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Let’s talk sexy… BIM data

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We’re still not making the most of data in construction, says Nick Tune, CEO of software and BIM specialist coBuilder.

Data, data everywhere… the question is: how do you make the most of it? If utilised properly it can change our lives. Data allows us to invent new medicines, create new ways of communicating, improve the performance of our cars or even make sure I go surfing when the waves are 10ft and tubing – now that is utilising data!

So, are we making the most of data in construction? The simple answer is no. There have been some great gains, such as using geometrical data to improve the way we virtually design using models and using time data to improve project planning and delivery (in accordance with the geometrical data). But most of the construction industry is an analogue world where we share paper or PDFs. 

BIM has been a great Trojan-horse to make the construction industry think about specifying and utilising data, but the question still arises: what data do we need? 

Well, contractors and clients need to start specifying what data they require and so too does the asset manager so that they revive the information they need to effectively construct and manage the asset. Easy, right? Well it appears not. 

Within the BIM Level 2, Asset Information Requirement document the client is meant to state what data they require. However, as BIM Level 2 requires COBie most clients think it is okay to just state “I want COBie”. That only provides some operation and maintenance data (and much of it will be of no use whatsoever) and does not ask for product performance properties such as a fire rating, U value etc (NB COBie can take this data, it is just not specified).

So what should we ask for and what is the sexy data? It is the data that can improve the way we will build and manage our assets. How do I ask for it? How do I get it? And How do I utilise it?

The starting point is that the designer, contractors, client and asset managers need to start with asking what do they want to achieve? For example, if it is to reduce the replacement cost of air conditioning units, then ask the question, what information/data do I need to meet that demand: ie manufacturer name, warranty period, serial number, replacement period, replacement cost etc. This is now defining the what and the why.

If the question is how do we increase the efficiency of the air conditioning units? then you would need data such as power output, allowable pressure etc. This example shows that we need to think about the future uses of our buildings and infrastructure and what therefore data you need to achieve it.

By determining what data you need to allow you to provide the functions that you require, the data is now intelligent as opposed to useless information. Now we can start using this sexy data to do the cool stuff that we all imagine the Internet of Things and BIM Level 3 will allow us to do, for example utilising machine learning to improve the energy efficiency of the air conditioning units.

Nick Tune will be expanding on these themes during his presentation at BIM Show Live 2017, which takes place on 1 and 2 February in Newcastle-upon-Tyne.

Contractors and clients need to start specifying what data they require and so too does the asset manager so that they revive the information they need to effectively construct and manage the asset. Easy, right? Well it appears not. – Nick Tune, coBuilder