Category: BIM Technology

ThinkBIM returns with BIM for logistics/planning & best of UK BIM, BIM Alliance collaborative conference

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thinkBIM returns for our 6th year, yes 6 – we’ve been going as long at the Government BIM Strategy itself! To celebrate, we are pleased to offer two really great and innovative events.

Not just 4D, Digital Logistics & Planning too

(Twilight Seminar) Wednesday 1st November 2017, 17:30 registration & refreshments, 18:00 to 19:30

Rose Bowl, RB538 Lecture Theatre D, Leeds

For a long time the basic idea of 4D BIM has been well understood by the construction industry but other than running an animation of the construction sequence what can you really do when you add time to a model?

Three very different views will be presented on the broader benefits of digital planning and logistics processes, a tool for helping the rail industry to validate possessions programmes and how the demolition industry is embracing BIM.


Professor Terrence Fernando, ThinkLab, University of Salford

Lee Mullin, Autodesk

Kiran Rai, The Coleman Group

£25 per ticket

The best of UK BIM – the UK BIM Alliance

(Half Day Conference) Wednesday 6th December 2017

12:00 lunch and registration, 13:00 to 17:30

 Squire Patton Boggs, 6 Wellington Pl, Leeds

thinkBIM – the home of the Yorkshire and Humberside BIM Region, the UK BIM Alliance and the BIM4Communities come together to give you the widest overview of UK digital adoption you could ever wish to hear about.

With keynote presentations from the UK BIM Alliance, the Government Task Group and roundtables hosted by the BIM4Communities delegates will get a fantastic opportunity to understand what best-in-class looks like, the challenges these interest groups are facing and the support that is available to you from your peers.


Anne Kemp, Chair, UK BIM Alliance

Fiona Moore, UK Government BIM Task Group

+ representatives from BIM 4 Communities groups

Willmott Dixon will also present on the National High Speed Rail College project in Doncaster, the winner of 2017 Constructing Excellence Yorkshire and Humber Digital Construction Award

£80 per ticket


Book for either or both events via our online store

Click here to book!


Interested in sponsoring one or both of these events? Contact

Half Day Conference: thinkBIM not droning on -5th April 2017

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  ThinkBIM Construction and Assembly 2017

BIM Conference – thinkBIM not droning on

Wednesday 5th April 2017, Leeds
12:00 for registration and lunch, 13:00 to 17:30

Our spring season conference gives delegates a fantastic opportunity to see and try out augmented reality gear, scanning equipment and robotic setting out devices.

We have a great keynote speech from Scott Grant, from Soluis Group, about the use of visualisations, immersive environments and specialist Apps to bring data to life for project teams.

In addition there will be roundtable sessions from our sponsors SES Engineering Services, from BAM Construction and demonstrations from Central Alliance and Trimble MEP.

We think we’ve got a great line up presenting on data capture and interpretation so why not join us on the 5th April to find out about the latest technology for interacting with digital construction.


Squire Patton Boggs, Leeds

 Click here to book your place! 


Success Stories and Data Security – 7th December 2016

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#tbim2016 returns in Autumn -> featuring BIM & Health, Getting Level 1 right & our half day “roundtable special” conference

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thinkBIM Autumn Series

Design and Pre Construction


7th September 2016, Squire Patton Boggs, Leeds, 17:30 onwards 

The UK Level 2 BIM strategy is 5 years old – thinkBIM is 5 years old too. Come along to celebrate this landmark with the original and best BIM knowledge exchange network. With networking, cake and #BIMbeers #BIMbubbles it’s the hottest ticket in town!


5th October 2016, The Rosebowl, Leeds, 17:30 onwards

Delivering on the Level 2 mandate – digital healthcare

With the Level 2 BIM Mandate stretch target expected to be announced two days before this twilight seminar we are pleased to have a set of speakers sharing the benefits of doing Level 2 BIM for a centrally procured department.

We are pleased to announce Cliff Jones, P21+ Programme Manager at the Department of Health and David Kershaw, P21+ Programme Director at Balfour Beatty Regional will be sharing the benefits and lessons learnt of moving the P21+ programme into an age of procuring digital and physical assets.


2nd November 2016, The Rosebowl, Leeds, 17:30 onwards

Level 1 – the critical foundations to delivering on digital projects

A back-to-basics event to explain/remind/help our network understand how to work collaboratively.

We all know that in order to ‘do’ BIM you need to work in accordance with BS1192:2007 + A2:2016 but how well do we all really know how to use this standard. This event is focussed around getting to grips with the apparently complex container numbering, understanding the purpose of issue and suitability codes as well as explaining who/how/what is a Common Data Environment. Remember – if your business can do Level 1 then you can work on a Level 2 project.


7th December 2016, Squire Patton Boggs, Leeds, 12:30 onwards

Our case study focussed half day conference

We know from your feedback that the round table sessions are what make thinkBIM such a unique and great event so we are looking to amend our format to give you more opportunities at this conference to participate in round table sessions.

The focus will be on real projects working digitally and the teams working on them hosting the sessions.

This will be a great opportunity to find out how the industry is really doing BIM, see how your peers are responding to the challenges and understand what your customers want from you too.

A not to be missed opportunity to upskill your digital knowledge.


Only £110 for all four events – click here to book!

Tickets for individual events can also be booked at the link above EXCEPT for our 7th Sept event which should be booked via the link on our website here




Preview of the new digital toolkit at the first #TBIM2015

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At the first ThinkBIM of 2015, an assembled audience of over 40 guests were given a sneak preview of the new NBS Digital Toolkit. Due for initial rollout in April 2015 the aim of this free-to-use toolkit is to provide step-by-step support to define, manage and validate responsibility for information development and delivery at each stage of the asset lifecycle, in preparation for the Government-mandated use of Level 2 BIM on all public sector projects by 2016. NBS was awarded the government contract by the BIM Task Group, in association with Innovate UK.

On the evening 4th February we welcomed Andrew Brook from RIBA Enterprises / NBS to demo progress on the toolkit so far. The evening also featured a presentation from thinkBIM Ambassador, Duncan Reed (djhreed67) on support available to SMEs to assist them with their BIM implementation.  See event storify below for a summary of the evening’s discussions.

Some dates for your diary

4th March 2015 – BIM 4 Manufacturing & Manufacturers thinkBIM twilight seminar

1st April 2015 – GreenBIM Conference (featuring a further demo from NBS on the finished toolkit)

Book here


#TBIM2013 Understanding Data for FM

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Over 40 construction professionals gathered in the Rose Bowl in Leeds last night for what was a great event as part of thinkBIM’s summer BIM Operation and Maintenance series. Once more thinkBIM brought honest open, valuable lessons learnt in collaborative BIM to our members, demonstrating benefits that are being realised and ways of overcoming cultural barriers to change and make things happen……

Liam Brady of Manchester City Council opened the evening taking our group through the Manchester Town Hall Complex project, using excellent quotes and analogies along the way. Tom Oulton, our YH BIM Champion, shared his BIM journey so far at East Riding of Yorkshire Council with statement images, humorous analogies and open lessons learnt of the progress he has driven at the Council, Rob Jackson was our final presenter taking us quickly into the realm of Data and IFCs

Liam started out highlighting where BIM benefits are currently being reaped in the design and construction phases of the Manchester Town Hall complex, also outlining the potential benefits of BIM as a real driver for them to engage FM and attain the bigger benefits of BIM. The old Town Hall, Town Hall extension and Central Library will be run as one complex. A huge undertaking for a sector who have historically poorly maintained asset information. Liam focused on how to actually capture the information taking us to the Cabinet Office BIM on a page’ slide, indicating client requirements and BIMExecution Plans to identify what is needed at all the stages of the construction process. For the project in question BIM wasn’t mandatory but was being tested within a strong framework of partners with cabinet office support. Liam took us through the process of extracting data out of the model via Artra which is then fed into the estate management package, C Pad, creating an accurate repository of information. Underpinning this process was the need to embed the FM team within the design process. This empowered the FM team to influence design and enabled the design team to be constantly thinking about the operational implications of their design decisions. Liam described this as the ‘Cultural Mesh’; communicating to and engaging the FM teams was brought about by breaking the model down by individual systems, i.e. water sprinkler system, breaking down into systems means you can go right into the information of lifecycle service requirements and supply chain details. Without buy in to update the data in the model the data would be worthless, this was the biggest risk and so the responsibility to update lies with the FM service provider, if they don’t update, they don’t get paid.

The Town Hall Complex project has also been a pilot for soft landings which has enabled the sharing risks and responsibility and not stopped the handover arguments but it has shifted the focus of arguments from blame to solutions. Again key to its success has been engaging the full decision making group. Liam closed his presentation stressing the importance of collaborating and sharing information in order to progress in BIM and identified exciting new opportunities for BIM use on their project.

Next up, Tom Oulton spoke of how he had spent too long at the coal face of CAD, waiting for BIM to happen. Tom has now emerged from his CAD cocoon into a beautiful BIM Butterfly. Tom took us through a delightful, honest and open account of his personal ‘Battle for BIM’ and how he has managed to make it happen with limited resources and enthusiasm in the East Riding of Yorkshire Council. Tom advocated REVIT saying ‘we use it, we like it, it is doing everything we need it to do’.

Tom poetically took us through the barriers of the fear of change; the huge learning curve that people initially were not keen to embark on. The need for buy in form all parts of the organisation not just the designers and engineers but also senior management and procurement was stressed in order to enable he changes needed to make the design teams BIM enabled. Using the Monty Python analogy of ‘so, what has BIM ever done for us?’, Tom was able to show detailed progress of use of revit by the council for Beverley highways, accurately model the sanitation and drainage and design work on the fire station project for Humberside Fire and Rescue all done in house and all coordinated via navisworks. Tom highlighted the benefits of BIM on a variety of projects from Schools through to multi purpose service centres. Benefits for the Multi Purpose Facilities have been the optioneering. Tom conclude with the comment that BIM has brought PEACE for the time being, FM will be the next Battle

Last but by no means least was a techy, nitty-gritty presentation from Rob Jackson of Bond Bryan, the passionate advocate for openBIM as industry wide standards. He took us through an abridged version of his sellout BIMShow live presentation ‘The Good, The Bad and The Ugly’.

Rob started with their frustration of the need to demonstrate we can deliver data to FM and clients, emphasizing that to get to FM, we need to understand the beginning bits of the process. Key to this process is creating reliable and useful models in terms of both geometry and data. Rob’s passion for reliable data exchange and IFCs in order to deliver projects came across, encouraging us to look at IFC for Level 2 delivery.

Rob stressed the importance in both importing and exporting between software solutions highlighting that Bond Bryan as a practise, although ArchiCAD users, have bought both Revit and Navisworks so that they can test and deliver models as per client requests. Rob’s message was clear and strong regarding the need for the construction sector as software vendor clients to push for improvements in interoperability. There is a lot of talk about IFCs not working when often it is user error or indeed modeling in different ways in different softwares. Rob took us through the detailed tests he has been carrying out between a variety of softwares, findings of which he is currently sharing with software vendors to enable changes and improvements. Often when we think of interoperability it is presumed we are discussing problems between different software vendors but in fact, Rob indicated that there are even problems within softwares from the same manufacturer (i.e. two Autodesk products)… key is to test and pilot exchanges between softwares.

Rob brought his presentation to a close notifying us all of the positive feedback he has recently had from Autodesk, indicating that indeed the customers have not been asking the right questions and making a plea for all to push vendors to improve as being able to work in different software environments is important.

A lively Q and A focused on People as the main barrier to effective adoption and implementation of BIM within organisations and the need to present the benefits to all; questions on interoperability highlighted the need to test and  push software companies to make things work especially on the FM side to set the agenda.

thinkBIM – Beyond Design – Facility Management (First Published on NBS Blog)

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The below article has been taken from the Construction Code Blog and was written by Stephen Hamil.

Today I attended the thinkBIM “Beyond Design” event. I scribbled this blog post down as the day progressed – so apologies for any for any grammar or spelling which is worse than usual… 🙂

First up was Deborah Rowland from the UK Cabinet Office. Deborah chairs the FM workstream reporting into Mark Bew and David Philp as part of the UK Government’s BIM Task Group.

The Government Soft Landings policy is out for draft at end of July and looking to be ready for September. Soft Landings has been around for many years, just not called “Soft Landings”.

When looking at after-care, they don’t want a “box of manuals”, sometimes they don’t even get a box of manuals. Traditionally this is something that is poor. So we need to focus on the handover documentation and then quality post occupancy evaluation so that we can have a feedback loop to influence the design next year.

One thing that is critical is that the BIM data/the COBie data feeds into the CAFM software tools for the FM professionals that already exist within the public sector and their supply chain partners.

Another critical item is to get the FM professionals involved at the briefing stages and to set the FM budget. To look at OpEx as well as CapEx. This will work best if the FM industry gets on board now.

Discussion at the end was around can the BIM software and CAFM software work together? But surely BIM is the process and the data flows between?

I then stayed with Deborah for her ’round table’. The first discussion was on how we can work backwards from the FM data to go back to the design team so they can set up their data with the occupier as the ultimate end user of the data. Deborah explained how the government trial projects will be monitored and lessons will be learned to tighten the processes over the next few years.

Deborah Rowland from the Cabinet Office

The criticism of COBie is it is being perceived is that it is 100’s of thousands of lines of information about everything that is no use to everyone. When you buy a car, you want a nice concise car manual. Not a big spreadsheet of every property of every component. I personally see that there is a lot of confusion around COBie at the moment. My take on this is that there is a lot to be gained from clever software to hide this information behind the scenes. The software must then easily provide the information that is needed intuitively at the right time. Is there an analogy here with Google Maps? There is a huge, huge, huge amount of information hidden away – as you zoom in on a premise, then you get information you need (phone number, web address, reviews of food/service). We need the same for a building – zoom in on room, then system, then pipe – then get the spec. The user doesn’t need to care about the complexity behind the scenes.

The absolute fundamentals are 1. Receiving a good brief, 2. Designing to the brief, 3. Building to the design and then 4. Handing over well structure information so the building can be operated efficiently and future briefs can improve.

One of the big challenges will be keeping the model up to date. Three years to design, three years once complete – what will the data structures and software capabilities be six years from now?

Next item of question for Deborah is how hungry are the government to look at OpEx and not CapEx? Pay designers more, spend more on real quality systems and products – that is the way that real money is saved over 70 years. But “does a government with a 5 year term care about this?” Will they spend more in the short term? Deborah’s experience in the private sector says that you can reduce both by learning the lessons from previous similar buildings.

My conclusion on this is that we have three broad challenges:

  1. Where does the information come from?
  2. Can the software hide away this structured data so that you just get what you want when you need it?
  3. How is this data updated over the years – as soon as it goes out of date it’s useless.

What about post occupancy evaluation tools? All goes quiet. Educating the users is also important – don’t open the windows else the Air Con works twice as hard. Then change of subject – what about “crystal ball time”. Ten years down the line the building receives a major refurbishment and alteration. Can the structured data be round-tripped back into the design package and then merged together? Who knows?

For a big refurbishment job now, why not get a 3D cloud model instead of 2D – then use this as a base for the refurb work in the main design model. No real difference to new build? But if users already have existing CAD DWG files – will they really spend the money for the point cloud?

And after a quick tea break it was time for the second session. I chose the “BIM and Asset Management” with Jason Allen from IBM (BIM Lead in the Asset Management division) – Maximo is the main software package they use.

Jason Allen doing the roundtable – @EEPaul working the digital magic

What information is needed for FM? And what information is not needed? “Is anyone out there actually handing over an as-built model that is full of data once construction is complete?” is the question. Nobody around thinkBIM Roundtable 3 is doing this. One suggestion is that at the end a point cloud survey is done. But this will just give the geometry surely? Who is putting the as-built data in?

When speaking about the Government MoJ trial project “Two cells and a corridor give 15,000 lines in an Excel spreadsheet” – surely this is not right? Ten type components with Fifty attributes each – it’s only 500 lines in a database? Maybe it’s the instance attributes that are bloating the model? If this is the case then some sort of consolidation is required to make sure the database/spreadsheet does not explode? Again, the confusion over COBie is definitely there at the moment. At NBS we are working on a sample integrated model showing this process off – it’ll take a month or two to finalise but I think it will really help.

Functionally what is needed is a big COBie button in ArchiCAD or Revit or Bentley which allows the users to specify what objects they wish to export – these have to be pre-linked to the spec – the many objects not in ArchiCAD/Revit/Bentley model but in the spec then need picked – then it generates a *concise* COBie database (Excel or openOffice or SQL or Access or XML) automatically.

To date there are currently two excellent resources for COBie 2012 UK:

What is COBie?

James Allen suggests that the BIM and the FM database are not different things – it’s the same data just further down the line. The physical asset should even update this BIM as to how it is operating (energy use for example). Allows Asset Managers to actually monitor their portfolio of buildings.

It doesn’t matter where the data is – doesn’t matter which database it is in – what matters is that is all hooked off the “master model” through open standards. And then it was time for the adventurous bit – a live web stream from America from Marty Chobot VP of BIM Initiatives FM Systems in the USA.

@FairSnape makes the web streaming from the USA work

What do owners really need? Again was the question that was asked. From design to construct to operate – the importance of the graphics diminishes and the importance of the attributes increases. Now the problem is that there is a ton of data out there. This information needs to be presented in a useful way to the client.
Marty then goes through a few BIM and FM case studies. For one facility it took two person years to digitalise the information they wanted. That’s not a fun task if it has already changed by the time you have finished. By integrating the FM information into a master BIM they calculated they could save 4-6 months Xavier uni asset management database.

Similar to the FM presentations at BIM Academy last month, the level of detail of the information you are going to store and *maintain* has to be agreed and pragmatically assessed. If you try and maintain too much information you will fail and it will go out of date.

MathWork’s Apple Hill 4 Project was the next case study – where a new building was being built with the intention of getting it perfect for digital information for FM. Marty suggests the same idea that was floated earlier in the day that the BIM deliverable to the operator needs agreed at day 1. Also identify what information is needed – what attributes for what systems and what components. Insist these are delivered and in what format (sounds a lot like the UK COBie iniative).

What really, really matters is that you agree your numbering and naming conventions early. Get the FM involved throughout. And look out for BIM savvy sub-contractors wherever possible.

The day always ends with Pecha Kucha. Three really nice ones from @StefanMordue from NBS, Jon Moorhouse from Constructive Thinking Studio and Olli Aro from Clicks and Links.

@StefanMordue – It’s not just hard FM (lollipop) but soft FM too (ice cream)


thinkBIM BIM Beyond Design: Infrastructure

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Posted by thinkBIM member Tim Platts

Our truly dedicated thinkBIM members put aside the European Football tournament to meet at Old Broadcasting House for a BIM event with an Infrastructure focus. The three informative presentations gave a detailed view of BIM with a focus on the ‘I’ for integration, ‘M’ for management and less of the ‘B’ for Buildings and perhaps more of the ‘c’ for construction? Each offered their corporate and personal perspectives of the level of existing practice in the market, and like our event there was clearly a Level 2 response with still no evidence out there of any Level 3 projects.

A common thread throughout each presentation was the need to ensure proper and thorough collaboration both between design disciplines and also within internal functions of the larger constructors if the true benefits of BIM are to be realised, such that the Client can gain a clear perspective of what can be derived.

Our speakers offered perspectives from a global leader ARUP; 4D and 5D experts Rapid5D; and Bentley systems joined us with their debut for thinkBIM, introducing both Projectwise and Assestwise functions within the Bentley application suite.

Martin Simpson of ARUP gave a fresh and dynamic presentation on BIM with a series of global case study examples highlighting the key importance of process. Martin put forward an interesting statistic out of the US where they have quantified the cost of inadequate interoperability at $15bN (NIST GCR 04-867). His point that ‘someones outputs is somebody else’s inputs’ was well received by the delegates and of course a recurring theme in the seminar series. Arup are not ‘showboating’ with BIM by producing white papers of dubious value, but focus on the task of delivering BIM on projects and building their expertise and through the coal face, and concluded with ‘BIM is the tool that get’s  people in a room discuss their virtual projects’ citing that one project in the far East this had resulted in zero RFI’s (technical queries) on the project.

Steve Brunning of Rapid5D explained the importance of standard object classification and the need for everyone to ‘openup to BIM’, to realise that where there’s a clash there is risk, and noting that in Rapid5D’s increasing portfolio they have yet to deal with a single model output from the design team (see comments above).  Neville Glanville gave an excellent debut presentation on behalf of Bentley systems highlighting their commitment to interoperability and collaboration, introducing us to the Bentley white paper Neville included some novel points in the presentation in respect of the growth of mobile technology and communications and is yet another vendor suggesting that the data itself is more important that the software platforms and through this great progress can be made as illustrated with the Crossrail case study that the delagates enjoyed.

A lively Q and A reflected upon the need to capture all the ‘good stuff’ that individual firms like Arup, the constructors and some informed clients like Crossrail are doing, and for this to be brought together and articulated sufficiently well to make the argument around the need for BIM in our industry thoroghly compelling.

With thanks to Rob Jackson of Bond Bryan for standing in as chair the evening was concluded with the usual effective networking of speakers and members providing an ever increasing relevance and importance to the work at thinkBIM.

Slides from the presentations can be found on the thinkBIM website here –

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