Saturday, 26 July 2014

BIM - Lessons Learned

Having just submitted BIM models for a large and complex healthcare project in London, it is time to consider lessons learned as there have been many. In a time of transition to BIM Level 2, at present we are not going to do things perfectly as the industry is finding it's way to a new way of doing business with new technologies and standards. What I have learned is that certain aspects of BIM are more important than others and it is really important that everyone knows how important they are as BIM is collaborative.

1. Shared Coordinates

If your linked models don't sit on top of each other accurately, you have a big problem and it is time to stop and sort this out. Each model should have a common survey point and base point. The Information Manager or Project Lead should ensure this is in place. The best way to standardize this is issue a master survey 2D CAD drawing which uses the correct coordinate system i.e. Ordnance Survey UK coordinates using True North. Each organisation can then acquire the coordinates from this linked drawing. The recommended base and survey points should be indicated on the drawing. If the survey is in BIM format, the coordinates can be acquired from the linked survey model.

2. Model File Naming

If you are working to BS1192:2007, then use it explicitly, no deviations.

  • Agreed a Project Code from the start of the project. This is not an organisational project number. The Employer or Client should be asked to contribute this code or agree to a code proposed by the Information Manager.
  • The Information Manager should agree a list of Originator codes or acronyms that are consistent.
  • The zones or assets should be agreed with the Employer or Client. A zone or asset can be a building or part of a building that undertakes a particular function for the Employer. The models will be broken up by this zone or asset, so consider it carefully.
  • Levels or Locations should be agreed from the start. Often 01, 02, etc is used for upper floors. 00 is used for ground floor and B1, B2 used for basements.
  • The type is from a predefined list in BS1192:2007 and extended in PAS1192-2. M3 is used for 3D BIM Models.
  • Classification is optional. Uniclass 2 is the recommended classification. Beware, Uniclass 2 is still not complete, so avoid this for now.
  • Number is used when all the previous field values don't ensure the file name is unique. This is a 4 character number e.g. 0001, 00002, etc.

Eample: PRJX-ACM-P1-ZZ-M3-A-0001

Suitability and Revision can be optionally appended to the model file name, but I would recommend not doing this. Many online document management systems rely on the file name being constant for revision control. If the file name is changing with each revision or status change, this will not work. I would recommend placing the Status and Revision codes in the splash sheet.

3. Keynotes

Although NBS have released NBS Create, there is still some creases to be ironed out. Create is a very good product but some fundamental functionality needs to be in place to make it the new standard for specifications. In the meantime, Keynotes are brilliant. If Revit is using UK based settings, out of the box, Revit comes with the CAWS (Common Arrangement of Worksections) keynotes. US will be based on the Omniclass system. There are possibly some offices out there adding these references to objects but I think this maybe few. The difficultly is that there are many specification clauses for each object so there isn't a one-one relationship between clause and BIM object. A better alternative is T-Sheets. T-Sheets stands for Technical Sheets and is a loose system made popular by Schumann Smith which are now part of AECOM. T-Sheets are an index of building elements that are cross referenced with the specification and drawings. For example PAR-01 is a plasterboard, metal stud partition which provides 30 minutes fire rating and a few other performance criteria. PAR-001 can be associated with K10 for Partitions and M20 for the skim finish. The PAR-01 code can now be added to the drawings. The wonderful part about this system is that with little information, both the specification writer and BIM modeler can progress immediately. The T-Sheet system allows designers to think in terms of performance of assembled objects. If a 1 hour rated partition is required or one that provides specific acoustic performance, PAR-02 can be added. Once the specification writer and designer understand the parameters for that element, everyone can get on with their work.
Keynotes can be written for any system you wish to use and are relatively simple to create.

4. Family Naming - BS8541-1

BIM Level 2 requires families to be named according to BS8541-1. Do this from the start. If you are a designer creating generic objects, family names will be in the format Source_Type_Subtype. Use Organisation Acronyms for the source. Types should be IFC names and be consistent i.e. Use Door and not doors. The IFC names are included in BS8541-1. Subtypes are flexible but should be structured to ensure there is a consistent system for naming. I use the T-Sheet code and an optional description e.g. ME_Door_IDR-Dbl-Eq for an internal equal size leaf double door created by me. Obviously replace the Source acronym for your company acronym.

5. Copy / Monitor tool

The copy/ monitor tool should be used for Grids and Levels. It is normal practice for the Architect to setup the grids and levels and other consultants to copy/ monitor these. The copy/ monitor tool can also be used for coordination with other consultants where there are overlaps in design. For example, doors are often placed in RC walls. If the wall is in the structural engineers model, how can the architects door be placed in the wall as it cannot be done in a linked model. The copy/ monitor tool can be used to create a copy of the structural wall in the architects model. The door can be placed in the copy. When the architects model is sent to the engineer and he or she links the model, they will get a warning that there is a new opening in their wall. This is a process that needs careful refinement.

6. Clash Detection

Start the process early. The first time it is done it takes some time to setup. Allow 2-3 days. Objects must be grouped into sets and clash tests setup to specifically target certain clash tests e.g. structural slab versus facade. Don't run a clash detection on everything i.e. structural model versus architectural model, the number of clashes will be overwhelming and difficult to manage. Organize objects into sets. Sets can also include subsets e.g. Structure can contain floors, roofs, columns, etc. This will allow a test to be carried out against the entire structure or a subset. Use the group tool to group clashes for selected objects. This will make the process of creating sets very quick. Once this is done properly at the beginning, clash reports will run smoothly and quickly afterwards. Number and name the clash reports e.g. PRJX-ABC-P1-ZZ-CR-A-012_Structural Walls, Columns, Beams and Floors vs Architectural Finishes. Everyone will then know what you are referring to on the phone or at a workshop when you mention Clash Report 12. If you are using navisworks, use NWC files. Set up a 3D view in Revit specifically for exporting for clash detection. Download an install the NWC export utility for Revit. Use NWF (Links to NWC files are live) files for clash detection. Use NWD (links are embedded) files when issuing to third parties.

Summarize findings when issuing the clash detection reports. This helps the person who has to deal with the clashes focus on the critical items.

7. BIM programme

Create a BIM programme. Start at a deadline and work backwards. BIM Workshops should occur every two weeks and should either overlap with the Design Team meeting and even better still be part of the Design Team meeting. Model transfers should happen every week. Shared Models should be issued before the workshop and Work In Progress models in the interim. Again, allow time for generating the clash detection reports.

8. Unique Object IDs

If you are using clash detection tools such as Navisworks, Solebri or Tekla, these applications rely on unique IDs for each object to allow them to track objects. For clash detection it is important to understand if a clash is new, old (active) or resolved. This is the foundation of the process of resolving or progressively tracking clashes. Therefore it is important that once the Clash Detection process is started that the model is not trashed for a newer file or objects are copy pasted into another file as all these IDs are lost and all the clash detection knowledge is lost with them.

9. Splash Sheets and BIM Coordination Documents

Use splash sheets and ensure there are setup as the starting view. The Revision Code and Status Code should be clearly indicated and should follow BS1192:2007. A Revision schedule can be included in a splash sheet just like a standard sheet. I use BIM Cordination Documents which are basically issue sheets for models to help track the status of consultants models. These should be standardized from the beginning.

10. BIM is collaborative

BIM won't work without collaboration. BIM exists because of technology and a desire to improve the construction process. It isn't easy as there is a tendency in the business to carry on as usual. There is a growing unease that long term targets cannot be met through business as usual and that process that have developed over the past 40 years are not fit for purpose. Providing an adequate and cost effective supply of places for people to live and work sustainability in the near future is very challenging. Individually we can go fast but collectively we can go far.

Thursday, 29 May 2014

BIM - Teaming with Opportunities - Aviva Stadium - Thursday 29th of May 2014

I just completed a talk on BIM this morning at Aviva Stadium which I am proud to have been involved in the the design process. The link to the presentation is available below.

BIM - Teaming with Opportunities

A Building Information Modelling event in association with BAM & supported by Autodesk & Diatec.

This half-day event will explore how BIM enables new opportunities in the changing construction industry in Ireland.

Hear about “BAM’s journey to BIM” and understand how a cooperative approach from all project stakeholders can deliver better results.

Date: Thursday 29th of May 2014
Times: 9:00 - 1:30
9:00 - 9:30           Registration & networking
9:30 - 9:45           Key note “BAM’s journey to BIM” by Theo Cullinane
9:45 - 10:45        Constructing the Team - BIM Workflows with Michael Murphy, Paul Brennan,
                              Ger O’Sullivan (BAM & Datech)
10:45 - 11:05      Coffee break
11:05 - 11.35      Building Partnerships - The importance of BIM for an Architect - Michael Earley (Scott Tallon Walker)
11:35 - 12:05      Getting the point across with 3D laser scanning - Simon Tritschler (DPS Engineering)
12.05 - 12.35      Closing the Loop - The importance of BIM for an MEP Engineer - John Bolger (OCSC)
12.35 - 12.55      Design, Build, Manage - Something for everyone - Tom Edmonds (Autodesk)
12.55 - 1:00        Close & Q&A
1:00 - 1:30           Lunch & networking

Venue: Aviva Stadium, Ballsbridge, Dublin 4.


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.


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