CIC Blog: BIM Research

| Filed in Blog, BIM, BIM Research
BIM : Reducing complexity without losing clarity

Louise Dawes
BIM Consultant
Clearbox Limited

Introduction by Ashley Beighton, BIM Process Manager for The Clarkson Alliance 

Demonstrating that BIM can be used effectively on smaller construction projects has been an indirect consequence of our Technology Strategy Board co-funded project.  Having come onboard an existing project and introduced BIM to a Worthing Homes housing development, our aim is to explore the changes in behaviours that BIM raises as well as its benefits. 

By participating in a research project, it has given us opportunity to learn and share in a way that we wouldn’t be able to do if it was commercially sensitive.  So far, we have discovered that by intelligently scaling down existing BIM documents and standards, they become more relevant for smaller projects – the Worthing Homes project is £1-2million; there is a move away from a single stage tender process and the importance of setting up a robust Employers Information Requirement to frame everything around and focussing on an early asset model are all key.

Most of our findings have impacted clients and designers but we are not on this journey alone.  Over the course of this year, our partners Clearbox (software partner), and Worthing Homes (host project partner) will also be giving their perspective on the project so far.  Clearbox BIMXtra is the Common Data Environment for this project. It is a cloud based data hub that consolidates information derived from 3D models and builds upon this information, adding value to each stage as the project evolves.

Below Louise Dawes, BIM Consultant at Clearbox shares her experiences so far:                                

At Clearbox we have been busy defining our BIM documentation for the Meadow Road Project. In partnership with The Clarkson Alliance and Worthing Homes we have issued the  (pre-contract) Employer’s Information Requirements and are in the final stages of consolidating the (post-contract) BIM Execution Plan.

Changes to BIM Documentation

Over the last year we have seen extensive changes in defining our BIM documentation as more and more people are engaging and are having an involvement in projects with a BIM requirement.

Our initial implementation plans were extensive, very comprehensive, time consuming to write and were not easy to embed in contracts at early stages. Having learnt that the most successful method of applying BIM is at the outset of the project, we restructured our documentation so that one initial comprehensive document is now split into two; An initial document containing generic company standards which can easily be inserted into the Employer’s Information Requirements and the second, a detailed BIM Execution Plan that is comprehensive, bespoke for the project and is updated as a project progresses.

As a small project, Meadow Roads BIM documentation follows the same principles and methodology of those that would be suitable for a larger scheme. We simply downscaled our documentation to suit, without losing clarity or definition of the BIM requirement.

Keep it Simple

Apart from the CAD skills required to model in 3D there is nothing technically challenging about the process of adopting BIM. We have learnt that by reducing the complexity and writing BIM documentation with minimal technical jargon we have been able to engage with the wider project team and move BIM forward from Design and into Pre-Construction, Construction, O&M and FM areas.

Data generated by BIM is valuable and should be utilised by all; benefits should not purely be gained in design.

BIMXtra and the Meadow Road Project

Our common data environment BIMXtra has been set up ready to accept models from the consultants and contractors. All parties have been given access to this central location and will be able to view consolidated data once models have been released. The document management library will be used to store and share issued models.

In summary, to get people to participate and adopt BIM you need to ensure they engage and understand what is required to be involved in a BIM project. By defining requirements a clear understanding can be shared amongst project teams. This gives the opportunity for people to adapt to new ways of working.

To view previous blog posts on this research project click here

Contributor: Louise Dawes is a BIM Consultant at Clearbox Limited, a software and consultancy firm focused on delivering leading edge information management from modern BIM enabled projects, across the entire asset lifecycle. To find out more about Clearbox see our website www.clearboxbim.com

Contributor: Ashley Beighton is BIM Process Leader for The Clarkson Alliance Limited, a firm of consultant project managers and information managers based in Oxford and London. To find out more about the information management services that TCA provide see our website dedicated to BIM - BIM fusion http://bimfusion.co.uk/

 

 

Tags: BIM, CAD
| Filed in Blog, BIM, BIM Research
The realities of using BIM

Ashley Beighton MCIOB
BIM Process Leader
The Clarkson Alliance Limited

The Clarkson Alliance (as lead partner), Kier Clearbox (as software partner) and Worthing Homes (as host project partner) are currently undertaking a Technology Strategy Board co-funded research project “to establish the changes in dynamics and behaviours across the construction supply chain to unlock new, more efficient and collaborative ways of working with Building Information Modelling (BIM)”. This is the second in our series of updates about the project. Transitioning into a Level 2 BIM environment

In our last post we reported that our Meadow Road sheltered housing project had moved away from the usual single stage design and build tender to a two stage tender process. The first stage tender has now concluded, a contractor has been appointed and a full design team assembled. The team are now in the process of developing a BIM Execution Plan. Once this is complete the project will move online and into, Clearbox’s BIMXtra Level 2 BIM environment.

BIMXtra is a central ‘middleware’ platform that will allow the project team to use a range of authoring tools – Autodesk Revit, Microsoft Excel, etc – to import data into, and export data from, a single, federated BIM model. With freely available software the BIM model can also be viewed by the wider project team, facilitating engagement across the entire supply chain.

Worthing Homes will therefore be able to view the BIM model as the design develops, as will all of the main contractor’s sub-contractors and suppliers. It is important to recognise however that there is still a need for drawings in traditional 2D format and for the relevant standards and procedures to be incorporated into the BIM Execution Plan.

Adapting PAS 1192-2 for use on smaller projects

PAS 1192-2, the BSI’s publicly available BIM standard, brings some much needed consistency to BIM implementations however it’s necessarily a ‘one size fits all’ standard for projects both large and small. As such its processes have already needed some substantial tailoring in order to fit the needs of our smaller project where there are fundamentally far less people and less data involved.

The PAS also assumes a single stage tender whereas we have moved to a two stage tender process. On Meadow Road the scheme design was developed in 2D CAD and so the first stage tender was issued and returned in the traditional manner. Now that a contractor has been appointed and a full design team assembled we are developing the BIM Execution Plan and undertaking the associated capability assessments prior to developing the design and moving on to the second stage tender.

Preferably the capability assessments would have been included in the first stage tender returns, if not also a pre-contract award BIM Execution Plan responding to the Employer’s Information Requirements. That way any hardware, software or training needs could have been identified and addressed at the earliest possible stage. In addition it would have been preferable if the scheme design had been developed as a BIM model as this would certainly have helped speed up the transition online and into BIMXtra.

 

In conclusion

By making the BIM model freely accessible to the wider project team and adapting PAS 1192-2 to fit our needs it chips away at the notion that BIM  isn’t accessible to SME’s and can’t be used on smaller projects. This is a point supported by Professor John Lorimer, Local Government BIM Liaison Officer, during a recent Collaboration Oxford seminar that we hosted (link to Collaboration Oxford post).  John delivered a number of projects using BIM when he was Capital Projects Director for Manchester City Council, including the £95 million refurbishment of Manchester Central Library.

John said, “We have cracked, I think, ‘it doesn’t work for small buildings,’ ‘it doesn’t work for roads,’ ‘it doesn’t work for listed buildings.’ No, that’s wrong.”

Do you have any lessons learned from using Level 2 BIM on smaller projects like Meadow Road? If so then we’d be interested to find out more about your own experiences.

Contributor: Ashley Beighton is BIM Process Leader for The Clarkson Alliance Limited, a firm of consultant project managers and information managers based in Oxford and London. To find out more about the information management services that TCA provide see our website dedicated to BIM - BIM fusion http://bimfusion.co.uk/

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| Filed in Blog, BIM, BIM Research
BIM and the Civil Engineering Undergraduate

Joe Wesley 

4th year undergraduate at the University of Warwick

 

2016. BIM. Construction. These three words are of great significance to Architecture, Engineering and Construction (AEC) industry professionals, and have been the topic of much development, and conversely debate, since the release of the Government Construction Strategy in 2011. However, to many UK civil engineering undergraduates, BIM itself means very little, whilst to the few who have heard of it, its meaning and purpose is somewhat confused.  

Before I began my research into this topic for my project, I, along with many others, thought the significance of BIM is due to how advanced the 3D modelling technology is.  In fact, it is far more to do with the way it effectively manages information. This common misconception amongst students (and even their tutors!) is caused by one fundamental problem: lack of education.

My research involved investigating how or indeed if BIM is taught in the 24 Russell Group universities. The results were as follows:

                                                                                                

The 9 UK universities who registered a level of BIM activity were primarily involved in research and postgraduate study. There was very little to suggest undergraduates anywhere were studying or even being made aware of BIM, especially in civil engineering courses, until a brief mention in the undergraduate prospectus at Leeds. This is a frightening thought given the fast approaching 2016 deadline. How are these graduates meant to be prepared?

Findings from the 2013 National BIM Survey may help to highlight the issue further:

  • 71% of respondents agreed that BIM represents the ‘future of project information’
  • 74% agreed that the industry is ‘not clear enough on what BIM is yet’.

So we agree that BIM is important, but its definition is uncertain. In addition to this, if industry is not clear enough on what BIM is, then how it is to be taught effectively?

To some extent the problem is alleviated as training for professionals is readily available. However, will somebody with 25 years of experience be willing to completely change their ways to incorporate BIM? Grass roots education is the key to solving the issue as BIM is believed to be a new way of thinking. Despite this, there is very little specification from industry to define the ‘BIM-Enabled’ graduate.

So, what can we do about it?

Well, the first step is to decide what to teach. I realised it is not feasible to teach BIM in its entirety due to the cost of software and the enormity of the subject. Fundamentally students must be able to a) work and engage in collaborative group design work, b) have simple design conceptual skills and c) have a general awareness of BIM, this awareness being based upon three main topics, People, Process and Technology.

People:

  • Cover what BIM is and its role in the AEC industry.
  • Understand why BIM is needed.
  • Appreciate the business case for BIM and the government’s stance on it.
  • Understand the basics of how BIM will be implemented, covering the Push-Pull strategy and the concept of data drops.

Process:

  • Know the format of and problems with the traditional design, procurement and construction process, the tools and techniques it uses and the improvements BIM introduces.
  • Be aware of lifecycle management- design conception to demolition.
  • Work to the ‘right first time’ ethos in design work.
  • Appreciate the importance of collaboration.

Technology:

  • Understand how parametric objects and clash detection define BIM and how data sets and reports can be extracted from the original 3D model.
  • Understand the role that cloud technology and standards such as COBie play.

The question now, is how do we introduce this core content and these skills into the already overcrowded civil engineering degree structure?

It may be that it’s introduced as a course elective, such as ‘Civil Engineering with BIM’, or as a single optional module available to students, therefore reducing the time constraint. However, in my opinion, rather than teaching it as a separate subject, BIM has the potential to be, or should be, fully integrated into the curricula. It is plausible that the Joint Board of Moderators could include it within its three main threads of Civil Engineering accreditation, which are Design, Sustainability and Healthy and Safety and Risk Management. BIM in fact combines with all of these.

There are still many barriers to introduction still to overcome, such as delivery and assessment. Given that it’s still new to industry, who will teach it? Furthermore, how will teaching content be moderated for consistency across the board?

Despite this, BIM urgently needs to be introduced into civil engineering curricula to ensure the next generation of graduates understand exactly what is going on and why. After all, they will soon be required to have a level of knowledge and understanding that allows them to fit into industry with minimal time and cost expenditure. As it stands, this is not going to happen. It’s clear that higher education needs to catch up with industry, quickly.

Contributor: Joe Wesley is a 4th year undergraduate at the University of Warwick, studying for an MEng Masters in Civil Engineering. Earlier this year he completed his third year individual project, ‘BIM and the Civil Engineering Undergraduate’, which involved developing a proposal for the introduction of BIM at the University of Warwick.

You can find Joe on LinkedIn or email via: j.wesley@warwick.ac.uk

 

Tags: BIM, Construction, Civil Engineering, Architecture, Engineering and Construction, AEC
| Filed in Blog, BIM, BIM Research
How BIM Will Change Processes and Behaviours in Reality: A Research Project

Ashley Beighton MCIOB
BIM Process Leader
The Clarkson Alliance Limited

 

The Clarkson Alliance (as lead partner), Kier (as software partner) and Worthing Homes (as host project partner) are currently undertaking a Technology Strategy Board funded research project “to establish the changes in dynamics and behaviours across the construction supply chain to unlock new, more efficient and collaborative ways of working with Building Information Modelling (BIM)”.

The core objective of the project is to understand the changes in process and behaviours needed to work in a Level 2 BIM environment i.e. where a range of authoring tools – Autodesk Revit, Microsoft Excel, etc – are being used by the project team to import data to, and export data from, a single, federated BIM model held on a central ‘middleware’ platform, in this case Kier’s BimXtra software.

The Technology Strategy Board first awarded us the grant in October last year and it was only confirmed last month, once a suitable host project had been found. The project has been provided by Worthing Homes and is a Sheltered Housing scheme called the Meadow Road project. Since then work has quickly progressed, the initial focus being on compiling a BIM Protocol based on the CIC template and a set of Employer’s Information Requirements (EIR) based on the requirements of PAS 1192-2:2013.

A significant early change in the usual dynamics and behaviours has been a move away from a single stage design and build tender to a two stage tender. In a design and build contract clients often seek to transfer the design risk to the winning bidder, however with powerful visualisation and clash detection tools such as Autodesk Navisworks design issues can be quickly and easily identified and resolved. This means there’s far less inherent design risk in a BIM project and hence little point in paying the contractor a risk premium to transfer it. 

A further important change has been an early focus on the Asset Information Model (the information needed to efficiently and effectively operate and maintain the finished building), with the client’s requirements then being written into the EIR. Here we’ve so far steered away from COBie and instead focused on building an Asset Information Model that will provide the client with the following outputs on handover:

•    A Health and Safety File containing ‘passive’ project data
•    A federated model in IFC file format containing ‘passive’ system data
•    A spreadsheet containing ‘active’ system data

The passive data will effectively form the record set for the project, with the active data feeding directly into the client’s planned preventative maintenance system.

The next step is to issue the EIR out with the usual Employer’s Requirements and to support the bidders (and their consultants and contractors) through the tendering process, in particular with their pre-contract award BIM Execution Plans and associated capability assessments. 

We are already gathering insight into how BIM can change the tender process and how client’s needs should be incorporated into the Asset Information Model.  We will be actively sharing our findings as we uncover more changes in process and behaviours in future updates as we develop further understanding of how BIM works in a live project environment.


Contributor: Ashley Beighton is BIM Process Leader for The Clarkson Alliance Limited, a firm of consultant project managers and information managers based in Oxford and London. To find out more about the information management services that TCA provide see our website dedicated to BIM - BIM fusion http://bimfusion.co.uk/

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