Saturday, October 29, 2011

Yo, VIP, let's kick it!

I doubt many people are going to admit to recognising the title of this post, although I'm sure it's triggering some memories for a few of you.  

The year was 1990, and the artist was Robert Van Winkle - aka Vanilla Ice.

Of course, the lyrics I should have used come only a few lines later...

 Stop, Collaborate and Listen.

What a great way to go about thinking about making a transition to operating within a BIM process.

This week, I was delighted to attend a great BIM event in Glasgow - twitter users out there, search #BIMSCOTLAND to find out a little more.

I was very pleased to hear the message being firmly pushed home that in order to make a succesful move into "BIM", we - as an industry - need to put aside our conventional methods and perceptions and open our minds to a completely new way of working.

Procurement, development and relationships all need to be re-visited or re-learned to allow the BIM to realise its potential.

Let's "do" BIM - step 1... throw away the rule books; 
forget "the way it's always been done"

Sure, this won't be easy and there will be stumbles along the way... but believe me, the journey will be worth the effort.

We'll overcome the classic questions that often appear as obsitcles, such as "who owns the model?".  In my view, when considering a building, I'd suggest that the building itself "owns" the model... different stakeholders will act as "stewards" of that model at various stages throughout the development, ownership and maintenance of the asset.  Each steward will have their own responsibilites, risks and rewards during their period of ownership.

Thinking about "throwing away the rule book", what better opportunity can we ask for to start afresh with new forms of contract etc, that suit construction today - rather than yesterday?

With a young family, I'm acutely aware of the trials and adventures that take place at East High School, in Albuquerque (the uninitiated should google "High School Musical").  The Wildcats present us with a fitting notion...

"We're all in this together".

If ever there was a message to be applied to enabling or implementing BIM, I'd suggest this is the one.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

September News!

Ethan - born 27/9/11

It has certainly been a busy week here.  Last Tuesday (27th September) saw the arrival of the newest member of the "team".

While it's early days, I'm sure that our new "Junior Executive" will have a great deal of influence on everything that happens here!

Completed Reports
Work-wise, things are remaining steady.  September included three new volumetric analysis projects, with another one currently ongoing, as well as a number of CAD projects.  Our involvement in the avoidance and identification of buried public utilities continues to be a key business area, and we have also submitted tenders to provide CAD services for windfarm projects.

Revit model of kitchen area


BIM continues to be a key area of interest here too.  Revit has been getting well explored, with a recent proposed project (domestic building conversion) being modelled in Revit, and video fly through simulation created.

Revit model video flythrough

A sample from the ground floor fly through video can be seen here.

Google Earth buildings

Google "badges" awarded

In addition to this, we now have ten building models uploaded to Google's 3D Warehouse, and six buildings modelled in 3D and accepted into Google Earth and included in the publicly accessible buildings view.

Photo used in Photofly

Sticking with 3D models, the latest thing we've been trying out is Photofly... the first test project is now complete and is uploaded to YouTube - take a look here.  This was created by using a series of normal photographs, taken of a vase of roses, to produce the 3D version and video.

2011 certainly has been a big year for us so far... looking forward to finding out what's next!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Life, the universe and everyBIM?

Once upon a time, long ago, a band of super-intelligent beings (mice) decided to finally answer the great question of Life, The Universe and Everything.

"Deep Thought"

To achieve this, a great super computer called Deep Thought was built.  The most powerful computer ever built spent 7.5 million years in serious consideration before announcing the answer.

The Ultimate answer to Life, the Universe and Everything is...

(You're not going to like it...)

Which suggests that what you really need to know is 'What was the Question?'.

What this great computer kindly pointed out was that the problem really was that no-one knew the question.

Recently, we have seen a massive uptake in interest in ‘BIM’, with countless websites, conferences and commentaries all offering their own slant and definitions to what ‘BIM’ is and why we need it.

The fact is BIM can mean so many different things to different people.  When implementing a BIM strategy, make sure you know what your ultimate goal is.

The great thing about BIM is that the principles of data integration and collaborative work processes can be applied to so much, including – but certainly not limited to…

BIM for design integration
BIM for error avoidance
BIM for construction coordination
BIM for building management
BIM for manufacture
BIM for project collaboration
BIM for energy efficiency
BIM for facilities management
BIM for asset monitoring
Or simply, BIM for visual appreciation

When moving to such a potentially powerful and inclusive management process, it could be easy to lose track and find yourself off message… The end result may still be fantastic, but was it what you originally aimed for?

In developing your BIM answer – make sure you know what the question is, and that your conclusion addresses this.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Hair today, gone tomorrow

The title for this post was glaring out at me following my first visit to the hairdresser after looking back over my recent holiday photos.  The increased presence of visible (and rather sunburnt) scalp resulted in the decision to start becoming a bit more aggressive with the ‘pruning’ of the remaining hair – a process that, so far, seems to be fairly successful in minimising the visual impact.

What was most alarming was the seemingly short time-frame within which this androgenetic alopecia (apparently) has occurred.

There are various theories as to what causes hair loss, ranging from genetics to environment, covering pretty much everything along the way.  However, there is now a new factor on the table…

At a recent BIM seminar, I was presented with the following explanation:

BIM causes baldness!

It didn’t take long for this suggestion to sink in… the history fit, and the evidence was there (or rather, not there) on the top of my head.  The more time I’ve spent over the past couple of years speaking about BIM, attending seminars, carrying out presentations, and so on has coincided with a definite reduction in my scalp covering.

Forget concerns over model ownership, and interoperability exchange formats… what we have here is a REAL issue.  Contract form and company policies will inevitably need to undergo some degree of evolution (or altogether re-structure) in order to give fully collaborative and open project execution a fighting chance – these are matters that can (and must) be overcome.

Choice is a powerful thing.  With regard to BIM, one of my favourite quotes came from Paul Morrell, who said...

“Very soon looking back on BIM and thinking it was a choice will be funny”.

For me, the reality is, looking back on wearing a hat in the summer and thinking it was a choice is funny.

Monday, August 8, 2011

What about the people?

To date, this blog has been an outlet for predominately BIM related posts.  BIM is a hot topic at present in the construction world, but it is not currently the main business area for projects undertaken at McCafferty Consultancy Ltd.

The majority of projects completed to date are a mix of 2D cad projects to assist in the planning and / or construct phase of construction schemes and 3D ground modeling to determine volumetric requirements for proposed building sites.

BIM and VDC remains more a personal interest at this stage, while the benefits of these processes are explored and identified by the wider UK construction community.  Perhaps, this will progress to become more of a business interest in the future, or perhaps we will continue to exist as “non-practicing BIM advocates”… time will tell.

Behind the blog, exist real people with real (and often exciting) lives.  It has been suggested that this blog should maybe attempt to vary from technical commentary, and introduce some content that might give more insight to what the real people at McCafferty Consultancy have been doing away from work recently.

Stevie with Pluto (Disney)

Well, there has been a good mix of happy times, sick times, fun times, sad times and geeky times over recent months.  July saw broken bones and viral infections – not nearly enough to destroy our spirits as a family vacation to Disneyland Paris followed soon after, along with further fun times in France catching up with old friends and taking time out to relax.

Stevie with Lisa (IRT)

In August, "geeky" fun was had ‘fuelling’ (sorry) Stevie’s petrolhead side with a great day out at Truckfest.  In addition to admiring the shiny, noisy things on display, this proved to be another opportunity for Stevie to utilise skills refined at Disney and partake in the rubbing of shoulders with celebs – no Disney personalities this time, but Alex & Lisa from TV’s ‘Ice Road Truckers’.

The coming months are guaranteed to be just as interesting as we await a new addition to the “McCafferty group”.  Company expansion may well be on our minds, but this time it is family expansion, with the newest arrival expected at the start of October.  I can report that Jennifer has managed to put the “sick times” in the past and is looking forward to beginning her leave later this week.

So, there we have the first non-technical blog post, considering some of the more human sides of what happens behind the scenes here.  This may be the start of something, or could turn out to be just a rare insight along the way.  Perhaps I’ll let the visitor stats or comments decide…

Friday, May 27, 2011

BIM - Are you ready?


Construction is on the brink of a revolution – this is not the first time you’ve read this recently… but that doesn’t mean it’s not true.  The BIM era has been making its approach and is now on the brink of infiltrating mainstream methodology here in the UK.

It can be difficult to avoid the seemingly endless discussions and debates that surround the emergence of BIM as a process, but the fact that so many people are talking about this and looking at ways to realise the benefits of BIM and VDC should be a good indicator of the way things are going.

Paul Morrell

The point to note is that BIM is coming and it’s coming FAST.  Anyone fortunate enough to have received a talk by Paul Morrell on the subject will have been given a clue about the pace of BIM, in the lightening-fast powerpoint presentation that will probably have accompanied the subject.  This may prove to be one of the biggest challenges to the historically-lethargic UK construction industry, as the trend is to sit back and “see what everyone else does first”.

The fact is, there are some who have decided that things need to change before change is forced.  Last year’s report by the Innovation and Growth Team recommended BIM be mandatory on government projects over £50m.  In order to achieve real, wide scale integration and adoption this could be made broader.

At a talk this month, Paul Morrell seemed to agree as he labelled the above recommendation as “unambitious”.  Instead, we can expect a further announcement in June that outlines a plan to roll out BIM as mandatory on virtually all government projects within five years.

Surprisingly perhaps, this may come as welcome news to some UK contractors.  There are people out there who have been working on strategies and plans to lay the foundations required to make BIM & VDC real and effective parts of everyday construction methodology.

Among those who have developed BIM strategies are Atkins, Balfour Beatty, Laing O’Rourke and Skanska.  Excitingly, some of these firms have also put in place their own mandates to ensure that BIM can be not only enabled, but encouraged.

A recent presentation by David Philp (see of Balfour Beatty outlined the strength and determination of their global BIM strategy to improve construction methodology across the board.  Over a significant period of time, Balfour Beatty has developed procedures to allow BIM to become embedded into their core management processes.  This is a recognition of the business value of BIM as a process and the benefits it can bring across the life of a project.


A personal childhood favourite of mine, Lego, is also operating in the BIM world.  David Philp alerted me to the existence of “Lego Digital Designer”, a tool that has legitimised my newfound return to the world of plastic bricks.  This tool allows for the “virtual design and construct”, scheduling, conflict resolution and cost planning of lego models.  It may seem like silly fun, but the principles are the same and the processes are very real.

So, BIM is coming… or BIM is here?  With mandates pushing from the top down, contractors pulling from the middle in and hoards of eager schoolboys pushing from the bottom up where do you find yourself when it comes to being prepared for BIM?