BIM tools are the key enabler


Ian Chapman, Director of the NBS National BIM Library, outlines how the use of BIM tools is enabling the industry to embrace BIM…

With less than four months to go to the Government’s BIM target date of April 2016, the question of whether you are BIM ready or not is becoming increasingly pertinent for businesses that make their living from UK construction.

According to the 2015 NBS National BIM Survey published in April 2015, no less than 92% of organisations expect to be using BIM within three years’ time so regardless of how prepared the industry might be, it clearly believes that BIM will become the ‘de facto’ standard for the design process.

In a recent webinar Tom Murphy, an Architect at David Miller Architects gave a fascinating insight into the practice’s journey to BIM adoption which began back in 2008.

He described the many benefits he and his colleagues believe result from the use of BIM: the efficiencies and advantages of designing in a single model rather than switching between 2D and 3D and the prescriptive process that enables a continuous link between design and specification from the earliest stages of the project.

At the heart of David Miller Architects’ approach he told us was structured data, something that is crucial to the firm’s use of the NBS BIM eco-system including NBS Create, the NBS National BIM Library and the NBS BIM Toolkit.

Whilst the onus is on manufacturers to provide the appropriate level of geometric detail and the correct level of information for each project stage, he welcomed the introduction of the NBS BIM Object Standard in providing a baseline for reliable and quality assured information without which accurate performance comparisons cannot be made.

Citing a real life situation, Tom described a meeting with a client for a high end residential scheme who wished to see where savings could be made without sacrificing the appropriate level of quality. Utilising the Revit plug-in which enables project details to be accessed directly from the 3D model, the design team was able to sit with the client and look at various elements of the scheme and make informed decisions about the specification.

As BIM adoption grows, so the need for a standardised approach to information becomes ever more vital and, in a construction industry that is increasingly global, standards are needed that can cross borders.

In Europe there is a strong movement towards finding an integrated approach to adopting and using BIM, whilst NatSpec in Australia and Masterspec in New Zealand recently formed a partnership with NBS to develop and roll out the BIM Object Standard across their territories. The recently launched NBS BIM Toolkit – the digital plan of work and unified classification that completes the Level 2 suite – has been viewed by people from almost 160 countries.

Like online retail, the rise of digital design and construction is inexorable and it is vital that we in the UK keep up if we are to fully exploit the opportunities of a sector that is forecast to grow to US $15 trillion by 2025, when it will account for 13.5% of global output.

The continued development of BIM – from Level 2 to Level 3 and beyond – is at the heart of this and those, like David Miller Architects, which have recognised this are already seeing rewards in terms of greater profitability from increased efficiency and the ability to take on larger projects with smaller teams.

But it’s important not to forget that it is the ‘I’ in BIM – the information – that will make or break its success. 3D modelling is not new, it is the ability for this model to contain a large amount of accurate, trustworthy and easy to access information that makes the difference. The expectation is that product manufacturers are the ones who will be the primary source for this.

The 2015 NBS National BIM Survey revealed that the design community is increasingly looking to manufacturers to help in the creation and implementation of BIM, with 60% confirming that they used manufacturers as a common source for BIM objects. In October 2015, Integrated Design Limited, manufacturer of the world-renowned Fastlane range of entrance control systems, became the 200th manufacturer or trade association to join the NBS National BIM Library, which has seen a phenomenal growth in the number of downloads by specifiers to more than 120,000 since September 2014.

Allied to this is a huge rise in the use of free plug-ins (for Autodesk® Revit® and ArchiCAD), which links objects directly to models through a range of industry design tools. There were over 900 downloads of the Autodesk® Revit® plug-in in October alone.

All of this adds up to a very encouraging picture. By combining research with statistics from patterns of usage, the UK industry seems to be really embracing BIM and starting to recognise the very real benefits that it can bring. As we said in our webinar, designers tend to be time poor; by streamlining processes and providing free, easy to use BIM tools we’re enabling them to concentrate on what they do best. ■

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Ian Chapman

Director of the NBS National BIM Library


Tel: 0345 456 9594




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