Category: Facilities Management

2018: A BIM Odyssey – thinkBIM Summer Conference – Open Data from Land, Sea and Space (Event)

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thinkBIM, in conjunction with our event sponsors Group BC, are pleased to bring you our summer conference on the theme of data management in the context of the work of the Environment Agency.


Wednesday 13th June 2018, 12:00 registration and networking, 13:00 to 17:00 Conference

Squire Patton Boggs, 6 Wellington Place, Leeds, LS1 4AP


Karen Alford, BIM/GSL Programme Executive will be returning to give delegates an insight into the Environment Agency’s digital journey and their next step.

As an asset owner the EA has spent time documenting and structuring standards, data and document requirements.  This helped shaped their Employer’s Information Requirements and their overall approach to digitising their business processes. Karen will also be outlining what’s next on their digital journey- the sharing of asset information through API capabilities in their infrastructure maintenance programme.

Trevor Mossop, Technical Services Manager, JT Mackley & Co. Ltd, will be presenting on their businesses experience in Connecting Data and looking at how BIM on coastal and flood defence projects can be linked to Geographical Information Systems to provide easily accessible asset information.

Trevor discusses the challenges Mackley faced on the Environment Agency flood protection project at Shoreham, West Sussex, including his involvement in the development of a new BC module looking at how to make better, mobile use of geospatial data and how to engage users in the field with minimal BIM knowledge or training.

Sakthy Selvakumaran, Engineering Director and CBS Consultants, an ICE Schools Ambassador and listed as a Forbes 2016 Top 30 under 30 in Europe in Engineering and Manufacturing.

Sakthy is a Chartered Engineer who has worked across different roles, continents and cultures. These roles include designing new structures on mega-projects like Crossrail, assessment to upgrade UK infrastructure assets, and working on sites to resolve critical construction issues.

Sakthy will be presenting on her University of Cambridge PhD research on “Can satellites really detect millimetre-scale movements from space?”





Our final session this time will take a lively look at the NBS BIM Report 2018. The report, which was published on 10th May 2018, is the seventh report compiled and published by the NBS and tries to tell a story of where the UK Construction industry believes it is as in terms of BIM adoption. But do these statistics tell the real picture? We will challenge delegates over some of the headline figures, leading the discussion as to what these figures might really mean and where the industry might really be at in terms of BIM Adoption. So, in the footsteps of Benjamin Disraeli once said (or possibly Mark Twain!!) we will finish off our summer conference with lies, damned lies and statistics.


£80 per delegate or FREE for Yorkshire & Humber Constructing Excellence Club members

Click here to book (directs to Leeds Beckett University online store)

With thanks to our Event Sponsor:



Summer Half Day Conference

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**Suitable for clients, Facilities Managers, Estates Managers, Building Managers and anyone who wishes to know how to use digital to maximise building assets**

Wednesday 12th July 2017, 13.00 to 17.30 with registration and buffet lunch from 12.00

Squire Patton Boggs, 6 Wellington Place, Leeds, LS1 4AP 

This year’s summer conference has keynote presentations about BIM and digital adoption from both a client’s perspective and the latest BIM guidance published by the British Institute of Facilities Management.

Mark Stogell of PCSG will present on how Sainsbury’s has developed its digital portfolio as well as appropriate BIM processes for their assets.

Paul Thomas from Turner and Townsend, the author of the British Institute of Facilities Management BIM Guide, will give an overview of how BIFM are adopting digital data in their own processes and from design and construction teams.

So not only some great keynotes but also our fantastic blend of round table discussions led by Bond Bryan Digital, Solibri and BIM Academy. We will also have Niraj Mistry from Stroma Certification providing a workshop on Energy Related Asset Management and BIM Certification as part of the round table programme.

We look forward to seeing you at our hosts Squire Patton Boggs for another great afternoon’s learning.

Click here to book your place!

BIM for FM – still not quite there….

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Paul Wilkinson

Guest post by Paul Wilkinson, thinkBIM ambassador and Director, Ltd

ThinkBIM focused on FM, and provided detailed pointers to FM professionals on both how to get involved with BIM, and why it makes commercial sense.

The latest ThinkBIM half-day conference (on 6 July at Squire Patton Boggs new offices in Leeds, and sponsored by Trimble and GroupBC) looked, once again, at the use of building information modelling by those working in facilities management, operations and maintenance for owner-operator organisations, and yet – on a show of hands – only a small handful of attendees were actually employed in FM. The day therefore repeatedly returned to what government and industry needs to do to get more FM professionals engaged with BIM.


The business case for BIM has been well made by the UK Government’s BIM Task Group since 2011, and regular ThinkBIM keynote speaker Deborah Rowland (currently director of FM at the Ministry of Justice) has been at the forefront in pushing the BIM for FM message in the public sector, citing Government Soft Landings (GSL). She underlined how asset management is fundamental to BIM-enabled project delivery, with client facilities managers involved from a project’s inception in helping to define the employer’s information requirements (EIR) and asset information management (AIM) needs.

PAS 1192-3 covering information management in the operational phase was published in March 2014, and since then advice, standards and protocols covering FM inputs to BIM and beyond have expanded. Deborah highlighted recent useful additions, notably a RICS-developed NRM3 dLCC (digital lifeycle cost) toolkit which aligns BIM with SFG20 maintenance information needs (more about SFG20 here). The MoJ’s BIM2AIM group also recently launched a suite of documents providing clear and concise instruction and guidance on how to define, procure and deliver Level 2 BIM projects (read BIM+ news).

The MoJ’s strategy envisages such tools providing, among other things, much-needed transparency and evidence of value for money to taxpayers, while providing the MoJ with key information to make strategic decisions on its asset portfolio, to innovate, and to continually improve. Surely, many other client organisations will want to reap similar benefits?


 Jacqueline Walpole, Company Product Manager at FSI (FM Solutions)

The second keynote came from FSI’s Jacqueline Walpole. She recalled how many FMs were once a paper-based afterthought: typically, for the client or owner-operator, the completion of a built asset was followed, nine months later, by the handover of a large paper-based archive of information, much of it in paper-based form, some of it already out-of-date. Computer-aided FM (CAFM), therefore, often tended to start from scratch. Digitising design, construction, commissioning and handover processes, she said, opens up the prospect of a digital flow of information into FM (“keeping the BIM live”), achieving operational readiness almost instantly, and Jacqueline highlighted the publication of a new BIFM guide (available here) to achieving such readiness, which includes an EIR template.

The two short keynotes, therefore, promoted readily available toolkits, guides and templates showing how BIM can be applied to support FM, and, in so doing, to enhance the roles of facilities managers. Two of the afternoon’s roundtable workshop sessions also underlined the potential value of data to help managers improve the performance of their assets and to connect their built asset’s data with valuable data held in other systems, but recurring themes about people and silo cultures also surfaced.

Roundtable discussion

Jacqueline Walpole chaired one of the roundtables I attended, getting delegates to consider, first, consider what data might be needed to support asset operations (with a nod to ‘lean’ thinking: “if in doubt, ask the caretaker – what are their ‘must haves’?”), and how some data schemas manage simple issues such as floor-numbering. Secondly, we talked about how in-service performance data might be used to support asset management. Applying analogies including cars and jet engines, we talking about creating and maintaining a built asset’s “service history,” and using the data generated by different building systems’ sensors to improve reliability and energy efficiency. Just as Rolls-Royce routinely collates huge volumes of data from every engine and flight as a basis for meeting its customers’ service level agreements, so facilities managers could collate and analyse built environment data (energy use, temperature, humidity, heating, lighting, equipment use, etc, over time) to support post-occupancy evaluation, optimize lifecycle cost efficiency, and – for ‘repeat clients’ – provide data to help them collaborate with design teams to improve the planning, design, construction and operation of future built assets.

GroupBC’s Steve Crompton led a roundtable pondering trust issues and other reasons why construction project teams have tended to re-key rather than re-use data. Conflicting standards, industry inertia and resistance to major people and process-related changes quickly cropped up. Old attitudes of ‘knowledge is power’ need to be overcome, as does distrust of ‘other people’s data’ (“We don’t trust digital data yet, because we haven’t moved on from distrusting paper information, or stuff off the web”). This workshop also highlighted some of the messages from the 1 June ThinkBIM ‘twilight’ event (link here) – semantic web technologies can help connect data about built assets to other data about the environment and about social aspects of the areas around those built assets. However, security, commercial confidentiality and personal privacy concerns all need to be addressed in selecting what data might be shared and used.

Feedback from all the workshops was shared, after which delegates heard a ‘RetroBIM’ case study from BIM Academy’s Graham Kelly, relating to the compilation of data to support improvement works undertaken at Sydney Opera House in Australia. That a UK-based firm led this project is another indication of how UK BIM experience is prized by clients worldwide, and there is clearly potential for UK FM businesses to similarly become world leaders in applying BIM to FM.

The conference, well chaired by NBS’s Stephen Hamil, showcased some of the standards and guidance now available, talked about the return on investment (ROI), but also – unlike some software vendors mentioned by Graham (“BIM software companies have raised uninformed expectations”) – highlighted it is not a simple technological change. ‘Silo cultures’ and ‘change management’ were two of the key risks on Graham’s project, and they apply equally to the wider adoption of BIM, and not just by the FM community.

Connecting Project Data beyond the site – Thoughts from June #tbim2016

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On Wednesday 1st June 2016 we held our second operations and in-use BIM seminar which focussed on the wider application of built environment digital data and how it can be usefully shared and utilised. ThinkBIM steering group member Paul Wilkinson shares his thoughts on the evening below.


Paul WilkinsonOpen Data, BIM and the Semantic Web

Guest Post by Paul Wilkinson. (Please note this post first appeared on Extranet Evolution on 2nd June – link here)

The latest ThinkBIM ‘twilight’ seminar, held in Leeds yesterday (1 June 2016), looked at the wider application of data relating to the built environment. Too many BIM events focus purely on the creation and use of data within a built asset project team; some extend the discussion to look at reuse of data for facility management, operation and maintenance; but few BIM events look at how some BIM and other built environment data might be connected to other data or even made more widely available, perhaps as open data.

Becoming more open

So far as BIM is concerned, the UK government’s 2011 insistence on BIM processes generating “open shareable asset information” is often assumed simply to be about ensuring data is interoperable: capable of being shared between different applications, operating systems and IT hardware. However, the first word is also strongly linked with the UK government’s wider digital agenda – the February 2015 Digital Built Britain strategy (strongly endorsed in the recent 2016 Government Construction Strategy and leading us towards BIM Level 3), for example, is not just about construction, but a fusion of industry strategies relating also to business and professional services, future cities and the information economy.

Discussions about open data are increasingly common, particularly in the UK, where the government has set out to be a world leader in creation and reuse of open data (it recently ranked first in an Open Data Barometer league table of international performance), with data valued as a key part of our national infrastructure (however, in December 2015, the Open Data Institute wrote an open letter to Lord Adonis, chair of the National Infrastructure Commission, arguing data is not being given “the same importance as our road, railway and energy networks were given in the industrial revolution and are still given now”).

The government’s open data push is being realised both centrally and locally, and is predicated on a belief in greater transparency, in ‘Government as a Platform’, giving tax-payers access to their data and other information derived from government investment in public services and assets. As well as central government’s National Information Infrastructure and, several local authorities have launched open initiatives, some creating dashboards sharing metrics generated from open datasets (look at the London Datastore, Open Glasgow, Leeds Data Mill, Bath:Hacked and Open Data Bristol, for example).

Open is everywhere

In addition to BIM-related open data conversations, I have attended Constructing Excellence meetings about open data (read Ben Pritchard’s blog post); I am part of an EthosVO-led, Innovate UK R&D project (SkillsPlanner) using open linked data as a resource to help address construction skills shortages; and I have led conversations in the Chartered Institute of Public Relations about the need for communicators to be more data-literate, more aware of open data issues and opportunities.

However, yesterday’s ThinkBIM event (held at AQL’s datacentre housed in a former chapel – now the beeping digital heart of Leeds) was more focused on the built environment challenges and opportunities.

  • While commonly regarded as a mapping organisation, Ordnance Survey’s core skills are in data, technology and interconnections. Echoing the Association for Geographical Information’s recent Foresight report (post), Ordnance Survey’s Paul Griffiths described geospatial data as the ‘glue’ connecting data about built assets to other data about the environment and about social aspects of the areas around those built assets. in February 2015, OS launched OpenMap, a new digital map bringing open geospatial data to mobile and web platforms. Then, using examples drawn from Thames Water projects undertaken using the ‘Semantic BIM’ platform provided by SaaS vendor GroupBC (formerly better known as Business Collaborator), Griffiths showed how data about existing building types and heights, flood risks, crime, employment and education could be used to augment existing decision-making tools (“project design need no longer happen in splendid isolation”).
  • ODI Leeds’ Tom Forth showed various examples of data captured by Leeds City Council and made open, including a powerful example of how public building energy use could be cross-referenced with IT data relating to office occupancy to demonstrate when and where energy savings might be made (making “ten million lines of data” open, he said, also helped make that data usable and bridged gaps that previously existed between FM and IT departmental silos). Datasets about empty buildings, housing density and open spaces could also be accessed to inform public debates about housing shortages and planning decisions.
  • GroupBC’s CTO Steve Crompton then provided a ‘RetroBIM’ critique of legacy information, suggesting around 98% of current built asset data was effectively trapped in drawings and documents held in internal file-sharing systems, not lodged in databases where they could be used as a basis for decision-making (“Let’s democratise some of that data, put it in the cloud,” he said). He briefly described how GroupBC’s Semantic BIM platform could provide vital contextual data to support efficient decision-making for planning, designing, constructing and operating built assets.


During the panel discussion, it was clear security, commercial confidentiality and personal privacy concerns all need to be addressed in selecting what data might be made open (the Open Data Institute has a useful ‘data spectrum’ diagram showing the continuum from closed to open data). But Tom Forth stressed many bodies currently hold huge volumes of dormant data that could be made open (surely, such data will only have value if someone does something with it?).

Government departments are already opening up some of their data reserves so that they can be explored and exploited. In June 2015, DEFRA, one of the most data-rich departments in Whitehall, opened up thousands of datasets so that they could be more widely used to improve the quality of our natural environment.

It was also clear that the industry currently known as construction is still at an early stage in not just its BIM journey (the BIM Level 2 deadline passed less than two months ago) but also in its open data journey. To re-use an argument I’ve given in recent lectures and conference keynotes, we have only just started to move from “common paper environments” to “common data environments” – and open data is part of the more long-term BIM Level 3 picture (is it just a coincidence that the ‘semantic web’ is sometimes referred to as Web 3.0).

groupbclogoGroupBC: semantic BIM differentiation

I speak regularly to the main SaaS collaboration vendors active in the UK, and GroupBC is the only one actively developing semantic web capabilities. That is not to say that rivals aren’t thinking about integration between their platforms and other information systems – APIs are a key part of Viewpoint’s roadmap, I heard at last week’s customer summit, for example – but GroupBC is pioneering the use of linked data to build new products and enhance the capabilities of existing tools.

Its ‘Semantic BIM’ technology moves beyond the typical uses of BIM for visualisation, clash detection, construction sequencing, etc, and opens up a potentially huge web of related data, from ‘location intelligence’, to data shared by or licensed from other commercial or public bodies, and to data held in internal corporate systems. BIM, therefore, becomes just part of a bigger built asset data picture – the semantic web allows teams to exploit far richer seams of data, potentially unearthing vital ‘nuggets’ of information for accurate and timely decision-making.

Group BC have also written an excellent post on their own blog about their work with Semantic Web – please check it out at the link below.


A selection of the best tweets and images can be found at the storify below. Please keep checking back as presentations will also be available shortly.

ThinkBIM’s next half-day conference, focused on BIM for operation and in-use, is at Squire Patton Boggs new offices in Leeds on Wednesday 6 July 2016 – more details to follow.

From PIM to AIM – First steps into BIM for FM (we love acronyms!)*

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The construction industry is still in general getting to grips with BIM (Building Information Modelling), the facilities management industry has been doing CAFM (Computer Aided Facilities Management) for a good while but how do we splice these two technological solutions together to deliver better assets across the lifecycle?

We have three speakers who are battling, supporting and guiding teams through this process and will be sharing their thoughts and ideas on how to do this.

David Hemmings, Head of Estates at Leeds Beckett University

Dr Medina Jordan, BIM (FM) & Asset Management Advisor at Skanska Facilities Services

Natacha Redon, Project Manager / BIM Co-ordinator at Identity Consult

*PIM – Project Information Model | AIM – Asset Information Model



GroupBC provides data driven BIM software.

We offer a UK hosted secure CDE platform for documents and data, with a 3D model viewer and a money saving process management module.

t: 0118 902 8543


To get involved join us on 4th May 2016

at Old Broadcasting House, Leeds Beckett University,

Leeds, LS2 9EN

17:30 – 19:30

Click here to book your place!


Can’t be at #greenBIM? Watch online at the link below

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Our #GreenBIM conference on 1st July will be streamed at the link below from 13:10 onwards. Please note that this stream will be showing previous thinkBIM events up until 13:10 when we switch to a live feed.

For logistical reasons we will not be able to stream our round table sessions.

You can also keep up with the twitter stream by following the hashtag #GREENBIM

BIM + FM + Sustainability – joining the dots at our GreenBIM conference on 1st July

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Green Vision and thinkBIM will once again be joining forces on 1st July 2015 to present the third and final GreenBIM conference exploring the theme of sustainability within digital workflows for the Operations and In-Use phase of an asset. This will be the last GreenBIM for a while as we return to separate BIM and Green Vision events in Autumn 2015 so don’t miss your opportunity to have your say! Here is what we are up to,

For our UK keynote you will hear from Nitesh Magdani, Director of Sustainability at BAM Construct UK Ltd. Nitesh will present on the themes of BIM, the links to sustainability and the whole life cycle of projects.
Our international keynote address will come from Bill East, the owner of Prairie Sky Consulting and one of the foremost authorities on COBie, who will present on this game-changing schema for exchanging data that is a fundamental plank of the UK Government Level 2 BIM strategy.



Round Table Discussions

Nitesh Magdani, Director of Sustainability, BAM Construct UK Ltd

“BIM, sustainability and the circular economy”

Mark Whittaker, Business Development Manager, Integral UK Limited

“What tangible cost benefits can BIM bring to the Facilities Management Industry”

Steve Owen, Senior FM Consultant, FM180 Ltd

“How to BIM 4 FM”

Tom Oulton, BIM Manager, Turner & Townsend Project Management

“BIM and the role of the client”








Get those pet peeves banished to room 101 in our new conference segment

What irks you about BIM & sustainability? Let it all out in our new interactive Room 101 conference session.

This is your opportunity to get your frustrations & pet peeves out about any aspect of green building or building information modelling (or both) that irks you.

What would you like to see banished to room 101 to move our industry forward?

Our Room 101 section is modelled on the infamous TV show based on George Orwell’s 1984 and is designed to be a light hearted look at some of the key challenges our industry faces in a lively and engaging way.

How does it work?

Participants will have two minutes with just one background slide to describe their pet peeve. Your pitch needs to convince the audience that your topic, subject or building is worthy, or unworthy enough, to be put into room 101. After listening to all the presentations, the audience will decide by a show of hands which “peeve” wins. There is only space for one so make those pitches count!

Sound good?

Send your pitches to Liz Schofield via
Your topic will be kept a secret, only the organisers will know. We just have one rule “No slide – no pitch”. We want to see your case, creativity and humour all on one slide! Please note, you must be a registered delegate to take part.



BIM and FM. Are we winning yet?

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On the 3rd of June we welcomed around 40 industry professionals to Old Broadcasting House at Leeds Beckett University for the second twilight seminar of our summer series exploring the links between BIM and Facilities Management. We were thrilled to see many new faces in the room with nearly fifty percent of the attendees from a FM background which was a huge  increase from our 2014 asset managemet series where only a smattering of individuals raised their hand during our straw poll of FM professionals in the room.

Progress for thinkBIM then but is that reflected in the FM industry and their adoption of BIM? These were the key questions and themes explored by our two speakers, Mark Whittaker from BIFM North & Integral UK & Martin Ward from Styles and Wood & iSite. The title of this write-up was inspired by this series of tweets after the event which neatly summarises where our seminar showed the FM industry was at, some traction finally but still work to go.


This great slide from Martin Ward particularly resonated (and not just for the Bowie references). What needs to ch-ch-change for BIM adoption in FM to happen?


Our full storify of the event including the live tweets & links is below. Have a read and tell us what you think? Where do you think the FM industry is and where does it need to go?

Please note that if you would like to see a copy of the slides from either of our presenters please email

Join us for GreenBIM on 1st July!

We will be continuing discussions around these themes at our greenBIM conference on 1st July at Squire Patton Boggs in Leeds. For that event we are thrilled to have our International Keynote delivered by Bill East, the owner of Prairie Sky Consulting and one of the foremost authorities on COBie. Our UK keynote will be delivered by Nitesh Magdani, Director of Sustainability at BAM Construct UK who will present on the themes of BIM, the links to sustainability and the whole life cycle of projects. As usual we will be running our highly successful and often evocative round table discussions and will be rounding off with our new Room 101 feature which will be an opportunity for attendees to get off their chest their pet peeves  about BIM and sustainability. What needs to go to room101 to move our industry forward. Full details and booking here

An Introduction to FM and where BIM fits in

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thinkBIM continues the Summer Series focusing on an Introduction to FM and where BIM fits into construction business processes.

We will hear from Mark Whittaker,Business Development Manager, Integral UK Limited & Deputy Chair, BIFM North Region.

Mark will provide an introduction/overview of the various strands of FM.

  • What the FM industry actually does and so what data it needs
  • The different types of FM – PPM, Hard FM, Soft FM and Total FM solutions – and what this all means
  • Why having access to the right data helps with performance based contracts
We will also hear from Martin Ward, Portfolio Services Director at Styles & Wood Group. Martin will talk about:
  • How the FM industry uses data and where they currently get it from
  • What data is important to the FM industry
  • How does the FM industry want to receive data – Excel, COBie, some other format?
A wish list of what design and construction teams really ought to give you rather than what you currently receive!



BIM 2 FM – Making the Data Work for Maintenance

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Folllowing last month’s excellent #GreenBIM, we are pleased to bring you the first event in our Operation & Maintenance series which will explore BIM & Facilities Management.

It has been observed more than once that FM should be one the key drivers of BIM yet a 2013 survey conducted by the BIM 4 FM task group of end users, owners and occupiers identified that only 23.5% of respondants were planning to use BIM in the future with a massive 63.2% undecided. It was clear from the results that the majority of those surveyed were aware of BIM and the potential benefits it could bring but had concerns over initial investment costs of implemention, the need to implement new ways of working to facilitate adoption  & how BIM data could/would integrate with existing CAFM & building management systems. The full survey can be downloaded here.


(image taken from BIM4FM 2013 survey)

At the first event in our Summer series we will hear real life case studies of how BIM has been used to manage & maintain buildings from two of the region’s early BIM adopters. We will hear firstly from BAM FM and the ways in which they are adopting BIM Workflows in facilities management processes at Wharfdale Hospital. Hear about how BAM FM came up with a new solution to the heating, ventilation & air conditioning management of this 76 bed in & outpatient facility, reducing electricity use by 28%.

We will also hear from Arup who will talk about a project they are working on with Leeds Beckett University to update the Calverley and Portland buildings focusing on reducing energy costs and fire safety whilst addressing critical issues such as the location of internal services and communications.  Arup will be discussing how they are utilising BIM on this project and exploring the ways BIM can help us operate buildings in the future.

Wednesday 6th May

Old Broadcasting House, Leeds, LS2 9EN, 17:30-19:30

Cost £15









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