A fun packed week

Many of you based in the UK are most likely going to be as “full on” this week as me.

Today Bentley’s Annual Year in Infrastructure event kicks off for 4 days culminating in their awards ceremony on Thursday.

Tonight is also the kick off for Digital Construction Week with British Information Modelling.

Tomorrow I will be representing the BIM Regions London as part of the  UK BIM Alliance at a reception and then heading over to BIM Open Mic.

Wednesday I will be honoured to be presenting two sessions at Digital Construction Week, a BIM Capability workshop and a presentation titled “A CDE or not a CDE that is the question“.  Later that evening there is of course the Digital Construction Awards.

Friday we have our own in house GIS user community event.

So all in all a fun packed week and I look forward to catching up with colleagues, friends and meeting new people.


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Authoring rules for filenames and data is not enough, for a project, you need to extrapolate names as soon as possible to make sure that your name strategy works. I also get fed up when industry says “we don’t know this early”. How did you tender the work then? Guess???

I have seen this far too many times. Not enough thought given to exploring and projecting naming things. We issue references to 1192 etc but these are left then to interpretation of the “rules”. It is much more straightforward to “model” the names of things that are know at the beginning. Reports, minutes, agendas, models, federated models and then actually create placeholders in the system that is going to be hosting these entities. Be that online or local. Why? You can track progress for a start. You can set dates for when these objects should and will be updated. You can actually get people to understand and get to grips with what these names actually mean from the start. Not just hand out a set of rules and expect/assume people will get it write first time. Mapping out as much as you can (which will be more than you think) right back at the beginning. We used to call this a storyboard or cartoon set. The practice has died out, bring it back, it was useful!


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My approach to dealing with subjectivity

This could turn into a bit of a rambling rant, so consider yourself warned. One of the challenges we face with digitisation is subjectivity. As a former colleague once stated “data is brutal”. Being able to take data, turn it into information that is analysed to gain insight which we can then form advice for our clients and teams is THE key process that the digitisation of our industry needs to be focused on. When someone announces your model has issues with 33,000 components, that is brutal data, but add in that your model contains 1.5 million components and you get a more balanced view. That is still objective.

Subjectivity starts to creep in through language. Sometimes hampering or even destroying the ability to create any sort of analytical/computational/automated approach. How do I go about finding these blockers? I look for the words below which have always created challenges and, as my blog title alludes to, the cultural/people aspect can block the process and tools stream. So these are some of the words to watch for:

  • Suitable
  • Relevant
  • As necessary
  • Appropriate

Look through your documentation, your scope, EIR and BEP, even you Standard Methods and Procedures (SMP). See if these key documents contain this sort of language. Really understand where these words have been used and why, how their context can impact objective data creation and collection. With data being firmly on our industries agenda and with more collection and sharing of data, we can and in some cases do, collect as much data as possible to then look for trends, means, norms and ranges. This does allow us to look at what these subjective words mean with regards to data and whether something is indeed measurable. Once something is measurable we can start looking at its value objectively, which for me, is where I want to be in order to be able to leverage data and put it to work.

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Presenting at Digital Construction Week

I feel fortunate that I and many of my peers have been selected to present and share at Digital Construction Week 17-18th October at London Excel. The full programme is now up here.

I will be running two sessions:

A workshop in the BIM Village on BIM Capability on the 17th from 10:45 to 11:30.

A presentation and Q&A in the BIM village on a CDE or not a CDE that is the question from 15:00 to 15:30, also on the 17th.

I look forward to seeing you there.

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Coding – the “must have” industry discipline!

I have to admit, up until 2009 I did not really pay that much attention to coding/programming. I was introduced to computer programming circa 1980 as computers entered the education system. My two best friends were very much into early games and demo programming as well as hacking real world devices with code (turning a joystick into a pressure pad burglar alarm). I always suffered trying to learn spoken languages and as programming was “just another language”, it and I did not see eye to eye.

Fast forward to 1997 and I start experimenting with AutoCAD scripts and lisp routines out of necessity to make my work day easier and whilst I still achieved good results, it does not come naturally to me.

Jump forward again to 2009 and I finally see what it is all about. It was nagging at the back of my mind and I now put it into just about every presentation I do. Using computers/code to do things that humans cannot, as up until now, I had simply been digitising repetitive tasks to save time rather than any other outcome. (not that saving time is a bad thing) but “Time is precious and unless you fill it with something useful or meaningful then you are just marking hours”.

From 2009 onward I firmly believe every team should have a coder or coding ability, be it macro’s, vba, scripting or hard coding languages. Now some of this will still be straightforward automation but it can also unlock the ability to explore, analyse and truly achieve insights that, up until now, have been hidden and locked away within data and the systems that hold it.

Which is why I am so excited about the upcoming in-house #Hackademy and hack nights. I am looking forward to both looking at automation but also looking at challenging the way we think and how we might be able to embed knowledge into code to further increase understanding and that is why I believe coding/programming as essential to our industry.


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Off-Site Manufacture for Construction

Reports are like buses, one gets published and then another one comes along. Hot on the heels of last weeks Estate Strategy the House of Lords released 2nd Report – Off-site manufacture for construction: Building for change. This is a stub from this page. Another one to add to my reading list. I am still working my way through last weeks report so that I can write a post but I thought I would share with you all.

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Government Estate Strategy 2018

This was published over the weekend which means I have not had a chance to read it yet. But when I do I will post my first thoughts here. Anyone who knows me is aware I am not into politics so I will be looking at the impact of People/Culture, Processes and Tools. More to come. If you want to have a read yourself then it can be found here and a higher level link here.

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Whenever I ask people “in one word tell me what BIM is all about”, coordination always makes its way in there. I do remember up until 2004 (when my role shifted) I actually carried out coordination as part of my day to day activities of design and configuration. It never occurred to me to work otherwise. Why do abortive work when it can be avoided? Reference other disciplines into your working environment, design, analyse, configure, avoid and flag items of doubt/priority for discussion. Admittedly this was primarily in 2D at the time and elements of 3D. I was not alone in this, my colleagues did the same. So what has happened in our industry? Why do we wait until a point in time to “coordinate” and flag 10/100/1000s of errors when we could be eliminating a few at a time as we work! That is why I still cough and splutter when I see it left as a secondary activity.

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A New Chapter

So it has been a while but I may well get back into this blogging lark. Time will tell. So a bit of a change going from BIM to Information Management (IM), or is it? We shall have to just wait and see. After 5 and a half years away from design it does feel like “coming home” but also with a new view of the world and a different way of engaging, improving and transforming. So raise a glass or two to the future, it’s so bright you gotta wear shades.

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Autodesk University Moscow Keynote

Risk is that we ignore trends and our competitors don’t. Trends

* Growth of cloud computing

* Digital everything

* Machine learning
35th Anniversary of Autodesk and autocad. 
What do we do with cloud/infinite computing. 

Generative design for the mass market. 20-30k compute nodes.

Sending to manufacture will be as common as send to print. 

As designed will be as built. 
Digital manufacture. 

Robots on site. 

Automotive. Everyone worries about tesla. Redefine the value proposition. New relationship with the car. 
We want intelligent connected devices. Smarter and better over time. 

Smart bridge. 320 sensors. Photo catalytic concrete. 

Boeing 787. 3D printed titanium parts. If you can pass rigorous aviation standards then you can do anything. 

Varma 12 Norwegian hydro plant renovation. 

Used dynamo. Drones for construction monitoring. 

Rotterdam ram lab 3D printed propellor plus 5 axis Cnc. 

Point of need manufacturing. 

Guess 2 poweplant in moscow. RPBW. 

Apes project bureau

Use smock stacks to bring in air. 
Teach an algorithm the essence of a thing and it can then iterate it. 

Ash the robot has eyes. Learns and progressively adapts. 

Designed built and monitored by machine in Dutch bridge. 
The next big platform is data. 

The age of AI and generative design. 
Tom wujek

Explore emergent tech 


Technology will become active creative partners. 

Industrial Age the fuel was coal. Data is the new commodity. The cloud is the pipeline. 

Capture, compute and create. 

Designs will become fluid and agile. 

Generative design define the problem, constraints and goals. 

Empowerment of the novice. 

Turned people into a source of data for generative design. Autodesk Toronto office. 

From directive to adaptive. 
Robotic systems 

Robots are dumb, dangerous, blind and expensive. 

More money in H&S around the robot rather than the robot itself. 

Ash can weld in 3D. 

3d space and enter the robots world. 

Robot called She. 
Addative manufacturing 

Visarium mold for airbus panel design. 

Inspectable into inscrutable structures. 
Our tools are creating a black box. Less understandable does not mean unreliable. 

Moving from if then statements to in depth knowledge/insightful. Looking outwards into the world. 
Robots can see and learn and deal with the mess and complexity of the world. 

Replace the real world with a simulation where the machine can learn at computer speed and not real,world. 

Within hours bishop learned a lifetime of knowledge. Once bishop knows all the robots know. 

Gets the gist and then re-applies that knowledge to other materials. 
Maya fluid simulation tool. 

Trained maya with machine learning using image recognition to produce effects. 

Novice to expert in a very short period of time.

From calculation to intuition. 
Project IQ as part of BIM360

Predictive data base for site. 

Type in but now moving to image recognition. 

Looking at project management forwards. 

Moving from recipe to reasoning.
In order for self driving cars to work you have to let go of the wheel. 

Computation power double every year eventually every 6 months. 

Not only represent our ideas but for machines to understand our ideas. 
Machines will possess Insight, expertise, knows industry and knows business. 
What should the next generation of tools look like?

Wealth of expertise. 

Long hours after I went home. 

Explore more design solutions. 

Learn and get better over time. 
What might the Autodesk echo look like?

The future is always closer than you think. 

Innovate. Open platforms. Force for positive change. 

Fusion 360. BIM 360 and shotgun. 

Forge – open. Cloud based api for micro services. 

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