NBS BIM Toolkit : The Development Story So Far


April 30, 2015

NBS has dedicated a large and highly-skilled internal team to deliver this project that has worked in parallel across 13 work streams with expert external teams at partners BDP, BIM Academy, Mott MacDonald and RICS. The project has also benefitted from consultancy from Laing O’Rourke, Microsoft, Newcastle University and many of the leading construction industry institutions.

Clearly when you’re working on a publicly funded initiative such as this, there is a huge responsibility to invest valuable time and money on developments that will benefit the widest possible constituency.

With this in mind, the project team has consulted widely with the construction industry on what it wants to see included in the toolkit and how it can best help them to meet the requirements of Level 2 BIM.

As well as speaking to architects, clients, contractors, engineers, manufacturers and facility managers to make sure the content and software being developed meets their needs, we have also received support from the main construction institutions including APM, BIFM, CIOB, CIBSE, ICE, IStructE, RIBA and RICS.

Discussions at national events such as EcobuildNBS Live and BIM Show Live have provided further valuable insight for the development team as to the gaps in existing process and procedure, as has a series of eight workshops arranged in conjunction with the Construction Industry Council (CIC) regional BIM hubs, which have covered all corners of the UK.

There is still work to complete this beta software before the summer so that the UK can have a world-leading set of level-2 BIM tools and standards. However, this seems a suitable moment to take stock of just what has been achieved since the contracts were signed in September 2014 and look at how the construction industry can now benefit from the NBS BIM Toolkit.

In summary, the industry now may freely use:

  1. An online digital plan of work tool that models project participants, roles, stages, tasks and deliverables.
  2. A reference library of over 5,700 construction definition templates covering all sectors of the industry. Some of these templates have been based on our existing data, researched and developed by NBS over the last five years, whilst the infrastructure Level of Information (LOI) and Level of Detail (LOD) reference guides have been built from scratch during the course of the project.
  3. A new unified classification system covering all sectors of the industry and items of all scale from facilities to products. In responding to industry comments on Uniclass 2, this has involved considerable consultation with industry experts.
  4. Verification technology based around open source software and buildingSMART open data structures.
  5. An API that allow software developers to work with the data schemas and the content inside the reference library.
  6. An innovative delivery website that is responsive that is designed to work on all platforms - from mobile phone up to a wide-screen desktop device.

Following the official launch, work will continue in earnest to ensure the NBS BIM Toolkit remains a sustainable and viable service.

One of the challenges of the whole project and the Innovate UK competition brief has been to develop “a sustainable business plan that allows the tool to be free-to-use while generating income from other sources”.

Following the launch of the toolkit, NBS will be responsible for a five-year programme of improvement, maintenance and support. To help deliver this we will be giving product manufacturers the opportunity to provide useful, relevant and easily downloadable technical information on the toolkit website. In our experience, such content is valued by construction professionals and, in this instance, will support them in fulfilling the information requirements set out in the Digital Plan of Work (DPoW).

By ensuring the continued development of the toolkit, we can maximise the part it plays in bringing greater synergy and collaboration to UK construction projects through the use of BIM.

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