NBS-led team scoops funding award for development of free-to-use BIM tool

May 2014

A team led by NBS has won a funding award of £50,000 from the Technology Strategy Board for a first stage feasibility study into the development of a digital tool for Building Information Modelling (BIM) that has the potential to transform the procurement of buildings and infrastructure.

The project, which is being run in partnership with the BIM Task Group and Department for Business, Innovation & Skills (BIS), involves the development of a free-to-use digital BIM tool that can capture, validate and store information based on the publicly available Level 2 BIM standards.

Specifically, the tool needs to include a digital plan of works and classification system, the two of the seven components of Level 2 BIM as defined by the BIM Task Group that are still outstanding.

One of a number of teams that will undertake the phase 1 feasibility stage, NBS will lead a project that includes BIM Academy, BDP, Laing O’Rourke, Microsoft and Newcastle University and will build on their 6,000 object definitions that currently exist and are in use within the UK construction industry through the NBS Create and NBS National BIM Library initiatives.

Submission of phase 1 proposals is due in July 2014, after which a single team from phase 1 may be selected to receive up to £1m for a six month project of further development. The inclusion of BDP and Laing O’Rourke in the NBS team provides the ability to prove and test proposals within both the design, construction and operation stages of a project, giving invaluable multi-disciplinary knowledge from the design, construction, manufacture and operational perspectives.

BIM Academy lends its experience working as Information Manager on leading UK and international construction projects and will also bring its open-source xBIM software toolkit to the project. The Digital Institute at Newcastle University is a world leader in cloud computing research, whilst Microsoft will provide consultancy throughout the project and the technology will be built on the Windows Azure platform.

“BIM will be a key enabler to achieve the targets of the UK Government’s construction strategy namely building at a lower cost, in a faster time period and with lower emissions. This project will be the key deliverable that will complete Level 2 BIM by providing the industry with a free-to-use digital toolkit to open standards.

“For NBS to be chosen to lead a team to deliver this feasibility study is a great achievement and is recognition of the leadership we have shown in recent years with our NBS Create and NBS National BIM Library initiatives. It’s also fantastic to have such well-respected organisations alongside us.”

Dr Stephen Hamil, Director of Design and Innovation, NBS

“We are delighted to be involved in this key initiative. Through our interdisciplinary BIM practice we are clear that the outcome of the Technology Strategy Board-funded project will greatly aid further BIM adoption by providing the final definition necessary for Level 2 BIM compliance.

“With the 2016 deadline approaching this work is fundamental to support uniform BIM adoption whilst also positioning the UK as international leaders in the development of BIM. BDP is proud to be associated with this.”

Alistair Kell, Director of IT and BIM Champion, BDP

“Microsoft is pleased to be working alongside NBS in driving innovation for the construction sector. Through this partnership, we will provide the project team with access to the key skills necessary to assure the optimum design and deployment of Microsoft technologies. Underpinned by our Azure platform, the team will have a Building Information Models support suitable for individual practices scalable through to a National BIM.”

Derrick McCourt, UK Public Sector Lead, Microsoft

“We welcome the opportunity that this project provides to assist in the completion of the final two parts of the Government’s Level 2 BIM Strategy; Classification and the Levels of Detail within Digital Plan of Works. These are essential for the effective adoption and implementation of Design for Manufacture and Assembly (DfMA) strategies that are at the heart of a modern construction industry.”

Dick Barker, Director, Engineering Excellence Group, Laing O’Rourke