NBS Toolkit: is it BIM’s game-changer?

BIM+ got an early view of the NBS BIM Toolkit – the new Digital Plan of Work and a unified classification system for buildings’ products, spaces and systems – at a presentation last week given by the NBS for the London and South East BIM Hubs.

Stephen Hamil, the NBS’s director of design and innovation, ran through the new tools – due for a "soft launch" in April – to a packed audience at Westminster University.

He predicts the toolkit will be a BIM "game-changer" for the industry, saying: “Being able to collaboratively define who is doing what and when on a construction project by following the Level 2 BIM process is something that will change the industry and we’re now ready for the soft launch in April.” 

Over the past year, he said that NBS had done user testing and research with advisory panels, beta test groups and monthly meetings with a cross-institution steering group to help create "an online product that we believe is a game changer for industry."

According to the NBS website, the Digital Plan of Work is a free tool that allows a project leader to clearly define the team, responsibilities and an information delivery plan for each stage of a project. To start a project, the user creates an account and log-in details, which can then be shared with the project team.

The unified classification structure will develop 5,000 templates defining the Levels of Detail and Levels of Information needed to populate Level 2 BIM models. The templates will be freely available online in both IFC and Microsoft Excel format.

More information and a presentation of the system is available here

But what did the audience think? BIM+ gathered these early reactions:

Terry Gough, senior project manager and BIM champion at Kent County Council: “My initial reaction was one of ‘hopefully’ this will work for construction but who will own and be responsible for this piece of software within the project environment? 

“I think it will be a helpful tool but we will all need to embrace it and I’m not sure if the AEC industry will adopt it from day one and as like BIM and the PAS/BS documents, lots of companies/clients are still sitting on the fence unsure on how to approach any of this. This ‘Toolkit’ will need lots of help from the BIM4 groups and the BIM hubs to ensure that it is a success and that it is sold correctly from day one.”

David Miller, director at David Miller Architects: “Technology is not a barrier to BIM Level 2, but complexity is. BIM processes have to be as user friendly and accessible as possible, otherwise there will be resistance and we will fail.

“Up until now the BIM standards and protocols have taken a certain amount of effort to understand and implement. Worth the effort, but not easy. So the Digital Plan of Work has the potential to make BIM accessible to the majority and therefore allow BIM to become ‘business as usual’ for non-specialists.

“Accessibility and clear guidance will be the key to the success. If NBS gets this right I believe the digital toolkit will be a success.”

Hugh Henderson, director of consultancy at Mace Macro: “Judging by the numbers attending there’s lots of interest in the BIM toolkit and it’s good to see that the needs of the end users are being pushed to the fore. The NBS BIM toolkit makes a clear link from design and construction to asset management and FM that the FM community must understand and be prepared to embrace.

"At Mace we’re working closely with our construction colleagues to capture and manage data from an end-user perspective and I’m heartened that BIFM, our FM professional body, is leading the wider involvement of FM in relation to BIM and Soft Landings." 

Rebecca De Cicco, director at Digital Node: “The NBS BIM Toolkit provides an easy to use platform to deliver information across varying stages of projects in a unified solution. This approach will not only aid in the Level 2 delivery of projects leading to 2016 but will also ensure there is one common repository of information regarding projects.

“I see this as the final step to achieving Level 2 in the UK as we’ll have a UK specific Classification system as well as LOD and LOI requirements we can use as an industry moving forward.”

Story for BIM+? Get in touch via email: [email protected]

Latest articles in News