In September 2014 we introduced a number of new technologies and processes to the practice. The technologies we introduced were Graphisoft ARCHICAD 18, Graphisoft BIMx Docs (now rebranded BIMx Pro), Graphisoft BIMcloud and Solibri Model Checker.
In order to introduce these technologies and workflows we had spent the previous 6 months developing processes and templates that would work for our needs. Much of this work aligns with the emerging UK BIM standards, processes and protocols as well as the RIBA Plan of Work 2013. Now in March 2015 we are starting to see a number of projects really taking advantage of these new processes and technology advancements.
This project (there are a series of projects) for Cleveland Fire Brigade has constructed the model using Graphisoft ARCHICAD 18 (other consultants are using Autodesk REVIT 2015) and Bond Bryan have utilised the BIMcloud technology to build the model collaboratively internally. This case study however focusses on the workflows and benefits we are now seeing from Solibri Model Checker (currently Version 9.5).
Image: Lumion video of the Training and Administration Building
The project for Cleveland Fire Brigade is a 2,960m2 two storey training and administration centre with associated car parking, support buildings and landscaping. The training and administration centre will be used by Cleveland Fire Brigade to co-ordinate their training programs and fire services across the region. The centre also houses the Fire Control Centre, which will take emergency calls from across the area. The building will combine the functions of two existing buildings, currently on two disparate sites and allow all non-operational services to be housed under one roof. This will be Phase I of a larger development to combine all the training facilities on one site to create the Technical and Training Hub.
Image: An early sketch render of the project from Graphisoft ARCHICAD 18
The project is currently at RIBA Stage 3: Developed Design and is due for completion in Summer 2016. Bond Bryan Architects are working with ISG (Main Contractor), BWB Consulting Limited (Structures Consultant), Imtech Engineering Services (Mechanical and Electrical Services Consultant) and Ares Landscape Architects Ltd (Landscape Consultant).
Individual discipline models
For this project there are currently 5 discipline models. Our architectural model has been exported as a Site Model, Architectural Building Model and Loose Furniture Model. Additionally there is a Structural Model provided by BWB Consulting Limited and a Building Services Model provided by Imtech Engineering Services. All models are shared with the team using buildingSMART’s open IFC2x3 format. There are currently no DWGs being shared between the various team members which is saving a lot of time exchanging information.
Image: Architectural Building Model produced in Graphisoft ARCHICAD 18 (Bond Bryan Architects)
Image: Loose Furniture Model produced in Graphisoft ARCHICAD 18 (Bond Bryan Architects)
Image: Site Model (partial) produced in Graphisoft ARCHICAD 18 (Bond Bryan Architects)
Image: Structural Model produced in Autodesk REVIT 2015 (courtesy of BWB Consulting Limited)
Image: Building Services Model produced in Autodesk REVIT 2015 (courtesy of Imtech Engineering Services)
In order to review the various models it is necessary to combine the models, or what is commonly referred to as federation, into a single environment. Whilst we do this directly in our authoring tool it is beneficial to do this also in other tools that can provide us further benefits. There are a number of federation tools on the market but we have selected Solibri Model Checker as our preferred solution. The model can also be shared with others in Solibri’s free model viewer.
Whilst federating models can be a relatively straightforward process, there have been some challenges in making this process straightforward. One issue that often crops up is the need to get all the models in the same place in the 3D environment. A key to achieving successful federation is documenting the common point for reference with agreed X, Y and Z values. Like our other projects that have no requirement for BIM within the practice we have developed a BIM Execution Plan LITE for this project. This has ensured that the models line up. All models for this project have been federated in real world coordinates.
Image: The federated model in Solibri Model Checker
Image: The model can be filtered to show different parts of the model. Here only the Structure and Building Services are shown.
Architectural model checking
For many the above federation process is a fairly straightforward process and not particularly cutting edge. There are lots of examples out there of federation with some extremely large and complex models. However, many examples of federation focus solely on the geometry and the need to check for clashes between different elements within the model. Of course we are doing this but part of our introduction of new processes was to work to embed data as standard for projects even where BIM had not been a contractual requirement.
We have utilised many of the out-of-the-box rules provided by Solibri and supplemented these with our own. The out-of-the-box rules have been expanded and descriptions and notes provided to explain what is being checked and where to resolve the issues back in ARCHICAD. The rules include checking certain data fields have been provided, that Space/Component numbering is not duplicated and that certain formats or values have been used for specific fields. Our rules currently align with ISO 16739:2013 (IFC), COBie-UK-2012 and with the RIBA Plan of Work 2013 so that the models can be checked at each project stage. This means that whilst the model gradually becomes more complex, the rules are designed to match this complexity.
Image: Our process diagram for model creation aligned with the RIBA Plan of Work 2013. Terminology in these diagrams is in line with COBie-UK-2012 / BS 1192-4:2014. Our model checking rules match this approach.
The rules are still being finessed using live projects but I believe we can get to a position where we issue models that are robust in terms of data outputs for all modelled Spaces and Components and other data not connected directly to geometry (i.e. Contact, Facility and Floor data).
We also plan to add further rules for the NBS BIM Object Standard and pick up some additional rules needed to meet the full requirements of BS 1192-4:2014. Additionally we will need to adapt our approach when the Digital Plan of Work (dPOW) and final Classification system are published in June 2015. We expect to introduce these updated model checking rulesets in September 2015 for new projects.
Image: Architectural model checking in Solibri Model Checker – this example shows a Space that has been modelled slightly incorrectly. Whilst this may seem minor it means that quantities will be incorrect.
Discipline model checking
Solibri is a great tool to check issues in our models but it is also useful to check issues between different consultants models. So beyond checking our own architectural models on the Cleveland Fire Brigade projects we are checking the coordination between the following:
- Architectural Building Model vs Structural Model
- Architectural Building Model vs Services Model
- Structural Model vs Services Model
Whilst this process throws up lots of issues the important point is to recognise that these issues are being addressed well before we get to site. This should mean less errors for ISG and their sub-contractors to rectify and as we have seen with other projects our team should be needed less to answer queries during the latter stages of the project. ISG are actively encouraging reviewing the discipline models through coordination meetings as it is in their interest to remove these issues before getting to site.
Image: A physical clash between a door and a services element in Solibri Model Checker
Image: A non-physical clash but an issue with a light conflicting with a door opening in Solibri Model Checker
The model checking and results can be shared in a variety of ways. We are able to share this as reports (PDF, RTF or Microsoft Excel), as a Solibri file (SMC) which can be viewed in the free Solibri Model Viewer or provide a BCF file (see here for more information on BCF).
As the team are getting to grips with the technology at the moment they are generally using the Presentation method to share and discuss the issues with other team members.
As the central BIM team we are keen to utilise BCF (BIM Collaboration Format) going forward but we want to understand this better ourselves before promoting and training others in the practice. We do however believe that BCF is a crucial methodology in providing better workflow with dealing with issues and other technologies like BIMcollab provide another way of managing these open formats.
Image: The Communication tab with Presentation setup in Solibri Model Checker. The issues are basically arranged in a slideshow format with the issue. The responsibility for resolving the issue, the date the issue was raised and how the issue will be resolved can all be identified with the issue.
Producing data directly from the authoring tool is one method for issuing and sharing information. However as a practice we are keen to provide models that others can extract the data they require for their needs. Models with embedded and connected data will provide better outcomes for all. Having spent a long time researching and developing our approach to reliable data creation, interoperability workflows and model checking we are now moving to providing models embedded with data suitable for quantification. There is still more work to do here as well but we are on the right track and this project really helps push our journey and understanding forward.
We have been able to demonstrate to the main contractor, ISG that this data can provide greater cost certainty for the project.
Image: Window quantities
Image: Furniture quantities
Facilities Management and COBie
Whilst there was no contractual requirement to deliver Facilities Management (FM) data for the project, as part of our standard approach we are asking our teams to develop data for all our projects in line with COBie-UK-2012 and BS 1192-4:2014. The model therefore contains Contact, Facility, Floor, Space and Component data (currently excluding unique IDs for some components). This isn’t the full COBie requirement from a designer and we are working on how we can integrate Zone, Type and System data as standard. We are providing this on another project so it is achievable, but it does currently require a bit more work from our project teams.
Image: COBie space data displayed in Solibri Model Checker
My vision is to integrate COBie further so that we can reach a point where all the design information simply comes as standard whether a client specifies it or not. This means training can be consistent to all staff and the practice won’t be simply ‘BIM ready’ but BIM will be fully integrated into our standard project approach. There is still a little more work to do for this vision to become reality, but each year we see improvements in our staff’s knowledge, technology and other consultants/contractors who make this process more straightforward. I’d like to think realistically this vision is less than 18 months away so by the end of 2016 we should be able to offer COBie as standard.
This project and the day-to-day commitment of the project team has really allowed us to move forward but there is still more work to do, to perfect our processes and for this approach to be the norm for all projects. However this project has allowed both the project team to learn and for the central BIM team to look at developing better approaches for future projects.
Our whole approach will be finessed over the next 6-12 months and I can see us reaching a place where models are issued to others with real confidence around both geometry and data for all our projects. In particular this will allow models to be issued at tender where they are not simply disclaimed as “for information only” (although as one contractor pointed out – “we only want it for information!”).
Rob Jackson, Associate Director, Bond Bryan Architects