Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Beyond BIM PIM

I am sure you have all experienced that it is almost impossible to read a magazine or webpage today without mention of the BIM word - and of course this post just goes to support that fact ;)
In many cases it is for very valid reasons that BIM is being promoted so hard, but BIM does tend to be focused on the benefits that can be obtained from the model (or models). What about the huge amount of project information that is generated outside of the model?

My Newforma colleague Tim Bates recently gave a presentation at the Salford Centre for Research & Innovation (SCRI) forum event
BIM: Making it Happen.

Tim asked "What is project information? Do we need to look 
Beyond BIM PIM. 
  • BIM 
  • Building Information Modelling 
  • Building Information Management
  • Managing Building Information 
  • Managing Project Information 
  • Project Information Management (PIM)
I think Tim's steps from BIM to PIM help demonstrate how BIM is actually just one part of a bigger challenge - the tackling of project information management as a whole. 

Managing the various types of project information and the relationships between them is something that Newforma Project Center does really well. This includes relating object and spatial information from the (BIM) model to other types of project information such as emails; action items; snagging lists etc. 
BIM is going to remain the hot topic for some time but it isn't the only information that needs to be managed on a project.
Are you considering going Beyond BIM PIM?

Newforma are going to be at the BIM Show Live 2011 on 1 November, so if you are attending drop by our stand to meet us and find out more about how Newforma goes Beyond BIM ... to PIM.
For more information or to register for the BIM Show Live event visit:

Friday, 20 August 2010

What happens if I edit this drawing?

Newforma Project Center Tips & Tricks #3

Following on from my last Tip & Trick, I promised some more information on how Newforma Project Center can help with managing external reference CAD files.

One of the common ways for critical errors and uncertainties to be introduced into a set of project drawings is for somebody to edit a CAD file that is referenced by one or more other CAD files without checking on the implications of the changes being made.

Although AutoCAD is very good at telling the CAD technician which files are referenced by the drawing he is working on, it is not so good when it comes to identifying those drawings that reference the drawing being edited. A change in a structural grid, site layout or basic plan can often impact on several other drawings in the project with potentially disastrous consequences if not checked properly.

Newforma Project Center provides a simple mechanism for checking which drawing files depend on the file that you are about to edit. Users can simply right click on the relevant file in the Newforma Project Files listing and select Find > External References.

In this example a list of all the files that reference our selected drawing file are shown. Note that Newforma collated this information automatically as part of the indexing of all the project files - no user input was required to set it up.

Click on the screenshots above for full size images.

This is just one of many ways in which Newforma Project Center helps to reduce the risk of things going wrong on a project.

Thursday, 19 August 2010

Auditing External Reference CAD files

Newforma Project Center Tips & Tricks #2

If you are a regular user of Newforma Project Center then you will no doubt appreciate its ability to understand both AutoCAD and MicroStation CAD files. Project team members know that they can easily search for and find text within these CAD files - even if they're buried in a ZIP file or an attachment to an email. They also typically use the Newforma Viewer on a regular basis to view, markup and compare these CAD files natively - even if they don't have the relevant CAD application installed on their workstation.

However not all users are necessarily aware that Newforma Project Center can also provide significant help in managing the external reference files (x-refs) that are often so critical in providing a complete and accurate set of drawing information for a project.

A simple click on the Utilities task when browsing in the Project Files Activity Center will provide an audit report of all the external references within the project.

Note that various options can be selected to provide a very comprehensive report.

Which can then be output in a variety of formats including as an Excel spreadsheet.

Click on the screenshots above for full size images.

Look out for another tip coming soon about managing external reference files in Newforma Project Center!

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Revit and Newforma - Part 2

In a recent post I referred to firms such as HOK and PCS Structural Solutions who are using Newforma Project Center alongside Revit to manage their BIM projects.

As well as the opportunities for using Newforma Markup Sessions as part of the BIM design review process described in my previous post, there is also an opportunity to use Newforma Project Center's rugged search capabilities to track the information published from a Revit model in DWF files.

DWF is Autodesk's "Design Web Format" which allows published views to include property information from a Revit or AutoCAD Architecture model along with the 2D graphics. Not only will Newforma's viewer allow users to view a DWF file and show information about the intelligent objects within the model, they can also use Newforma's powerful search facility to locate objects by their properties.

For example, if a project team member wishes to locate a particular construction within a Revit model then Newforma Project Center will allow them to query the published DWF files and locate the components within the relevant views. The following screenshots show a search for "Precast - Rectangular Beam" finding a DWF file in an attachment to a project email.

Property information from a Revit model located in a published DWF file attached to an email.

This next screenshot shows the same DWF file opened in the Newforma Viewer and the relevant construction items located and highlighted.

The same DWF file in the Newforma Viewer with the relevant construction item highlighted.

This technique provides a powerful and effective mechanism for making the best use of the information in a Revit BIM project.

(Revit data in example courtesy of HOK)

Monday, 10 May 2010

Revit and Newforma

Moving to a BIM environment from traditional 2D CAD can bring many challenges.

One of the people who probably knows most about addressing these challenges using Revit as the main design tool is my friend and ex colleague, David Light, who is employed by HOK's London office as their Revit Specialist.

In recognition of his experience with implementing Revit on many large projects, David was recently invited by Autodesk to visit their new AEC headquarters in the US for a media day and to meet their development team to give his feedback on where they should be going with Revit in the future. He describes the visit in his blog.

It was therefore very satisfying for me to get back from a trip to the Middle East on Friday to read his latest blog posting sharing his experiences of Revit and Newforma.

Newforma Project Center provides a suite of tools that help project teams manage their day to day project information. Several of these tools help with the processes that need to be managed when working in a BIM project. David references an article which describes how PCS Structural Solutions, one of the firms using both Revit and Newforma Project Center, manages their BIM design review process using Newforma's Markup Sessions to comment on 3D views in Revit.

There are other functions in Newforma Project Center that help with managing BIM projects - but I'll make some of these the subject of a subsequent posting.

Saturday, 17 April 2010

The Newforma family expands ...

It's been a busy year so far. At least that's my excuse when I look back and realise that my last blog posting was back in January!

I'm writing this sat in front of a blazing log fire in the New Hampshire home of my good friend and colleague, Vic Sanchez. I flew into the States last Monday for a week of company meetings at our head office about an hour north of Boston.

I've been over here several times before but it was the first trip for Rob Stephen who joined Newforma in the UK as a technical consultant at the beginning of March. Rob lives in London and has previously been CAD Manager at London architectural practices Pascall & Watson and T P Bennett before setting up his own CAD consultancy last year. It's great to have Rob on board and this week has been a good opportunity for him to meet the rest of the Newforma crew.

This week has also seen the announcement of NFS as a new Newforma reseller partner in the UK. NFS is a new company founded by Mark Creamer and John Williams with the sole focus of providing Newforma software and solutions to firms in the UK and Ireland. I've had the pleasure of working with both Mark and John previously and they have extensive experience of providing AEC technology solutions in the UK. I'm sure that under their leadership NFS will be a great partner to Newforma.

Although this blog is entitled "PIM in the UK" I have no hesitation in bending the rules a bit and mentioning another firm destined to become a Newforma reseller partner - this time in the Netherlands. ICN Solutions are already well known to many Dutch firms for their experience in providing BIM solutions and implementation consultancy. I have recently had the opportunity to accompany ICN on several visits to firms in Holland. All of these firms have expressed great interest in Newforma Project Center - and in particular how straightforward it is to implement without having to force users to change their day to day processes for managing their emails and project files.

ICN Solutions is a very dynamic and well respected firm - and they certainly made us very welcome on a recent visit to their head office and then later that evening at a microbrewery in the town!

Newforma visits ICN Solutions in the Netherlands
(Rob Stephen - centre, Vic Sanchez - far right)

Sunday, 3 January 2010

Happy New Year - let's hope it's a good one!

When I joined Newforma in October of 2008, like many people at that particular time, I had little idea that the world's economy was heading into one of the worst recessions in living memory.

2009 was certainly a challenge for many of us in many ways. The construction industry in the UK was hit pretty badly and it had a personal impact on many friends that I have made over the years.

I travelled to the Middle East in November to visit firms there and it was apparent that Dubai, in particular, is also suffering a big financial crisis. One senior partner of an architectural firm I talked to was just about to go to a meeting with the client on one of their projects and said she was expecting to have to sit through another three hours of excuses as to why they weren't going to get paid. I returned to the UK just in time to read the headline news about Dubai World not being able to pay its debts and "asking" for a six month freeze on payments. Many UK firms have also suffered from Middle East payments drying up.

While I was in Dubai I went to see the Burj Dubai - the world's tallest man-made structure at 818 m (2,684 ft). Whether or not you think it's good architecture, when you stand looking up at it you cannot fail to be impressed by the feat of engineering. It was designed by SOM (Skidmore Owings and Merrill) who are a Newforma Project Center customer - so maybe, just maybe, our software helped in some small way to make it a successful project! As I write this, the opening ceremony is less than 24 hours away - with fireworks and laser light shows planned. Maybe this will help to bring back a little bit of optimism for that part of the world - along with a 15 billion dollar bailout from neighbouring Abu Dhabi of course!

Predictions for 2010 in the UK vary widely - some firms I talk to are anticipating even more redundancies, while others see new opportunities appearing. I suspect that optimism will not fully return until after the general election (in May?) when at least there will be a little more certainty of what the future might hold - whoever wins. In the meantime many firms are looking to be better at managing their internal processes so that they can be more competitive as projects do start to come back on line again - all good news for Newforma of course!

I wish everyone a very happy and successful 2010 - let's hope it's a good one!