There are many ways for technology to be used to improve the efficiency of construction, but sometimes the simplest solutions are the most effective.
One of the eternal problems with the use of building information modelling has centred on ensuring that everyone is using data that can be shared and compared easily.
Datasets do not always match up, reducing the power of BIM as a useful tool for efficient construction.
NG Bailey’s design and BIM development manager Paul Marsland says: “A lot of people see the graphical side of BIM, but the true benefit comes when we can manipulate the data cleverly.
“We can store any amount of data within a BIM object, in many different ways. Architects, consultants and contractors all made lots and lots of BIM content, but the problem is that everyone does it differently.”
In the building services space that NG Bailey operates in, this could mean two different manufacturers of boilers producing datasets for their individual boilers, often sharing the same parameters (like height, for example), but that when transferred into a BIM authoring tool do not match up and so do not allow for easy comparison.
This is because each manufacturer has created its BIM object itself – with the back-end code of a tool like Revit then generating different identities for parameters that are actually the same on both objects.
To get around this problem, Mr Marsland has been working closely with the Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers to come up with a solution that will allow objects to be compared more easily.
CIBSE had already started to do work in this area as long ago as 2011, producing product data templates for building services objects that were effectively standardised datasets across product types.
“It became obvious that if we were going to do this digitally, it would be via some sort of interactive website – so that’s what we’ve done,” says Carl Collins,
Bimhawk ng bailey cibse 2
What NG Bailey has come up with, in partnership with CIBSE, has been dubbed BIMHawk.
It’s free to use (and always will be, CIBSE assures) – with the aim being to offer up a tool that anyone can use that will make everyone’s lives just that little bit easier.
The concept is simple: the BIMHawk tool has all of the standardised parameters that CIBSE uses to describe product types in its PDTs, allowing content creators to upload or create a digital PDT that corresponds to a real-world object.
Cleverly, the team has then created a plug-in for Revit (and is also looking at other BIM authoring platforms), allowing the user to pull objects into project files and instantly compare data, without disrupting the process.
Breaking up the benefits
Mr Marsland gave me a run-through of how the tool works this week – and while it is a relatively simple solution, it’s one that has potentially huge benefits for a particular subset of the industry.
CIBSE has been talking to the Landscape Institute about expanding the tool into other areas. “We’re also looking at fit out, and BIM 4 Water who deal with water infrastructure projects. We’re hopeful it can be quite a big thing that we can share,” Mr Collins says.
He also gives big credit to NG Bailey and Mr Marsland for their work in helping get the tool to where it is today. “NG Bailey has been fantastic and said: ‘Let’s just give it to the industry’. I think it’s a nice, altruistic thing for them to do,” Mr Collins says.
The take-up has been positive so far, with more than 100 active users and more features to come from the team.
“The tool’s there now – it’s just a case of getting the industry together to talk and collaborate. There’s still a lot of work to be done in defining these datasets, so it’s about pooling our efforts,” Mr Marsland says.
“It’s in everybody’s interests.”