BIMcrunch Editorial: A taste of the NBS BIM Toolkit

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“It is widening BIM to the entire information set, not just the 3D model.”

After witnessing a preview of the NBS Digital BIM Toolkit, that above quote from Director of Design & Innovation Dr. Stephen Hamil certainly rings true.

Taking place last week at Space Group‘s offices in Newcastle, United Kingdom the presentation from Stephen lasted around 45 minutes and set the record straight for the architects in attendance in regards to what exactly the BIM Toolkit and Digital Plan of Work (dPow) are and how they will aid the implementation of Level 2 BIM.

Essentially, the Digital Toolkit is an online interface that allows all project teams to interact with one another and state what work they will carry out at various stages of a development.

As well as allowing project participants to outline what they will be doing as part of the build, it also allows their fellow partners to make suggestions and give feedback should they believe that their peers should be doing more at a particular stage. This means that everyone can see who is accountable for what processes at what stage. If you were meant to do something and didn’t, the Digital Plan of Work will know!

“The dPoW defines who is doing what and when,” explained Stephen in Layman’s terms for those listening to his presentation. Hamil said that the end goal is for the industry to be supported in their adoption of Level 2 BIM and to be getting the most out of the process. If everyone is working to the same process, it will be easier to share their findings and showcase what went well and what did not.

Exclusive look at the new NBS Toolkit branding. Credit: The NBS
Exclusive look at the new NBS Toolkit branding. Credit: The NBS

“It is about adding value through capabilities rather than inventing a new way of working”, noted Stephen. It doesn’t tell people how to do their jobs, yet it states what tasks are required and at what time should practices wish to follow a framework from the strategy to in-use stages of the lifecycle. The toolkit advises on how BIM can be utilised, yet “you still need to use your existing BIM tools to deliver it”, added Stephen.

It is not just people who are confirmed to be working on a project who can use the toolkit either. If a development is at the bidding stage, bidders can respond to exported EIRs within the toolkit by adding their proposed BIM Execution Plan including roles and advice on changes of how to approach tasks.

So how does it work? Once the toolkit goes live on April 8th, 2015, users will be able to access it online. At launch, each project team will only have access via one log-in, yet NBS will add functionality for more log-ins per project via a later update, which should follow around two months later according to Stephen.

In the dPoW, tabs categorise the various stages (0 to 7) and sectors within a project and highlight what clients want (EIRs) and what roles you think you will need at whatever stage.

“All information inserted [into the toolkit] can be exported out”, declares Stephen. Information may be exported out so that it can be included in EIR documentation or into IFC or COBie documentation for online re-use.

In addition to that, over 5,000 templates have been specifically developed in relation to Levels of Detail (LOD) and Levels of Information (LOI) for construction objects. As stated on the official website, this is “so objects can be configured at a project level to have the correct multiple classifications where required”.

Exclusive look at the new NBS Toolkit branding. Credit: The NBS
Exclusive look at the new NBS Toolkit branding. Credit: The NBS

Although suitable to utilise for all Building Information Modelling operations, the Government-backed ‘missing puzzle piece’ will be perfect in relation to repeat business. If project partners are teaming together again, they can see how their previous work went and how their next project together can be improved. Regarding this, Hamil reflected that it will allow repeat clients to refine their processes to continually improve. He said:

“Projects will never be perfect, yet you will be able to learn from what went well and where things can go better with the aim of enhancing the process for the next project.”

Finally, we thought to question Stephen on a query he may be often asked once the toolkit has been released. Despite being potentially obscure, we asked whether the toolkit will ever be available in Welsh or Gaelic. The dPoW is for use across the entire UK, yet not the whole of the collective speak English! When posed with our interrogative, Hamil replied:

“There are no immediate plans, no. We haven’t managed to integrate multiple languages into the system in the first six months of development.”

In closing, it is clear to see that the BIM Toolkit developed by The NBS, BDP, BIM Academy, Laing O’Rourke, Microsoft, Mott MacDonald and Newcastle University will be a fantastic tool to allow every to be on the same page. If everyone is working in a similar fashion, it will much easier to share results for other BIM adopters to learn from. Not to mention, with the upcoming online portal being so easy to use, the most stubborn of Generation X professionals will have no excuse not to give it a try.

We can’t wait to learn more about the work NBS have been doing on the Digital Toolkit at BIM Show Live. With 2016 rapidly approaching, project teams will soon have a fantastic new BIM weapon to add to their arsenal as they charge into battle for those lucrative public sector contracts.

Exclusive look at the new NBS Toolkit branding. Credit: The NBS
Exclusive look at the new NBS Toolkit branding. Credit: The NBS

Stephen will be presenting the BIM Toolkit at BIM Show Live 2015 on Wednesday, April 8th on the Main Stage alongside the David Philp of the BIM Task Group and BIM Academy’s Steve Lockley. For further details on how you can witness the talk in person, click here.

To view more information on the NBS Toolkit, follow this link.

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