Analysis

Golden key could unlock Hackitt’s golden thread of BIM data

8 September 2019 | By Stephen Cousins

A “golden key” could become critical to unlock a “golden thread” of BIM asset information in line with recommendations made in the Hackitt Review, a new housing think tank has claimed.

The BIM in Housing initiative was set up to respond to failings highlighted in Dame Judith Hackitt’s Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety, which suggested that BIM could deliver a golden thread by focusing more on asset information management to avoid the loss of data at handover.

Members include housing association Peabody, architects David Miller and PRP, project manager Airey Miller, law firm Devonshires, and BIM consultant ActivePlan.

They have held workshops to share expertise and information and develop new BIM processes and workflows. Their research has highlighted the potential importance of a reference code, contained in asset information requirements, that could act as golden key to automatically connect product databases with objects in a project information model and the asset information model handed to a client post-completion.

The golden key would be written into Revit families and automatically connect installed product data to asset management systems.

George Stevenson, managing director at ActivePlan, told BIM+: “The golden key is the workflow that we think can glue it all together and tie asset information requirements to the performance specification, to the actual solution that is purchased and installed.”

According to Stevenson, specialist contractors and installers remain heavily reliant on analog PDFs and printed files, which creates disconnect from data in the BIM model. As a result, even BIM Level 2 projects fail to provide the information asset managers actually require to populate their Computer-Aided Facilities Management (CAFM) systems.

“The Hackett Review has thrown a spotlight on the need for building owners and their contractors to understand what products and materials are in the buildings they develop and there’s an expectation that BIM will deliver that,” said Stevenson. “Apart from the ethical aspect of making sure that tenants are safe, there’s now a regulator coming on board, which is going to be scrutinising them far more heavily.”

The government wants to make BIM mandatory for all higher-risk residential buildings in multiple occupancy and Peabody is one of a group of so-called “early adopters”, which also includes Willmott Dixon and Kier.

In a video produced for Peabody to help explain its new BIM requirements to contractors, ActivePlan explains that designers and the supply chain should be provided with a set of clearly-defined asset information requirements in early project stages, including auditable standards and tests.

From RIBA Stage 3 onwards, a product library application would manage all product data and form the basis of a project information model (PIM) that is progressively updated.

Operations and Maintenance (O&M) data can be output from the PIM at any stage of the project and at a handover the PIM transforms into an asset information model used for the long-term management of the building.

The ability to capture consistent asset data that is standardised and in a consistent format remains a challenge for the industry and ActivePlan recommends that clients provide the supply chain with an explicit set of standardised data requirements that can be automatically tested for compliance before they reach the main contractor.

This would significantly lighten the load on main contractors, says Stevenson: “If suppliers can test and validate their own information it saves time and costs for the main contractor, which can sometimes spend £100,000 employing Information Managers or BIM Managers to glue all this stuff together.”

ActivePlan has built a free tool that automatically checks if the information provided contains what is required. “For example, if a mechanical services contractor produces a Cobie file, they can self-test it before they submit it to ensure it includes the data required by the main contractor and the asset management team,” Stevenson adds.

BIM in Housing has held workshops in London and Leeds and the next is scheduled for November. The team presented its ideas showing how the Golden Thread can be delivered, at BIMShow Live and a further presentation is scheduled for Digital Construction Week in October.

A new web page has been set up in a drive to engage with a wider audience: http://activeplan.co.uk/bim-in-housing/