Category: Uncategorized (page 1 of 4)

Dark and true and technological is the North: Digitising the region

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Screen shot from MyConsole presentation at Constructing Excellence breakfast event on 26th April 2017.

At a recent Constructing Excellence breakfast event we held, we were particularly struck by a statistic from a recent McKinsey Global Institute (MGI) study which proposed that in terms of digitisation, the construction industry lags dramatically behind those in other classically undigitalised sectors and in fact ranks only above farming and agriculture. Having been heavily involved in promoting digital construction across the region and beyond we felt that in light of this statistic it was important to explore our impression of where the industry is and specifically where Yorkshire and Humber currently places in order to meet the demands of the future.

We at Constructing Excellence Yorkshire and Humber (CEYH), part of the Leeds Beckett University School of Built Environment and Engineering have been running digitally focussed events through our thinkBIM network for over five years now and have overseen a massive growth in digital uptake across the region. Originally set up as a network to promote the advancement of BIM (Building Information Modelling) our remit has broadened to highlight new technologies and digital processes and their current and future uses.

When we started, the events were definitely for the innovators and early adopters, particularly in larger companies with SMEs being a little unsure of dipping their toe in the water; early problems being the choices of software available, balancing the cost of adoption with business needs and lack of clarity in contractual BIM requirements – all issues which we have had to address through events and targeted 1:1 support. As the network has expanded though, so has the industry’s understanding of the benefits of digital adoption, and this along with the publishing of the Digital Built Britain strategy in 2015 has helped to demystify some of the processes and improved knowledge and uptake of digital tools and processes across the region.

Even in these early days of digital adoption we saw how local organisations were at the cutting edge of the technological innovation that was unfolding. Not always on the large and prestigious projects but on smaller schemes like the laser scanning of the Orangery in Wakefield by DLA Design which showed what was possible already. We also witnessed the great work done by BAM at First Direct Arena working with their designers, structural steelworkers and precast concrete manufacturers who collaborated together using coordinated models form each organisation to resolve issues with the design, create and more effective design and improve the outcomes for the site team. By working together the team delivered an innovative and award winning venue for the city of Leeds.

Federated model image submitted by A1L2B, a Carillion Morgan Sindall Joint Venture, as part of their winning entry in CEYH Awards 2015

The region has also seen the digitisation of infrastructure schemes too. The award winning A1 Improvement scheme from Leeming to Barton, a Carillion Morgan Sindall Joint Venture demonstrated many new and innovative ways to use digital data to assist with stakeholder engagement as well as collecting real time digital quality records during the course of the works too. Over at Immingham, Costain used the combined, federated, model of their scheme to accurately and successfully plan a 76 hour possession over Christmas 2015 where the team jacked a 5000 tonne bridge into place under the busiest freight railway line in the UK. All this was achieved by creating a digital programme that was meticulously planned, checked and reviewed by the project team, Highways England and Network Rail.

Solius Group virtual reality demonstration at thinkBIM conference in April 2017

More recently the thinkBIM network has been able to lift the lid on the future with demonstrations of Augmented Realities and Virtual Realities. These technologies are actually starting to become widespread too as more and more businesses start to see ways to use gaming technology for customer engagement, construction rehearsals and health and safety briefings as well as for operations teams to better understand the assets that they are maintaining with a level of efficiency previously unheard of. #itsBIMupNorth not just a hashtag but proof that Yorkshire really is a centre of excellence for the digital delivery of projects.

But the key thing here is not the technology, but the people behind it. As Steve Jobs once said “Technology is nothing. What’s important is that you have a faith in people, that they’re basically good and smart, and if you give them tools, they’ll do wonderful things with them”. From a niche group of technically minded people the thinkBIM network has grown to reflect and support a much wider community focussed on working more efficiently and who adopt a whole lifecycle approach not just procuring data for the physical asset alone. And here-in lies the challenge going forward, ensuring the industry is constantly recruiting and upskilling the individuals and teams who are able to exploit the opportunity technology offers.

Let us know your thoughts of where the industry is and where it needs to be and where you see the future of digital technologies for construction.

Clients, certification and the future – three important views on BIM

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Wednesday 14th June 2017

Twilight Seminar

17:30 to 20:00

Calverley Building, Leeds Beckett University, Leeds

CLINK HERE TO BOOK YOUR PLACE (diverts to Leeds Beckett online store)

We like to think of thinkBIM as the go-to place for great digital learning and this month we certainly feel we have put together a great line up of speakers.

Helen Thompson, Executive R&D Consultant at Gleeds and BIM Regional Champion for East Midlands will be talking on how Gleeds are helping clients to adopt BIM on projects, the lessons learnt to date and her views on what the next steps for industry should be.

Adam Horne, Business Development Manager, Construction and BIM at BSI will be outlining the BSI BIM Kitemark scheme and their BIM Verification Certificates that BSI have developed in line with the government’s Level 2 mandate.

We all know digital delivery is about the use of standards but how can you be sure that the businesses you work with really understand their roles and responsibilities?

George Mokhtar, Associate Director and Head of BIM at Turner & Townsend UK, offers us a view of the digital future speeding towards us – we need to talk about Level 3.

How might businesses need to change their views, plans and attitude to BIM/digital as they deliver assets that will be operated in a Level 3 environment?


Click here to book your place! (diverts to Leeds Beckett online store)

ThinkBIM Security – 7th December 2016

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December 2016’s ThinkBIM was particularly memorable for an eye-opening and occasionally frightening view of just how vulnerable the built environment might be to cyber attack, writes Paul Wilkinson of pwcom and thinkBIM Steering Group member.

In May 2015, PAS1192-5 – “Specification for security-minded building information modelling, digital built environments and smart asset management” – became the latest addition to the suite of UK BIM documents, and Turner & Townsend’s Nathan Jones gave us the benefit of a non-construction person’s view of this document. Nathan was recruited into the construction industry after working in the armed forces specialising in military grade IT and security-related technologies.

From his presentation and roundtable contributions, it was clear that he felt existing construction industry IT practices lag behind most other industry sectors in respect of security (“Often IT security is a bit backward in construction”).

This is, of course, hardly surprising. Within the living memory of many people still working in the sector, we mostly exchanged information by paper. But now, in the early years of the 21st century, we are increasingly sharing ‘electronic paper’ – emails instead of letters, Word documents instead of typed reports, PDFs or native files instead of drawings, etc. We already must be vigilant about security: guarding against software viruses, ‘phishing’, hacking, and theft or loss of devices, while also continuing to track, store and protect our communications and intellectual property. (And not always successfully: details of the internal layout of a Royal Palace were recently freely distributed to potential tenderers via an email attachment, Nathan said.)

However, the next stages in the digital transformation of the built environment sector are set to make information management more challenging from a security point of view.


From BIM to BASM

As firms begin to share and to combine or ‘federate’ data-rich 3D, 4D (time) and 5D (cost) models, project teams will need to heighten their cyber-security regimes.

A shared 3D model may expose intellectual property to competitors. Moreover, a walk-through visualisation of a new building might expose sensitive information about the building’s design – key structural components, locations of key building services, placement of CCTV or other security equipment, for example. Shared 4D models might reveal periods when assets might be susceptible to sabotage or sites could be vulnerable to theft, while a 5D model could reveal commercially sensitive pricing information to competitors.

Published by the British Standards Institute and the Centre for Protection of National Infrastructure (CPNI), PAS1192-5 is intended to help teams identify and guard against risks including:

  • hostile reconnaissance
  • malicious acts
  • loss or disclosure of intellectual property
  • loss or disclosure of commercially sensitive information, and
  • release of personally identifiable information.

And our already abbreviation-heavy glossary of BIM terms now includes BASM – built asset security management – as a new discipline. Early engagement with a BAS manager will help a project team and the asset owner develop a strong built asset security strategy (BASS) and management plan (BASMP), said Nathan.

People can be our greatest asset, but also our weakest link

Such measures will become more important in an increasingly connected world of not just ‘smart buildings’ but ‘Smart Cities’. We will need to protect information created during delivery of a new built asset, and – just as importantly, and depending on the asset’s sensitivity – protect some or all of the data created by the people and systems in and around that asset, and in any connected assets or infrastructure.

At the people level, precautions might include procedures limiting information access to those with defined roles (I was encouraged that Nathan identified that some Software-as-a-Service collaboration platforms do this well: restricting access to certain files, models or data only to people with defined responsibilities), supported by systems of passes, logins, keys or other forms of authentication.


BASM – it’s about people

As with other aspects of BIM, this is certainly not just about technology, but people and process. Awareness raising and training will be important: working practices learned in the days of paper or “spray and pray” email will need to be amended, and data vulnerabilities addressed. Often the weak link will not be the software or hardware, but the people that use them (users noting passwords and PINs on Post-It notes next to their computers, for example), and, as risks cannot be entirely eliminated, Nathan also advised that organisations need plans and processes dictating how they will respond to security breaches.

In one of the roundtable sessions, John Lorimer asked Nathan if this heightened focus on security might counteract recent years’ efforts to get companies and people to share information more readily. “Security should not stop collaboration, so long as it is controlled and people are aware,” Nathan replied, “BIM is actually helping to trigger some security-minded conversations much earlier. We may soon be segmenting our construction supply chains according to those who are security-aware, and those who aren’t.”


Level 1 – the critical foundations to delivering on digital projects

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Here at thinkBIM we are very aware that there is still a great need to explain the fundamentals of working digitally to both new delegates as well as regular attendees. Despite surveys that suggest a huge and comprehensive uptake of BIM in the UK; the government mandate and numerous organisations proclaiming their ability to deliver Level 2 (or beyond – really??) we regularly meet lots of businesses still bewildered as to how and where they might need to start out on their ‘BIM journey’.

So cue thinkBIM’s November event; Level 1 – the critical foundations to delivering on digital projects. Hot on the heels of our fifth birthday party in September and our successful Government Mandate twilight event in October came a whole evening dedicated to a 40 page British Standard first published in 2007. But a geek-fest this was not, well not completely. BS1192:2007+A2:2016 Collaborative production of architectural, engineering and construction information – Code of practice to give the full title is absolutely fundamental to the concept of defining the rules of collaborative working and delivering projects digitally. You can download the standard here

The scope of the standard is well considered, and when read in conjunction with the preceding Introduction makes it clear why the processes outlined in this document are fundamental to collaborative working practices. It really is worth reproducing these words here before we move on –



So after all that what did we learn at the event. Well John Adams gave us a self-proclaimed wedge-free presentation. Three slides in we had the first obvious, but often over-looked requirement of Level 2 fundamentals – do Level 1 first! John walked us through the process of issuing documents around the process in the standard but reminded everyone of the following too

Buy CDE > Set Project Number > 4 Folders > WIP, Shared, Published, Archived does not equal a CDE!!

John’s final words about using the standard; don’t deviate – it ruins everything.

John’s slide deck: thinkbim-level-one-cde

After John’s presentation it was my turn to speak again at thinkBIM. In apparent wave of extreme geekiness I had decided to speak on Suitability Codes. Why – because in my opinion they are fundamental to the standard and the underlying collaborative working requirements that the standard advocates. Why you are issuing data, for what purpose, is as fundamental as actually issuing the data itself in my opinion and is important both contractually and practically. Even now I’m not sure that I’d got everything in my slides right, in fact the next presentation explained one specific part that I’d not grasped myself – a great example of where everyone learns at thinkBIM!

Duncan’s slide deck: suitability-codes

The third presentation of the evening came from Lee Chappelow from SES. After explaining how SES have set about creating and operating their own CDE Lee took us through 13 slides to explain how a document produced by the SES BIM team moves to published status. Now on the face of it this sounds horrendous; thirteen stages to just get a document approved but for me a lot of what Lee was saying is what good practice should look like and the thoroughness he was demonstrating is as much about an industry that has been so pressurised to deliver that corners are cut or risk just passed downstream rather than owned.

Lee showed us what good looks like, and what good as a digital workflow should be. Lots of food for thought and the feedback from the event certainly confirmed this too.

Lee’s slide deck: thinkbim-cde

Thanks to John and Lee for helping to deliver another great thinkBIM. In this case the slides seemed so important we have published them in full for you all to reference again as needed.

As a final post script I do accept that working in accordance with BS1192:2007 does look complicated and daunting but once you get to grips with the standard and start using it the processes do become easier. But it is still a bit of challenge – only a week after the event I had a 30 minute discussion with a contracting friend over the interpretation of just one of these suitability codes in the standard.

So as we said on the night – to use the standard effectively you must make sure the project team has a common understanding of the document – this may mean defining, explaining, agreeing and documenting how the standard is to be used in the BIM Execution Plan. But remember don’t alter it – otherwise then it’s not a standard.

thinkBIM –  2nd November 2016

#Duncan Reed, Chair thinkBIM

Delivering Digital Assets under the Level 2 Mandate

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October brought in the first event of our Autumn series and a return to The Rosebowl as the venue for our twilight seminar on how centrally procured departments are delivering Level 2 BIM Under the mandate.

The evening opened with a fantastic presentation from Cliff Jones, the Head of Construction Procurement, at the Department of Health. It was great to hear his measured, but equally challenging, view on how he see that BIM has – and more importantly should – be adopted in the NHS. Cliff made the very important point early on in his presentation that BIM isn’t an add-on; it has to be integral to the wider construction and business process of an organisation.


thinkbim-1He also noted that BIM = Lean but reminded the audience of what Lean really means – it’s not about cost cutting, it is about driving out waste.


BIM = Lean (NOT Cost Cutting – Improved Efficiency and Productivity)


  • The most efficient, effective and successful companies in other industries (and countries) have applied “lean” for decades;
    • Add value and remove waste;
    • Extensive use of developments in Technology supported by Digital Data.
    • Waste =  
  • Processes/procedures that do not add value;
  • Use of resources (labour/plant/materials in a non-productive and therefore non value adding way;
  • Defects;
  • Unnecessary transportation;



Whilst the benefits of the P21+ and P22 Frameworks provided ample evidence of how collaborative working can improve outcomes it was some of the more nuanced comments that caught my attention. The DoH hasn’t mandated the use of BIM by the NHS as such as it understands that forcing something on Trusts won’t work – from the very start they have to want to do it. This was a very powerful point for me.

Cliff rounded up his presentation with some very real and useful points on how to adopt BIM on projects.




Due to a last minute cancellation by our other speaker thinkBIM showed its agile credentials by organising Steering Group member Tom Oulton to review the recently published Ministry of Justice (MOJ) BIM documentation. These documents can be found here

The MoJ launched their Client Best Practice Guides in June this year but like many other things associated with BIM development not everyone in the audience was aware of their existence. They were developed by the client led BIM2AIM Special Interest Group, in a process led by Matthew Watchorn, MoJ Head of BIM. In an article in BIM+ recording the launch event of the documents Matthew is quoted saying –

“Dismantling, examining and jointly rebuilding the EIR suite of standards from the bottom up was a fundamental moment in the MoJ BIM story and will stand us and other government departments in good stead in making the next phase of BIM a reality for projects going forward”

It always strikes me as a bit strange that the industry seems to clamber for examples or Case Studies about BIM only to then complain about anything that is produced. Personally I feel that the industry shouldn’t keep shooting at those people or organisations that do stick their heads over the battlements. It might not be perfect but at least they have published something. But Tom is a good judge of BIM character and led a spirited, yet balanced, discussion over the merits of these documents.

With just a few days to review the SES, OIRs, PLQs, EIRs, and BEP template Tom chose to rate the documents overall using that tried and tested metric of the spaghetti western standard. So – were these documents Good, Bad or Ugly?


Tom gave his views of the following documents that have been publically shared by the MoJ;

    • Shared Estates Service (SES)
    • Organisational Information Requirements (OIR)
    • Plain Language Questions (PLQs)
    • Employer’s Information Requirements (EIR)
    • BIM Execution Plan (BEP) Verdict – GOOD.  Verdict – Good…but…Would like to see the Common Data Environment (CDE) addressedOIRs The OIR lays out the context but falls short of stating specific requirements. Verdict – BADThree fully populated EIRs should be provided, preferably with real examples for eachBEP The document is easy to follow
    • But Tom felt that the CDE should be owned by MoJ (and I agree)
    • Verdict – Good
    • The Shared Estates Services introduces the Gold, Silver and Bronze projects – but only one EIR
    • EIRs
    • Reads like a guidance document, not the actual document.
    • Verdict – good & bad…
    • Would like to see COST addressed prior to Stage 2 PLQ
    • PLQs
    • The guide nicely sets the scene for BIM
    • Shared Estates Services;
    • And the results from Tom’s review?

It was great to see the audience engage with the speakers in the Q and A sessions and reminded me of the importance of letting our delegates find out what is important to them around the themes discussed.

This format will be extended even further in our Autumn series conference, on December 7th, when we will be offering even more roundtable sessions all focussed around Case Studies – so just what the industry still seems to need.

But before then we are pleased to be hosting a Level 1 BIM event on November 2nd. We all (should) know of the importance of working in accordance with BS1192:2007+A2:2016 but how many of us really apply the standard correctly? Check out your knowledge at this great opportunity to understand one of the bedrock standards for UK BIM that is now expected to be rolled out across Europe and beyond.

thinkBIM blog, October 2016.

#Duncan Reed, Chair thinkBIM








We need to talk about Level 1 – the critical foundations to delivering on digital projects #tbim2016

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ThinkBIM Design and Pre Construction 2016

Level 1 – the critical foundations to delivering on digital projects

Wednesday 2nd November, Leeds

17:30 for registration, 18:00 to 20:00

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/who/how is a Common Data Environment.

We are pleased to announce our first two speakers; John Adams, Head of BIM Services at BIM Strategy Ltd and Lee Chappelow, BIM Operations Manager at SES Engineering Services.

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

Remember – if your business can do Level 1 then you can work on a Level 2 project.

We need to talk about Level 1. Are you getting the BIM basics right? Find out at #tbim2016 on 2nd Nov!

Room 538, Lecture Theatre D, 5th Floor, The Rose Bowl, Leeds, LS1 3HB

Click here to book your place! 


#tbim2016 write-up: BIM in Yorkshire, a case study in collaboration

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On 3rd February we welcomed a full house to Old Broadcasting House in Leeds for the first event in our thinkBIM #tbim2016 spring series, a “BIM in Yorkshire” case study of the benefits of digital collaboration. For this seminar, we welcomed Henry Boot Construction and their collaborative team partners to present on their work on the Extra Care Housing Scheme in Yeadon, near Leeds and Bradford Airport.

It is always great to hear about teams recycling and reusing data and this project was no exception with our presenters, Henry Boot’s Kevin Dight and Philip Lambourne and their wider team from Watson Batty, Dudleys Consulting Engineers and Framedeck Consulting Ltd, giving examples of quantities checks, planning and clash detection and construction simulation on the project.

The event was chaired by Josie Rothera, Chartered Civil Engineer and Senior Lecturer at Leeds Beckett University who opened by saying how pleased she was to see how thinkBIM events have grown and evolved over the last few years now offering real case studies of BIM in practice. Thanks Josie!

Kevin Dight opened with a brief overview of Henry Boot’s BIM journey, which started with a direct from the MD to “look into this BIM thing”. Kevin became the BIM Champion, they purchased Revit and Navisworks and they started learning very quickly (his words). One of their first BIM projects in 2012 was at the Bifrangi plant in Italy. Sadly they were unable to use BIM throughout as the steelwork was given to an Italian subcontractor who didn’t use BIM, therefore the full benefits were not seen. Lesson learnt -> Lonely BIM is not as effective.

Kevin also had the following advice for implementing BIM; know your drivers – understand why are you implementing the technology and what you want to get out of it and make sure your strategy is built around this. Finally, break your implementation down into manageable steps, use on some example projects first and build up your experience.

Kevin then handed over to Phil, the new BIM Champion for Henry Boot to talk more about the Yeadon project. More info about the specifics of the project can be found in the presentations below and the accompanying storify below that.

The team concluded by talking about the benefits that using BIM had brought to their business which included greater client engagement, better cross team communication, reducing RFIs, better coordinated drawings and best of all… less email! It was great to see how much the team had also got out of the enriched learning experience and knowledge exchange that collaboration through BIM can achieve, something which is often not spoken about as a benefit of BIM but clearly a very tangible and positive outcome for Henry Boot’s team.

The next thinkBIM event will take place on the 9th March and is entitled BIM, DfMA and the black art of MEP, details here. Due to Easter, our Spring #tbim2016 conference will follow a fortnight later on 23rd so that’s a double dose of thinkBIM-ery in March. Don’t say we don’t ever spoil you!


BIM for Manufacturers Seminar: help with the journey

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thinkBIM photo

Guest post by thinkBIM chair, Duncan Reed (djhreed67)

On Tuesday 28th July I attended the #BIM4M2 seminar at The Building Centre in London. I’m not going to try and cover everything that took place as this was pretty much done on the day by Su Butcher’s (@SuButcher) very comprehensive live blog that can be found here

So why write about this? Well apart from being a very well organised event there were some really good messages that should be communicated.

Manufacturers are getting to grips with BIM, and in lots of different ways to suit the needs of their own businesses and their customers. As ever it is great to see and hear from businesses proving that there is no one-size-fits all solution. Andy Stolworthy (@stolliea) from Assa Abloy provided a candid presentation on what Assa Abloy have done as business to date, what worked, what they might have done differently and the current debate they are still having over generic objects versus manufacturers’ specific ones. See his slide deck here.

How BIM4M2 can help you? A really good, straight forward and comprehensive set of presentations from Alan Baikie from BIM Objects, Joe Cilia at FIS and Steve Thompson from Tata Steel (@SGThompsonBIM)

Alan covered the new Compass tool that BIM4M2 have developed, more information on this later on.

Joe Cilia gave a great overview of the business derivers for a manufacturer to adopt BIM (see his slides here).  I’d recommend reviewing these slides as a great To-Do List for how to adopt digital processes in your business, whether as a manufacturer or not. Remember – get the basics sorted first.


Next up was Steve who provided a clear guide on Product Data Templates (PDTs), a subject we love to discuss here at thinkBIM! See his slides here.

I feel this slide below is of particular note, showing how data was shared previously (and often before we even thought of this as data sharing) and the changes that digital workflows can bring.


I still feel that there is more work to be done to unify the approach to creating and using PDT and PDS but was pleased to hear that BIMTalk is to be the definitive go-to place for this part of the BIM picture. More about BIMTalk here

There was also a further good step-by-step presentation by Matt Crunden of Legrand on Product Templates in the afternoon session. His slides can be seen here.

There were two interesting initiatives launched at the event by the BIM4M2 team. A new Compass tool and the start of the BIM4M2 Survey.

Compass (details here)has been provided to offer a quick way for companies to assess their need to adopt BIM processes in their business. It doesn’t specifically tell you what bit of BIM to do but looks a really useful way to determine whether BIM needs to be in your short term or long term business planning.

The BIM4M2 have also published their 2015 BIM Survey. Please complete this here.

But my final comments relate back to the start of the day and Gareth Webb from IBM. Gareth gave the audience much to consider in the wider context of digital processes and how it already affects our personal lives so much, see presentation here . He gave a great analogy with how we can access data when making purchases on Amazon, making the simple link to how construction needs to move in the same direction. Better data processes now or a glimpse of Level 3 BIM?



But remember this – we buy outcomes not necessarily specifications. All part of Re-Thinking Construction.

#tbim2015 Catch-ups: GreenBIM UK Keynote Nitesh Magdani on data use and sustainability

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Guest Post by thinkBIM chair, Duncan Reed, (djhreed67)

It’s amazing how fast these things come around but it was great to be back at Squire Patton Boggs on 1st July for our third and final  #GreenBIM conference bringing together our thinkBIM and Green Vison networks to explore the Operation and In-Use phase of a building with particular discussions around Building Information Modelling, Facilities Management, Sustainability and the Circular economy.


The customary #greenBIM tweet wall

Our chair was Mark Whittaker, Business Development Manager at Integral UK Limited, @Whitbags , blogger  and good friend of thinkBIM. Mark got us off to a great start with our UK keynote speaker, Nitesh Magdani, Director of Sustainability at BAM Construct.

BAMSLIDENitesh gave us much food for thought; starting with the tangible benefits of sustainable buildings and how outside views, daylight and better building systems make occupants more productive. Yet again Performance Evaluation was a key theme with Nitesh arguing it has a part to play at all points in the design, construction and operations of buildings.

So how does this take us to BIM? Because BAM realised that to address these issues they needed to integrate the design, construction and operations phases of a building’s lifecycle. Sound familiar? BAMSLIDE2 Nitesh also made the great point that capturing the right data across the asset lifecycle was crucial to their success – customers, designers, contractors – you need a strategy, you need a plan!

Nitesh shared a case study from a pilot project at Camden Schools and the wide range of benefits they are realising (more details here).

In the final part of his presentation Nitesh made the link from improving the sustainability of individual buildings by better use of data to the wider improvements that data and smart cities can bring. Thanks to Nitesh for a lively, interesting, challenging and rousing keynote.

Desire to “do BIM” is strong, but many companies still need support, this & other thoughts from #CELancsBIM

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Tuesday afternoon saw over 40 construction professionals brave the cold and snow to come to the Media Centre at the University of Central Lancashire (UCLAN); well everyone except Mark Stogell @stodgeblog but more of that later…

The event was opened by the CE Lancs Club chair Martin Brown @fairsnape before handing over to Professor Jack Goulding of UCLAN, our chair for the afternoon.

But before the keynote speeches and round table sessions the first activity was a BIM poll. Everyone was equipped with voting buttons and took part in an interactive vote responding to BIM related questions on the screen. Honest answers flowed with 41% not yet ready for BIM; 21% think they are ready while 38% are ready. More honesty came with 59% accepting that they would not be able to deliver BIM if asked to on a project tomorrow and around 50% being unsure on the BIM capabilities of either their supply chain or partners. Almost 49% of the attendees were looking for BIM support, which I guess is why many were there. See results of poll below,



With that final voting result still sinking in it seemed very appropriate that Don Ward, Chief Executive of Constructing Excellence, should open with the first keynote, Collaborative Working Today. Don outlined the progress that has been made in the construction industry to get better at collaboration and the key role that Constructing Excellence has played in this process.

Highlights from Don were the massive health and safety improvements made by the industry (with still a way to go to zero) the economic multiplier benefits that construction brings as well as challenging clients to get better at delivering benefits to communities through their schemes.

After Don we were treated to a no-slides-and-very-few-notes presentation from John Lorimer. Apart from being very well known in the North West, John also chairs the CE BIM Steering Group, which meets before our thinkBIM conferences in Leeds. John gave his usual realistic views including reminding the audience that it’s still not possible to ‘do’ Level 2 BIM – the processes still aren’t complete.

John also reminded delegates that whilst the UK is currently seen to be leading the world in delivering BIM we mustn’t sit back as the rest of Europe is looking to capitalise on our foundations.

Our third keynote came from Malcolm Clarke, MD at Baxall Construction in Kent.

Malcolm gave the delegates an honest explanation of his business’s journey into BIM and how it is benefited the projects that Baxall deliver. Many great points from Malcolm – here are few

  • Lonely / selfish BIM is a great way to start
  • Baxall see BIM as edge for them with lots of customer satisfaction, the benefits of ‘no hassle’ collaboration
  • BIM is a process not tool
  • Build up your capabilities; Baxall have considerable experience with Union Square Workspace so understood how collaborative workflows were expected to work. This has been developed with the sue of model federating tools and most recently the purchase of 5D (cost) software
  • A two year training plan to develop and embed digital workflow skills into the business

In a slight change to the programme we then had a quick pitch from Alison Watson, the driving force behind Class of your Own. Why so quick? Alison had been given the change to talk to a much larger group of local school children so we were politely dumped!! But we were left with no illusion that we all needed to Adopt a School, after all if we don’t then how do we expect students to want to come into our industry. If you still haven’t read about all her amazing work check it out here

For much of the rest of the afternoon we broke up into 5 groups to participate in 2 roundtable sessions. The round table sessions were as follows

  • Collaborative BIM; led by Don Ward
  • Client Led BIM led; by John Lorimer
  • Contractor Led BIM; Malcolm Clarke
  • Our experience of BIM so far; Andrew Burningham, Severn Architecture
  • BIM Guidance and Standards update; led by Mark Stogell, BIM Academy – well once he had come back from Rhyl, it would appear he got on the wrong train at some point!!

I chose Don and Malcolm’s sessions. Each group had a good cross section from industry including academia and FM businesses which was great to see. It was great to see so much knowledge and experience shared in these sessions, as should be case at any BIM event. Particular highlights of this were –

  • Where to go to understand BIM acronyms; Rob Jackson, @bondbryanBIM , Bond Bryan Architects has a great BIM blog with both a dictionary and document list
  • Before embarking on your BIM journey first determine what are the business benefits you need or want to get from BIM
  • BIM will help the design practices actually make money again!
  • If you have good and long term relationships with your supply chain already you are well on the way to working better. Then look at ways to use BIM to enhance this further
  • If you are breaking down the old construction silos don’t just throw the information together

At the end of these speakers each of the round table chairs were invited to the front to summarise the key points from their group discussions. Here are their points

Don Ward

  • BIM already facilitating informal collaboration, up and down the chain, and improving communication
  • Selfish BIM – work out what are your benefits
  • There are lots of free resources out there

thinkBIM, @thinkBIM

BIM Task Group, @BIMgcs

Constructing Excellence, @constructingexc

Bond Bryan BIM blog @bondbryanBIM

John Lorimer

  1. Is the client really interested in BIM? There needs to be leadership from the top
  2. If Clients are asking, industry needs to help the client
  3. Is age a barrier? No, but a big influence

Malcolm Clarke

  1. BIM doesn’t have to be client driven. Do it before they ask it, ‘selfish BIM’ is a good place to start
  2. There is a cost of start-up and training. Before you take the plunge, look hard at the actual savings
  3. BIM for FM – it’s a no brainer, why wouldn’t you

Andrew Burningham

  1. We’ve all been doing anyway, even in a basic way. Think of it as CAD with structural info added plus MEP.
  2. Getting past the jargon isn’t that big a step.
  3. Selfish BIM or lonely BIM a better term. Take the step to use it, don’t wait

Mark Stogell

  1. BIM-boozlement of acronyms and numbers is an issue
  2. If asked for level 2 then get a good understanding you what you have signed up to.
  3. Standards aren’t all done yet, keep an eye out on toolkit
  4. Some standards can be addressed as they are already in place.
  5. Do you actually understand BS1192:2007? Design manager bread and butter! Get it here

The afternoon was completed with a couple of Pecha Kucha’s from Martin Brown and myself before a few words from John Bridge, BIM Manager at Croft Goode.

Croft Goode are looking to develop their links with offsite manufacturers with a view to improving their design processes to better suit Design for Manufacture and Assembly, DFMA.

Get in touch with John via their website contact details

Many thanks to Martin Brown, the spekaers and the team at UCLAN for organising another great Constructing Excellence event. The next North West event is






Collaboration and Soft Landings – what’s it all about?

Constructing Excellence Manchester Best Practice Club, Wednesday 11th February 2015 from 8:30 to 11:00 (GMT), Manchester UK

Book here

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