I attended the BuildingSMART conference in London yesterday and, as with many UK construction IT events these days (and despite the presence of significant delegations from Scandinavia and the US), found myself meeting a few familiar faces.
- Asite people, including CEO Tony Ryan and technical director Nathan Doughty, were there in force to support a demonstration of their collaborative Asite collaborative BIM product (along with representatives of supporting technology providers Octaga and Jotne EPM), introduced by Mark Oliver of Laing O’Rourke. It seemed a slick, well-rehearsed presentation (although, over coffee afterwards, another less-than-impressed delegate said it looked good but he couldn’t see much difference between using a collaboration platform to exchange, workflow and track the audit trail of changes to BIM files and using one to do the same for CAD and other types of files). At one point, Asite referred to the product as cBIM, the same abbreviation used by Oracle (the main conference sponsor) to refer to its technology – Nathan assured me this was a pure coincidence and there was no Asite/Oracle connection.
- Former Asite CEO Tom Dengenis was also at the event. He apparently liked my reference to him “resurfacing” at BearingPoint earlier this year; he is now chief executive of Coventry-based 4D software vendor Synchro.
- Another demonstration was delivered by Vico Software, BIW neighbours in Woking (see last week’s post).
- Recalling my past career at Halcrow, it was good to meet former colleague now technical director Doug Bevan and recent Halcrow recruit Tim Broyd (ex CIRIA); Paul King (formerly TPS Consult, now at Bentley) reminded me of my time at Tarmac Professional Services.
- Former BIW colleague George Stevenson (ActivePlan Solutions) was there, as was former 4Projects salesman Chris Cook (shortly to take up a new post in the Leeds office of architect DLG); I also met Dushan Ruikar of Arup (husband of former BIW researcher Kirti Ruikar, currently at Salford University but set to return to Loughborough).
BIM: not yet
After my post on Tuesday (BIM – realistically, still over the horizon), I was interested to hear speakers’ forecasts about how long it would take for BIM and IFC technology to take hold. Some businesses (such as Skanska UK, represented by Nick Pollard) were aiming to have made the change by about 2010; others were slightly less optimistic, talking about 5-7 year time spans (with people and process issues the big hurdle – not technology). HOK’s Patrick MacLeamy, one of the founders of the International Alliance for Interoperability back in 1995 admitted that he had originally thought that it would take about five years for the interoperability issue to be resolved; 12 years later….
According to Steve Hagan of the American Institute of Architects‘ Technology in Practice knowledge community, several owner/operator organisations in the US are moving forward briskly with BIM standards, guides, roadmaps and pilot programmes (he mentioned the recently-launched National BIM Standard, the US Army Corps of Engineers’ roadmap (PDF) and information on the GSA website, among many other initiatives). Also US-based, my “Interesting quote of the day” came from Steve Hammond of the US Coastguard. Talking about how making data more visible in one part of the organisation created a virtuous circle of improved information elsewhere, he said:
“Transparency of data breeds self-correcting behaviour.”