NBS BIM Toolkit moves out of beta


The NBS BIM Toolkit has moved out of beta status, marking its true readiness for project use, and serving as yet another sign of Level 2 BIM’s transition from a government initiative to an industry standard…

Less than six months since its initial release at BIM Show Live in Manchester, the NBS BIM Toolkit is to move out of its Beta phase in the latest sign of Level 2 BIM’s transition from a Government initiative to an industry standard.

The NBS BIM Toolkit saw its beta status come to an end on 30 September 2015, marking its true readiness for project use. This award-winning, free-to-use tool has generated huge interest and feedback from UK and international construction professionals, with more than 19,000 visitors from 141 different countries going online to see how they can benefit.

Combining a standardised and digitally-enabled classification system with a level-of-definition reference library and digital plan of work tool, the toolkit plays a big part in embedding Level 2 BIM in the procurement process and achieving the ultimate goal of it becoming the norm in the private sector and supply chain.

As commented in the July 2015 BIM Task Group Newsletter, the primary objective for creating the digital plan of work was in response to “a clear requirement for construction professionals to be able to define what information should be delivered, by whom and by when”. The “availability of a digital plan of work that provides all users with the opportunity to adopt consistent work stages across all market sectors and assists the Employer to define the level-of-definition required from each party at each work stage may well prove to be the keystone to enabling the practical implementation of UK Level 2 BIM”.

The NBS BIM Toolkit enables clients and managers of assets to comprehensively define information requirements to ensure their needs are met and better project outcomes are guaranteed.

It enables design and construction teams to assemble a team with clearly assigned roles and responsibilities to work collaboratively on construction projects.

And it empowers manufacturers to provide digital information quickly and easily to specifiers, influencing design decisions and the choice of construction products on the thousands of public and private sector projects that will make their way through the toolkit in the years to come.

Originally developed for use on centrally procured Level 2 BIM projects to enable government as a client to benefit from efficiencies and cost savings, the toolkit offers benefits to public and private sector projects alike, whether it be a BIM project or other. Richard Waterhouse, Chief Executive of RIBA Enterprises, the commercial entity of which NBS is a part, said:

“Respondents to our fifth NBS National BIM Report believe that BIM will become the standard for the design process within three years. 92% expect to be using BIM within that time span. A third of BIM practitioners have reached Level 1 BIM. Practices reaching level 2 BIM requirements has grown to 59%, up from 51% the previous year. I was recently at the first European BIM Standards meeting and there is a real appetite for driving common standards and greater adoption across the Continent and the same is true in Australia, New, Zealand, across the Far East, the US and South America. In a construction industry that is moving rapidly towards globalisation, the UK must adopt a position of strength.

“Level 2 BIM is the next big step and the NBS BIM Toolkit is central to this. By providing teams with a straightforward, efficient means of collaborating and sharing information, we will make great strides towards the aims of time and cost reductions and make BIM adoption easier for all.”

Since its release in April 2015, the NBS BIM Toolkit has been used to create more than 3,000 projects, a number that is expected to grow quickly following the end of its beta status as increasing numbers of industry professionals acknowledge its readiness for live-project use.

Industry feedback has been invaluable in getting the toolkit to where it is in such a short space of time. Since September 2014 and start of the development phase of the Innovate UK funded BIM Toolkit project, NBS and its project partners at BIM Academy, BDP, Laing O’Rourke, Microsoft and Newcastle University have consulted widely with architects, clients, contractors, engineers, manufacturers and facility managers to make sure the content and software being developed meets their needs. A steering panel consisting of representatives from institutions APM, BIFM, CIOB, CIBSE, ICE, IStructE, RIBA and RICS has also been key to ensuring the needs of the construction industry were met.

Throughout the beta period, the toolkit saw a series of developments that responded to the Innovate UK brief and industry feedback.

Rich in information, more than 5,700 templates have been published by NBS, setting out guidance for Levels of Detail (LOD) and Levels of Information (LOI) for construction objects, spanning the systems and products that concern disciplines ranging from architecture, civil and structural engineering, building services to landscape design. Each set of LOD and LOI properties is aligned to a typical project stage so that the information required is appropriate to decisions normally made at that work stage. These are all freely available online and also available in both MS Excel format and via a software API. The object templates will form the “construction language” that all project teams can use to define their information exchanges for a particular stage of a project. From a functionality perspective, users are given the tools to define specific Employer’s Information Requirements (EIRs) at each stage of a project and refer these back to the client’s original ‘plain language questions’.

This means that the process of defining EIRs and generating a task information delivery plan in line with PAS 1192:2 is straightforward for any client or client advisor, which was a common request amongst early adopters.

Collaboration was a key feedback theme with functionality included to invite other members of the project team to view and comment on tasks they have been assigned within the toolkit.

As the toolkit embarks on the next part of its journey, the NBS team have been focussed on supporting use. In addition to the support articles already available on the site, users can now benefit from a series of short ‘how to’ videos and free webinars demonstrating how the toolkit can benefit clients, manufacturers and designers alike.

Uniclass 2015, delivered as part of the Innovate UK BIM Toolkit project, is a dynamic classification and will continue to be added to beyond the tables that have been published thus far. Users are encouraged to use the feedback mechanisms in place within the uniclass area to suggest new ideas and request new codes.

Having responded to the Innovate UK brief in making a Verification prototype available to the market, user-research into this part of the toolkit offering continues in order to fully explore opportunities for developing this prototype into an industry tool.

“The BIM Toolkit is the final piece of the jigsaw to complete the Government’s BIM Task Group Level 2 programme. It makes available the tools needed to complete the level-2 BIM package and as such is an important part of the world leading programme of cross sector productivity improvement. Both clients and supply chain have long called for collaboration and co-working and this project is an excellent example of Government innovation funding providing a platform for the entire industry to share common process and knowledge.” –Mark Bew MBE, Chairman of the UK BIM Task Group.

With the continued support of those working in the built environment and supply chain at all levels, widespread use will foster growing acceptance of its benefits for both public and private sector construction projects and provide a consistent, unified and high quality basis for information production and management.

Construction professionals are encouraged to browse the 5700+ rich definitions library, or create their first project in the toolkit and tell us their experiences. NBS are developing a library of case studies for featuring in the support area of toolkit – if you would like your BIM Toolkit project to feature, please contact BIM Toolkit Product Manager sarah.grey@thenbs.com . ■

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NBS (National Building Specification)

Tel: 0345 456 9594





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