Is BIM transforming ASSA ABLOY Security Solutions’ approach to specification?

The construction industry has been questioning itself on its approach to specification, focusing more on the longer-term value of the asset and its Whole Life Cost (WLC), and BIM has certainly influenced this.

As a Product Manager and BIM Project Leader for ASSA ABLOY Security Solutions, Andy Stolworthy continues to work within the market to understand how BIM and manufacturers’ objects can add value.


Discussing the second phase of his own journey to BIM, Andy explains the thinking behind the launch of ASSA ABLOY Security Solutions BIM hardware objects, as well as the general market response to the initial nine BIM doorset objects that launched at the end of last year.



With the industry just starting to climb out of recession, it’s a prime time for a fresh approach to construction. At the Ecobuild Show in March, it was widely agreed that we urgently need to work on improving the quality of the buildings we build, and ensure they are relevant for the user once handed over.


Some believe that Design & Build contracts, which originally evolved in the 1960s, have caused a lull in innovation that has significantly impacted on the quality of building construction. Personally I disagree; by producing an asset for a fixed cost within a fixed timeframe, with a client transferring the responsibility (and ultimately the risk) to the main contractor, D&B is a sound service. 


Perhaps it is the need to deliver on a tighter and tighter budget that is the problem, rather than the service itself. Regardless of the cause, the problems persist. Time for a fresh start!


BIM is a fundamental part of the Governments ‘Construction 2025’ vision, and it has begun to gain momentum recently as we get closer to the 2016 deadline. At this point, all centrally funded government projects will need to be constructed using BIM at level 2, with the aim of improving construction efficiency by effectively building it twice; finding the errors in the computer generated model before the actual build begins. This should ultimately add immense value, reducing time on site and improving efficiencies during the construction stage.


That said BIM is no more than a process, so it won’t necessarily improve the quality. So how do we improve the quality of the building, and its relevance to the user?


As an industry, we need to have a longer-term approach to buildings, and give greater weight to the user’s requirements at the design stage – not engineer these out during the tender process. I’m not suggesting design decisions shouldn’t be challenged, but if the alternative solution does not meet the needs of the user, then making a change to benefit the build stage that will have a negative effect on the operation is surely a poor decision.


This is where Government Soft Landings (GSL) will have an effect, which is mandatory along with the BIM implementation in 2016. The general premise is that the design owner (whoever that may be) continues to have responsibility in the first few years of a building’s use, to ensure the chosen specification meets the needs of the user. While this is a very high-level view, it should drive good practice to ensure that design decisions are made in the best interest of the user.


These trends have been a huge motivating factor in our own fresh approach to specification, demonstrated in our new product family ranges. For some time now we have been gathering detailed information, not only on how our products perform under extended durability situations, but also what is expected of doorsets in various applications.


We have fitted cycle-counters on doors within real life applications in the education, health and commercial sectors, so that we have a clear understanding of the environment needs. Using this data and the extended durability testing, we have grouped hardware in packages to suit the rigours of each vertical market.


There is still plenty of choice for the client, but these structured families provide a way of managing risk at the design stage. We can provide factual data on how different packages will perform in common applications, as well as how long it will be before they are likely to need replacing. Variations can be considered, comparing how the different options would affect the life cycle. It’s a very powerful tool, and as we move towards GSL in 2016, I hope it will provide value to the building design, and ultimately, to the user.


In the same vein, we launched our first nine BIM doorset objects at the end of last year. They have received over 400 downloads in the first few months of being available, along with a lot of positive feedback. The data within our BIM models is well structured, ensuring that it is easy for architects and specifiers to perform calculations about how the hardware will interact with different products, effectively making the building process more rationalised and streamlined. Our BIM objects aren’t locked, making it easy to reduce some of the detail on the doorsets and hardware when adding them to a whole building model.


We are now due to launch a further 20 hardware objects based on our product families; these contain door handles, hinges, door closers, locks, escutcheons, cylinders, kick plates, push plates and signage all mounted on a generic door. As they are matched to the product families they have WLC data within them, which should provide a reliable cost model for Facilities Managers covering the installation period and beyond.


The 20 objects will initially be launched in Revit and IFC formats, with availability in other formats to follow; we are still very much committed to providing content in a number of proprietary platforms. The biggest question still unanswered for me is how much manufacturers’ objects are wanted. Currently, there doesn’t seem to be much of an appetite, but I believe as we move to the BIM data being used for the operation phase, they will become invaluable.


Only time will tell, but to answer the original question on whether BIM is transforming ASSA ABLOY Security Solutions approach to specification is… it inevitably has to.


By Andy Stolworthy, Product Manager and BIM Project Leader at ASSA ABLOY.


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