Tuesday, 14 November 2017

AU2017 - NBS in the Exhibition Hall

If you are at AU2017, please come and see us in the Exhibition Hall.

We have two stands - please come over and say 'hello'.

1. As part of the Future of Making Things exhibition
Our stand in the Future of Making Things exhibition
Understand a little more about how we are encouraging the industry to move from paper to digital
Explore a 3D printed model of our NBS Old Post Office building
The fantastic BDP case study

Short video showing off the stand

2. In the Forge Partner area
You'll get a warm welcome from Head of Software Development Phil Scott at the Forge Partner area

Watch the BDP case study


Really good fun to take part in the AU fun run early this morning.

Good to see it in measured in metric too (5K) and not 3.2miles :)
Alarm goes off at 5.30am - glad I only had 3-4 beers the previous night

Up before sunrise

Some of the Autodesk UK gang

The Newcastle parkrun posse

Shaan Hurley - the man behind the run

Over 100 runners
The view at 6am on the strip

The time it takes to do 5k up and down escalators, across traffic crossings and avoiding the drinkers that were still out partying

AU Las Vegas - Presentation

Yesterday I presented with Jim Quanci from the Forge team. In the next week or two it'll be available to watch online - but for now the handout and presentation can be downloaded from:

As it was at the Dev Con, I decided against Powerpoint slide after Powerpoint slide and did some live software demos. Screenshots from these below...
Fantastic to present alongside Jim Quanci who leads the Forge team
Back of an envelope sketch #1 - Could we do a CAD plug-in in 2010?
Back of an envelope sketch #2 - Could we do a cloud integration in 2016?

Software demo 1 - Syncing cloud guidance and standards with the model

Software demo 2 - Syncing project specification with model

Software demo 3 - Not just BIM objects, but BIM objects with standardised data

Software demo 4 - Generic and manufacturer content all scheduled to show standard attributes

Software demo 5 - The published information now in the cloud (Forge Viewer in middle)

Software demo 6 - Click the object - see the spec

Software demo 7 - Basic training application using Forge

Software demo 8 - Live coding (with only one mistake on the day!)

Software demo 9 - Student project at NBS

Software demo 10 - Accessing data using Google Sheets API from a Raspberry Pi

Software demo 11 - The temperature in our office at NBS in the UK in real time

Software demo 12 - Accessing data from BIM 360

Software demo 13 - Selecting the model from BIM 360

Software demo 14 - Viewing the BIM 360 model in the NBS environment
To see some of this in context - please visit our NBS case studies page...

Monday, 13 November 2017


I've just been 'followed' for the 5,000th time on Twitter. A big thank you to everyone who has clicked the 'Follow' button - hopefully I tweet stuff of interest (occassionally at least). A quick look through the Twitter Analytics portal shows some of the more 'engaging' tweets from the last couple of years below...

October 2017...
June 2017...
April 2017...
February 2017...
June 2016...
First ever Tweet in September 2011 - no followers - nobody engaged :(

And of course - a big thank you to the 5,000th follower...
Thanks for the follow Mr Reis!

Thursday, 19 October 2017

Digital Construction Week 2017 - Day Two

Following on from yesterday's Day One review post - here is a quick review of Day Two...

Andrew Wolstenholme - Construction Leadership Council
I've been to many BIM events, but until today I have never had the chance to listen to Andrew Wolstenholme who is CEO of Crossrail and chair of the CLC.

Some of his key slides below. Some of his big messages:
  • Look at how automotive and aeropspace industries collaborate and work together on standards and innovation and work to get Government funding. Construction industry is way behind. The two big innovation areas for cars are (a) batteries and (b) self-driving cars - the industry really gets behind the challenge.
  • When it comes to the big projects. You must focus on the outcomes. Focus on the business case. The spending is then worth it. Example being Crossrail - spend £14.8bn - for a return of £42bn to the economy.
  • Three areas of focus for the industry - (a) procure for better value, (b) industry-led innovation with matched Government funding and (c) skills for the future.
Andrew also looked at the 'sector deal' - the investment on its way:
A lot of money is about to be spent
We don't currently have enough capacity in the industry to deliver

Be sure of the business case - and then spend

Andrew wants to get construction the same sort of funding for innovation that other industries get 
AI in construction - Akos Pfemeter
This was largely a look at the history of AI - and then a reflection on where it wil benefit construction. Some links below:

Alex Lubbock - Delivering against Government Construction Strategy
Alex is part of the Digital Built Britain team. He reported on how BIM Level 2 was being pushed through departments to try and make it 'business as usual'.

He also looked at all of the priority areas...
The priorities

Emerging technologies will create amazing productivity opportunities

It's not just about the big companies - it's about SMEs and sharing the passion through social media

David Philp - City Modelling
Dave removed his Digital Built Britain hat and put on his Aecom hat to present the work they were doing around city modelling and big data.

A pretty cool software package was demonstrated (the guy behind Google Earth is the owner):
How will emerging technology allow us to monitor our assets?

The existing estate (with no BIM) is huge
Su Butcher - Collaboration
Then it was off to the BIM Village stage. Su Butcher did a nice job of presenting using only a whiteboard and markers.

What can help/hinder collaboration? Technology... Legal issues... Behaviour...
Forget your flashy Powerpoints - Su Butcher brings out the whiteboard!
Me - Structured data through the timeline
My class was accepted (thanks Olly :)) - so I got a chance to present to 50 or so delegates at the BIM Village.

My three take-home points were:
  1. Get the start of the project right - support the client with the EIR/BEP process
  2. Use standardised information structures for objects and specifications
  3. Consider how emerging technologies will change the way we work
Check out some BIM case studies below...
Case study 01
Case study 02

Case study 03
If you want to watch me talk about this stuff - please see the link below:

...and, it wasn't all work, work, work, a bit of fun below...
(Thanks Anthony from James Ward Architects)

Separated at birth?

PlanBEE - NBS Tech Experience

At NBS we are part of the PlanBEE initiative in the North East. This is an intense higher apprenticeship programme, spending four month spells with the industry’s leading companies, getting on and off the job training and earning from day one. It is a fast track to graduation, a professional qualification and a guaranteed job opportunity.
Collaboration from some of the largest AEC companies in the North East
As part of the four month experience at NBS, each student has a month in our BIM content team, our specification content team, our web team and also our tech team. I had the pleasure of putting together our tech programme and also mentoring the first of our PlanBEE students Jodie.
Our first two PlanBEE students
The tech month has four parts - the first three build up the basic skills needed to work on a real life industry problem and try and solve it using technology.

Week 1 - Web skills
With the help of the excellent w3schools website and Microsoft Visual Studio Community Edition the student learns basic web programming. Topics such as HTML, CSS, Javascript, JSON and XML are studied.
Loading data stored in XML into a website using AJAX
Week 2 - Desktop skills
To keep things simple on the desktop programming side, VBA within Microsoft Excel is taught to introduce the basics such as variables, loops, conditions, functions, user forms etc... The excellent Home and Learn website gives great training exercises.

As a data set to play with, Uniclass 2015 tables are provided.

Week 3 - Quality assurance
In week three, the student is introduced more to the NBS product range and spends a week in the QA team exploring and testing desktop and web solutions that are being updated for our customers. A lot of this is basic 'user acceptance testing' but there is also a little bit of time spent learning how to write automated testing.
Automated testing
Week 4 - Project
The project week is a chance for the student to put the skills into practice. They are given a pre-written web application which has three panels. The central model contains a 3D model of a building. The left hand panel allows objects in the model to be selected by GUID. The right hand panel receives events from the objects that are selected. The Autodesk Forge Viewer is used for the 3D model viewing.
The starting application
Jodie has just completed her tech month - so some screenshots from what she did in project week below...

The Challenge - Prototype a website that allows the facility manager to view and record the water temperatures for all hot and cold water taps in the NBS Old Post Office Building

Interview and video Mick, our maintenance guy, on how he takes and records the monthly readings

Put a plan together for the week (four day week! College on Monday)

Sketch design on the back of an envelope what the solution will look like

Start styling and laying out the test on the basic application

Add properties (using the NBS BIM Object Standard!) to a cube that will represent the tap
The SerialNumber property from the COBie PSet was used for the GUID

Place the cubes in the building - a beautiful representation of our lovely taps

Upload the new model to the website that has been created

Click on a tap to see where it is in the building, what the maintenance data is and instructions on how to maintain each month
So in a month, without much previous coding experience, I was amazed at what Jodie managed to put together. We'll have a student into the tech experience every two months now, and each one will be mentored by one of my colleagues at NBS. Hopefully some of these students will be inspired by what we do and will start successful careers in our industry.

From a BIM point of view, it's a simple example, but it shows how well-structured data from a common standard can be used to locate and use model data in FM. Some of the information is in the model (unique ID, classification, manufacturer name, description etc...) - some of this information is external to the model (photo, youtube video, maintenance records etc...). The end user can then access all of this connected information in a web application and use the 3D model to provide context.

To find out more about PlanBEE please visit:

A special mention to Ryder Architecture who started off this initiative: