Sunday, 28 April 2013

The CIC Growth through BIM Report

The Growth through BIM Report authored by Richard Saxon CBE was published by CIC last week. This
Richard Saxon - CBE
was a UK Government (Department for Business, Innovation and Skills) funded report to report on how best to turn the UK BIM Strategy into economic growth in the home and export markets.

To me, this report seems like a more in-depth look into the subjects covered in the end of year BIM Pipeline for Growth report.

Having someone of the calibre of Richard Saxon CBE writing the report gives a huge amount of weight to the subject. Richard has been chair of BDP, president of BCO, Vice President for Practice at RIBA and is now “BIM Ambassador for Growth” for UK Government.
CIC BIM Report

So a pretty good CV :)

Reading through the report, there are two very loud and clear messages.

  1. Through BIM we can provide better quality construction more efficiently at home.
  2. Through BIM we can be a big exporter of professional services abroad.

Usually, as a nation, we are very modest. But there is a certain strong confidence about this report that is good to see. As mean of an overview, I include a number of screen grabs below.

UK in a BIM world leadership position

Export of professional service opportunities as the world develops

When it comes to exporting professional services - UK is already second in the world

The need for UK manufacturers to embrace and lead with BIM

Not just cheaper construction through BIM - but greener construction

How we'd love to win the first "Digital Built Britain" award this year with NBS Create

BIM and offsite manufacture going hand-in-hand

Richard Saxon's 10 secrets to success

Recognition that an open data mandate from the Government is helping stimulate innovation in the market 

Standards will help everyone and and the finalisation of Uniclass 2 is key to this
I've never seen this research, but great to see the NBS offerings getting fantastic usage well within a year of launch
Finally, the report starts with a quote that is over one hundred years old. Quite a good one...
"Civilization advances by extending the number of important operations we can perform without thinking about them" - Alfred North Whitehead 

NBS and BIM Show Live 2013

If you are attending BIM Show Live 2013 then please come and see NBS at our stand P15 located in the Software Lounge. If you are interested in BIM and specification, want to see a demonstration of NBS Create or National BIM Library then please come and say hello.

BIM Show Live 2013
On the Monday, Pantelis Ioanndis and Stefan Mordue will join me on the stand. Pantelis is an Architect who delivers expert training in NBS Create and also BIM. Stefan is also an Architect who works as Technical Author at NBS writing content for NBS Building, Create and National BIM Library. Stefan is a member of the BIM Task Group's BIM2050 group and has a particular interest in BIM and Health and Safety.

NBS colleagues at BIM Show Live
On the Tuesday I will be doing a live demonstration of NBS Create and National BIM Library content on the Technology Stage. I'll show how you can take a design model, link it to a specification model, generate a single combined IFC model and then finish with a COBie dataset. All in 15 minutes. I will do it all as a live software demonstration too - so I promise no Powerpoint slides (not sure I can promise "no blue screens of death" - but that's what keeps things interesting :)).

So - date for the diary - Day Two - 1st May - 12:30 Technical Stage
Specification content from NBS Create in IFC form
Also on the Tuesday Ian Chapman will join me and Pantellis. Ian is an Engineer who heads our Technical Team. Ian is also a buildingSMART UK director so he's perfect for any questions about IFC and the buildingSMART Data Dictionary.

Ian is also leading out the creation of hundreds of generic MEP objects for the National BIM Library. This work has started now - Ian may be able to give you a sneak preview of this and even invite you onto our steering group if you are interested.
National BIM Library - Next step on the journey - generic MEP objects
Finally, Drew Wiggett is not able to attend this year. Little Drew is due to be born any day now :) Level 4 data drop on the way.

Thursday, 25 April 2013

BIM, specifications and IFC

When we set out to update our NBS plug-in for Revit we were looking at some big functionality improvements. (1) Drag and drop of BIM objects from the National BIM Library, (2) Synchronised NBS design guidance with the model and (3) Automatic creation of a specification from the model.

However, quite often it’s the little “experimental” items of work that are strangely the most exciting. Our Software Development team have been working closely with Professor Steve Lockley from BIM Academy who has been doing some amazing work writing a set of components that read and write to/from IFC. The results have been so good that we’re going to release them as “beta functionality” in the toolbar.
The big IFC button
Consider the walkthrough below…

Within a design there will be different types of objects. Figure 1 below is a screenshot of a simple plan showing two types of door – a small internal door (D10 and D11) and a larger external door (D13). The door types have been associated with the NBS Create specification and these associations are indicated in the tagging.
Figure 1 - Instances of types of doors
Jumping across to NBS Create now, the specifier is selecting to specify the door in terms of its overall system performance. Figure 2 shows that clauses covering fire, acoustic and security performance are being added to the job.
Figure 2 - Specifying by system performance in NBS Create
The specifier can then start to complete the specification. However, the tricky part here is knowing what to specify in the specification model and what information to add to the geometric BIM (see previous post following LRUG discussions). Dimensions should be in the geometric model. Workmanship and information on accuracy, samples, tolerances etc… should be in the specification model. But what about key performance information?

Figure 3 shows that the specifier has chosen to complete this in the specification. The advantages of this are that the technical guidance, links to standards and regulations, practice guidance and suggested values are all at hand here.
Figure 3 - The process of specification
So how does our IFC export help here?

We have a little configuration file that allows the user to link the key property sets together between the geometric model (in this case Revit) and the specification model (NBS Create). So not only are the databases connected, not only are the type objects connected… but now the key performance properties are also connected. Figure 4 below shows the structure of this configuration file. Maybe in the future we’ll write a nice little user interface into this. But as far as XML files go – it’s pretty straight forward.
Figure 4 - The configuration file
So the user can now generate an IFC file that contains information from both the geometric and specification model. Figure 5 below shows that in an IFC viewing tool (and many free tools are available), the key performance properties of the door can be easily viewed within the IFC Pset_DoorCommon property set.
Figure 5 - Viewing the combined information set in an IFC Viewer
Where the IFC viewing software has information take off capabilities – then scheduling information is easy. Figure 6 below shows the information from all of the doors in the design In Solibri Model Checker v8.
Figure 6 - A rich, integrated door schedule - done
So, exciting stuff.

All of this hopefully demonstrates the power of well-structured objects, clever software and trusted, quality technical guidance. This is the journey we are on with NBS National BIM Library and NBS Create – we hope you like the direction we are going…

…and one final big shout out to Professor Steve Lockley, Research Director at BIM Academy – great behind the scenes IFC work has made our software developers lives easier.
Prof BIM - Still never beaten me at golf :)

BIM International

NBS, through its membership of buildingSMART, is working with other members from USA, Norway, Canada, France, Sweden, Japan, Australia and Germany to try and establish an international “Data Dictionary” so that the meaning of BIM data can be shared between software applications.

NBS Head of Specification Ian Chapman (IanChapmanNBS) is on the Council of Management for buildingSMART UK and he and Birgitta Foster from the US buildingSMART alliance are two of those leading the project.

Ian commented, “Clear rules, guidance and content moderation are essential. Software vendors will need to adopt bSDD-assigned GUIDs to ensure that the items are aligned, whatever the language or term used”.

Birgitta commented, “The time is right to overcome the challenges and make the bSDD a resource for all countries to benefit from in the future”.
Call it what you want - but respect the GUID

"Face colour" - how does this translate internationally in a construction context?
For further information see:
This work is being done by NBS with one eye on the work that we have recently been doing for the UK Government BIM Task Group labs area that is starting to define the BIM level-3 vision.

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

National BIM Library Manufacturer RSS feed

Manufacturers who are members of National BIM Library may now easily display their BIM objects on their own web pages.

Web developers working for manufacturers can use the RSS feed at the URL below:

Please note that the ID in bold is the manufacturers unique ID. This can be found from the RIBA Product Selector URL. This is indicated in bold below:

If support is needed, then a great starting point is the code in the textarea below. A good examples of this in action are given inline within this blog post.

Example for the Kingspan Insulation BIM objects:

...and some, little tips to finish on if the above code is being modified:
  1. If there already is a script reference for jquery.min.js on thewebsite the script reference on line 7 can be removed from the example.
  2. Line 12 in the code: $("#scroll").nbl(6738);
    This line needs to be changed to include the correct manufacturer RPS/RIS code.
  3. Line 20 in the code: <div style="width:150px; height:615px;">
    Width and height can be adjusted to suit the manufacturer. Just change the numbers highlighted in yellow.
  4. Line 31 in the code: <a href=
    This line needs to be changed to include the correct manufacturer NBL URL

And of course, any manufacturer needing support - please get in contact and we can help get it right for your requirements.

Monday, 22 April 2013

Bad sanitary ware design

The BBC's Have I Got News For You is pretty much my favourite programme on television.

This week they had a great set of funny pictures illustrating bad design. I tweeted them a few days ago. But I think they need a blog post of their own:
Not much leg room
Long arms are required
At least you cannot see the occupiers' faces
A snug fit
And of course an NBS plug-or-two is needed to finish off. Time to consider good sanitary ware design...
Pages and pages of design guidance in NBS Create and NBS Building
Latest standards and regulations referenced from spec clauses and guidance
Accessible sanitary ware packages free-to-download from National BIM Library

Director of National BIM Library

The National BIM Library has been live for just over a year. We now have over 2,000 BIM objects in a number of formats representing over 500 real-life construction objects. We are developing generic objects for service engineers this year. We also have BIM objects from eight major construction manufacturers already live and are working on objects from twenty other major construction manufacturers (and counting).

So, due to the success so far and the growth of BIM in the industry we have decided to create the post  "Director of National BIM Library".

I genuinely think this is a fantastic job and one for a really special person with expert knowledge in BIM, but also someone who wants the challenge of running a "business within a business" - giving direction on BIM sales, marketing, content development and R+D.

The job advert is below...

For me personally, I have spent a great deal of the last three years working on our NBS BIM initiatives. But in my R+D role, this time has been shared between work on NBS Create, RIBA CPD, RIBA Product Selector, RIBA Plan of Work, our integrated websites etc...  - so it'll be fantastic to have someone dedicated 100% National BIM Library as Director.

I thoroughly look forward to working alongside and supporting whoever gets the role.


Thursday, 11 April 2013

North East BIM Hub Competition Day

The North East BIM Hub hosted a BIM challenge day yesterday. Watching the day unfold on the Internet it seems to have been a super day - a real chance for organisations to come together, collaborate and explore things together.

Loads of fantastic pictures, videos and interviews on our NBS website from the live blog:

Every team was a winner, but there were also some awards handed out - congratulations to the following teams...
Overall winner - Team Summers Inman
SME award - Team BIM Academy
Team Niven Architects - Best Interoperability
But, so much more on the live blog page - definitely worth a look...

For organisations in the North East wanting to get involved in the BIM Hub - please see:

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

National BIM Library - Manufacturer Objects

Great to see lots of new construction manufacturers joining the National BIM Library.
Manufacturer BIM objects
Considering that the National BIM Library is barely a year old - to have around twenty manufacturers on board already is fantastic. Adding these manufacturer objects to the 400 generic objects is really good to see.

Also, fantastic to see the picture of the National BIM Library "NBS BIM" logo on the back of a smet van recently...
National BIM Library logo on the front line