I recently attended a BIM workshop which was held at Coventry University. The 2 days were presented by the ‘2 David’s’, David Emery and David Jennings. It was good to hear BIM described and discussed in real terms in real life applications. The event was one of a reoccurring set of workshops which are funded by Sustainable Building Futures (SBF) with the aim of assisting SME’s on their road towards greater BIM adoption.
Many topics within BIM were covered, from the origins of BIM to what BIM actually is and isn’t? As many who understand BIM already know BIM isn’t something new! This point was highlighted by David Jennings with some nice references to historical builds right back to the Empire State Building and even further beyond that to the construction techniques adopted for the Egyptian pyramids. The Empire State Building consists of 102 floors and was constructed in the 1930’s. Surprising to some may be the schedule of works and completion time; the building was completed in just 13 months, which was no mean feat back in the 30’s! They achieved this through various ways, one being a collaborative and integrated design environment in which all of the various design and construction teams worked in close proximity of each other. This enabled decisions and alterations etc. to be made live without any lengthy delays for information exchange. Another point of interest regarding the schedule was the fact that there were no critical paths which enabled for a smooth process. A point that strikes me was contrast in complexity from many buildings today. There was a simplicity to the design of the building, in essence only two floor plan variations were used which obviously lead to a more efficient progress and schedule during construction. Aside from the BIM aspect one aspect which makes today’s building far more difficult to build is this complexity, and from a sustainable and construction point of view possibly over complexity. The iconic focal point buildings we have in our major cities are great for the viewer but are the levels of complexity they bring to much in a low impact conscious industry? One argument against this however would be the level of revenue that a landmark building can bring to a city, just look at the money that follows a Renzo Piano design!
The way that what is BIM was explained was put in a nicely succinct manner by David Jennings as ‘the access to information when you need it’. To further explain BIM the definition set out by BuildingSMART was also displayed showing the variations in the BIM acronym; Building Information modelling, model, management etc. From these definitions in my personal opinion if, as we are, we a struck with some kind of acronym then personally I prefer the BIMM acronym that has been bandied around, Building Information Modelling and Management (BIMM). I feel this best encompasses all of the technology aspects of BIM as well as signifying the importance of the people and processes aspects.
Next up on day 2 we had various run troughs of some of the more technical aspects of BIM such as COBie and quality assurance check via Solibri. It’s clear to me that COBie for many is a bit of an unknown territory, so it was nice to see it running live on Solibri and see actual outputs of intelligent data. Later on I will be doing an article on putting REVIT through its paces in regards to how to get from REVIT to COBie outputs so will cover that aspect myself then. What was outlined within the talks were the Benefits of quality assuring a model or IFC file to be more specific before running the COBie calculations/export. One point I’m really intrigued to follow the evolution of is the progress to be made in regards to COBie drops and the path towards fully integrated models and data. As discussed within the workshop COBie drops 0,1,2,3 have all taken place within live projects but drops 4 and 5 have yet to be fully completed. I’m keen to see how far these drops can be automated and how fluid the process becomes for drops 4 and 5 as it’s the major data drop area for the Operations and Management side of things. And in my view handover and Softlanding’s are one of the current missing links where BIM could achieve its true ROI and prove its worth to doubters!
I won’t go into too much detail into the Solibri process as in the near future I will be doing a hands on assessment of how I find the process but from what I seen of it in live action I do feel there are some neat aspects to the software. Having used Tekla BIMsight for clash detection I can immediately see the differences in what Solibri can bring to the table from the live demo. One of the major abilities I liked was that you can use pre-programmed definitions to interrogate a model such as building codes etc. (I’m told British codes are to be updated in the near future) which in my understanding will take it beyond many other clash detection software’s. As a teaching aid or as a real world live project tool if I can utilise a tool to do Building Codes and Building Regulations checks as well as the more common clash detection it will surely speed up process. One of the toughest aspects to teach students within construction is to get them to design with building reg’s and such in mind. A checker won’t and shouldn’t eliminate this skill but it would defiantly be a useful tool to ‘double check’ for human error.
Overall it was a well done workshop with good real world content so congrats to the two David’s for getting me thinking about a good few points to keep my eye on in the future as well as areas for future articles! You can check out their site at Virtechs