CPD articles

Continuing Professional Development: A Guide to Level 2 BIM

28 May 2018

Autodesk’s John Adams offers an overview of BIM Level 2 BIM and what needs to be in place to achieve it. 

In May 2011, the UK Cabinet Office announced a long-term government construction strategy aimed at improving the efficiency, cost-effectiveness and sustainability of UK government construction projects. The strategy’s short-term goal is to reduce construction costs by 15 to 20%, and it is part of a broader set of goals for the industry, which are to reduce construction costs, project delivery time and long-term operating costs, and to help the UK meet carbon reduction targets for buildings.

A key part of the strategy is the requirement to use collaborative 3D BIM processes on all centrally funded public projects (both buildings and infrastructure) by April 2016.

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Since the strategy’s launch, a number of public-private steering groups and organisations have been helping to implement and strengthen the BIM capabilities of both government organisations and industry supply chains.

Several standards and specifications have been created. Policies, protocols and tools have been devised, and others revised, and government projects have been used to test methods and obtain feedback.

Based on this development effort, the UK BIM mandate now includes a number of main components that enable project teams (government owners, supply chain designers, contractors, and fabricators) to understand, specify and adhere to BIM processes and procedures for working together on BIM projects. These “pillars” – PAS 1192-2, PAS 1192-3, BS 1192-4, PAS 1192-5, the CIC BIM Protocol, Government Soft Landings, the Digital Plan of Works (DPoW) and Uniclass classification system – are summarised below.

For each centrally procured UK government project, the government client will evaluate the proposed approach, BIM capability and capacity of a supplier and its supply chain to deliver the required information. As such, a potential “Tier 1” government supplier (such as a lead designer, main contractor or joint venture partner) must convince its government client that it is BIM ready by detailing the processes that it will use to fulfil the client’s requirement. Likewise, a supplier further down the supply chain must demonstrate its BIM readiness to its higher-tier client.

Part of a company’s BIM readiness is the software it uses to provide services, produce deliverables and deliver the information required by the government client. Autodesk BIM software solutions can help companies to the meet the technical requirements of BIM Level 2.

Working with COBie

As a project moves from design to construction to commissioning and handover, the project information grows and eventually represents what has been built and delivered to the government client. This information is then used to support the operations and maintenance of the built asset. COBie (Construction Operations Building Information Exchange) is the UK government’s chosen Level 2 BIM exchange schema for this information.

Facility owners and operators require a wide range of information, from as-built drawings of the facility to serial numbers and installation dates of warrantied equipment. Traditionally, this was provided during handover via boxes full of paper drawings, operations and maintenance manuals, or by CDs containing electronic versions of the same information, possibly taking thousands of hours to process and enter the data into systems used for FM, operations and maintenance.

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In 2007, the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) developed the COBie exchange format as a pilot standard for its own building projects. Since then, it has been used by private and public organisations around the world. COBie enables the capture of facility information throughout the phases of a project, and the exchange of that information in a structured format using neutral spreadsheets. Two types of assets are included: “visitable” spaces and managed or maintained components and equipment. COBie enables the supply chain to provide electronic information directly as that information is created.

The COBie spreadsheet will contain data from design consultants, the contractor and subcontractors, suppliers and the client. In a collaborative BIM project, the COBie spreadsheets from all these participants are merged together. In general, COBie files are not intended to be “read” by end-users. Instead, they are a vehicle that can be used to exchange space and equipment information between systems.

BS 1192-4 provides guidance for using COBie to exchange facility information between the employer and the supply chain. The timing and number of exchange points (or COBie data drops) are aligned to project stages and will vary depending upon the requirements of individual government clients to suit their internal processes and approvals. There are likely to be at least four data exchanges: at the end of preparation and brief; at the end of conceptual design; at the end of design development; and at handover.

How Autodesk supports COBie

Autodesk personnel have worked on the various technical committees that developed the original USACE standard, BS 1192-4 and the many other standards that include COBie.

Moreover, Autodesk has developed compliance with the COBie standard in its own products. For example, Autodesk Revit can create and export COBie building handover information directly, either via a spreadsheet or via an IFC model. Autodesk provides a free plug-in for Revit that provides the capability to export the model directly to the UK COBie spreadsheet standard format.

The free Revit Model Checker tool can be used to verify that a Revit model contains the necessary information  needed to meet the client’s specific project requirements, based on a configurable checklist. The tool also includes a Revit Model Checker for COBie that checks to make sure that a COBie spreadsheet exported from Revit meets the UK’s requirements for COBie.

Alternatively, COBie-enabled Revit models can also be exported to the IFC FM Handover Extended Model View Definition data option. In addition, a UK government client or supplier can use the NBS BIM Toolkit (DPoW) in order to digitally verify that a supplier’s project data provided in a COBie spreadsheet meets contract requirements.

The Revit Classification tool allows you to add Uniclass information to BIM objects within your model and works in conjunction with the Revit COBie extension to create COBie drops.

As a leader in BIM software, Autodesk helps to transform business process and deliver innovation to the construction industry. As the industry evolves, Autodesk continues to develop guidelines and standards associated with both BIM and with collaboration.

As the founder of the International Alliance for Interoperability, the forerunner of today’s BuildingSMART, Autodesk has been actively involved in developing and maintaining the Industry Foundation Classes (IFC) standard, the data format commonly used to share data on BIM projects. Also, as members of the steering groups and technical committees involved in developing PAS 1192-2 and BS 1192‑4, Autodesk staff have been supporting the development of the CDE and COBie requirements for many years.

To find out more about BIM Level 2 and the impact that technology and process improvement can have on your business visit www.bim360.com/bim-level-2.

For projects which don’t use Revit for all or any of the design and for construction phases of a project, Navisworks can be used to federate the models and a free COBie export tool for Navisworks can be used to aggregate COBie data from various file formats. This can be exported as spreadsheet or a SQL database.

For some of the COBie required data such as serial numbers and installation information, which is typically gathered at the commissioning phase, a mobile solution for the construction site such as BIM 360 Field can be used to collect data to be brought back into the model for COBie export from Revit.

The Common Data Environment

A successful implementation of the UK government strategy and Level 2 BIM mandate relies on a Common Data Environment (CDE) to support a project’s information delivery process, as specified in both PAS 1192-2 and BS 1192. A CDE is defined as a single source of information for any given project, used to collect, manage and disseminate all relevant approved project information for multidisciplinary teams in a managed process.

PAS 1192-2 Section 9.2 describes how a CDE should accommodate information from government BIM projects and enable multidisciplinary project teams to collaborate in a managed environment. A CDE may use a project server, extranet, file-based retrieval system or other toolset, but should allow information to be shared efficiently and accurately between an extended project team that may work across companies and geographic locations.

A CDE helps to ensure that information is only generated once and is then reused as necessary by all members of the supply chain, and that information is constantly updated and enriched. To accommodate collaborative BIM processes, it should include four fundamental capabilities:

  1. A shared project workspace for project team members from different disciplines, companies and locations;
  2. Controlled access to the information stored in the CDE;
  3. A structured, configurable approval process to control the flow of project information;
  4. A process to track and manage activity related to the CDE’s information and controls.

Autodesk BIM 360 Docs is a cloud-based platform that provides general document management as well as specialised functionality for 2D drawings, 3D models, and other project information. BIM 360 Docs helps to support the collaborative workflows described in BS 1192 and PAS 1192-2, and has been designed to fulfil the UK government’s technical requirements for a CDE.

In addition, the security controls and features in BIM 360 Docs assist UK government clients, suppliers and asset operators who use the CDE to comply with PAS 1192-5. Specifically, it supports the “need-to-know” approach to the sharing and publication of information about built assets.

For more information on BIM Level 2, download your free copy of Autodesk’s indepth white paper on the mandate and how to meet it at: www.bim360.com/bim-level-2

Autodesk, BIM 360, Navisworks, and Revit are registered trademarks or trademarks of Autodesk, Inc., and/or its subsidiaries and/or affiliates in the US and/or other countries.

The pillars of BIM 

1. How BIM should be used

PAS 1192-2:2013 is at the heart of the UK BIM mandate, identifying how BIM should be used for a project’s design and construction. It is underpinned by BS 1192:2007, which defines the collaborative production of architectural, engineering and construction information and establishes project team roles and responsibilities, as well as rules for naming, classifying, layering and exchanging project data.

2. The Asset Information Model

PAS 1192-3:2014 deals with the operational phase of a project. It describes how an Asset Information Model (AIM) should be created from the Project Information Model (PIM) that was developed during design and construction, including the establishment of data requirements from the beginning of a project. It also describes how the AIM should be used and maintained through the life of the asset.

3. Exchanging information

BS 1192-4:2014 defines expectations for the exchange of non-graphical project information using the COBie standard, which enables the exchange of structured information for the commissioning, operation, and maintenance of a project in a neutral spreadsheet format. The facility owner can then use this in decision-making tools, and FM and asset management systems.

4. Sharing information safely

PAS 1192-5: 2015 provides technical security considerations for UK government owners and project stakeholders regarding vulnerability issues, and the controls that are required to help ensure that information is being shared in a security- minded fashion.

5. Legal aspects of data-sharing

The Construction Industry Council (CIC ) BIM Protocol is a legal addendum to design and construction contracts that  allows parties to share data within a contract when working to Level 2 BIM. It establishes specific obligations, liabilities and limitations on the use of project models.

6. Handing over the asset

The Government Soft Landings (GSL) is a policy of graduated handover for government projects. It requires project teams to stay in touch with government clients for several years to assist them in learning how to operate their asset effectively.

7. A common language for BIM

To support the construction strategy, the UK government commissioned a unified classification system (Uniclass) that provides a “common language” for all team members. A single classification system enables electronic project data to be indexed and structured to be accessible and searchable.

8. Defining the data requirement

The government also commissioned the development of a digital plan of works (DPoW), which defines the data required at a specific point in a project’s lifecycle, and who is responsible for creating and issuing that data. The DPoW also integrates into the classification system (see 7).

Visualising a more efficient future

Simulating scenarios saves housebuilder Hill £20,000

With the advent of BIM, London and south-east housebuilder Hill was eager to embrace a more efficient way of working, as well as drive the productivity of its workforce, tackle the inefficiency of procurement and improve quantification. The company adopted a range of Autodesk tools to help in the process, including BIM 360, Navisworks and Revit.

Autodesk cloud-based technology on synchronised iPads and other devices allows Hill employees to spend more time on site and be more productive, as they are empowered to carry out more admin tasks while in the field. In addition, Navisworks enabled greater project visibility for head office.

Projects that have benefited include the redevelopment of the South London YMCA at Upper Norwood, where the site had a steep topography and the building was difficult to visualise.

By using the BIM modelling tools, Hill was able to simulate different scenarios and make better-educated decisions regarding the design and construction of the building. Access to this information saved Hill around £20,000.

Mike Beckett MCIOB, director at Hill, says: “Using Revit and Navisworks means our site managers can in time expect to increase productivity by between 30 and 40%, which allows them to get more done.”

He adds: “As a result of working with Autodesk, we’re now looking to roll out more projects with BIM as a standard.”

Reaching for the skies

WYG tests project impacts at city scale

Global project management and technical consultant WYG has long been committed to implementing digital technology, BIM and more recently BIM Level 2 processes throughout the entire group. It first introduced Autodesk and Revit in 2006.

While initially the business met some resistance when it introduced new tools, WYG trains up individuals in each office
to champion the new product and get teams on board. 

In order to test out its use of the latest technology, WYG entered a team into Build New York Live,a 48-hour virtual design competition. The intention was to show how data can flow between different systems and the benefits that brings to WYG stakeholders. Forty-five staff working in 16 disciplines took part in the competition, which involved delivering a complete building and FM package for a site in New York (pictured above). 

Autodesk products allowed data to flow between WYG team members located across various sites, significantly increasing their ability to collaborate – and the team went on to win a top award at the competition.

Johnathan Munkley, BIM director at WYG, says: “Implementing BIM and digital workflows has allowed us to stay competitive and it allows us to offer the best service to clients. We’re now able to win more tenders and offer a better, more engaging service that our clients want. We wouldn’t be winning the work we’re winning now if we hadn’t embraced BIM and technology in this way.”

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