Fail to plan, plan to fail

Ben Wallbank, BIM Strategy Manager at 4Projects by Viewpoint, highlights the importance of adequate planning for April 2016.
The digitalisation of the construction industry is upon us. UK Cabinet Office returns indicate that by September 2014 total contract values of £9.4 billion (excluding MOJ, EFA, DoH and HS2 returns) were in the marketplace with Level 2 BIM Deliverables. At a BIM Technologies Alliance briefing on 15th May 2015 the software providers were informed that that figure is now at about £20 billion, halfway to the April 2016 target.

In addition to these public sector projects, many private sector clients are starting to understand the advantages of offering asset data sets to allow potential purchasers and tenants to drill into the 80% of the cost of an asset that lies beyond construction. Across the industry one hears reports of BIM deliverables in Requests for Proposal from the private sector client, although often poorly defined.

Many of these projects are large and as such have long gestation periods, but our industry should be under no doubt that a tidal wave of work, where teams are contracted to deliver to Level 2 BIM, is about to hit the construction coal face.

Much of the industry has been preparing for this; however, there is a substantial section that is not yet ready to deliver. Large projects have extensive supply chains and BIM can only succeed if all parties understand what they are supposed to do and when, and are able to collaborate to achieve the contracted objectives. Even the well prepared tier one contractor will, therefore, face substantial challenges in coordinating and defining what is required from the design and construction team.

We now have a framework of standards, guidance notes and supporting documentation which, if followed, will assist the industry in BIM adoption. The five parts are BS/PAS 1192, (standards and processes), the CIC BIM Suite of documents (commercial and legal), Government Soft Landings and the emerging Digital Plan of Work (level of information and detail required) and Uniclass 2015 (classification). together they define what Level 2 BIM is, namely:-

• A federated BIM (coordinated and clash detected)
• 2D contract documentation derived from the federated model
• Sharable structured asset information (COBie)
• Use of a Common Data Environment (CDE)

Viewpoint’s objective is to provide the industry with the tools necessary to deliver BIM projects through collaboration in their Common Data Environment (CDE). 4Projects was founded 15 years ago and quickly established a reputation as a cloud based collaborative Electronic Document Management System. The company was acquired by Viewpoint, a construction software specialist with its headquarters in Portland Oregon, just over two years ago. Viewpoint 4Projects is Viewpoint's offering to the Common Data Environment.

A CDE still needs to be able to deal with documents and drawings; at Level 2. These are still a key deliverable. A CDE, however, needs to be able to do much more than just be a repository for drawings and documents. It may not be apparent to established users just how far Viewpoint 4Projects has developed beyond its EDMS roots.

4Projects' Newcastle office is now the Viewpoint Company HQ for Europe, the Middle East and Africa. UK employees have doubled in number since the acquisition. Reflecting the increased investment and resources, software updates to Viewpoint 4Projects are now bi-annually, in Spring and Autumn.

The rest of the world had this software update since March. In the UK, however, the company has also just moved its entire server farm to a market leading provider, Rackspace. The change has delivered a substantial increase in speed to users, but has delayed the UK Spring software release until now.

With the challenges facing asset owners and design and construction teams with Level 2 BIM delivery they need far more from their chosen CDE than just a record of who has done what and when. At the early stages of a project a CDE should be able to assist with defining who will be required to do what and when. It should then monitor progress and validate submitted data, and be able to report back to all contributors on their progress with additional requests and tasks as necessary.

Viewpoint's 4BIM allows users to federate models using their web browser through any computer or mobile device. No additional software is required. Teams with varying BIM originating software or none are able to collaborate. An add-on has also been produced for Revit users to allow direct connection to Viewpoint 4Projects from within their software. Add-on's for other software are in development.

The model can be viewed, in both solo and shared sessions, marked up and tasks allocated. Data and documents can be attached to elements of the federated model and this data resides within the CDE database, keeping model sizes down.

COBie data can be viewed and the selection of a line of COBie data is graphically shown in the model or data tree (or vice versa). COBie data can be imported and COBie from all contributors can be federated, edited and updated and then exported for use in the Asset Information Model. The familiar workflow and tasks capabilities for use in document management have also been incorporated into 4BIM. This also enables Viewpoint 4Projects to be templated to comply with BS/PAS 1192 and also to any LEAN workflows that a user wishes to incorporate.

The most interesting addition with this release is the Information Planner. This tool enables the project Information Manager to allocate who is to do what and when. A matrix is provided for the allocation of tasks and the level of detail expected at each work stage. This matrix can be exported to be incorporated into Appendix A of the CIC Protocol giving contractual affect to the agreed deliverables.

The matrix looks remarkably similar in structure to the NBS's Digital Plan of Work (dPOW). Both companies are based in Newcastle, so perhaps this should come as no surprise. In fact the underlying technology of 4BIM is identical to that of dPOW and as soon as it is officially released Viewpoint intend to develop a link to enable data from dPOW to populate the Project Planner.

The Information Planner contains a naming conventions tool to develop drop downs to ensure that naming protocols are adhered to as models are uploaded to the system. There is also a COBie tool. This enables the EIR COBie requirements to be allocated to different parties at each work stage. The architect perhaps allocated modelling the spaces at Stage 1 through to Warranty Information being allocated to a supplier at Stage 6. Each contributor's progress towards COBie completeness can be monitored and reported by work stage, with a RAG (red, amber, green) reporting tool.

The Autumn software release will strengthen Viewpoint's offering further with the integration of BCF file exchange, model version control, an Employers Information Requirement (EIR) tool and BIM Execution Plan (BEP) tool (both replete with helpful notes for the compiler). In addition, Viewpoint are currently beta testing a new non-sequel database for the Ministry of Justice that will enable searches to be carried out across multiple COBie assets, and this too should be released in the Autumn.

Viewpoint continues to grow and five months ago they acquired Priority1 (now Viewpoint Field View), which will be integrated into their CDE in the coming months. Viewpoint is already working on the field capture of COBie data (enabling supply chain members to capture COBie without even knowing they are doing so). In fact the first COBie efficiency enhancement for Viewpoint Field View has just been made in recent weeks. There is now the ability to import COBie spaces into Viewpoint Field View, avoiding the need to manually populate spaces on drawings. With the addition of mobile data entry to the CDE from the field, Viewpoint 4Projects CDE should continue as a market leader.

To be successful at Level 2 BIM delivery a little time must be invested in planning, setting out the roles and responsibilities of all contributors to the BIM. Only by doing so can progress against targets be monitored, validated and, of course, recorded. If delivery teams avoid these tasks (implicit in the UK Standards) BIM adoption will surely fail. With the addition of the Information Planner to their CDE along with monitoring, validating and recording tools, Viewpoint are insuring that their customers have the best chance to succeed at delivering Level 2 BIM.