Designing for change

Ian Harman of Marflow Hydronics (BSRIA Members)

Ian Harman of Marflow Hydronics (BSRIA Members)

With the industry moving at such a fast pace, new innovations are being introduced all of the time. Manufacturers are inventing great new products that offer many benefits; solving the problems of the present to provide a better future. The biggest problem that they face, though, is launching these products on to the market. This is where BIM could really help. 

I think it’s fair to say that people don’t really like change. We like to stick to what we know and what we feel comfortable with. This seems to be the case in our industry. Many people, from consultants to installers, are still completing jobs and planning projects in the same way they’ve been doing it for years; that is in very traditional ways. A prime example is how there is still much use of two port control systems despite Pressure Independent Control Valves having been around now for quite a while. These newer products are faster to implement and more reliable in the long term, yet there is still a reluctance with some people to adopt the new technology.

It’s true that with any new product there’s inevitably a big learning curve to using them, and often training can be time consuming. There’s also the fear of risk. If people use a new product that they’re not so familiar with then there’s always the chance that it will go wrong. This could be because the user isn’t so experienced at using it, but also it could turn out that it wasn’t the ideal product after all and sometimes knowledge and experience can really help when making decisions. This is where BIM steps in.

Using BIM, manufacturers can create models, which I like to think of as ‘Lego blocks’, that they can send to customers to introduce them to a product. And they can do this long before any decisions have been made, at the very initial stages. The ‘Lego block’ would be a visually simplified model that not only clearly defines the spatial envelope and connection points, but also includes a wealth of ‘metadata’. This ‘metadata’ contains data fields specific to the particular products, such as flow rates for valves or electrical loads for powered devices.

BIM - Marflow Hydronics
That all means that clients can look at the products in detail and trial them in their plans from the very beginning. They will be given the time to properly analysis products and see how they will work within the system and how they will interact with other components.

By starting with the end in mind and properly understanding the system at the initial stage, it will help to future proof the project far down the line. It’s also the cheapest time to detect any issues. The easiest time to make a design or selection change is at the beginning of a project and BIM facilitates this in a much more user friendly manner than ever before. This would undoubtedly give them much more confidence in the products they’re looking to use and would, very importantly, remove that fear of risk.

BIM provides users with the time and ability to put much more thought into their projects earlier on, minimising that risk further down the line. This then increases the chance of far more successful project that works with the best products, potentially the latest and more developed ones, and there’s much more chance of it being on time and to budget.

BIM 2 - Marflow HydronicsManufacturers, like Marflow Hydronics, have been doing this to help bring new products into the limelight that otherwise customers may have been apprehensive about. More importantly, this has helped all parties get the right products specified when they may not have been otherwise. BIM may be the ideal solution to help us move more quickly into the future using more innovative products and having many of the niggling issues that have been around for so long vastly reduced, if not eliminated.

This was a guest post by Ian Harman, Technical Applications Engineer at Marflow Hydronics, BSRIA Member

If you are looking to find out more information about BIM, BSRIA runs two specific training courses:

There are also several other blog posts focused on BIM as well as a BSRIA BIM Network. 

The “Seven pillars of (BIM) wisdom”

In 2011 the report for the Government Construction Client Group defined Level 2 BIM as being:

“Managed 3D environment held in separate discipline “BIM” tools with attached data….”

However, as a consequence of ongoing development of the processes and tools available, and feedback from early adopter projects and other industry experience, the Government has recently refined its definition of Level 2 BIM as having the following seven components:

  1. PAS 1192-2:2013 is available to download for free from BSI

    PAS 1192-2:2013 is available to download for free from BSI

    PAS 1192-2:2013 Specification for information management for the capital/delivery phase of assets using buildinginformation modelling

  2. PAS 1192-3:2014 Specification for information management for the operational phase of assets using building information modelling
  3. BS 1192-4 Collaborative production of information. Part 4: Fulfilling employers information exchange requirements using COBie – Code of practice (due to be published Summer 2014)
  4. Building Information Model (BIM) Protocol
  5. GSL (Government Soft Landings)
  6. Digital Plan of Work (in preparation)
  7. Classification (in preparation)

 

1. PAS 1192-2:2013 builds on the processes described in BS 1192-2007, and introduces new concepts such as employer’s information requirements (EIR) – the employer’s expression what information they require from the project and the format it should be in, and BIM execution plans (BEP) – the supply chain’s response to the EIR showing how it will meet its requirements.

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Design Framework updated to reflect the new RIBA Plan of Work

MEP deliverables during old and new Plans of Work

MEP deliverables during old and new Plans of Work

BSRIA’s highly regarded Design Framework guidance has just been published in its fourth edition as BG 06/2014. This version brings the guide up to date in its reference to the latest RIBA Plan of Work. This article summarises some of the key changes that have been made to Design Framework in this latest edition.

Design Framework now aligns with the new project stages, designated 0 to 7 rather than A to L, that were developed as part of the Government’s BIM Task Group work. These stages are more explicit in their support of collaborative working amongst the project team and place more emphasis on handover from construction to operation and on the in use phase. In addition, there is now a new Strategy stage, Stage 0, deliberately to give clients and portfolio managers the chance to consider the proposed project in the wider context of their whole built estate.

Many of the new stages align to old stages, or pairs of old stages. For example Stage 1 maps to the old Stages A and B, Stage 2 covers the old Stage C, and Stage 5 is the equivalent of the old Stages J and K. But there is a significant disconnect between the end of new Stage 3 and old Stage E. Stage 3 is expected to conclude with agreement between the main design disciplines about the volumes allocated to each designer such that these provide feasible system boundaries. The idea for this is that once these volumes are agreed, each discipline can go away and work up its detailed design more or less in isolation. Provided they stay within the boundaries of their agreed volume then all should be well when it comes to spatial co-ordination.

These changes to the overall structure of the Plan of Work have meant changes to the design activities listed in the BSRIA BG 06 pro-formas, and also some changes to the stage deliverables. As can be seen from the table, the first formal deliverables under the new Plan of Work regime have been brought forward to an earlier stage than previously. In BG 06 the exemplar 3-d models to illustrate the new end-of-stage deliverables have been updated and isometrics included. For the Stage 3 deliverable, the 2-d drawing exemplar has also been amended.

A final area of confusion is the way some stage names have changed, and this again has the biggest impact around Stages 3 and 4 in comparison with the old Stages D, E and F. Stage D used to be Design Development, Stage E was Technical Design and Stage F was Production Information. In the new scheme, Stage 3 is Developed Design and Stage 4 is Technical Design.

The new project stages will take some getting used to – BSRIA has presented a webinar on the changes and this can be accessed from the Webinars page on the BSRIA website.

BG 06/2014 – Design Framework for Building Services is now available in hardcopy, PDF, single license or multi-site license.

It’s all about the classification…

John Sands,  Principal Consultant of BSRIA's Sustainable Construction Group

John Sands,
Principal Consultant of BSRIA’s Sustainable Construction Group

As BIM experience increases, a number of key issues are becoming apparent.  One such example is classification – what ‘things’ are called.  If you have a vast quantity of data or information, that can be a very powerful resource.  However, all that potential may be difficult to realise if you can’t find the particular piece of information efficiently when you need it.

Classification can be defined as:

                    ‘the act or process of dividing things into groups according to their type’

Classification has been used in the construction world for many years, often without the users knowing it.  For example, many engineers would recognise that a section called ‘T10’ in their specification dealt with ‘Gas/oil fired boilers’.  This came from a classification system called Common Arrangement of Work Sections (CAWS) which covered architectural and MEP elements for construction projects.

Subsequently, Uniclass was derived from this system and gave the opportunity to classify ‘things’ in different ways, not simply as a system or an object.  Uniclass was based on the general structure described in ISO 12006, which promoted the use of classification classes, each of which relates to a classification need.  As well as products (or objects), some of the other classes suggested by ISO 12006 are:

  • Entity e.g. a building, a bridge, a tunnel
  • Complex (a group of entities) e.g. airports, hospitals, universities, power station
  • Space e.g. office, canteen, parking area, operating theatre
  • Product e.g. boiler, door, drain pipe
  • Facilities this combines the space with an activity which can be carried out there, eg operating theatre

Indeed, other classes can be added to a classification system such as ‘system’, which works very well in an MEP environment.  Similarly, an ‘activities’ class would be very helpful to define a range of activities which might be able to be done within a particular space, as an alternative to using the ‘facilities’ class.

Uniclass, published in 1997 in UK by the Construction Project Information Committee.

Uniclass, published in 1997 in UK by the Construction Project Information Committee.

Although consultants and contractors have managed well using just a couple of the classes above, other groups have found great benefit in classifying in a number of different ways.  For example, it would be very helpful in a hospital FM environment to use the ‘spaces’, ‘activities’, ‘systems’ and ‘products’ classes.

In a hospital it is useful to classify the ‘spaces’ in the first instance by type, and then to classify each space further by which ‘activities’ can be carried out within them.  From this it is possible to classify the ‘systems’ which support the spaces and then the ‘products’ which form the systems.  A practical example would be if the chilled water system was taken out of action then you could quickly see which spaces were affected – an operating theatre.  Once that’s known it is simple to determine which activities cannot be carried out – a number of planned operations.  Also, other products or equipment can be identified which can now be worked on as the system they belong to is not working – chillers or chilled beams.

In this era of greater collaboration it is not enough to know what we are calling things, which classification system we are using.  We must communicate with those we are working with to make sure that the solution suits all of us, and moreover that it is suitable for the whole life of the asset and not just the design, or the construction phase.

It may be that a new classification system is required to satisfy all parties involved in an asset and to make information available throughout its whole life.  This is no simple task, which becomes more complex when the range of assets is considered in both buildings and infrastructure.

It is tempting to try to find solutions to what we do individually, but it is vital that any solution must be suitable for all stages of an asset’s life, for all types of assets and for all those involved in the asset.  Once this has been achieved, the full potential of BIM can start to be exploited, and tangible benefits demonstrated in the use of information management processes.

There is more to BIM than a model

By mandating the use of Building Information Management (BIM) on all its construction projects by 2016, the UK Government has taken the world lead in driving forward the BIM agenda.  Many blue chip construction organisations, in all parts of the supply chain, are investing heavily to help maximise the potential benefits that the adoption of such an initiative can bring to them.  This may take the form of eligibility to work on Government projects, or just increasing their own efficiency through improved working methods.

 However, whilst there is undoubtedly enormous momentum to the uptake of BIM in the UK, some areas of the BIM process are progressing faster than others.  New uses and applications for the software model seem to be found daily, with links to design software and facilities management programs now coming on line.  But more focus is needed on the other parts of the process – the organising and ‘naming’ of data and the methodology for issuing the data in a form that can be used both during and after the construction phase.

 Whereas the use of a software model may not present obvious advantages for those in house-building, looking at the wider BIM process may be of more benefit.  Considering how they arrange and control their flow of data may help house builders to realise savings through increased efficiency, which in turn may enable them to invest in relevant software tools.

 The introduction of a simple document management system (another key part of the BIM process), arranged in accordance with BS 1192:2007 Collaborative production of architectural, engineering and construction information – Code of practice, for example, enables the controlled naming and flow of data between parties.  This allows data to be easily found rather than having to create it time and again. This assists current work activities procedures and can be ofBIM blog benefit on all projects, not just those employing BIM. Similarly, presenting construction and operational data for occupiers and end users in a readily understandable form will greatly increase their understanding of the facility and its systems.

 The message to house builders should be to look at the whole BIM process and carefully consider how it can be applied to what they do.  Adopt the simple measures in the short term and develop a strategy to achieve ‘full BIM’ in the context of the type of work they do as they gain experience.  A BIM project of social housing may look very different to that of a high-tech commercial building, but there are elements of BIM which can add real value to both. 

 BSRIA has worked with the NHBC Foundation to produce  NF49 Building Information Modelling – an introduction for house builders.  Reading NF49 could be their first BIM step.

COBie – it’s all about the fields

We are all becoming familiar with the 3D BIM model and the benefits it can bring to the construction process, but the challenge is to get the data it contains to the right people at the right time.  The Government has decided that COBie is going to enable us all to do this in a friendly Excel format, and as engineers, contractors and FMs are used to seeing plant performance data in schedules it should be easy to replace those with the COBie spreadsheets, right?  Well, not yet.

The idea is to complete the COBie spreadsheets and give them to the client at predetermined information exchange points, or data drops, throughout the procurement process at points where the client is required to make key decisions.  In most cases the spreadsheets can be populated by certain basic building data directly from the model.  However, the COBie UK 2012 spreadsheets do not include any fields for the performance of M&E plant or equipment – a fundamental flaw in the strategy and a serious obstacle to their widespread adoption.  Therefore, as things stand this information must be added manually at each information exchange stage, a considerable task on most projects where BIM will be used and will add significantly to the amount of effort required to deliver all the relevant data in the COBie format, as required by UKHMG.  Also, the headings used are in ‘model’ speak and not readily understood by the intended users.

Whilst the idea of producing information in a form which is readily accessible to all parties is simple, it is key that the COBie spreadsheets are easy to follow, and can be quickly understood.  To achieve this they must use a language which is familiar to construction professionals, and the right type of data needs to be included.  Unfortunately, this is not the case at present but it is hoped that feedback from the Government’s Ministry of Justice pilot projects, due to report later this year, may change this.  The key to making the construction information available ultimately to the FMs is accurate, clear, comprehensive COBie data files. A little work remains to be done to achieve this, but it should be possible.

BIM Task Group / COBIE UK 2012

COBie UK 2012 example. Building Information Modelling (BIM) Task Group

 

BSRIA Events 

Engaging with BIM http://www.bsria.co.uk/training-and-events/details/engaging-with-bim-event/ 

An introduction to BIM http://www.bsria.co.uk/training-and-events/details/an-introduction-to-bim/

BIM – It’s all about the information

There are clearly many advantages to be gained from producing a co-ordinated, data rich model.  Early 3D visualisation can help the client understand what they are getting, the design team to see how their particular systems and components fit within the structure, and various arrangements or ideas can be investigated virtually before getting to site.

However, it is important to realise that the core objective of BIM is the management of information, and this should include all relevant information produced throughout the life of the building or construction entity, not just the model – or data held within the model.

The UK Government has identified their need to have the right level of information about a project available at the right point in the procurement process to enable them to make better informed decisions which, in turn, should result in cost savings through reduction of abortive work, reworking and wastage.  The adoption of BIM for all relevant information, from inception to demolition, can only help this process, but to maximise the benefits available, the information must be accessible to all the intended users.  In view of this, perhaps a wider debate is yet to be had on what should be in the model and what simply linked to.

The management of information is not a new idea.  In fact, all major construction projects employ a document management system to arrange and make available the vast number of documents and data generated as part of the design and construction processes.  The key is to capture this and make it available in a readily accessible format to the team charged with operating the building throughout its life.  A robust system introduced at an early stage can avoid having to reproduce data again after handover.

Further information:

Software for the Future . Call for participants for 31 May 2012 workshop. Closing date: 16:00 15 May 2013

BIM – management for value, cost and carbon improvement. A report for the Government Construction Client Group Building Information Modelling (BIM) Working Party Strategy Paper

BIM – are we really the trailing edge?

Hello and welcome to my series of BIM posts. BSRIA have kindly invited me as a guest author, and I’d very much like to hear your views.

But first…an introduction. I am Gary Ross and I’m an Associate Director at Capita Symonds, working in their Building Services section. I cover five offices, driving BIM and smart working across them, as well as linking in with my multi-discipline counterparts across our business.  Most recently I worked for Autodesk, the developers of Revit MEP, and it is here that my passion now lies.

Are we really that far behind? Image Courtesy of Capita Symonds

‘Tail end Charlies’

I’ll go into what Revit means to Capita in a later post, but first I’d like to challenge the view that the Building Services industry are seen by many as the trailing edge of the construction industry – the “tail end Charlies” if you will. With any new technology we seem to be the last to pick it up, the least successful and the slowest to respond to change.

Why are building services behind the times?

Perhaps we don’t promote ourselves as an industry very well? A quick search of the new government Building Information Modelling (BIM) Working Party Strategy Paper reveals just one mention of the term ‘building services’.  Or is it that we really are behind the times generally? Is it just that the technology for Building Services actually lags behind the tools that our counterparts can use months or years earlier?

Do you think it’s a fair representation?

Is it just a case of disciplines bashing disciplines or is it a fair cop? If people say we are behind, are they over egging it for some reason or are they normally being reasonable?

How do you think we can go about improving our image?

Is it just a case of shouting louder? Do we have to radically change our ways or are there just a few tweaks needed?

BIM debate heats up

Some of us at BSRIA have been talking enthusiastically about Building Information Modelling (BIM) for a while now…industry is asking for change (see BIM 2010 below), and the IGT now proposes to do something about it.

Mandating BIM

You may have read in the press about the launch of the Innovation and Growth Team’s report by Paul Morrell. If you’re a supporter of BIM you may be pleased to note:

“Recommendation 3.11.  That the industry should work, through a collective forum, to identify when the use of BIM is appropriate (in terms of the type or scale of the project), what the barriers to its more widespread take-up are, and how these barriers might be surpassed, leading to an outline protocol for future ways of working.

Recommendation 6.14  That Government should mandate the use of Building Information Modelling for central Government projects with a value greater than £50 million.” [My italics]

Ask the audience

BSRIA (alongside other organisers and sponsors) ran BIM 2010 on 2nd November at the Barbican London – by all accounts a successful gathering of c100 people, with high profile speakers including Paul Morrell. Everyone had the chance to discuss and vote on key issues (BSRIA has published speaker presentations and PDF of the results).

Most delegates familiar with BIM were aged 41-50 (40%), and the least familiar were the youngest delegates (under 30s). The 51+ delegates were more strongly split, with 25% ‘strongly agreeing’, and 46% ‘strongly disagreeing’ about being familiar with BIM.

Here’s what they said about mandating BIM:The audience seemed less sure about whether BIM should be required in submissions to building regs and other statutory duties: 12% strongly agreed, 34% agreed, but 35% were neutral.

Show me the money. 58% felt that it was ‘very likely’ that their organisation would invest in BIM. 15% also agreed, and 17% were neutral. There was a minority who felt that they were unlikely 5% or very unlikely 5% to invest. 46% of delegates also strongly agreed that ‘my organisation would find BIM training valuable’.

Uncertainties over the BIM model

56% delegates agreed that ‘current contracts are not easily translatable for BIM‘, with 38% ‘agreeing’ that ‘uncertainties over ownership of the model will limit the uptake of BIM’ – only 4% ‘strongly disagreed’ with this statement. In answer to the question ‘who should own the model?‘, most believed this should be the client, closely followed by the team. Most delegates agreed 41% or strongly agreed 39% that to influence greater uptake from clients it is important that BIM delivers electronic O&M manuals. 57% also strongly agreed or agreed 30% that we need more good UK case studies to influence greater uptake from clients.

We’ve also published charts in the Process and Operational Efficiency Group via the MBE Knowledge Transfer Network (you may need to register with the site, but it’s free membership).

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