Today sees the official release of the BIM Toolkit by RIBAe, a great tool indeed and one that will no doubt see people airing their opinions – so let me start that off with my own!
It’s great, but implementing it may be a challenge – and when I say implementing it, I mean the calculations people will do in their heads as soon as we describe what it is… the instant conclusion will be that it’s an unnecessary overhead. This, as you can imagine is a short-sighted view but one that many thousands or ‘ordinary’ project delivery staff will have. With a sensible approach to use of the tool, we can persuade people to use it and it will soon become and essential project resource for all involved.
A little background…
The toolkit has been developed with InnovateUK funding (in addition to significant RIBAe funding) for the UK government to fulfil two of the XNo. ‘pillars’ of Level 2 BIM. What the tool does is formalise a way of asking for specific information at each stage and to do so in both geometry and information terms.
An online portal for key project information for all team members to access – this will (hopefully) ensure all parties are working with consistent information.
Same as above only for team information along the way. People can be added as they join the team at various work stages.
OK too much opinion to squeeze into this little blog post, but needless to say that a classification system (Uniclass 2015) is included that will allow mapping from this classification system to another for whatever, whoever to use.
Level of Definition
Another biggie, but one I am going to expand upon here because I think it puts us (the UK) in an enviable position in the global setting. All previous guides to LOD have either been too generic (PAS1192:2), mapped directly to work stages so don’t embrace LEAN methodology (yep PAS 1192:2 again) or focus on geometry rather than data/ information (AIA-E202 / BIMForum LOD Spec).
What we have with the BIMToolkit is something that splits Level of Detail (LOD) from Level of Information (LOI) – combining these gives overall Level of Definition (LOD, confusingly…). To my knowledge, this is the first time this has been attempted and it’s a welcome move from my point of view – my MEP colleagues in particular are over the moon!
This will make a real difference for me in determining resources, fees and programme and understanding what it is that the client needs at each key stage (which may not necessarily align with CIC work stages- client funding / development gateways are equally as important). It’ll be documented for all to see rather than relying on assumptions and educated guesswork.
Whilst I’m writing about this, it’s worth reiterating that LOD does not determine what is contained within a model, but rather ‘what can be relied upon’ – please remember this!
So, back to that calculation…
Now we have an understanding of what the toolkit has to achieve, let’s take the following numbers into consideration:
The sharp readers among you would have done the calculation already and figured that there are are (if we are to fully embrace LEAN thinking) over 200,000 decisions (201,600 using the number above) to make prior to any work being undertaken.
Obviously this is presentation of stats to make a point, but acknowledging this now and heading off any future issues HAS to be a good thing…
In a traditional (non BIM) process, these decisions would have been made or assumed anyway; all we’re asking people to do now is document them at the beginning of the project so everyone knows what they’re doing and when.
By considering what is needed at the outset and recording it in a consistent way, Clients are producing a LEAN, project-focussed, specific set of information requirements that are used to answer Plain Language Questions at stages throughout the project duration.
You’ll note above that I wrote “Clients are producing” – there’s a good reason for this; in an ideal world the Client and their commercial team would sit and consider, from the beginning what they need, when they need it and who is responsible for delivering it. This can be a fairly broad approach or a much more granular one- I’ll leave you to consider which brings more benefit and reduces risk. In my opinion (shared by my Arup Project & Programme Management colleagues), the Project Managers are best placed to provide a guidance service to the Client. They are appointed at the right time, are in possession of the relevant information, have direct contact with the Client and are aware of the commercial and economic aspects of the project. They may not have the required BIM knowledge, skills or experience yet but it’s sure easier to train them in BIM terms, than it is to train BIM software folk in the finer aspects of true Project Management. I’m happy to be challenged on this, so I’m throwing it out there!
One output of this is essentially a core part of the CIC BIM Protocol and Employer’s Information Requirements – a Model Production Delivery Table (MPDT). This tool is a way of producing a unified, structured document in the same vein as NBS did with specification, it will become a familiar format that people understand. I hope. It will enable automated checking of models and the required info (although how this works for geometry is yet to be demonstrated), it will become a vital tool in checking for completeness and ‘validation’. The potential is enormous in having actionable data to measure against.
In summary, I’ve been an Architect long enough now to know that this isn’t ‘an ideal world’ and that sometimes things need to change and evolve to deliver a project but from my point of view starting with ‘the optimum process’ HAS to be the best approach – how else are we going to improve our industry?…