BIM GateKeeper – first published case where BIM features substantively

2 August 2017 | By Sarah Rock

Link to the original article: Here

Whilst primarily arising from a dispute over contract terms and the value of the works, the decision in Trant Engineering Ltd V Mott MacDonald Ltd [2017] is of particular interest as it is the first published case where BIM features substantively, writes Sarah Rock.

Trant was engaged by the MoD as contractor for a £55m project in respect of the construction of a power station in the Falkland Islands. Mott MacDonald was appointed to provide design services and was also the building information modelling (BIM) coordinator, controlling access to the common data environment (CDE).

When a fee dispute arose, Mott MacDonald suspended its services and blocked Trant’s access codes to the CDE leaving Trant and the rest of the project team unable to access the design materials.

Pending resolution of the substantive dispute, Trant made an application to the TCC for an interim injunction requiring Mott MacDonald to provide access to the CDE (including the design data) both to Trant and to others involved in the project.

The full judgment is not yet available but summarising reports seen to date, (insofar as relevant to the CDE), the TCC concluded that it had a high degree of assurance that Trant was entitled to have access to the design data which had, in fact, already been placed in shared folders.

It was particularly relevant that Trant had previously had access to the CDE before Mott MacDonald had suspended performance of its services. The TCC therefore ordered Mott MacDonald to restore access to the relevant design materials, subject to Trant making a payment into court.

The CDE is a digital data room where geometric information from the contributing designers comes together. All participants to a project are provided with codes to allow them access (usually via the internet) to the CDE and it is then used to share and access information, allowing the project to function and progress. It can also be used to share to registers, schedules, contracts, reports and other information.

Specifications for how a BIM CDE should work can be traced back to BS 1192-2007, and the publicly available specifications and British Standards which followed and make up the 1192 suite of documents. These documents form the bulk of the pillars of BIM Level 2.

To date, in these admittedly early stages of BIM adoption in the UK, the question of who will actually host the project CDE has tended to be decided primarily on practical factors ie yes, who is at the centre of the information flow process is very important but, perhaps most significantly, which party has the technical capability in addition to sufficient knowledge and experience of BIM technology to ensure that the project is able to progress smoothly from this perspective.

Clearly, appointing a host without this capability could have disastrous results.

 

The Common Data Environment: The digital space where BIM data flows

A CDE could take the shape of a project server, extranet or file-based retrieval system. Increasingly CDEs use cloud-based software to provide the digital space to hold and share the information.

Parties in a construction project are unlikely to own their own digital storage space to the capacity required for a BIM-enabled design and construction scheme, and so the digital storage space is often outsourced.

Contracts for the hiring of such spaces tend to come with little or no liability on the cloud outsourcing vendor’s behalf. Therefore, the party responsible for hosting the CDE may be unable to pass down any risk to the cloud outsourcing vendor.

The Trant case highlights the vital role of the host of the CDE within a BIM design and construction project, as the host holds the keys to the data room for the entire project.

By denying access to the CDE, the host not only withdraws access to their own designs (which a contract may well allow, for non-payment or suspension) but potentially also denies access to all other designs held in the CDE, as well as access to the programme, schedules, contracts etc.

The host is therefore the gatekeeper to the entirety of the project information held digitally meaning that the role (as highlighted by the Trant case) is crucial to progress, and therefore, the successful completion of the project.

Following this decision, fresh debate has begun in the BIM community as to who is best placed to take on the responsibility of hosting. Should the employer host, allowing them full control over access to the data room for the entire project?

Thus if a dispute arose between the employer and one participant in the CDE, this would potentially have less impact on the rest of the project. The employer could either revoke the access of the party in the dispute (subject to contact terms) or the party could remove or stop uploading their own data. But do all construction employers have the technical knowledge and capability to fulfil the role of CDE host?

Potentially, the role can remain within the project team, but with regular extraction of data to be stored locally by the employer. In this way, the employer could ensure that if access was suddenly denied, it would still have up to date data to allow the project to continue to function, albeit it would have to procure and run a new CDE.

Alternatively, as we have seen on some larger scale BIM projects, the responsibility for hosting could be split between the employer and a member of the project team. Utilising the 1192 CDE work flow and gateways, design materials could be hosted entirely on the project team member’s CDE up until the point where they pass through the published gateway.

At this point the design becomes valuable to the employer and so is moved from the project team member’s CDE to one hosted by the employer.

How the CDE is to be hosted remains a project-specific decision, bearing in mind factors such as capabilities, technical knowledge, size of the project and risk allocation – and must be clearly reflected in the contract conditions of all relevant parties.

Forms of appointment, contracts and BIM protocols need to be reviewed to take into account the decision in Trant. Parties need to ensure that they are adequately protected and that data required for the success of the project as a whole is not allowed to be used as a bargaining tool in a bi-party dispute.

 

BIM: out of chaos comes digital excellence

Link to the original article: Here

If BIM is so simple then why is it so difficult? asks John Adams, director of BIM at consultant BIM Strategy.

I’ve heard more than once that so-called BIM experts are deliberately making things complicated to make work for themselves – why else would something so simple be so complex in practice?

Things are getting messy, despite a community of wonderful folk from across our industry working exceptionally hard to simplify and improve our processes and project outcomes.

The breadth of subject matter, from the micro to the macro, is showing that the process of trying to bring order to the construction industry through the application of BIM is becoming chaotic.

Luckily, there is more established theory around chaos than BIM, and comfort and knowledge can be drawn from chaos theory to help us along the journey to BIM becoming business as usual.

Chaos is when “the present determines the future, but the approximate present does not approximately determine the future”, said Edward Lorenz, one of the pioneers of chaos theory.

If PAS 1192-2 describes a process that most of us agree is a better and pretty logical approach to delivering a project information model, then why isn’t it straightforward?

One possible answer is found when you see the current construction industry model as an eco-system that has found a relatively comfortable balance over the last 50 or so years.

With hundreds of BIM enthusiasts and detractors piling energy into the system, the only mathematical outcome is that all of the current standards and processes will be ripped clause from clause until they can be broken down no further and a new and balance found. The chaotic pendulum shows how adding a simple new component to a balanced system creates chaos.

 

We have entered a very dynamic stage of our digitisation journey. Without delving too deep into the science, the more energy we expend in trying to bring order, the more chaotic things become, up to point where we have caused so much chaos there is no more to be found.

At this point we’ll reach a new and defined norm, but only when all of the analogue processes have been disrupted. It’s a lot of ground to cover and when you’re in the middle of it all it can look hectic and intimidating.

Imagine a pan of water is the construction industry, all three million of us, our projects and our processes all in the pot together. BIM, or the digital construction agenda as a whole, is the heat we are applying by way of the mandate, BIM champions, new technology, case studies, Twitter discussion, column inches and everything else.

As we heat things up we get bubbles and steam. Until we’ve boiled all of the water and collected all of the steam, and allowed it to reconsolidate we are destined to have chaos. It’s more than a little frustrating, but it is inevitable so let’s make use of our chaos.

Remember that water, grains and chaos are required to create Scotch whisky. The distilleries can’t control the order in which water molecules turn to steam when they add heat, but they can control everything else.

The UK BIM Alliance is now taking control of the tangibles and is turning up the heat, at least for Level 2, and everyone with knowledge to help control these variables will be needed.

As much as the analogy with the car industry and BIM has been doing the rounds for a number of years, and there’s both truth and wisdom in it, we have often taken the wrong slant: “They’ve done it, why haven’t we?”

Simply put, their journey had less scope for chaos. A car is better defined than a built asset, so they had less water to boil. One thing we can definitely learn from their digitisation is that those who tried to shortcut the digitisation process, like Rover, are gone: those who embraced the challenge, like Toyota, have thrived.

We need to acknowledge our chaos. Own our chaos. Not let our chaos distract us from the goal, from the new norm of digital excellence.

Canadian Practice Manual for BIM – Now Available

buildingSMART Canada releases the Canadian Practice Manual for BIM

buildingSMART Canada (bSC), a council of the Institute for BIM in Canada (IBC), has released a new practice manual to serve the design, construction and operations sectors of the Canadian built environment in the adoption of lifecycle Open Building Information Modeling (BIM).

The Canadian Practice Manual for BIM comes in three volumes designed to provide novice and intermediate BIM users with a framework for developing and adopting company-centric practices to streamline and improve their use of digital information within a Canadian context. For more advanced organizations, the manuals provide approaches to collaboratively exchange models and information between project participants. These manuals complement existing resources for BIM in Canada, namely the IBC BIM Contract Appendix and the IBC BIM PxP Toolkits.

According to Bill Moore, Chair of IBC and member of the board of buildingSMART International, the practice manual is intended to be a guiding document that can be used across Canada. “Compiled by Canadians, for Canadians, the release of the buildingSMART Canada Practice Manual for BIM provides our AECOO Community with highly sought-after guidance and wisdom related to BIM in a Canadian context,” said Moore. Over sixty AECOO professionals from across Canada contributed material and expertise in-kind to the practice manual. “Significant effort was focused toward ensuring the Practice Manual for BIM is recognized as a valuable resource by all stakeholders responsible for the Canadian built environment,” said Moore. Additionally the National Research Council’s Industrial Research Assistance Program provided financial support to assist this effort.

The three completed volumes work together to explain the context, terminology, approaches, and best practices of BIM. Volume 1 is a primer document that covers BIM terminology and overall approaches. Volume 2 lays out the most common approaches for organizations who are considering using BIM internally. Volume 3 approaches BIM from the project perspective, particularly when it comes to collaborative use of BIM, where models are to be used by multiple stakeholders.

The practice manual is available in both print and digital forms with English and French editions from buildingSMART Canada. The print version is a bound copy of all three volumes. The digital version is available in PDF format and can be acquired individually or as a complete set. In addition, for a limited time, Volume One: BIM A Primer will be available in digital format at no cost to practitioners who join buildingSMART Canada. Further details are available at www.buildingsmartcanada.ca.

Get your copy: HERE

 

For media enquiries, please contact info@buildingsmartcanada.ca

 

 

Designing a Hotel using Gaming Technology

Link to the original article: Here

3D, gaming and design have all merged in the design and building of the Radisson RED hotel, a new brand from Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group aimed at millennial travellers.

Design visualisation specialist Soluis Group and design consultancy Graven Images teamed up to design the hotel, with Graven developing sketches and rough ideas, which Soluis then converted into 3D visualisations.

Usually, it could take several hours for each frame to render, making the design process, especially small changes to areas such as lighting and materials, particularly drawn out and cumbersome.

However, using the real-time capabilities of Epic Games’ Unreal Engine – traditionally used in video game development – Soluis Group was able to visualise scenes and all changes live, effectively building a high-end, fully interactive virtual environment where clients could experiment with different lighting and materials live.

The client could also effectively walk through the hotel and truly experience what the end result would be.

 

The faster and stronger alternative to 3D printing

Link to the original article: Here

Rapid liquid printing is being billed as a faster and stronger alternative to conventional forms of 3D printing for manufacture. Skylar Tibbits, co-director of the Self-Assembly Lab at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, explains the benefits and potential applications for architecture and construction.

What is rapid liquid printing?

An experimental form of manufacturing, developed by MIT in collaboration with US furniture manufacturer Steelcase. The prototype device physically draws objects in 3D space, by extruding a material compound from a computer-controlled nozzle into a stabilising gel. The technique allows for the creation of large-scale freeform objects, such as items of furniture, much faster than conventional 3D printing.

Just how fast is it compared to regular 3D printing for manufacture?

It depends on the object and features you want to print, but in general our process takes seconds-to-minutes rather than minutes-to-hours, with traditional 3D printing. For example, we printed a part that took 10 minutes, compared to 50 hours in a traditional 3DP process.

The use of a quick-setting compound in a stable gel enables printing in single strokes that solidify fast without the impact of gravity. Regular 3D printers build up objects in layers that have to be extruded and fused, resulting in extended print times.

What’s the largest object you have produced and what size is the system capable of?

The largest object we have printed is a coffee table top, a product for Steelcase, inside a metre-diameter tank at a demonstration at the Furniture Fair in Milan.

This printing technique could potentially be used for almost any large-scale printed object, including furniture, products for automotive or aerospace, sports equipment/apparel or other products.

The only real size constraint is the size of the machine and the quantity of gel. It could also be used for smaller printed structures with high-resolution features, although they would likely be slower to print.

What makes it stronger?

Objects are formed of continuous material, rather than a series of layers that typically cause structural weaknesses when printed and fused together. We have printed using regular high quality materials, like plastic, foam and rubber.

What are the limitations of the technology?

The main constraint at the moment is super fine/high-resolution features because we are trading speed/scale for feature size. But in the future we could imagine using multiple nozzles or multiple passes to create small features with high-resolution as well as larger features.

Ultimately, any line or series of lines in 3D space can be printed using this technique.

The objects photographed don’t appear to have flat planar surfaces, is that currently hard to achieve?

The parts we print look like a frozen liquid, they have smooth curves, radiused edges, smooth surfaces etc, because it is essentially a liquid suspended in space and then cured without the forces of gravity or build plates. So far we have tried to harness that design aesthetic, rather than force it to look like other 3DP parts.

What sparked the idea to develop the technology?

We started with the question: how can we print a furniture-scale object in minutes? That resulted in a rethink of how we might print in way that is different from today, ie trying to eliminate the scale constraint, the speed constraint, the material property constraints, and the layer-by-layer approach.

What could be the wider applications for architecture and construction?

This technique is generally applicable to any industry that is looking to print large parts, at high-speeds, using high-quality materials. It may not be suitable for printing buildings, which would require very large tanks of gel, but architectural components with highly customised details could be quite low-hanging fruit.

Could the system be used to hybrid components that incorporate more than one material?

Yes, we could potentially print with various materials, resolutions, nozzles sizes, pressures etc. This is all possible and currently under development.

Is a commercial system planned and when might it become available?

This work was developed over the past six months and we are still in the research phase, we have lots that we want to continue to explore related to materials, speeds, scales, applications and so on.

BIM in Canada | The movement towards a better built environment

 

Susan Keenliside, Chair in the Member Community of buildingSMART Canada presents the BIM initiatives in the North American country

 Source: BIM Community

Canada is making a huge effort not only in the adoption of BIM, but also in involving all professionals in a growing community where they can learn and contribute to the development of standards, documentation and other activities.

Although BIM in Canada is still relatively nascent, the most recent reports show that new technologies are moving forward in the construction sector: 31% of the Canadian industry is using BIM, 29% is working with integrated approaches and 21% works with lean delivery construction (Source: Tahrani, Poirier&Froges 2015).

There is no a Federal Government Mandate, nor a formal policy mandating BIM implementation on all public projects in Canada, but there are 4 separate and fragmented initiatives across the country:

  • Space Management and Open BIM, led by Defense Construction Canada.
  • Royal Alberta Museum pilot project, from Alberta Infrastructure.
  • Several small pilot projects, developed by the Quebec Society infrastructure.
  • IPD Hospital project, from Government of Saskatchewan.

Canada needs 3 key elements to support the change appropriately on a national level: a BIM Strategy, a BIM Mandate and BIM Standards. Several organizations, including research & education members and industry and constituent members are combining efforts to achieve these goals.

buildingSMART as a catalyst for the change

buildingSMART Canada started increasing its activity in 2004 when they collaborate with the Data Dictionary at buildingSMART, developed by buildingSMART International. From then on, the Canadian chapter has worked hard to promote and enable the movement towards a better built environment for Canada through the development and use of open standards for BIM.

By joining buildingSMART Canada, individuals become part of a growing community that is promoting excellence in the built environment by implementing collaborative working practices in Canada and around the world. Members can participate in the development of standards, protocols and programs through work groups centered on activities described in the national roadmap, available on the buildingSMART Canada website. You can also follow the Canadian chapter through its Twitter accounts: @buildSmartCan and @InstituteBIMCan.

buildingSMART Canada is a council of the Institute for BIM in Canda (IBC), which was formed in 2010 with the mission to lead and facilitate the coordinated use of Building Information Modeling (BIM) in the design, construction and management of the Canadian built environment. IBC brings together, for the first time, all the professional industry associations, as well as some of the owners.

Susan Keenliside, Chair in the Member Community of buildingSMART Canada, explained in the symposiumBIM Implementation Strategies‘, how BIM is being adopted in Canada by presenting the roadmap they are following for BIM implementation in the country, defined by 6 areas of activity: Engage, Develop, Educate, Deploy, Evaluate and Sustain. The Canadian roadmap is being used as a guide for many companies from different countries that are facing BIM adoption.

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BIM resources to build a better environment

Keenliside also showed the tools and documentation that the Canadian agents are developing, available to all users interested in them.

IBC has produced a number of documents, such as the BIM Contract Appendix, which is in line with what is has been produced by the AIA; also BEP (PxP) Toolkits, with the the execution plan essentials, so that users  have access to the best practices and to show how that would be accomplished in 3 different scenarios: Design Development, Construction and the Handover and Maintenance Phase.

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Soon to come up is a Practice Manual for BIM divided in three parts: A Primare, on specific to company context and one specific to the project context. This is the result of the efforts of over sixty dedicated expert practitioners who volunteered for the effort and the text and illustrations for the practice manual have been completed.

The three volumes of the Practice Manual have been reviewed by industry experts and have been approved by buildingSMART Canada and endorsed by the Canadian Construction Association, Architecture Canada, Association of Consulting Engineers of Canada, and the Construction Specifications Canada, and public owners via the Steering Committee of IBC. Currently, the three volumes of the practice manual are undergoing graphic layout for publication and translation from English to French.

Another essential tool just launched in Canada is a discussing board forum. “The focus is BIM best practices. We are not focusing on a specific software, but we are getting the conversation going on BIM in general”, explained Keenliside in the symposium, who also repeatedly encouraged professionals to join the Canadian community. You can join the forum here!

BIM World Implementation Strategies

This intervention was part of the symposium ‘BIM World Implementation Strategies‘, organized by Zigurat Global Institute of TechnologyBIM Freelance and BIMCommunity, where speakers from 8 countries presented the BIM implementation strategies that are being adopted in their territory. All the speakers were key figures of different buildingSMART chapters. Here you can see Susan’s presentation about Canada’s case.

Susan Keenliside, as lecturer of the Zigurat an BIM Freelance’s BIM program

Do you know about the Global BIM Management Certification Program from Zigurat? This popular international program caters to the needs of professionals in more than 20 sectors of the AECO industry, by providing with the BIM methodology, tools and skills necessary to become leaders in BIM implementation.

Susan Keenliside is collaborating in the 1st edition of the Global BIM Management Certification Program as part of the faculty board, which features other lecturers such as Bill East, Jared Banks, Jeffrey W. Ouellette, Jacob D’Albora, Mohsen Far and more.

Zigurat’s BIM programs, in English, Spanish and Portuguese, are certified by Canada BIM Council in accordance with the international standards. Specifically, the Global BIM Management Certification Program has achieved the Academic Certification Level 3.0, the highest level of certification.

This certification is recognized globally and complies with the BIM standards stipulated in Canada and the United Kingdom, some of the pioneers and most active countries in BIM methodology. Obtaining this certification will help industry professionals achieve a valuable professional position anywhere in the world and have internationally recognized credentials.

Canada BIM Council’s mission is to provide their professional, educational, construction, fabrication and supply chain members a collective voice dedicated to BIM.
Become a fully capable BIM Manager working in construction projects with high-performance teams from all around the world by joining this global program that begins the 24th May. This is your last chance!

Construction Robots in Japan as Workforce Disminishes

Article written by: Akiko Yasuhara

Link to the original article: Here

 

Construction sites in Japan are enjoying a wave of automation amid an increasing shortage of laborers, with the introduction of robots to do heavy lifting and drones that instantly collect aerial data.

As the industry ages along with the country’s graying society, construction companies are forced to look for ways to boost productivity and efficiency.

According to the Japan Federation of Construction Contractors, there will be 1.28 million fewer construction workers by fiscal 2025 compared with fiscal 2014.

In 2015, some 30 percent of all construction workers were aged over 55, while those below 29 accounted for only about 10 percent, according to the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism.

“We will probably have a total of 900,000 workers joining the industry within the next 10 years, but the 300,000 shortage will need to be covered by boosting productivity,” said Atsushi Fujino, a spokesman at major construction firm Kajima Corp.

“That’s why we are all scrambling for a solution.”

Kajima has started using unmanned, automated dump trucks, bulldozers and vibrating rollers with GPS systems at its building sites. Using a tablet device, a worker directs the preprogrammed heavy equipment to carry out various tasks.

Only one person using a tablet, for example, is required to operate a sequence of tasks carried out by five machines that dump soil, and compact and smooth surfaces.

The automation ultimately leads to a higher level of productivity.

Currently, the machines are being used on a trial basis on a construction site for a dam in Oita Prefecture.

Shimizu Corp., another major construction firm, has developed an arm-shaped robot that lifts reinforcing rods.

It usually takes six to seven people to carry one 200-kg rod, but using the machine it requires only three workers to direct the robot and move the rod.

“This is a realization of human-robot collaboration,” said Tomoaki Ogi, a manager at the civil engineering technology division at Shimizu who helped develop the arm-shaped robot, which is now being leased out at construction sites.

Even with technological advances, construction sites are still far from being fully automated. In fact, Kajima’s Fujino said he doubts that all tasks at construction sites can be done by machines.

“There are things that only people can do, for example, getting small corners done or interiors that require artisan skills,” Fujino said. “Machines and humans excel at different levels.”

Shimizu’s Ogi agreed, saying every site was different in terms of area, soil or weather and each time a robot must be reprogrammed to fit new conditions.

Construction sites are also not like the manufacturing industry, where robots are stationary and the tasks are identical, with products moving along an assembly line.

Ogi suggested making use of the strengths of robots and humans, emphasizing that robots cannot understand nuances like their human counterparts.

“Let the robot do the heavy work under people’s (guidance),” he said.

Still, construction firms are hoping robots and building automation will encourage younger generations to join the industry.

Young people have not been attracted to construction work because of the long hours, hard work and low pay.

Yohei Oya, a 38-year-old construction supervisor at Shojigumi Inc. in Shizuoka Prefecture, uses robots and other automated machines. He said building sites were undergoing significant change.

“Productivity has boosted by five to 10 times through automation and we’re not at the site all night like we used to be. You don’t even have to be highly skilled anymore to get the work done,” Oya said.

“The burden has been reduced on our workers and on management. Work is completed in half the time it used to take.”

Oya launched a network in 2015 that connects construction firms across the country that wish to try new technologies at their sites and share information.

Thirteen companies have joined the network and use the latest technology, including drones that instantly offer a bird’s-eye view of a site and can be used for surveying and loading shovels with systems that dig soil to a set depth.

The government has also been promoting the automation of construction sites by way of its i-Construction campaign.

The infrastructure ministry said it will financially support public works projects that plan to use drones and other technology for streamlining works.

The amount of support will be calculated based on cost estimates for the construction project.

“When we think about the shortage of workers 10 years from now, this is the last chance for the government to invest and conduct radical reform (in the construction industry),” said Yasushi Nitta, senior deputy director of the ministry’s public works project policy planning.

World’s First 3D Printed Skyscraper in Dubai

Article written by: Tom Ravenscroft

Link to the original article: Here

 

Cazza, a US-based construction start-up, has announced plans to build the world’s first 3D-printed skyscraper in Dubai.

The announcement is the latest in a succession of firsts, as 3D printing seems to be gathering steam. The first 3D printed bridge, first 3D printed office and first 3D printed excavator, were all completed last year.

According to the firm the high rise will be created using a new technique, which it has dubbed “crane printing”. This technique will use cranes with printing units specifically designed to  incorporate added units that are specifically designed for printing structures above 80m high.

Explaining the thinking behind printing upwards Chris Kelsey, CEO of Cazza, was reported in Construction Week Online as saying: “When we first thought of implementing 3D printing technologies, we were mostly thinking of houses and low-rise buildings.

Dubai’s 3D printed office

“Developers kept asking us if it was possible to build a 3D printed skyscraper. This led us to begin researching how we could adapt the technologies for taller structures.

“Through our technologies, we will be able to build architecturally complex buildings at never-before seen speeds. It is all about economies of scale where the initial high technology costs will reduce as we enter the mass-production phase,” he added.

According to the company its crane printing process will include all major structural components of the skyscraper, including reinforced steel and concrete. The rest of the building will be completed with a combination of 3D printed components and traditional methods.

The skyscraper, however, may not be happening in the near future because although Cazza has announced its plans, it has not yet disclosed any of the details of the project, including the building’s client, planned height, site, budget or any commencement or completion dates.

The Axioms of BIM

This is a fantastic article written by: Anthony McPhee

(Thank you to Kelly Janz for sharing)

Link to the original article: http://practicalbim.blogspot.ca/2017/02/the-axioms-of-bim.html

The Axioms of BIM

BIM can seem complicated at times, but is it really?
Certainly BIM processes and procedures can end up being complicated, just try and and understand some of the standards that are being pushed.If only there was a way to cut through the guff, to have a simple set of principles that could be applied in any situation where BIM is at issue.Like in Mathematics. Mathematics is all about logic, but that logic has to be based on something, has to start somewhere. This is where Axioms come in. An Axiom is “a self-evident truth that requires no proof“. Maybe that is a step too far for BIM. But what about a “universally accepted principle or rule“.

Axioms have to be basic otherwise they are hard to apply. Euclid’s first for geometry is “A straight line segment can be drawn joining any two points.“, the second “Any straight line segment can be extended indefinitely in a straight line.

Could we do the same for BIM? Have some “universally accepted principles.

DEFINITION of BIM

First we need to be clear about what we are talking about, what we mean by BIM.

I wrote a post about this back in 2012 – What Does BIM Mean to You?
Hopefully by now we are beyond arguing about personal interpretations. Also back then discussion was more centered on buildings and the particular form of model used. BIM has moved on since then so I think a more universal definition is warranted.

BIM is a generic term for anything that involves software that directly associates data with geometric information.

The term BIM is used to describe the thing – the Building Information Model, the process – Building Information Modelling and management – Building Information Management.

Usually BIM applies to buildings, or facilities, but may be applied to other things like infrastructure and GIS (Geographical Information System). Really anything in the built environment that has a physical form and meaningful data.

The AXIOMS

So now we are on the same page what are the essential axioms we can use to apply to BIM topics and issues.

1.    BIM can be used by anyone for anything.

BIM is not limited to certain purposes or particular groups.

BIM is not just for design, construction or operation. It is not just for design analysis, clash detection, facilities management. Nor is is just for buildings, infrastructure or GIS. The data in BIM models is agnostic, it doesn’t care who uses it or for what purpose.
It can be used to educate, to inform, in contracts, to create VR, for disaster planning, even preparing terrorist attacks (hence the need for PAS1192-5).

Allied with this is there is no theoretical limit to the type of data. If there is data that you would find useful you can add it (or pay someone to add it). Just don’t expect someone else to do it for free – see Axiom 2.

2.    The BIM you do directly benefits what you do.

If not, you are doing someone else’s work for them.

The reason you use BIM software and processes is to improve the efficiency and quality of the work you do and are responsible for.

If you don’t think you are, apply Axiom 1 – BIM can be used for anything, and work out how it could benefit what you do.

This Axiom is not just about personal gain. This is an important aspect of BIM. Processes where each participant is benefiting will always be more robust, have greater take up, and longevity.

But more importantly it is critical participants only work within their area of expertise and responsibility. Architect’s should not use BIM to do structural analysis. Design professionals and contractors should not be responsible for providing data that is specifically structured for FM purposes.
Providing data to others is fine, but providing data that is fit for someone else’s purpose is a step too far.
And unnecessary. Structured data is accessible no matter how it is structured. Standards may help if those standards are adequate, but lack of standards does not make it an impossible task.

Contractors should be responsible for extracting the data they need for construction from design consultants data, FM consultants should be responsible for extracting the data they need for operations from contractor’s data, realtors responsible for extracting the data they need for sales from FM data, etc…

So if you find yourself in a situation where what you are doing is of no benefit to what you do, you are within your rights to say no, – we don’t do that, or demand to be paid to do it.

Conversely, if you are doing it for your own purposes and someone else is benefiting from it, you give them free access to it, after all it is not costing you anything.

3.    BIM replaces or enhances something you already do.

BIM is something you do instead of other less efficient and less accurate methods.

If you are following Axiom 2 – you are using BIM for your own benefit, you will be using it to do things you were already responsible for.

You don’t draw in Autocad AND model in ArchiCAD, you don’t manually create a schedule in Excel AND create the schedule in Revit.
You don’t do a structural design by linking an analysis package to your model AND calculate it all out with pen, paper and calculator.
You don’t use a BIM model and a total station to set out ceiling hangers AND measure them out with a measuring tape.
You don’t have a room full of drawings & folders AND have an integrated FM database.

This also applies to management. There may be a new position called BIM Manager, but it isn’t a new profession. It’s a manager who uses BIM to do the things managers do already.

BIM is a tool to get things done. It is not a thing in itself. If you are doing BIM for no measurable purpose you are wasting your time.

4.    BIM is not possible without BIM capable software.

BIM is fundamentally a technology of a particular type of computer software.

BIM capable software is software that, as a minimum, can store and manipulate geometric information and associate data to that geometry. Software that only does geometry (CAD, SketchUp, Rhino, etc) or just manages data (databases, spreadsheets, etc) are not BIM capable.

BIM is often described as a process, but it is a process of managing BIM capable software. It may involve only managing the output and exchange of that software, but to do that effectively you need an understanding of the abilities and limitations of the software involved. BIM Management ignorant of software issues is nothing more than management by wishful thinking.

There are some who think mandating “OpenBIM” means software becomes irrelevant.
OpenBIM may be developed by committees with high ideals, but it is still software (or software format), it still has a fixed form that people have to try and use to get things done. BIM softwares that are used in the real world have to be able to interact with “OpenBIM” formats or BIM processes will not be possible.

When it comes to BIM you always have to consider the impact of the softwares being used.

5.    BIM works best with Collaboration.

Sharing your data means others share their data with you.

BIM works best if your combine it with collaboration with others, but you can still use BIM without any collaboration.

An architect can use Revit to just create drawings and schedules but never give the model to anyone. The architect is still doing BIM, benefiting from it by being more efficient and accurate, even though there is no collaboration.

If you think about it BIM can’t just be collaboration. If none of the collaborators produce or can offer BIM, how can there be any collaboration? There is nothing to collaborate with.

Collaboration is a secondary consideration. Establishing what BIM will be done (Axiom 1), that there is a benefit (Axiom 2), and that it is doing something that it is required because it is already being done (Axiom 3), has to be done first.

But once that happens collaboration is definitely low hanging fruit.

Consider the example above. If the architect share their model with, say, a quantity surveyor who uses the model to measure quantities, the architect will get costing advice much quicker and more often (as will the client), leading to the architect wasting less time on abortive work.

WHAT ABOUT…

Of course there are other considerations than just the Axioms when looking at BIM.
Some examples I’ve seen are:

  • Whether the effort or expense is worth the outcome.
  • Whether it is possible with current technology and skill sets.
  • Whether there enough time in the program for implementation.

But these are not principles about BIM, they are problems to overcome.

  • If it is not worth the effort, how could the effort be reduced, or the outcome enhanced to make it more valuable?
  • If it is not currently possible when will it be possible, or what is possible now, what is practical now?
  • Compare how much extra time is required against the benefits. Can the program be adjusted to allow more time upfront?

USING THE AXIOMS

So next time you are in a discussion about BIM keep in mind the BIM Axioms, they may provide a quick answer to a silly proposition.

To recap the BIM Axioms are:

  1. BIM can be used by anyone for anything.
  2. The BIM you do directly benefits what you do.
  3. BIM replaces or enhances something you already do.
  4. BIM is not possible without BIM capable software.
  5. BIM works best with collaboration.

Have a go at this quiz to see how easy it is (answers below).

Which axiom applies to each of the following:

A.   You wouldn’t use BIM for that.
B.   It’s your job to give me the data I need.
C.   BIM is a whole lot of extra work.
D.   It doesn’t matter which software you use for BIM.
E.   We can’t use BIM because the contract doesn’t have collaboration clauses (is not IPD).

(A=1, B=2, C=3, D=4, E=5)

Supplementary quiz for the dedicated:

A.   You can do BIM with CAD software.
B.   It is extra work to get our schedules out of Revit.
C.   The primary purpose of BIM is for facility operations.
D.   We can’t use BIM because there is no BIM Execution Plan.
E.   COBie doesn’t cost anything.

(A=4, B=3, C=1, D=5, E=2)