Friday, 18 December 2015

Top five blog posts of 2015

First of all a very merry Christmas to anyone who has visited my blog this year. I hope everyone has a great Christmas break and returns ready to go again in 2016.
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all who visit this blog!
I've now been blogging about BIM, technology and all things NBS for over six year - time flies! At the end of each year I look at the web stats to see which of my posts attracted the most web traffic. Now looking back at 2015, in reverse order the top five were...

In 5th place - BIM Management Handbook


In 5th place was a review I wrote looking at the big RIBA Publishing BIM title of the year, David Shepherd's 'BIM Management Handbook'.

It should be noted that my review of BIM for Dummies (Mordue, Swaddle and Philp) was posted slightly later in the year so just missed out on this 5th place spot. But as books are best purchased in pairs you may also want to check that excellent publication out too...

In 4th place - The NBS BIM Object Standard


In February a social media/blogging debate started asking the question whether standards were needed in terms of BIM object creation.

After observing opinion, I put my two pennies worth in arguing that by standardising terminology and promoting international, and national standards, then a greater quality of BIM object is created. We have consistent data on sites like rightmove and autotrader and this allows us to make more informed decisions - so why not for BIM?

The debate started again in September. Below is a follow up post:

In 3rd place - Ecobuild 2015 Review


In March we were fortunate enough to be chosen by UBM to curate the content for their BIM Theatre at Ecobuild. I think we put on a decent show with well over 100 delegates at each presentation.

The blog post looked back at the three days in East London at one of the construction industry's biggest annual events.

Note - watch this space for news about Ecobuild 2016!

In 2nd place - Updates to the NBS Plug-in for Autodesk Revit

Moving from a document-way-of-working to a digital-way-of-working  has seen real efficiency and accuracy improvements where tools and content work together. The success of our NBS plug-in for Autodesk Revit demonstrates this.

The second most popular post of the year looked at the 2016 enhancements to our plug-in. Link to the specification, view NBS design guidance, check annotations, drag and drop objects into the model, synchronised guidance about the objects... As a free tool it really helps put the information into building information modelling.

Also check out, the recent post below looking at the personalisation enhancements with newly introduced 'My Library'.

In 1st place - The BIM Toolkit in ten minutes

There was also the small matter of the release of the Innovate UK funded BIM Toolkit that was developed as a free-to-use tool for those working to UK Government Level-2 BIM.

NBS led the team that worked through a six-month funding period (and beyond) to develop this. The Toolkit in ten minutes blog post gave an overview to all of the key concepts and gave pointers on where to find out more on all of these in terms of technical articles.

So whether you are an client wanting to know more about employer's information requirements, or a design manager wanting to know about LOD or a manufacturer wanting to structure your digital product information - the BIM Toolkit is a great free resource for industry.

So that's it for another year - back in 2016!

Your NBS National BIM Library

This week we released a new feature on NBS National BIM Library called My Library.

Those that have signed into the library will notice that they have a personalised homepage. There are three main areas:
  1. The objects you have 'starred' - these are potentially the objects you use most often or the objects you have flagged to download at a later date;
  2. The objects you have previously downloaded that have since been updated; and
  3. A list of all the objects you have ever downloaded.

A personalised homepage
The starred objects are presented in a data grid so the objects can be easily downloaded, sorted or filtered. The screenshot below shows that the objects have been sorted so that they are grouped by the same category.

The screenshot below shows the Downloaded tab. In this screenshot the user has filtered the list of objects to show those relevant to the search term 'sanit...'.
Your download history
The starred and downloaded objects are a filter option for when you search. In the screenshots below the user quickly filters 681 objects relevant to insulation down to just the 5 relevant items that have been starred.
New search filters
Quickly find the objects you need
The NBS National BIM Library is not just a website for a desktop computer. The user experience is also optimised for mobile or tablet. It's now easy to 'star' an item when you are on your mobile (maybe on a train or at home on an evening).

Fully responsive
Items that you have starred are accessible from whichever device you are using. For example, you could star an item on your mobile and then access this from the webbrowser on your desktop the next day. Another workflow example could be if you are using the NBS Plug-in for Autodesk Revit. The screenshots below show the National BIM Library website being accessed from inside the design tool. Your favourite objects can be found quickly and then added to your model through simply dragging and dropping.
Welcome screen in our plug-in
Accessing your frequently used objects
Dragging and dropping straight into your design
For more information please see:

Thursday, 17 December 2015

The new NBS website

Our new NBS website is now live at the beta web address 

The home page is clean, crisp, easy to navigate and is designed for web and mobile. The overall design and use of the new NBS brand hopefully adds to a great user experience.
Our new website
There are three main sections to the website Services, Knowledge and Support. Within the Services section you can quickly find the right NBS products and tools for your practice. Whether you work in the architecture or engineering - whether you work on small or large projects.
NBS products and tools that can benefit you
The Knowledge area has a wide range of interesting articles. Each article is tagged by the relevant topics and also the author. By clicking on the topic or the author you can discover more articles of a similar nature.
A wide range of interesting articles in the Knowledge section
The third main area of the site is the Support area. If you are an NBS user (or want to browse the support that NBS users are provided with) you can look through the online help articles and videos - equally you can find out about training options and also engaging in our customer panels.
Get the most out of our services in the Support section
One final mention is the new 'My NBS' area of the site. If you have an NBS Account (from using NBS Create or NBS Domestic or National BIM Library or BIM Toolkit...) then you simply sign into the site and you can save useful articles, look at your history or tailor your experience and notifications based on your interests.
The new 'My NBS' section of the website
So please spend a little bit of time looking through the website and any feedback you send through our 'BETA bar' is most appreciated: 

Friday, 4 December 2015

NBS - In partnership with The Baltic

It was great to see the news in the press last week about the NBS partnership with The Baltic.
NBS and The Baltic
Richard Waterhouse, our CEO, commented, "NBS is delighted to be involved with BALTIC as part of its commitment to playing a key role in the economy and community of NewcastleGateshead and the wider north-east region. We have ambitious plans for growth both in the UK and overseas, but Newcastle will remain our home as part of the digital construction hub that is developing rapidly in this area. We look forward to working with our partners at BALTIC with whom we share much common ground in our interests in art and architecture."

As part of the partnership we will be supporting the Art and Architecture event in Spring 2016 that will bring together architecture, construction professionals and innovators.

Some photographs from me below...
Originally a Flour Mill - Now an international center for contemporary art
Fantastic to see our new NBS Logo on the side of the building
Exhibitions and conferences in partnership with NBS
A metaphysical adventure story and a fantasy caricature
Consider the effects of small, miniature, big, gigantic, the scaled up and scaled down, detail and overview

Sunday, 22 November 2015

Building Information Modelling for Dummies

BIM for Dummies
I received a complimentary copy of Building Information Modelling for Dummies last week. This is the latest BIM title to hit the internet bookshops in time for Christmas.

Written by NBS experts Stefan Mordue and Paul Swaddle alongside UK Government's Head of BIM Dave Philp it is fantastic to see this title published as part of the world-famous Riley 'For Dummies' series.

The book weighs in almost 400 pages and is split into six main parts. The first part looks at how to get started with BIM, in particular defining what BIM is. The authors stress the importance of the information - without which a model is simply 3D geometry. This publication has an international audience, but it is nice to see that so many of the examples used within the book come from a UK background. In the second part of the book that looks at the foundations for BIM, the levels of maturity that were originally mapped out by Bew and Richards are explained.
The authors
In part three of the book practical advice is given in terms of defining a process around BIM that works for the type of organisation that the reader may represent. One thing that is nice in terms of how the book is presented is the iconography against the paragraphs that highlight where the content is presenting a 'Tip', a 'Warning', 'Something to Remember' etc... For example in the section on standardising your BIM approach, there are a number of nicely written tips on what parameters to include in your objects.

Part four looks at some real-world benefits of the working within a BIM environment. Again, it is nice to see the UK's recent experience being used as examples with the early adopter Cookham Wood case study being presented. Part five then takes an opportunity to look at where the digitalising of the construction industry will next take us. The point is made that organisations need to invest in R&D to keep on moving forward. Organisations need to keep an eye on emerging capabilities such as big data, telemetry and the cloud. These will enable us to start measuring real-world performance enhancements and better outcomes that are tangible. In the coming years the aim will not be simply digitalising a single built-asset but how that built-asset is performing as part of a smart-city.

The final part of the book looks at some nice little 'lists of 10' - perhaps designed for those who like to flick through a book from the back pages first. There are lists of the top 10 BIM questions and answers, the top 10 BIM software considerations and the top 10 BIM resources. One of these resources is social media and it's is very nice indeed to see a mention of this blog at the bottom of page 343 :)
A mention!
Reflecting back on this publication and the recent NBS publication The BIM Management Handbook, neither will give you 100% of the answers to all of the BIM questions. But what they will do is provide an excellent well-structured framework to provide a base for your detailed research and allow you to do some quality thinking time whilst reading through the topics.

To put an order for the book please check out the link below:

To see my blog review of The BIM Management Handbook see:

Friday, 6 November 2015

The BIM Management Handbook

New NBS publication
Today I received a complimentary copy of the BIM Management Handbook, authored by David Shepherd and published by NBS.

The first few chapters looks at the how a professional consultant can support and respond to the client to ensure that their needs are met. Clients will have information needs to answer their business requirements through the process of designing, building and operating a facility. David looks at how through the development of employer's information requirements and BIM execution plans the project can get off to the best possible start. There is also a chance to reflect on the processes, tools and skills that need to be developed across a practice to ensure that there is a capability and support to deliver efficiently against the client's needs.

The UK BIM Task Group levels of BIM maturity are then explained with a practical guide to how to deliver Level-2 BIM projects. There is also an examination of the UK's Build Digital Britain plan on how this journey will continue.

David Shepherd
David is BIM Manager at Lend Lease and was previously BIM Manager at HOK London and this experience shows as he gives practical advice on the coordination of models and also how to collaborate effectively in a common data environment. There are lots of examples and illustrations from models and also outputs from these models taken from real projects.

Finally, there is a good section on the use of standardised information and also the key principles of levels of detail (LOD) and levels of information (LOI). It's good to see references here to the huge amount of free online support here from NBS including the NBS BIM Object Standard, the National BIM Library and also the library of 1000s of LOD and LOI definitions that are part of BIM Toolkit.

So, an essential purchase for any office to place in the library or tea room - or an ideal Xmas present for those wanting a chance to reflect on their BIM processes and capabilities over the festive period ;). Also, a final thank you to David for the nice mention in the acknowledgement - a little humbling to be mentioned in the company of the other names listed here...
Thanks for the mention!
To put in an order for this book, please follow the link below to RIBA Bookshops...

Finally, check out my blog over the next week or two to look out for a short review of the other big BIM publication BIM for Dummies when I manage to get my hands on a copy. NBS also had a big hand in this one with Stefan Mordue and Paul Swaddle working alongside BIM Task Group's Dave Philp as the authors.

Update - find this blog review here:

A model of a Gherkin

Currently in the entrance to the RIBA is the original physical design model of 30 St Mary Axe (aka The Gherkin). If you are in London and are around and about 66 Portland Place, it's well worth a quick visit...

Sitting in front of the names of the past presidents
Amazing attention to detail for a model
Also on until 9th January is the Palladian Design exhibition.

Palladian design model

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

BSI BIM Conference – BIM Toolkit – Post 3 of 3 – Digital Plans of Work

Following a six week prototyping phase, a six month funded development phase and then five months of industry testing and further enhancements it was really good to be able to remove the ‘beta’ logo from the homepage of the BIM Toolkit in time for the 2015 BSI BIM Conference this year.

The removal of the ‘beta’ logo doesn't mean that the toolkit journey is at an end - but it is a sign that all of the functionality is working correctly and that it is ‘release quality’.

At the BSI BIM conference I presented three of the main concepts behind the BIM Toolkit: Classification; Levels of Definition and Digital Plans of Work. I have written three short blog posts to go through these slides as an introduction to these. This third blog post is on digital plans of work.

A digital plan of work allows a collaborative project team to define who is doing what and when throughout the project timeline. The PAS1192-2 graphic below shows how information is developed throughout the eight stages of a construction project. Using the digital plan of work tool within the BIM Toolkit provides a structured way of generating some of the key information that is required for documentation such as the EIR, the BEP and the MIDP.
The information delivery cycle
The slides below show how the free-to-use BIM Toolkit can assist project teams that would like to work to level-2 BIM.
Sign up and access your projects area of the site
Defining the tasks for inclusion in an EIR
Referencing the PLQ, the specific EIR and providing a brief against the task
Developing the response for inclusion in the proposed BEP
Defining modelled deliverables and responsibilities at the briefing stage

Defining the high-level building fabric elements at the concept stage
Defining the high-level building services at the concept stage
Defining the specific systems to meet the concept requirements as the designs progress
 Accessing the LOD guidance from the context of the DPOW
Accessing the LOI guidance from the context of the DPOW
Each LOD and LOI banding is broadly aligned against a typical stage of the plan of work. So LOI-4 is typical for the end of plan of work stage 4. However, it must be stressed that this may vary from system to system and from project to project. For example on a leisure centre project at stage 4:

Variation of LOI at a particular stage of a project
  • The floating floor system may be at LOI-5 where all products are fully specified through the manufacturer product references. For example, this is a centre for excellence for gymnastics and the client must have a specific floor from the manufacturer Harlequin.
  • The partition systems may be at LOI-4 where all products are fully designed, but the choice of manufacturer has been left to the contractor – providing the specification is met.
  • The surveillance system may be at LOI-3 where the overall system performance and how this will be tested prior to handover has been specified. But the choice of compliant products is the design responsibility of the specialist sub-contractor.
  • The paving system simply has an LOI of ‘2’. A brief description indicates what the aspirations are and what provisional sum has been assigned to the item in order to fully specify mid-way through the construction process.
Summary slide
An example digital plan of work that I used for these illustrations may be downloaded below. Disclaimer - Please excuse any technical inaccuracies, please treat it as simply showing the principles. The download has an MS Excel version of the file, a little thumbnail image and also a .DPOW file which can be imported into the BIM Toolkit when you create a project.

- Download the Lakeside Restaurant DPOW file
Step 1 - Select to create a new project, then select to use a template
Browse to the DPOW file to import this project file
Further information: