing the RIBA Project Manual and the BRE paper 18/73.
  • More confusion between classification systems SMM vs CI/SfB.
  • 'Education an architect towards better specification writing is... fundamental'




A few other 'from the archive' blog posts below for those interested in this sort of thing...

Sunday, 8 March 2020

Moving from NBS Building to NBS Chorus

As part of a recent webinar, I got the chance to ask an NBS user, Nick Greenwood from Maber Architects, about how their experience has been moving from NBS Building to NBS Chorus.

This ten minute sequence from the full webinar has been extracted and can be watched as a youtube video below...


If you only have a couple of minutes free, you can jump to the questions at the following timings... as Nick answers, he shows software (NBS and ArchiCAD) on his machine and illustrates his answers.

  • 1:20 - What are you opinions on structuring specifications by CAWS or Uniclass 2015?
  • 4:06 - How do you approach specifying differently whether specifying traditionally or writing a performance spec for a contractor design portion?
  • 5:53 - How do you add manufacturer information to your specifications?
  • 7:20 - How do you make sure that the specification and model have coordinated information?
  • 8:27 - How do you use specification information within schedules?
  • 9:40 - What have your first experiences been like with NBS Chorus?
  • 10:50 - How do you share specification best practice across Maber Architects?
To watch the full webinar, on demand, see the link below:
https://register.gotowebinar.com/register/8691137346108267788

Friday, 28 February 2020

Follow best specification practice - or equivalent

At BIM Show Live 2020, as part of the 'State of the nation' address, Rob Charlton (Space Group CEO) made the point that quite often what is specified does not get built. This can lead to serious problems.

This point was made by illustrating how a trip to the supermarket can go wrong. Photos from these slides are below...
What was specified

What the client ended up with
This generated a bit of discussion on Twitter. The daily challenge of battling against 'value engineering', but also the valid point that as long as there is a robust change control mechanism, then the same (or even better) outcomes can be achieved with different products for a lower price.

To continue the analogy, maybe the client will prefer Tesco cornflakes over Kellogs cornflakes.



So... how can it be ensured that the client gets the quality that the specifier has specified?

A big part of the answer is for the industry to write better specifications.

Consider the examples below...

1. Or equivalent
In the example below, naming a brand and then saying 'or equivalent' - or, indeed using similar language that is ironically equivalent, can significantly increase the risk of not getting what had been hoped for.
'Or equivalent' specifications
If I sent one of my kids to the supermarket and said 'Get me Kellogs Cornflakes or equivalent with this fiver and keep the change' - I suspect I'd be somewhat disappointed with the outcome. In fact I from experience, I know I'd be disappointed with the outcome.

Equally, if a hotel chain specified 'Kellogs Cornflakes or equivalent' to their supplier who they were paying a fixed price to supply breakfast each morning - the risk of getting an inferior product would also be greatly increased.

This topic is looked at in depth in this excellent technical article on theNBS.com from my ex-colleague John Gelder...
https://www.thenbs.com/knowledge/substitution-and-beyond

2. Specifying by brand
This next example is simple, if you know what you want and the procurement rules allow, then specify what you want. Be clear and be concise.
Be concise
It is worth making the point that most procurement routes allow substitutions to be proposed. The rules around this should be specified in the prelims.
Example template NBS clause setting out rules to be followed around substitution
3. Giving the choice to the contractor (1 of 2)
At times, the brand used is not essential, it is the quality of the product that is important.

If this is the case, specify the minimum quality level and let the contractor choose. Where relevant, specifying a third party certification scheme to ensure that the declared quality has been tested is recommended.
Specify min quality level - let contractor decide.
4. Giving the choice to the contractor (2 of 2)
In the above example, the specifier may know of a product that meets this minimum quality level. The phrasing 'deemed to comply' may be used if considered appropriate.
Using 'Deemed to comply'
5. Asking for proposals that meet the specification
An alternative phrasing used within NBS is 'Submit proposals'. It should be noted that this should be accompanied by the requirements for the submittals process and any further information. This includes (a) which party the submission must go to, (b) the timescales and (c) the method of assesment. For subjective requirements such as aesthetics (or for Cornflakes, something like taste!) the method of assesment should be made clear.
Requesting proposals based on quality requirements
So a big part of the answer to the question 'How do we ensure the client gets the quality the specifier requires?' is write better specifications.

However, this is only part of the answer. A robust change control and verification process so that all product decisions are digitally recorded is another big part of the answer (Golden thread). Is it too much to ask that client's receive record specifications at handover in addition to construction specifications at the end of the technical design stage?


Hopefully the Kellogs Cornflake example (nicely illustrated in the slide by Rob) is food for thought.

If you think your specifications could be better on the projects you work on, check out the RIBA approved CPD from NBS on Better Specification Writing:
ribacpd.com/articles/nbs/5340/an-introduction-to-specification-writing/200002

To find out more about NBS Chorus see:
-   thenbs.com/nbs-chorus


SMALL PRINT
* No payments were received from Kellogs Cornflakes for the writing of this article. This blog does not recommend any particular cornflake provider.

NBS Chorus - Best new product

At the BIM Show Live 2020 Awards we were delighted to win the 'best new product award' for NBS Chorus.
Best new product - NBS Chorus
Accepting the award on the evening
It was great to accept the award and get the chance to thank the whole team back at NBS for all of the hard work and skill that goes into producing a product such as Chorus. It was also nice to be able to thank all of those customers on our focus groups who have helped steer us as to how the features should work and which features we should prioritise.

To find out more about Chorus, please watch one of our webinars and also make sure to check out some of our customer case studies.

All of our upcoming webinars are listed on our events page - you can also watch past webinars here...
thenbs.com/events
Find out more about Chorus
We have a range of customer case studies from small technology-led architects up to global multi-disciplinary practices on our website:
-  thenbs.com/knowledge/case-studies
Customer success stories
Find out more about how using Chorus can benefit your practice:
thenbs.com/nbs-chorus

Monday, 24 February 2020

Following the ISO 19650 series of standards when publishing specifications

Introduction
The ISO 19650 international series of standards looks at information management using building information modelling. When developing the publishing features within NBS Chorus, these standards have been used as a guiding framework.

Information quality with respect to classification and codes to indicate the status and revision of each published specification is core to these standards:

  • Classification - NBS content is classified to the recognized national standard in each country. With respect to the UK and Australian NBS content, Uniclass 2015 is one such classification system which is an implementation of the ISO 12006-2 framework.
  • Revision code - The revision code for each published specification should be to an agreed standard
  • Status code - A status code system should be agreed to indicate the permitted use of the published specification.

Furthermore, each published specification should be given a human readable ID which is unique and based upon an agreed and documented convention comprised of fields separated by a delimiter. The Publication details window in NBS Chorus allows this information to be captured based on the agreed standard on a particular project as shown in Figure 1.
Figure 1 - The Publication details window in NBS Chorus
When working to BS EN ISO 19650-2
The BS EN ISO 19650-2 standard includes a National Annex that expands on the basic requirements for those working to UK standards and practices.

The screenshots below show an example of how publication history may develop within NBS Chorus when following the UK BIM Framework guidance.

Figure 2 below shows that by using the Uniclass 2015 classification system, the information within the published specification will be structured to classification system that follows the ISO 12006-2 framework. Consistency in the Suffix codes used (FCS for Floor covering systems for example) can also help with ‘packaging’ similar systems.
Figure 2 - Uniclass 2015 classifications within the specification

Figure 3 below shows how a record of specifications published from NBS Chorus can be viewed in the Publish history tab. In this example, it is worth highlighting some of the fields that have been populated:
  • Number - A unique ID for the published specification that follows the BS EN ISO 19650 standard has been recorded here. The delimiters of the ID LAKR-HAM-43-XX-SP-A-00006 show that this a specification (SP) from the architectural (A) practice Hamil Design (HAM) on the project Lakeside Restaurant (LAKR). When this PDF is then uploaded to the common data environment, this data can be quickly seen by using this naming convention.
  • Status - The status S4, as defined in BS EN ISO 19650, indicates that this particular specification was published for stage approval.
  • Revision - The revision code of P02 shows that this publication is still provisional and it also shows where it is in the sequence of publications.
Figure 3 - A Publish history showing unique ID, Status and Revision codes
Figure 4 shows that when using a consistent coding system, it is then easy to quickly filter a large list of publications to find the information that is needed. For example, this could be all publications of the floor covering systems or all publications that are suitable for stage approval.
Figure 4 - Using the search filter to quickly find published specifications

The UK BIM Framework website has extensive free-to-use guidance to support those working to this series of standards.

- https://ukbimframework.org/standards-guidance/

When working outside of the UK, there may not be the same guidance available at a national level. There may be great variance between organizations as to how they indicate revision or status codes. It is advised that the project team agree on what these will be and document this in a Project Information Standard so that each team member can consistently publish information which can then be uploaded to the project common data environment.

Doing a quick Google Search - this publication from BrisBIM provides some guidance for working to ISO in Australia from contributors from organizations such as Aecom, Arup, Mott MacDonald, and Woods Bagot.

In Canada, there is a buildingSMART Canada working group developing something similar.

To find out more about NBS Chorus see:
https://www.thenbs.com/nbs-chorus

Friday, 21 February 2020

NBS Source - Technical information platform for construction product manufacturers

At the Construction Product Leaders' Summit last week, we launched our new manufacturer product platform, NBS Source. This gave an exclusive sneak preview of our latest NBS development.

A single manufacturer product platform from NBS
Throughout the day there were a number of inspiring speakers. A combination of Government Advisors and leaders from the construction industry. A clear message was presented. The construction industry must become more productive, it must become greener and it must become safer and standardized digitized information and tools will play a big part enabling this.
The potential behind digitising the construction industry

What specifiers need from manufacturers
Since the 1970s, NBS has provided opportunities to construction manufacturers to position their technical data alongside generic specification content. This has grown into a number of websites delivering digital objects, specification clauses, certification, case studies and associated literature.

At the conference, we announced that we were well underway on a major project to enhance both the content quality and also in building a major new platform, NBS Source.
A number of current solutions developed by NBS - being brought into a combined platform
At this blog, I try and dive into the technical details a little more and look 'behind the scenes'. So I'd like to highlight the article below that looks at NBS Source and how it works to align the data to existing and emerging standards.

So please click and read the article below...
https://manufacturers.thenbs.com/resources/knowledge/nbs-source-and-industry-standards

A couple of screenshots below show how we structure each construction product data structure against the research and maintained structure behind the NBS Chorus specification clauses. This will ensure that across different manufacturers, the information will be consistent and standardized.
Standardized terminology across manufacturer products

Terminology that has been defined in the construction standards
To keep an eye on what the wider community thought about the launch of NBS Source, view the hashtag #CPLS2020 on Twitter...

https://twitter.com/hashtag/CPLS2020

...and finally, the illustration below shows how Chorus, CIS and Source all sit together combining specification, standards and products in three connected platforms - all built by NBS.

Find out more about Source at...
https://manufacturers.thenbs.com/nbs-source

PS: As always, it was real pleasure to show off the fantastic work that the team at NBS HQ do when developing our products...
Software demo
Find. Select. Specify

Wednesday, 22 January 2020

NBS Chorus and model integration

Since the launch of NBS Chorus in 2019 one of the features that has received the most positive feedback is the model integration feature.

This blog post looks at seven reasons why those still using keynoting in their design software may want to consider transitioning to the NBS Chorus plug-in.

As of January 2020, this article applies to both Autodesk Revit and Graphisoft ArchiCAD modelling software.

Click on the images below for larger versions.

1. View the project specification from within the modelling software
Probably the biggest advantage of the plug-in is to see the actual clauses from the project specification from the context of the design.
Providing permissions are granted, the spec can be modified from the modelling software. Furthermore, new clauses can be added at the point when corresponding objects are added to the model.
View spec inline
2. View technical guidance from within the modelling software
The benefits of an NBS subscription go beyond the creation of a project specification. It also provides access to thousands of pages of maintained technical guidance and corresponding links to key industry publications. This is now synchronised with what is being clicked on in the model.
Access 1000s of pages of NBS technical guidance
3. View team notes from within the modelling software
The notes feature within NBS Chorus means that those working on the design and specification can share comments alongside the model and specification so that issues that arise can be efficiently resolved.
Capture decisions on projects against the spec
4. See which objects are associated and which ones are not
It is likely that hundreds if not thousands of items are annotated within a large model. A model report is available from the NBS plug-in which clearly shows which objects are Associated and which objects are not. It is also possible to jump to view the object and spec from this page.
View what is linked and what isn't
5. See which associations are broken and get assistance in fixing these
Over time, it is likely that some object associations will break. Clauses or objects may be removed. The type codes may change. In the example below, the type code is 'Type D' for a particular set of doors in the model, it is DRS-004 in the spec. The Chorus plug-in alerts the user to this and gives assistance in fixing this.
Fix any issues that arise as the project develops
6. Link to a single source of truth
When working with files on a file system (such as Keynote TXT file), there can be a problem knowing what the latest version is and whether multiple copies are in exisistence. By linking directly to the live specification in the cloud - designers can know that they always working off the correct, up-to-date information.
A single source of truth in the cloud
7. Many-to-many associations
It is not always the case that there is a one-to-one link between the specification and the model file. The Chorus plug-in allows one model to link to multiple specifications. Equally it allows multiple models to link to the same specification. This gives the project team the flexability to split model and specification the way they want to.
Split your models and specifications as you want to
For those wanting to use keynoting for projects that are in progress. Export to keynote format is not yet available within Chorus - as a manual workaround we would suggest.

Export the specification to MS Word and generate a table of contents that goes three headings deep...
Export to Word
Copy and paste this content to Excel and format the text to suit the keynote file format required.
Copy and paste to Excel
The feature request to generate a keynote export from NBS Chorus has been added to our feature request Support area. This will be considered alongside other requests - so NBS subscribers can comment in the support area. Additional features to the plug-in - or export functionality can be requested here.