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BIM Webinar - Replay & Downloads

Welcome to our BIM Webinar page. Here you will find video replay, downloadable video, transcript & downloadable PDF transcript of our BIM Webinar held at our head offices on 27th March 2018, with John Adams of BIM Strategy, and our Managing Director, Keira Proctor. The webinar presentation lasts for 28 minutes, followed by a 14 minute audience Q & A session.

The presentation covers:

  • An introduction to BIM
  • BIM Level 2
  • The impacts of that on product manufacturers
  • BIM Models or Product Data Templates
  • How to get involved in BIM as a product manufacturer

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When it comes to the benefits of BIM, the UK governments Construction 2025 document challenges the industry to meet four headline targets.

  • 33% lower cost
  • 50% faster delivery
  • 50% lower emissions
  • 50% improvements in exports.

On the face of it those numbers seem really high and really ambitious, but when you start looking into the impact of BIM on each of these numbers there is a significant impact that we can make through improved processes and better technology to reduce waste.

33% Lower Cost

So much of the process for designing and delivering buildings has incredible waste. Materials coming to site and never getting used, variations in design process, siloed working. So when you start looking at reducing or eliminating some of these issues, achieving costs savings of around 33% is probably one of the most realistic elements of the Construction 2025 target.

50% Faster Delivery

Faster delivery has always been challenging. It’s something that the industry has always said can't be achieved because every site is individual and it's therefore tricky to make things work faster. However, when you start looking at what's happening elsewhere with pre-manufacture, things being built and coordinated off site then brought together and put together after pre-planning, then a 50% starts looking more achievable.

50% Lower Emissions

The embedded carbon in our buildings is significantly higher than it needs to be, and a lot of that is procedural. By not designing in the most sustainable solution from the earliest stage, then not changing later on because we've come too far down the line to choose the right materials and processes, building low emission structures becomes harder than it should be. In this respect we’re not doing ourselves any favours in the way we build things.

On the other hand if we do involve manufacturers earlier in the design process, then we can take advantage of all the R&D and innovation that they're doing to get the best products for our sites, and then we can really make the project sing in terms of low emissions. But for me, the 50% target, I personally think that one’s too ambitious.

50% Improvement in Exports

We already sell a billion pounds worth of UK services out into the world but we do import 6 billion pounds worth of materials and that has to change. So shifting that balance to use more UK based manufacturers and to sell our best practice to the world a 50% improvement on what is now a significant loss can be achieved.

Better Design

Whilst we’ve looked at the high level benefits of BIM, when you start looking at them in more detail, what it’s actually about, then BIM gets confused with every other digital initiatives in the whole construction sphere.

BIM is actually relatively well defined and it's about a more efficient way of collaborating on construction projects. Through that efficient collaboration we can improve our design which removes a lot of the surprises and can help get those difficult decisions around details resolved earlier in the process.

Then of course there’s 3D models. These 3D models aren't the be all and end all of BIM but the fact is people think in 3D. Those of us working in the construction industry have to learn to think in 2D to be able to draw plans, which doesn't mean the people that were showing them to can read and interpret this information that same way we do.

When you have a 2D world there's always that difficult section that you didn't draw out fully. In a 3D World those issues can be addressed more easily. So while it's not sensible to minimise the impact of 3D modelling on a project, indeed it’s a key component to improving our designs, it’s just not the fundamental essence or intention of BIM Level 2.

Reduced Risk

BIM also helps us reduce risk. If you have a good set of models, you can include the right products from the right manufacturers as early as you can into the model. Which means you know the sizes, you know the dimensions, you know where your pinch points are, so you can start going through a clash avoidance process (sometimes referred to as clash detection). That means setting the models against each other to set tolerances and have a look where and differences might cause trouble for each other and then you can resolve that more easily.

This gives the lead designer an overview allowing them to make decisions on whose model needs to change. This in turn gives us a shorter iteration of resolving clashes rather than finding out on site that a pipe hits piece of steel and we need to redesign things as we build.

So this coordinated information is incredibly useful in terms of the design process, but it also means that we can have a structure to our data. That enables the clients making decisions on whether to proceed from stage 2 to 3 to work from a better set of data in terms of area schedules, and how many doors and windows, ensuring they the right tools to ensure they are getting what they asked for.

We can also analyse models for wind loading, solar shading, internal heating, lighting all of these things can be assessed with a data rich 3D model of a building. If we have the knowledge embedded within the materials, we can really reduce the risk of getting design wrong.

Everybody's a professional on a construction project, but we still see buildings under performing against their expected BREEAMs and we see the odd strange thing happened like buildings setting fire to transit vans in London, and using modelling we can try and reduce some of that.

Reduced Waste

The reduction of waste on project is critical to the success of the UK construction industry. So to help us come in on time and on budget, the BIM process of collaborating more often and reducing siloed working leads directly to have less wasted time and less rework.

This can be taken a step further through designing for constructability, involving a contractor earlier in the design process, showing them what's being designed and discussing the project in detail with those responsible for its delivery.

Front loading of the project disucssion in this way means we’re designing something that can be built rather than going through the process of designing something and then getting a contractor involved, finding out where it's gone wrong and then winding it back. So that further reduces rework and it’s corresponding waste, and allows us to effectively program the way we're going to build things.

Client Satisfaction

So with that reduced risk, that reduced waste, as well as a better design we will almost certainly improve client satisfaction with the construction process. We can also produce much, much better handover information which means they've got a good solid basis with which to move forward with life cycle management. Having that data early on allows clients to adopt a much more circular approach to operational costs and construction costs and delivery cost altogether.

In terms of how product manufacturers fit into the puzzle of BIM, having the products that are likely to make it to the end of the project already designed in early when we show it to the client, means we can build that confidence. So it's easy to believe that manufactures have a small part to play in this, that their data only matters when we handover, but in terms of models and data, every single word I mentioned in the previous slides really does matter for product manufacturers.

BIM or BIM Level 2

So what does BIM actually mean, the acronym is building information modelling but it does get confused with BIM Level 2 which is the UK initiative, and probably the best definition of BIM that that I tend to use is from the NBS which is:

“The means by which everyone can understand a building through the use of a digital model”

That model might not be a 3D, visualised representation, it might be a data model, but this is the core concept of BIM. Making sure everybody understands the building through the use of a digital model. “Level 2 BIM” was the government initiative to cement BIM as the standard for delivering projects by 2016. That's slipped a little, but what is Level 2?

BIM level 2 is about bringing the people, the processes and standards together so we have a consistent way of using BIM on UK construction projects. The level 2.org website, which is the place where all of the standards live, has a lot of good advice. Level 2 ORG describes level 2 in quite a good way by saying:

“The adoption of BIM Level 2 by the construction and asset management industry requires organizations and individuals to embrace change and accept that traditional roles within the supply chain and client organization may need to be redefined to successfully implement the new processes and information management requirements.”

That's something that takes a little bit of time to absorb, but what they're trying to get across as this is about an industry-wide journey of change and throughout that change there are going to be new roles emerging within the process.

That doesn't mean that we're going to start losing professions though, we all heard in 2010/11 that BIM was going to be the death of the quantity surveyor, of course it's not. What it does mean though is that quantity surveyors will have to change the way they work from a 2D way to a 3D, data-rich way of managing their approach to the industry.

In order to descript the path that journey would take, the idea was that we would frame the industries progress in terms of three levels.

Level 0 was the industry that I joined. We used drawing boards, a little bit of CAD here and there, but very much siloed working. As designers we’d draw it all up and then we’d deliver it as a “completed” package. Then somebody else would come along and build it and there would be little if any communication between the “design” and “build” parts of the process.

Level one is there to formalise things in terms of working together. Level one isn't the default for the industry. It's often assumed that it is because we all share things over the internet every now and again, and we all use CAD. But that's not true. A lot of people are still at Level 0 and they need to go through that process of bringing the standard procedures up to level 1 before addressing level 2.

Level 2 is relatively well defined. What level two really is about is a collaborative approach to delivering a digital model, whether that’s 3D or 2D or mix of both, that is useful throughout the project and which will improve the handover afterwards.

Level 2 Deliverables

As much as that can sound a little complicated, there's really only 3 deliverables that have to be there for it to be a level 2 project.

Firstly, you must still hand over the 2D PDFs, that doesn't change yet.

If you have models on the project you have to hand them over to the client. That is a key part of that level two process, you've created that rich data source, so It needs to be made available.

And COBie data is the key handover format for level 2 BIM in the UK.

COBie comprises a lot of the same information that we've always collected but we're bringing into one place and linking it together. It's sometimes displayed as a very colourful spreadsheet but it's well-defined, it has a British Standard behind it and it's about the construction industry taking its first steps into delivering good data.

Most of that data doesn't come from an architect, nor does it come from the engineers or even a contractor a lot of the data that matters for operating the building, that we captured during construction, comes from the product manufacturers. It’s mostly not new data, it’s things that are already known about products, the thing that's missing is the structure. So we need to get our products into a format that can be absorbed into the project processes, so we can deliver the structured data in COBie format.

And as much as there’s only 3 deliverables, there are some key things that have to happen throughout the project for it to be a level two process.

Key Elements Of Level Two

The must be defined information requirement. If we don't know what information are clients want we can scrap around in the dark trying to find it and handover something, but that's not level 2. We have to understand what the clients need, and then you set out collaborative working processes which we can all agree to. That's where the BIM execution plan comes into play. So we have a requirement, we have a response and we have a contractual obligation to deploy your plan to deliver those requirements.

One of the key things that level two sets out is that we don't just gather all of our data, and when we hand over the building handover that data at the end and say: surprise! there's the data that you asked for, we think it's right.

We go through a process of data exchange validation so at key points in the contract we hand over the data that is available at that point, and we ensure that data answers the questions that the client needs answered at that point. That process of exchanging information, handing over a dataset is not something we’re very used to and the further you go into the project the more manufacturer data goes in there, so it's a process that everybody has to learn how to do.

And because we're handling more data than we have handled before and we're structuring and getting it to where it can be easily read and interpreted we have to be security minded. We can't create all this data on behalf of clients and leave it on USB sticks on trains we have to be careful with that project data. In the event it's seriously secure or even confidential data, we have to know that from the information requirements and plan for that.

So the idea is if we go through that process of defining requirements, planning to deliver them, testing along the way and delivering valuable information exchanges in a secure way then we can secure better outcomes for end users and have more fun, more profit and better designs on all of our projects.

The BIM Chasms

In 2016 I created this graphic roughly based on the concept of Geoffrey Moore’s crossing the chasm. The point was to ascertain whether we actually got level 2 BIM across the chasm to the point where it was definitely going to be adopted and wouldn't slip back, wouldn't fail in in the manner of a Betamax.

I believed that point, and I still do, that we are definitely into the early majority phase. BIM is happening, it's not going away, and it is going to increase in adoption. What I'm not sure I got right at the time was that we would be passing into the late majority phase this year.

The late majority phase are people who feel more pushed into adopting rather than people are excited to adopt, like the innovators and early adopters. Early majority see the benefit of adopting and try and take a business advantage, but for those late majority people, there’s a commercial pressure there and some may fail to adopt and leave it too late.

What's really interesting about what the UK construction industry’s doing is we’re trying to cross two chasms in very quick succession. Before level 2 is fully embedded in the industry, we’re trying to define what level 3 is all about. Which is an even more collaborative way of working and designing to inform smart cities and smart buildings, and trying to include more open formats for from model types.

After I drew this the UK BIM Alliance set the target of BIM as business as usual by 2020. For me that's where the bridge comes into the diagram. If you're not on that bridge by 2020 you may find it difficult to adopt and might struggle to win some contracts afterwards.

BIM and Manufacturers

Getting product manufacturer data and objects and knowledge into the design model is critical for success going forward. What we can't do though, is continually expand our design team and put everybody in at the early stage, into enormous meetings with every potential manufacturer at the table.

So we need the knowledge involved in the project, but not necessarily all of people. BIM gives us a mechanism for that and this is where BIM objects and BIM data come in very useful. We have a number of ways of getting manufacturer data into the design process.

You can download and install data rich models of objects into the design process which; I'm not going to perpetuate the myth that getting a manufacturers object into an early stage design model is self specification, but what it does mean is your brand and your unique selling points are known to the design team. It’s also an introduction to the contractor, if they’ve not noticed you before. It also means your technical qualities, the things that make your product better than your competitors, are known in the model.

There is another alternative which is product data. So this is allowing design team to use generic objects, but supplemented with data specifically about your products. Whether that's about fire doors, different fire ratings, different glass ratings, those kind of things, it means we can start pulling data in.

Proctors BIM Journey

In terms of making the decision between modelled objects and product data, with the Proctor group my approach was to come and talk to the team, here because theirs is not a classic decision.

Whereas if it's something that very spatial like a piece of furniture objects very much play a part in that decision. If it's something that's totally embedded, never seen, never maintained and doesn't really have that big an impact on the design process, then data matters more; because of its about getting the right data to hand it over at the end.

The Proctor group set of products really do straddle both because as much as they're not a classic maintainable asset, the approach to using their products in the design process improves the thermal and acoustic properties of the design. What's really interesting about their approach is that it moves layers within the built fabric to different places to achieve better results.

One of the problems we discussed when when I came to see the guys at Blairgowrie was that even though it's the right solution for a project, it was hard to get onto some projects because it had been designed too fully to make that switch to where the layers were within the structure of the building. People didn't want to do that redesign because it takes time and it adds cost.

So as much as it's not a classic maintainable asset like a window, it made an awful lot of sense to model the Proctor group products to ensure that when it comes to making design changes we could take out a generic wall and replace it with a Proctor group wall, which has all of that knowledge that we need in the project to make sure we get the sound right, the insulation right, the air tightness right. It's not about how we model the thickness of the membrane it's what that membrane does for the design is why we went down the model route.

So wasn't a case of us modelling a chunk of a membrane and putting it there so people download a piece of membrane and try to insert that into their walls. We created wall systems and floor systems to try and ensure that people would be designing with the best knowledge available to use these solutions appropriately and get the right results.

It was something I hadn't thought of before that the rework of selecting products might stop products getting selected, even if they were the right product for the project. So, we went away and we designed some prototypes that we thought would work and we tested them and we got some really great results. On that basis decided to proceed with the project and the set of models that we’re introducing with this webinar are now available live on the website.

Focus On Product Data Templates

I’m now going to focus a little bit on product data templates.

Work on product data templates as part of the UK approach to BIM is not finished, unfortunately. That's because it's complicated. It's not something you can sit down and write, it involves an awful lot of people and an awful lot of knowledge and there are some great people working on it. UK BIM Alliance are working on it, we've also got the standards bodies looking at it with the CEN standards from Europe and international ISO standards looking at it. Because aligning our information around product data and providing those templates for people to fill out in a consistent way, means we can start comparing products and products in a much better way. That isn't a UK specific problem that is a global problem.

So I'm going to try and discuss the reality of the situation on product data templates without making it sound like there is a ready built solution for you to just go and pick up and it's all going to work perfectly well.

Asset owners, architects, specifiers, contractors and facilities managers all need data about the products that are going into buildings. They require different things from it different times so creating a template that suits everybody’s’ needs is a difficult thing.

So, what do we need in terms of manufacturers bringing information to the table? We need those data sheets, which is more or less just a filled in product data template, to be structured. So that's the purpose of the templates, providing structure to the information that you already probably have embedded on your website, in your brochures, in your PDFs.

This means we have well-structured and organised product data that can be imported and compared digitally and brought into designs, specified, and tested against various requirements in a digital way. But it's actually quite complicated to find the right PDT for your industry, for your product, and it can take a little bit of detective work to get to the bottom of it.

First thing to check is the NBS BIM toolkit, there are a few thousand definitions in there of various things. You might find a direct hit that works for you that's already been created.

Then there’s CIBSE, they also have a number of templates available for data. So that’s another great place to go looking to see if there's something already built that you can adopt.

New to the party is the BRE Templater tool, which has been developed with activeplan, and is relatively new so there's not much content on there. But they have a good pattern for collecting data.

So those three are useful places to go and see if you can find something you can use, it may not be there. If it isn't, if you find that you can't find a template that actually meet your needs, then you need to speak to your industry body, if you have one. There are industry bodies for many of the parts of manufacturing world, and they can help you create the PDT, and work together to deliver that to the market. They could then be absorbed into NBS or CIBSE.

There's a discussion, so we have there's a bit of R&D, that needs doing but you should get some support from your industry body.

If it's still not working there’s BIM4M2, who are there to help with this process. Contact them through their website and explain that you've been through the process of trying to find out the information and simply isn't there, and you can't find anyone to help.

There are also commercial people who can help you with this. Software companies who have solutions that would be more than willing to discuss, and if you want to pay for accelerated help that's what you get when you go to these people.

So you do have choices. It’s important though to exhaust the stuff that's already been done before you start calling people to try and find out how you create a PDT, because what we don't want is multiple versions of the same thing appearing in different places. Which means we don't have a standard template, we have a number of standard templates, meaning we still don't have a standard template.

Models or PDTs

We've discussed the difference between a model-based approach and PDT approach and in some cases, you may need to do both or you may want to do both. With that in mind, it’s a good idea to review some of the key decisions you could make.

In terms of models, does the shape and size of your product impact the design process. If it does, if you're going to be bigger, or smaller, or taller, or whatever than somebody else's product in the design process, then having some objects available might be useful thing.

It may be that you don't need to model your details up to LOD5, which is level of detail 5, a full technical model of everything within your product, you might be able to drop that back to LOD three or two, which just represents the shape and size and general connections of your product.

Another key thing when deciding whether models are appropriate is aesthetics, does your product look better than your competitors? If it’s going to be exposed in the finished building then an object modelled in 3D certainly has more weight than using a generic object with your data against them. If putting your product into a project requires design changes, if it needs to go back to the architect or the engineer for changes they're going to appreciate it if they can get model content and do the job quickly.

Is your product of a key system? Do other things depend on what you're doing, on the size of your product. If so objects might make sense.

One of the things that gets overlooked are people asking for BIM content? Do the senior management in your business know whether your technical team are taking phone calls asking for objects.

Another key indicator of whether you should do it is do your competitors have objects?

If you're in a world where your competitors already have objects, are people just going to their website using that as a standard in the design process? It doesn't mean they won't get replaced with your product, that their objects have been used but you get the job. If you competition has done it though, they see benefit in it may be worth considering it.

So there's some of the key considerations around whether it's worth having your products modelled.

When it comes to product data templates, are your products standard size with competitors? So, if the object is going to look the same, it's always going to take up the same space, and have the same requirements for the space around it, all of that geometric information is the same, the data template might make perfect sense. Just provide your unique selling points in a structured way and they can be used.

Are those unique selling points around better performance or improved warranties and environmental performance? If they are you need to tell people that information, you need to get it into the team as early as you can. Because that is that is really integral information to making the decisions about whether you’re staying in the project or getting swapped out later.

And are you having to provide data in Multiple formats to different people? We often hear that one contractor wants it this way, another one wants it that way and you've got no confidence that they're asking for the for the same stuff, in the same way. With a PDT, if you can say you work to a template, we deliver it to a standard then the onus is on them to take the information from your standard approach and put it where they need if they need something else.

And is there an industry standard product data template, and are competitors finding it. If there’s an industry standard there it doesn't take you long to put the knowledge that you already have into that template, and provide it to people.

If that last one's there even if you haven't made a decision on whether you need models or whether BIMs right for you, if there is a standard product a template; fill it out and put it where people can get it on your website. It's a quick win, so people come to your website take it away and never have to make a phone call.

If you’d like a little more information on and what have you just been through I did pen an article with GoBIM sometime ago which is still available. The image of the of the BIMCat was there really to describe the difference between what information has to be modelled what information can live quite happily within with a product data templates.

BIM and Libraries

Often when talking about BIM objects, the conversation turns to BIM libraries. As a business we’ve taken the decision not to provide a BIM library, so we can provide impartial advice on how to create the best information and where to put it.

But that's not to say that the libraries don't provide value, they do. But the thing with the libraries is that they all offer a different offering, so to determine which one is right for your business, if any, you really do need to talk to them. I know most of the people at most of the libraries, because they've taken objects from us or from manufacturers we’ve worked with.

In terms of what they offer, they offer exposure, they offer templates to try and help you get things right for their library, so there's consistency of data across the library. The debate is out whether that is fully working yet however, on whether you can have total confidence that everything you download from every library with work.

There has been evolution, has been a journey, so some of the older models may not be as good as some of the newer stuff. It’s one of those parts of the industry that are currently going through a bit of change, because when they started out, creating objects, putting them up there so people can download them, was the business model.

Now we're moving towards the libraries starting to add more value with new plug-ins, new content, more support so they all are diversifying and getting a bit different. So I wouldn't promote any one library, but what I would do is promote talking to them all rather than just jump into the first one you've heard of.

I’ve put a few up on the screen, some data based, some model based and some you will have heard of and some you may not have. It’s very much worth doing your research on this one.

BIM and Libraries

When it comes to the approach you want to choose, to take advantage of BIM and bring BIM into your business there is value in talking to independent BIM consultancies like myself. And there are others available and there's lots of good people out there you may have a local one you choose to talk to. Or feel free to call me I'd love to hear from you

What that independent does, we’re trying to give you good solid advice without a sales pitch of any ongoing solution, where we want to come and help. So that may mean we do some modelling for you, we might point you in the right direction of the right company or the right library for you to work with. I don't want to use the sessions as a sell but if you want to have a conversation my details will be made available after the end of the presentation.

That's all of the content I’ve prepared for today, so I do hope that was useful and you now have more of an insight into what BIM means for product manufacturers. So now we're going to move on to the Q&A session, we're going to have a look at your questions and we're going to respond to as many as long as we can. Thanks for listening.

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