Finding the BIM solution for ASSA ABLOY

BIM is fast becoming an industry standard and accepted norm for a large proportion of new building projects but Andy Stolworthy, Product Manager and BIM Project Leader at ASSA ABLOY Security Solutions believes there are still lessons to be learnt, especially for manufacturers of smaller components.


Discussing his own journey to BIM, Andy highlights some of the key issues ASSA ABLOY Security Solutions faced, as well as some of the decisions they’ve taken that will only be proven when put into practice in 2014.  


BIM is no longer new news. If you’re only just discussing BIM then you’re already behind the curve, especially as the journey to creating BIM objects and a suitable offering for your customers and the market is a long one, not to mention a steep one.


That said, for those working with smaller parts or products of the overall build, such as hardware sets, we’re certainly nearer the start of our journey. Although we’ve learnt a lot along with way, there are still many unanswered questions and unknown elements for producers of smaller components. For the most part, this is going to be a case of trial and error, working with customers and adapting to the changes as BIM practices become more sophisticated and widely used across a variety of builds.


For me, and for many others who are slightly removed from the day-to-day building specification and architectural practices, BIM was a concept mentioned a few years ago by a limited number of people at industry trade association meetings. Whilst there was no skepticism surrounding its value and theory, uptake seemed unlikely at a time of great pressure in the construction industry.


A model similar to that used for precision aircraft engineering seemed unlikely to hold weight within an industry suffering from skills shortage, lack of demand and stagnating investment. But it was clear to most that the industry needed a catalyst for change to reverse the effects of the recession and worsening reputation of the construction industry.


However, it was becoming apparent that this change was going to need to come from within and I think BIM certainly formed part of this rejuvenation.


The concept began to proliferate the industry, being presented at larger conferences and adopted by some of the leading practices and construction companies, demonstrating how the model could be used in practice.


Aside from the ‘showcase’ projects, such as the 30 storey building built in 15 days in China and 24 hour house builds in the USA, tangible offerings were being developed in the UK that demonstrated the technique’s benefits.


Plus, the mandate by the government that all government-funded projects should use BIM by 2016, took it from a theoretical concept developed in the 1970s to an everyday practice that was going to impact on almost all levels of the industry.


But the real question for us was did people care about hardware?


When we were seeing models on such a grand scale, where information was being shared about entire building levels – did people really need this amount of detail for hardware or doors?


Admittedly, our first instinct was probably not, but when you consider the amount of doorsets that can be used in a building and the impact of, for example, the door width on a building’s overall dimensions, we soon began to see that if positioned correctly, BIM did have a role. If approached correctly in a way to help not hinder specifiers with too much detail, then BIM objects for hardware or doorsets would indeed be beneficial.


After creating a BIM task group and obtaining feedback from our customers and their clients the early decision was made that this was a specification solution driven project rather than a product led one. We therefore decided to pursue the development of doorset objects before latterly extending this to hardware sets.


By providing doorsets as BIM objects we believe we are providing a more solution-based proposition that is useful on all building scales. The nine BIM objects developed so far are designed to offer a total package of both hardware and doors, and each object is tailored for the most common applications and uses.


The purpose of BIM is to create efficiencies in the development and construction of buildings, save time during the planning and build stage, and reduce the cost of rectifying mistakes or unnecessary maintenance work. From the initial research we conducted we believe that supplying doorsets as BIM objects is in line with these objectives.


It creates an ‘off the shelf’ solution that has the correct hardware included, tailored to suit nine different applications, whilst supplying the information needed to be useful in an overall BIM development.


The next stage of the journey will be the response to these doorset objects… Are they useful, how are they used and what other support do specifiers require? We will then be looking to roll out 20 generic doorset objects, which we expect to have a much more select audience and again, this will be another stage of the journey from which we can build and learn from.



Andy Stolworthy, Product Manager, ASSA ABLOY Security Solutions, specialises in the accreditation of industry standards and is passionate about anything that is a driver within the construction industry.


ASSA ABLOY Security Solutions’ BIM objects are available to download from