Sunday, 13 October 2013

Do you have documented policy, systems and procedures to achieve “Level 2 BIM” maturity as defined in the government’s BIM Strategy?

Do you have documented policy, systems and procedures to achieve “Level 2 BIM” maturity as defined in the government’s BIM Strategy?


The above question is included in Table 8 of the PAS91-2013 Construction pre-qualification
questionnaires which will shortly be commonplace for projects procured through public funding in the UK. To understand what this documented policy, systems and procedures are, we need to step back a little to understand the reason why this question is being asked.

What is the government's BIM strategy?

In the UK, the Government Construction Strategy document published by the Cabinet Office in May 2011 defined BIM as a requirement for publicly funded capital projects by 2016. The strategy document is focused on improving procurement of publicly funded capital expenditure projects in the UK which accounts for 40% of all capital expenditure and is currently perceived as containing waste which is estimated to be in the region of 15%. BIM is proposed as part of a multifaceted solution to drive waste out of the system.
Government will require fully collaborative 3D BIM (with all project and asset information, documentation and data being electronic) as a minimum by 2016.

2016 is over 2 years away. Seems like plenty of time?

There was some confusion after the document was published as to whether 2016 was a target to be met or when BIM began for publicly funded projects. Subsequent papers and presentations defined 2016 as the cut off date for which BIM would be mandatory for publicly funded projects. Unless you are a maverick genius who has deep pockets, it is going to take time to change your computer systems and more importantly processes from a 2D one to a collaborative one based on 3D with rich data. Many of the larger public clients are gearing up now and starting to require BIM for new projects as it is not a simple matter of switching over on the first day of 2016. So if you currently don't use BIM, the portion of projects you can tender for will be increasingly reducing to zero between now and 2016.

What is the monetary threshold for publicly funded projects which require BIM?

There is none. Every penny of money spent on capital projects from 2016 on-wards must be delivered in BIM. While larger design, construction and manufacturing firms will put in the necessary resources to up-skill in time for 2016, the same cannot be said for smaller organisations. There will be casualties and on the whole they will predominantly be smaller organisations. This sounds a little harsh and there will be complaints as 2016 draws near, but the government stance will likely be that there was fair warning, 5 years in fact.

What exactly is required to be BIM compliant?

If you are a little confused on this question you can be easily forgiven. Part of the problem is that the mechanisms and processes are not fully ironed out yet as the BIM Task Group is still evolving and publishing standards documents. BIM is still being integrated into new procurement processes and forms. In many countries, BIM is being left to organisations and individuals to use if they perceive it has benefits for them but in the UK, the government is mandating BIM from 2016. Because of this, the procurement systems must be changed to include BIM and the roles, relationships, contracts, forms, etc must be changed to suit BIM. As BIM is only part of the solution to reducing waste, the revised procurement process will also contain other changes that are perceived to reduce waste.

In February 2013, PAS1192-2 which is a significant procurement standards document was published by the British Standards Institution. PAS1192-2 outlines the procurement process and the players involved. It is going to take a little time for public clients to disseminate the information in this document and revise their procurement systems but it is happening at the moment. You should read this document carefully. It is a substantial document which I will go through in detail in a subsequent post.

The following month in March 2013, PAS91-2013 was published by the British Standards Institution. PAS91-2013 is a template for a standardised Pre-Qualification Questionnaire (PQQ). This is long overdue as each public body had a different PQQ form which made it very onerous for organisations tendering for public work to complete these forms. You now need to consider how you will complete the questions in this forms and if there are any gaps, they should be dealt with if you want to achieve maximum marks.

The BIM Task Group along with the Construction Industry Council (CIC) produced a number of documents in February 2013. An important document is the Building Information Model (BIM) Protocol. The Protocol is defined by the BIM Task Group:
The BIM Protocol is a supplementary legal agreement that is incorporated into professional services appointments and construction contracts by means of a simple amendment.  The Protocol creates additional obligations and rights for the employer and the contracted party.  The Protocol is based on the direct contractual relationship between the employer and the supplier.  It does not create additional rights or liabilities between different suppliers.

Is there a requirement for a BIM Protocol?

What really has changed that would require additional an legal agreement? The BIM Task Group were aware of insurance risks when drawing up the BIM Protocol and commissioned the advise of an insurance company on matters which increased risk through the use of BIM. The CIC published The Best Practice Guide for Professional Indemnity Insurance which aims to give comfort to insurers and gives guidance to organisations with design responsibilities producing information in BIM.
As a generality, it was not felt that the use of a level 2 BIM environment significantly increased the risk profile of a design consultant firm.
Insurers’ comfort largely stems from the fact that, under level 2 BIM, there is sufficient detail to ensure that the lines of responsibility are clear and that models passed on to the Information Manager using the disciplines of standards such as PAS 1192-2 can be shown to be a particular consultant’s work.
Should consultants find themselves working under a system whereby third parties can modify submitted models and the supporting information without robust checks in place, this could be a cause for concern and consultants ought to be informing their brokers and insurers.

On the upside, the document identifies opportunities to reduce risk by using BIM.
Indeed, there were very good reasons why the use of such an environment could reduce the risk of claims arising, particularly those claims which only become apparent when the project is on site. The fact that an opportunity exists to model the “as built” project in some detail, and in 3D, was considered a potentially powerful risk management tool.
As the protocol has only been issued in early 2013, there are many early adopter BIM projects working without a protocol. Basically the law is catching up with technology.

If you have recently tendered and won a project that has followed PAS1192-2, you should have a BIM protocol included in your agreement or contract. If not, the next stage of the project maybe a good time to consider introducing a BIM protocol.

Surely there was a reasonably high degree of collaboration in 2D CAD, so why is there suddenly a requirement for all these protocols and changing of roles?

Once upon a time when life certainly was a little slower than it appears today, architects produced a design and when the time was right, prints were issued in order for other consultants to overlay their designs. Very few architects would dare reissue a significant redesign once the other consultants had started this process as the cost implications were very high. The order of processes was mostly serial i.e. everything was done in a prescribed order. The priority was to issue the correct information to the contractor in order to ensure the design information was conveyed in time for construction. Often separate drawings were created to convey changes leaving the general arrangement plans being out of sync. Issue sheets were sacrosanct in determining the order in which the design information was sequenced and therefore constructed.

2D CAD systems started to become popular in the early 1990s and for the most part were electronic drawing boards. Information was produced in a similar manner to how it had been for so long but now users could copy information very easily. Very quickly, users start to realise that copying information had its downfalls as copied information became out of date as the original drawing changed. Reference files then became a popular means to avoid this problem as a floor plan could be referenced into other drawings ensuring there is one always up to date file.

Some organisations started to push 2D collaboration as far as it could go. Rather than sharing PDFs and their 2D CAD equivalents, other consultants reference drawings were used very smartly to avoid duplication of information. Why should the architect replicate the structural engineers columns? Anyone who tried this method will have started to realise a common problem. It is difficult to keep the drawings coordinated as each organisation has their own priorities. Especially at the early stages of a project, finding that moment when everyones information coordinates perfectly is difficult to achieve.

BIM has introduced 2 more variables, 3D and Information. 3D doesn't add any more burden to the collaboration process, in fact it is a distinct advantage for coordination. Information does add a significant amount of coordination. This information for the most part is not anything new that didn't exist before. The information existed somewhere else, often in cross referenced documents such as schedules.

What we have seen in the last 20 years is a progression of processes due to technology which seems unstoppable. In order to put some manners on it, we need standards to help organisations avoid reinventing the wheel, protocols to ensure fair play and reduction of risk when sharing information and a BIM Information Manager to ensure that coordination is done well.

What is the documented policy, procedures and documents?

Pre Contract
PAS1192-2 requires the project team tendering for a project to develop a Supply Chain Execution Information Plan (SCEIP) which basically describes how the information modelling aspects of a project will be carried out. The SCEIP should be based on the Employers Information Requirements (EIR) which should be provided with the tender documentation. An initial SCEIP is returned with the completed tender documentation. For example, the EIR document may require asset codes based on an existing asset management plan to be included for a selected list of components. The design and/or construction team tendering for the project need to include a methodology for how this will be implemented in the initial SCEIP.

The initial SCEIP must also include a Project Implementation Plan (PIP). The purpose of a PIP is to help an employer assess the capability, competence and experience of individual organizations bidding for a project. The PIP will consist of 3 sections:

  1. The Supplier Building Information Management Assessment Form(s); 
  2. The Supplier Information Technology Assessment Form(s); and 
  3. The Supplier Resource Assessment Form(s); 

PAS1192-2 describes the contents of the sections of the PIP. It will be the responsibility of the project employer to provide the assessment forms. Templates of the forms are available on the Construction Project Information Committee web site.

There are some new terms and forms here, but basically you will substantially improve your chances of getting maximum marks if you can show substantial experience of BIM along with meeting the employers information requirements.

Summary

This covers the basics but is quite a lot to take in if you are new to PAS1192-2. The next post will look at contract and post contract requirements of PAS1192-2.


Further reading and resources

Saturday, 28 September 2013

BIM Culture

Every organisation has a culture which has been honed over time. Culture is an intangible but an important asset for organisations which acts a binder or glue that ensures employees are goal orientated and focused on what makes the organisation successful. Culture is also important at helping an organisation look different from their competitors. Organisation culture is very apparent in organisation publications such as website text and project submissions.

Like every organisation, construction industry organisations are proud of their culture and if they have managed to survive the recent economic downturn, have every reason to attribute some of that success to organisation culture. Every time a significant economic disruption occurs, it often brings some disruptive technologies which affect organisation culture. Everyone has more time to think for a while and technology may offer a competitive advantage. 2D CAD came to the fore during the last major recession, this time BIM is on the rise. BIM was not born out of this recession though as the concept of parametric 3D design tools have been used in the automotive and car industries for well over 2 decades. The construction industry is adopting BIM in a much slower fashion, not because construction is any more cut throat that the automotive or car industries but because of economies of scale. There are significantly more construction related organisations and the organisations are significantly smaller leaving only small amounts of money individually by each organisation for upskilling and even less for research and development.

BIM is now disrupting construction culture. Sounds negative but it is a fact and this is a downside to BIM that cannot be ignored. It must be managed. So who is going to manage this disruption. People with management skills mixed with a knowledge of BIM and what disruption is occurring. So for an organisation that is ready to adopt BIM, it needs to be determined to deal with the disruption caused by BIM and find a BIM guru that has management skills or a manager with very good BIM skills.

Are there managers with BIM skills? At present, very few really. Unlike the IT industry which has most of it managers under 50, construction managers tend to be at least 50 years old. Of course there are some that buck the trend in both industries but this is the norm at present. For a significant number of those over 50, 2D CAD wasn't a skill they generally adopted. Yes, many got by very well without CAD skills as drawing is only one facet of construction deliverables. Those who did CAD and those that didn't. CAD was a little frightening if you didn't know how it worked as it required some computer skills which were new for most but more importantly it required a significant investment of time to get good at CAD. For various reasons, only younger staff had the time to invest in learning enough CAD to be productive so it became the younger persons game. Younger staff are often paid less, so if you were neither young or older, you had to hedge your bets. Learn CAD and become a potential CAD monkey, which would ensure some certainty of employment or focus your energy and efforts on everything else with better prospects of becoming a manager which paid better. The recent downturn saw a lot of middle-management culling for which quite a number went back to education to learn BIM.

Does BIM really need a Manager?

If you perceive BIM as 3D CAD, then the answer is no, 3D is a minor disruption to your current processes and your organisation may or may not make the gradual transformation from 2D to 3D.

If you you perceive BIM as information management, then the answer is resolutely yes. Managing information requires management skills. This maybe good news for any under employed or unemployed managers who have made the effort to learn BIM. Unless your organisation has bucked the trends of the last 2 decades, you have a group of managers who know very little about BIM and a group of CAD/BIM staff for whom some have the requisite skills to manage BIM. You would be right in thinking that the last thing you now need in the throws of a recession are more managers. I have been in this industry for more than 20 years and I can certainly testify that the amount of work not directly associated with production of information has dramatically increased. There are some good reasons for this, many to do with increasing standards of quality and performance but also some for reasons that don't make sense any longer and has much to do with slow adoption to new new work practices.

We certainly don't need more managers, we need to change the roles which will be difficult as many of the current roles in the construction industry have been there for a long as anyone can remember. The construction industry is very old and roles such as architects and engineers are less than 150 years in existence, project managers have been around for only 30 years, health and safety roles for just over a decade and sustainability roles are really less than a decade. Pardon the industry pun, but no role is set in concrete. Prior to the architect which is one of the oldest management professions in the construction industry there were Master Builders. The master builder was a one stop shop but as construction projects became more complex, architects and engineers brought new skills that help propel the industry forward. It must have been disruptive for master builders though. Nowdays, on a traditionally procured project, an employer must deal independently with at least half a dozen professionals who don't often work together as efficiently as the employer would like.

Information becomes very difficult to manage and as each profession has proprietary means of delivering information, the employer or building operator ends up with a mish-mash of data that is often time consuming and difficult to convert into information that can be used to efficiently and effectively operate a building. BIM has massive potential to become the unifying factor for the construction industry but it needs one more ingredient; someone to manage the information effectively and ensure the outcomes meet the employers requirements. In order to ensure the information is unified for all disciplines, this person needs to have over arching responsibility for all information being delivered at the various stages of a project and most importantly at practical completion to facilitate a timely transition to Operations and Maintenance.

The UK Government through the Cabinet Office and the BIM Task Group have identified a role called the BIM Information Manager. This is a significant and important role with many responsibilities. The person undertaking this role requires strong BIM skills, excellent management, people and importantly coordination skills. There are some similarities and overlaps with the project management role as the BIM Information Manager is responsible for ensuring deliverables are delivered on time. A Project Manager is often employed separately by an employer to manage the design and/or construction phase of a project on behalf of the employer. As part of the Best Practice Guide for Professional Indemnity Insurance, the BIM Task Group in association with the Construction Industry Council have concluded that in order to mitigate additional professional indemnity risks, the lead coordinator must fulfil the BIM Information Manager role. Traditionally, the Architect is the lead coordinator and therefore the BIM Information Manager role is best suited to the Architect. The next couple of years will determine if Architects step up to this role. If not, the alternative is a further decimation of the role of the Architect and a significant role at that; a new breed of professional maybe be born or the design role will be split into 2 stages with two sets of architects which is common in some countries, the latter stage would be undertaken by BIM savvy architects.

BIM Information Manager = Lead Coordinator + Information + 3D software

Taking a step backward ironically to that of the Master Builder, the best solution for the construction industry is for architects to step up to the role, providing the glue required to make the industry more efficient and cost effective while providing opportunities for better design through technology. Many architectural firms are hurting at the moment and don't have the ability due to size and turnover to sufficient invest in the future of BIM which will ultimately lead to the erosion of responsibility and therefore fees. It doesn't take a Phd to determine that on the whole the larger architectural and multi-disciplinary organisations have a clear advantage. The decisions made by larger firms in how they step up to the BIM Information Manager role will determine if the role will be undertaken internally by one of the current disciplines or if it will splinter out into another distance role akin to a Project Manager. Maybe some Project Managers are interested but I suspect most don't have an interest or the skills in BIM which makes this a less likely scenario. Perhaps BIM Information Managers may become good Project Managers? Perhaps the organisation with the most disciplines will step up? I have no doubt, this will all play out in the next 2 years setting the tone for the next 20 years.

It is all exciting up in the air at the moment but if you have the right skills, the role of BIM Information Manager is a progressive move. Unlike 2D CAD which created CAD Managers that looked after the CAD for an organisation, the BIM Information Manager has responsibilities to the wider project team. The role is appropriate for a person with strong coordination skills and a good knowledge of BIM processes. Upfront planning and clear definitions of everyones involvement  in the BIM process are important for a BIM Information Manager. Be prepared for adversary though especially from those who are not willing to adopt to a new industry culture. Like a Project Manager, you need to understand what must be delivered and when. Any deviation from successful delivery of information must be avoided where possible and considered carefully where it cannot. Managers that have upskilled to BIM need to be careful not to fall back into old ways of delivering information as you will end up duplicating effort and/or delivering poor quality information which does not match requirements.

Like nature, the construction industry abhors waste or at least should.

Saturday, 17 August 2013

Parameters Part 6 - FM and COBie

Parameters are the i in BiM. Many Clients and Estate Managers are now interested in using the information contained in parameters for Facilities Management. COBie (Construction Operations Building information exchange) is being touted as the standard format for transferring this data from the Contractor to the Facilities Manager at the end of a project. 

There is a lot of talk about COBie at the moment but in reality there is very little widespread practical experience even though it is now a requirement by the UK Government as part of the initiatives to move the construction industry over to BIM by 2016.


Why COBie

Buildings are becoming increasingly complex to operate. Much of the complexity is driven by technology which is attempting to solve a growing number of complex problems related to the environmental management of buildings. It is not good enough any longer for Facility Managers to receive a load of boxes on the day the building is handed over. Even when the documents are electronic, they are organised in proprietary systems which need to be recoded so that they are standardised. In an attempt to solve some of the issues relating to handover of data, the US Army Corps published the Requirements Definition and Pilot Implementation Standard  in 2007 which was one of the first major attempts at standardisation of FM data.

At present, COBie is being touted by US and UK vested organisations and agencies as the industry standard for FM data. There is general acceptance that a single standard is beneficial but there will be some pain getting there. COBie has been released as a spreadsheet formatted document in order to increase the penetration in the marketplace. The spreadsheet is straightforward to follow as it includes a series of sheets or tabs which are listed on my previous post on COBie. The UK Government require COBie data to be handed over in a series of data drops throughout the design and construction phases of the project rather than in one foul swoop sometime around project handover. There is still a lot of confusion as to when the data drops actually happen and to whom they should be delivered to. In the UK, the recently published PAS 1192-2 by British Standards defines a process and a set of roles which goes some way to structuring how it will work but as yet there is very few practical examples.

Some organisations such as universities, defense forces and healthcare facilities already have reasonably well defined systems for organising FM data which does not fit with COBie and may not want to change. Yet the UK Government will require the data in COBie 2.4 in order to meet criteria for public funding. There will be some duplication but Revit and the COBie toolkit can help reduce the duplication to a minimum.

Parameters and COBie

Anyway, back to parameters. Completing COBie spreadsheets is not very productive as much of the data already exists in the Revit model. Revit already has spreadsheets, so the data in Revit must be collated and formatted into the COBie format. Autodesk released a Revit add-in which will help create the parameters and COBie schedules. You could create these manually from the COBie Guide but this could take some time. The COBie add-in for Revit basically automates the process.

The COBie toolkit can be implemented in 2 ways, either by using the Project Template located at C:\Program Files (x86)\COBieV2_30UtilitiesforRevit2013x64\Template or by following steps in the Revit COBie Toolkit documentation provided to implement it on an existing project or project template. I would suggest adding it to a single or test project first before diving in and adding it to your templates.

Note: The location to the template assumes the 64 bit version of the COBie toolkit for Revit 2013 is installed. The path name will differ slightly for 32 bit and previous versions. As of 17th August 2013, the toolkit for Revit 2014 is not yet released. You can always upgrade a Revit 2013 template or project with COBie fields for now until the 2014 version is released.

Once you have followed the instructions for adding the toolkit to your project, the COBie Schedules are added to the list of schedules for the model. Each COBie schedule begins with COBie2. Note: Not all COBie schedules will be added as some schedules do not relate to anything that can be scheduled from Revit e.g. Contacts.


Objects that are scheduled in COBie contain a number of parameters prefixed by the letters COBie under the Other group.

The parameters can be accessed by selecting Project Parameters from the Manage tab.


All the parameters are shared parameters which are stored in a text file located at C:\Program Files(x86)\CobieV2_30UtilitiesforRevit2013x64 if you have installed the 64bit version of Revit 2013.



The COBie Add-in update will be available under External Tools on the Add-ins tab.



The only function of this update feature is to apply values automatically from values such as CreatedBy which you can type in or object values. You can run this update tool at any time, but it must be run prior to finalising the schedules. Tick the Overwrite Existing boxes if you are running it for the second time and want to update the values for all fields.


The COBie2-Component-Door schedule should look something like the schedule below. This great, the headings match the component schedule in COBie 2.4 and a number of the fields have already been completed saving time.



COBie schedules require mandatory fields to be available in the schedule but the parameter that provides the data does not have to be one of the parameters provided by the Revit COBie toolkit. You can select one of your existing parameters as a field for the schedule and change the field heading under Formatting to suit.


Although automating the production of COBie data in Revit is significantly faster than populating and maintaining spreadsheets, there is some manual work to be done to make it COBie compliant. COBie schedules do not contain sheets for doors and windows, only components. The data from these tables will need to be combined into one sheet by basically copying and pasting them into the components sheet. A helper spreadsheet is available at 
C:\Program Files (x86)\COBieV2_30UtilitiesforRevit2013x64\Spreadsheets.

Summary

COBie spreadsheets are starting to become mandatory deliverables for projects. The COBie toolkit reduces the grunt work associated with producing COBie spreadsheets. Don't be afraid to replace appropiate fields which you have already used perhaps as part of the Asset Management strategy for your client in the COBie fields as there is no reward for duplication of data or effort. Just simply rename the field heading in the COBie schedule.

Further reading

The COBie Guide - Building Smart Alliance
The COBie Guide is the result of man-years of effort in the development and testing the use of COBie on real projects.

BIM Fix Blog - Brian Renehan
An excellent article on the Revit COBie toolkit

Whole Building Design Guide

US Army Corps of Engineers