NBS, owned by RIBA Enterprises, has been awarded the £1m contract to develop an online checking system that will verify whether BIM models contain the right level of data that clients will need at each phase of the project.
Verifying model data with the forthcoming free-to-use “BIM toolkit” will be compulsory for all public sector projects using BIM, and the online system is also expected to be adopted by private sector BIM projects.
The project will put in place the Digital Plan of Work, one of the final pieces in the suite of standards and systems that make up the government’s definition of Level 2 BIM.
NBS was awarded the contract by Innovate UK, formerly known as the Technology Strategy Board, after a three-way competition with BRE and C8, a grouping of eight professional institutes including the CIOB.
In May, all three groups each won £50,000 to develop a feasibility plan to bid for the full contract, which will standardise the types of data and level of detail expected to meet Level 2 BIM.
However, C8 chose not to submit a full bid for the second phase of the project. Instead, the NBS team drew on the support of several of its members – including the CIOB, IStructE and ICE – to ensure that the resulting system has pan-industry input and support.
Richard Waterhouse, chief executive of RIBA Enterprises, told CM: “We already have the backing of key organisations such as CIBSE, CIOB, ICE, IStructE, RIBA and RICS and we will be extending and widening this dialogue over the coming months.”
“It’s about defining all of the information requirements at each of the data drop stages in the project. So we’ll define the requirements, then validate whether the correct data is in the model.”
“There’s a lot of standard tools out there, much of it from the US, such as COBie and the American Institute of Architects’ Levels of Development [which define the elements that should be included in a BIM model at various stages]. But we’ll go into a lot more detail to define what the geometry ought to look like at each stage, and develop a concept of levels of information.”
Waterhouse explained that the finalised “toolkit” will consist of several software tools, and sit in the cloud. “You will run the model through the tool, and it will test that the objects in there have the right level of detail and level of information.”
Because it uses the IFC “file translation” system, the toolkit can be used with BIM models originated in any software platform. A video demonstrating the system is available on the NBS website.
Waterhouse added: “It will be compulsory for public sector projects [to use the toolkit] but the government would also like to see the private sector adopt the same methodology. We do believe that once it’s available, people will just apply it to every project.”
The NBS contract also includes creating a new BIM classification system, to create standards on organising data within BIM models. “Humans need classification systems. We have a number already, such as Uniclass 2, but we know it needs further work.”
David Philp, head of BIM with the UK BIM Task Group, said: “The completion of the Digital Plan of Works and Classification System will not only complete the Level 2 BIM suite but help drive the take-up of BIM, support exploitation of the standards and ensure that the UK remains at the vanguard of a digital transformation in the built environment.”
The project is set to start in October and is anticipated to deliver the first phases of the toolkit in the spring of 2015.
The NBS team also drew on advice from architect BDP and contractor Laing O’Rourke, while the BIM Academy consultancy advised on visualisations, and the University of Northumbria contributed expertise on cloud computing. The NBS team also used Microsoft’s Azure cloud platform.
“By developing this digital tool, procurement of construction projects here in the UK and – eventually – across the world will be transformed, both in terms of quality and price,” said Iain Gray, chief executive of Innovate UK.
“This will place the UK in a global leadership position and provide overseas growth opportunities for the industry. The competition was of a very high standard, and while RIBA Enterprises has been awarded the contract we would like to thank and congratulate all participants for their efforts.”
For more information about the project and to register your interest in partaking in BETA testing or regular updates, visit www.thenbs.com/bimtoolkit
There’s a lot of standard tools out there, much of it from the US, such as COBie and the American Institute of Architects’ Levels of Development. But we’ll go into a lot more detail to define what the geometry ought to look like at each stage, and develop a concept of levels of information.– Richard Waterhouse, RIBA Enterprises