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A review of the 2018 Ultimate BIM Summit Dr. David Heesom

On 31st January 2018, the Building Research Establishment (BRE) held the Ultimate BIM Summit. I was fortunate to attend the ‘Movers’ track of the day to report back to the ENTRESS project on potential routes of exploitation and how BIM might impact the regional companies engaged with the project. Over 100 people attended the various sessions held at BRE in Watford, which focused on the latest standards, methods and procedures to support and improve operational effectiveness of businesses implementing BIM.

There were various themes throughout the presentations and the information below is intended to provide a briefing on the key findings from the day. Note that at the end of this document hyperlinks are provided to the actual presentations from the day.

Standardising BIM object definition

Standardisation is an on-going problem for the BIM process within the UK and globally. The key advantage of BIM is the ability to store both 3D geometric and non-graphical attributes in a database, which can then be used throughout the lifecycle of the building. For the Opex (Operational Expenditure) element of a asset lifecycle, having the non-graphical attribute data can replace the tradition operation and maintenance (O&M) information and support the asset management phase via CAFM systems. The use of COBie (Construction Operations Building information exchange) is the approach supported as part of the BIM Level 2 process in the UK and this was discussed by Ivor Barbrook, the Head of Digital Construction and Planning. However, a seminal issue at the present time surrounds the type, naming and amount of information added to the 3D geometric objects during the design and construction phase. One early presentation of the day highlighted this issue, noting that within the range of available BIM object facilities for manufacturers (e.g. BIMStore, NBS BIM Library and BIM Object) the identifier/name of the label for attributes varied and thus led to inconsistency.

To solve this problem the BRE, working in conjunction with ActivePlan propose the BRE Templater ( This works in conjunction with the BRE Databook to provide a new approach to linking manufactures product operational data to objects within the BIM. The template also conforms to the IFC standard ensuring open data standards for BIM, something that was discussed further in the second presentation. Databook is a service that is free to list for manufacturers and free to use for designers and constructers using BIM authoring tools. It is noted that this tool is not a BIM library such as those products noted above, but more a repository for manufacturers to host their product data, which can then be added to BIM objects through plugin tools for existing software such as Autodesk Revit.

The second presentation provided more detail on the template, but of note and potential interest to ENTRESS clients may be the ability to use the Activeplan Asset Information Requirement (AIR) tool to generate an AIR (

Understanding the Value of BIM

The value proposition of BIM was discussed in several presentations, noting that where BIM had been used on a project, savings of 20% had been realised by the client and this is also aligned to better information and also better collaborative working practices. A presentation by Catenda further developed the theme of collaborative working approaches and presented, which is a web based tool for sharing data and collaborating across the project team. It proposes the use of the BIM Collaboration Format (BCF) to allow information from various software tools to view data in a central repository. An API is also provided to support the development of additional apps using the BIMSync model.

Whilst the previous presentations discussed the value of BIM and the potential for technology to support collaboration, a presentation by Tony Llewellyn discussed the issues around embedding collaboration within the team from a human perspective. This discussed the ASARI model for building collaborative teams (, which could be implemented as part of the BIM process to ensure success and also presented the as a method for building collaborative teams.

Training and Development

A final strand to the day focused on the training and development of those wishing to get involved in the BIM process. Jonthan Hewitt highlighted the need to ensure the basics are in place on a project before trying to implement all aspects of Level 2 from a standing start. Whilst there is much media discussion around BIM implementation, recent surveys show it is still growing and much knowledge is still to be disseminated and implemented within the industry, particularly amongst the SME sector. BRE presented the range of courses on offer through their portal and noted an upcoming course on BIM for manufacturers, which may be applicable and useful to those, supported under the ENTRESS project. The full range of courses and associated content and costs can be found on the BRE portal at


Overall there were positive messages from the day on the direction that BIM is moving in the UK. However, the presentations also served as a reminder that there is still a large amount of training and development to be undertaken by everyone involved in the built environment from designers, product manufacturers, contractors and owners/asset managers. Collaboration is a key theme that continually resonates within the BIM arena and both technology and human psychology have a large part to play in this aspect. Key to ENTRESS and its mission to support the regional SMEs is the ability to understand the BIM process and their potential role. This may be as part of a larger collaborative team or being able to provide information on products in a relevant format, potentially using tools such as the Databook that can subsequently be used to improve resource efficiency.

Resources/Presentation Slides

BRE Template and Databook Update 

Paul Oakley, Director of BIM, BRE

Rebuilding Babel

Dr Abi Owolabi, Solutions Architect, ActivePlan Consulting Ltd

The Value Proposition

Mervyn Richards OBE, Managing Director, MR1 Consulting

Tearing Down Walls

Håvard Bell, CEO, Catenda

There’s No BIM like Home

Dan Rossiter, Senior BIM Communicator, BRE

Embedding Collaboration in your team

Tony Llewellyn, Collaboration Director, ResoLex (Holdings) Limited

Training Pathways for BIM

Pauline Traetto, Director, BRE Academy

Construction in a Digital Age - Sharing Construction Product Information

Ivor Barbrook, Head of Digital Construction and Planning, Bam Nutall

Walk before you can Run

Jonathan Hewitt, BIM Advisory Services, Hewitt Consult Limited

How the Benefits Clients Received Were Exactly Achieved

Jorulv Rangnes, President, JOTNE EPM Technology

The Difficult Second Presentation: Information Chaos Theory in Construction

Emma Hooper, Digital Information Specialist, Bond Bryan Digital


EnTRESS Academic Receives Prestigious Award

Mike Fullen, Professor of Soil Technology in the Faculty of Science and Engineering (FSE) recently received the ‘Friendship with Yunnan Award 2017’ from the People’s Government of Yunnan Province, China. This the highest award bestowed on foreign experts by the Government of Yunnan Province. The Award was presented by His Excellency Mr. Ruan Chengfa (the Governor of Yunnan Province) at a ceremony in Kunming (the provincial capital of Yunnan Province) on 20 November 2017.

The Award recognised the long-record of collaborative research and teaching with Yunnan Agricultural University, Kunming. Professor Fullen first visited Yunnan Agricultural University in 1990 and has visited the University about 30 times since then. There have been multiple research collaborative projects, mainly focusing on developing sustainable agricultural systems and soil conservation technologies. The research programmes have involved multiple PhD, MSc and BSc projects, research grants, published research papers and presentations at international conferences.

The link between the University of Wolverhampton and Yunnan Agricultural University has a long and productive history, dating back to the first visits between Senior Staff to the other respective institution in 1986. A ‘Memorandum of Understanding’ was signed on 2 February 1987. Both universities celebrated the 30th Anniversary of the Agreement with a conference on the Campus of Yunnan Agricultural University in March 2017. Professor Geoff Layer (Vice-Chancellor of the University of Wolverhampton), Dr Tim Baldwin (Reader in Cell Biology within FSE) and Mike Fullen attended the Celebration. The event was commemorated by the planting of three ‘Friendship Trees’ on the Campus 2 March 2017; with one tree to mark each decade of co-operation.

The links between the University of Wolverhampton and Yunnan Agricultural University have both strengthened and broadened. There are active and evolving programmes of staff and student exchanges. These cover diverse topics, including agriculture, biology, civil engineering, education, pollution control and soil science.




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