BIM 5 - Lessons we have learnt

12 April 2018 Kingspan Insulation UK
BIM for the baffled part 2 why use BIM

Welcome back to our new BIM series BIM 5. The idea behind this series is to give you a simple and easy way of understanding a number of topics related to BIM, without the excessive jargon. Each article consists of five points to do with a specific topic; these can be anything from information on standards to our experiences with BIM. However, if you still have any questions we haven't answered, just let us know.

In this article we are going to be talking about a few BIM related issues we have come across and the lessons we have learnt, as a manufacturer who is creating our own BIM content (known as BIM Objects) for our products.

1. Ensure that you use available guidance

When the government announced their plans for BIM we saw the value in this and were keen to adopt this approach, so we started researching straight away. One thing we found was that there wasn’t much guidance at the time for what a manufacturer needed to do for the BIM process. Initially we looked towards the object hosting websites (NBS BIM library, BIMstore etc.) and used them to create our first wave of BIM objects. However, today there is a lot more guidance, courses and content available that manufacturers should use. 

2. Consider an in-house BIM team

After outsourcing the initial wave of BIM objects we realised that it was not sustainable to keep that up, because we wanted full ownership of our BIM objects. That is why we decided to start looking at how we can start creating the objects in-house and over the last few years we have been developing a small team to create all of our own BIM content. 

3. Check the data required for each hosting site

One thing we learnt very quickly when we started creating our own BIM objects was  that every hosting site likes to have their own parameters / properties included with any BIM objects they will be hosting. Make sure you know where you want to host them and plan for the extra content you need to add before you start!

4. Be consistent when naming the parameters / properties

This is a very common issue that manufacturers won’t necessarily know about but for everyone further down the line it can cause some issues. We get all the parameters we need for our BIM objects from the ‘NBS BIM Toolkit’ (parameters will vary depending on product and application). The downloadable Excel file provides the name of each non-standard parameter and how it should be written within the design programme. Manufacturers need to make sure this is exactly the same, including spacing, capital letters, spelling, everything!

The reason for this is because when people go to schedule their model (pull the embedded information within a building model into a spreadsheet format) they could have multiple different parameters that are all for exactly the same thing. For example,  thermal resistance properties of an insulation product in a BIM model  can be labelled as ThermalResistance, Thermal Resistance, thermalresistance or InsulationRValue. All four of these are exactly the same but because there are naming differences between them they all show up within the scheduling resulting in four columns with only one field filled out per insulation type. Until there is one unified standard (hopefully coming soon) this is something that will always cause issues but we can do our best to try and make it as easy as possible for designers. Our advice for now is to use tools like the NBS BIM toolkit, as it’s a free to use service which is available to everyone.

5. Remember that object creation takes trial and error

Once we started creating our own BIM objects we had to go through a lot of trial and error to make sure the objects and the information worked as expected. Don’t feel disheartened after spending a bit of time creating an object for it to not work properly, chances are it just needs a couple of tweaks.

In the end, the people that use the information rely on the manufacturer to supply correct and up to date data for their products. That is why it’s always important to double check the information you put in your BIM objects.