STATING YOUR CAPABILITES

Do you know how to deliver BIM?

Hopefully, if you’re a “Project Technology Manager” (CAD or BIM Manager to most of us) you’ll have some idea what it entails. Either you’ll have implemented it in your company already, or you’ll be working towards your first BIM project at the moment. Regardless of which stage you’re at, you may not yet have all the answers, but you should have some idea of how you’re going to approach asking the right questions. You should, for example, know what BIM authoring tools you’re intending to use. That’s usually the first step people take. Hopefully you would have thought about expertise in your office, and training. You probably considered the scope and extent of modelling and data you’re going to need to produce. You may also have built your strategy in line with which aspects of BIM or uses of the model/data you will need at differing stages of the project. If you have thought of these, that’s fantastic; there are probably other considerations you could list as well.

Now, do all your designers and technicians know what is expected?

Do all your senior management?

Do your marketing team understand how you approach and deliver BIM?

If you were to ask them, could they all explain your BIM requirements and expectations clearly and would the details they give be consistent?

If you can’t guarantee that, how can you expect any one of your staff attending a project or client meeting to say the right things? How do you know they aren’t going to come back and tell you that they’ve agreed to deliver something that you wouldn’t usually deliver, or worse still, have no way of delivering? How do you reconcile the project fee against the additional work someone has promised because they feel that they have to provide “additional benefits” for free because the client expects it on a BIM project?

That’s no way to run a business, and no way to remain in business for long. Architecture in the UK has had a number of recent high-profile examples where companies have been poorly managed, either working out of contract or simply run into the ground by bad financial management (ASL and RMJM ring any bells?). While these may not have been due to misunderstanding BIM, the risk is there for every single one of us that we end up with less or no profit simply because we couldn’t control the expectations of delivery. BIM exacerbates this because BIM means something different to pretty much everyone.

It is critical that you understand what BIM means to your company. It is important that you clarify this through a BIM Capability Statement to all your internal staff and external partners or clients in a clear, concise and unambiguous manner.

A BIM Capability Statement should contain the following as a minimum. Of course, you may choose to include more detail depending on your level of BIM adoption, but be careful not to be too verbose or you may alienate some of your target audience (i.e. everyone). Always bear in mind this should be a statement, not a manual or handbook.

You may want to begin with a paragraph outlining the ethos of your practice and the type of work you excel at. It’s always a good idea to promote yourself and relate that to your sectors of business to give the rest of the document context.

Explain what you mean by Building Information Modelling in simple language, devoid of too much technobabble. You’re not out to impress, you’re out to explain. The overview could be taken from your website, or may end up in marketing material, so always write it with an open and wide audience in mind. State your definition of BIM:

e.g.

“BIM at [your company] is not just about producing drawings from 3D models, but is aimed at improving the design process and making informed decisions at all stages of the project; it is an information-based approach: getting the right information to the right people at the right time”.

You might then go on to explain the business drivers behind your BIM adoption, what it is you are trying to achieve and how that fits into the wider construction industry. Clarify the benefits you have realised or, if you are still in the early stages of BIM adoption, the areas where you are intending to deliver productivity gains. But always be realistic, pragmatic and concise.

Regardless of what anyone says in the media or at conferences, BIM is very much dependent on the software you use. Whether we like it or not we live in a software-based society; it is not possible to store data on a geometric model without software. So state what tools you will use to create, interrogate and exchange Building Information Models.

This may not be only modelling software, but could also include clash detection tools, analysis software and even document management applications (documents are as much BIM data as a 3D model). Because of the variety of uses of a BIM model, it is good practice to state the use of the application alongside the name of the software. Again, remember your audience – they may not know what “Solibri” is or does.

e.g.

Model authoring and drawing production = Bentley AECOsim Building Designer

Thermal performance = Autodesk Ecotect

Model review = Tekla BIMsight

It is also useful to include a sentence or two regarding why you use those tools; help others to understand your philosophies and design requirements.

Linked to the above, publish a list of formats you are able to deliver and receive. You don’t need to be too in-depth at this point, explaining what you would use the formats for and what content you would expect in them, that would be covered in the Project BIM Execution Plan. Your aim here si just to let others know what you can work with. Do, however, include the versions.

e.g.

[Your company] can provide the following formats for BIM model exchange:

DGN = Preferred format in all circumstances.

DWG = For geometric coordination & basic information exchange when DGN is not suitable.

IFC = For exchange of geometry and non-graphical data.

[Your company] can accept the following formats for incoming BIM models:

DGN = Preferred format in all circumstances.

DWG = For geometric coordination & basic information exchange when DGN is not suitable.

i.DGN = Intelligent format containing accurate geometry and non-graphical data specifically for import into Bentley software. Can be exported from Revit using a free plug-in.

IFC = For exchange of geometry and non-graphical data.

Provide a brief summary of your BIM deliverables. It is not a contractual statement but helps to clarify what any of your collaborators will expect to be able to do with your model and data.

You will need to consider and agree your outputs to be able to complete this section. State them.

e.g.

“BIM data will only be provided for the following purposes, which need to be agreed and confirmed for each project prior to commencement of work:

– Information & design development

– Geometric coordination

– Drawing production

– Door schedules production

– Procurement & performance/specification purposes, subject to details listed in the Project BIM Execution Plan.

Develop this where necessary. For example, if a reason for using BIM is drawing production, state the expected level of detail (geometry) you typically produce. Of course this may start to become too detailed, so instead look to write short bullets instead of defining the level of detail for each element type at each stage. That can come later.

e.g.

“Modelling is carried out to the level of detail required to produce accurate plans and elevations at the defined scale, and specifications as required. This is detailed in the Project BIM Execution Plan.”

Define your BIM and object standards, the naming conventions you use. You do not need to replicate your internal standards and procedures documentation but point to the relevant documentation.

e.g.

“All data is produced and named based on the AEC (UK) BIM Protocols, used to provide object interoperability and clear identification.”

It’s worth adding a couple of indemnity clauses. Don’t expect these to stand up legally, they are more “conversation starters”.

e.g.

“[Your company]’s BIM data cannot be used as a contractual deliverable for coordination of construction unless specific contract clauses are agreed in writing. It is an enabling tool to deliver contractual documentation and improve the design process. No liability should be accepted or implied for BIM data and how it is subsequently utilised beyond the statements above.”

The final section is the most technical. It should be used to detail the BIM components you would normally create and issue, and whether they would include additional properties and attributes. This will be expanded on in the Project BIM Execution Plan, but is worth looking at in more detail in this document to educate other staff. It may be easier to note these in tabular form.

e.g.

Note:

The categories used in “Level of Detail” refer to codes used in the AEC (UK) BIM Protocol:

G0 = Symbolic. Not to scale, merely an “suggestion“ of where the object will exist. In terms of doors, this might simply be a black rectangle in a 2D wall.

G1 = Placeholder. While it may be to scale, the object may not represent the appearance of the final component. In terms of doors this would be a simple, plain object without frames, vision panels or hardware.

G2 = Suitable for construction. This is where you would provide geometry representative of the final component. It may still not include hardware (as this would typically be specified separately) but could be a manufacturers downloaded object.

  1. OVERVIEW
  2. BIM SOFTWARE USED
  3. FILE FORMATS
  4. BIM DATA PROVISION
  5. TYPICAL INFORMATION PROVIDED

This brief is not an exhaustive list, and don’t assume that including what has been given as examples will suffice. A BIM Capability Statement is your “typical expectations for BIM production and delivery on a project” and needs to be well-considered in regard to your working methods and production expectations. There may be many mnore areas to consider. Only you can be sure.

It is not a non-negotiable proclamation to lose more projects than it gains. It will develop as your BIM experience develops and is a meter against which you can measure what your office is geared up to produce against what is required or expected of you on each project. It is one aspect of resourcing that helps you make informed decisions of what is best for your business. It allows you to review fee levels, hours spent on design work, the suitability of your chosen software, measure the expertise of staff (as you have a baseline of what you need to be aiming for) and much more besides.

The BIM Capability Statement can form the basis of Project BIM Execution Plans, or be used as a conversation starter in design team meetings. It explains how you will deliver technically, where your intentions lie and ensures everyone understands what you mean by “BIM”.

After all, if your staff can’t articulate what their own company does, how can you expect anyone else to?

Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

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