COBie - UK Case Study - Stride Treglown

In 2012, architects Stride Treglown were appointed to deliver a UK Government early adopter BIM project. As ‘pathfinders’ working with newly defined processes and delivering COBie outputs, Stride Treglown faced a number of challenges. To find out how Stride Treglown successfully implemented the project, Solibri UK Managing Director David Jellings, chatted with Anthony Walsh, Senior Associate and Sector Lead for Public & Community Projects and Dean Hunt, BIM Co-ordinator for Stride Treglown.   How did you first become aware of the Government BIM and COBie requirements? ‘We had been working in a BIM environment for a number of years and as one of our key client groups is government, in particular justice and defence, we were aware of the new COBie requirement as a government directive from the outset. To help improve our knowledge, we’ve attended numerous conferences and seminars and disseminated the information internally to raise our overall company awareness. We knew this was going to be important and that it would involve developing new working practices, so we wanted to be properly informed.’   When/how were you first involved in a COBie project? ‘In 2012 we were appointed to deliver one of HM Government’s Early Adopter projects. Our appointment was as the technical delivery architect, initially to deliver the scheme to COBie data exchange stage 3 (representing the technical design solution). This changed however and we were eventually became tasked with fully coordinating the BIM process and COBie data requirement (with the lead contractor, other consultants and the supply chain) to stage 6 – i.e. practical completion.’   What were your individual roles in the project? Anthony Walsh: ‘I am a Senior Associate and Stride Treglown’s Sector Lead for Public & Community, which incorporates this particular work stream.’ Dean Hunt: ‘I am Stride Treglown’s BIM Co-ordinator responsible for directing the project team in a collaborative BIM environment to ensure that the geometric coordination and data requirements were achieved and fully coordinated. I needed to develop new workflows and strategies to achieve the COBie data requirements for the project.’   How did this project change the way you worked? ‘We were already familiar with current BIM processes, such as coordinating geometry and clash detection. However, the new process required us to output intelligent data in a format that could be easily accessible to all. This necessitated implementing new working practices and protocols to ensure that these outputs could be incorporated into the COBie schema. Technically, we had to invest in additional add-ins for authoring tools to enable a more efficient workflow. We also had to invest time working with other project partners to help them deliver the data requirements.’   What was the main initial challenge? ‘This was a new way of working, not just for us, but everyone from the client down. The biggest challenge at the start of the process was the initial lack of understanding by the project team. The information requirements and formats were at first ambiguous, but after research into the requirements of COBie, the required levels of data became clearer and more understandable to us all.’   And the wider challenges? ‘The whole team were fully committed to delivering the project, but not having previously worked with COBie, it was a steep learning curve for everyone involved, including the mechanical & electrical engineers, civil & structural engineers, catering suppliers and key supply chain partners. All were very enthusiastic about working in a collaborative environment. We believe our lead role was instrumental in ensuring that all parties were fully integrated into the process.’   How did Solibri become involved? ‘We were aware of the options available to output COBie data, including directly from the authoring software itself. Initially this seemed like the obvious and easiest option but unfortunately it did not satisfy the requirements. It was important to us that we found a way of automating what was essentially a very manual process, in order to develop a repeatable workflow for our future COBie requirements. We originally became aware of Solibri Model Checker from our attendance at the ICE BIM Conference in 2012 and it seemed to provide the solution to many of our problems.’   How was Solibri Model Checker (SMC) applied in the project? ‘One of the main problems we faced was how to ensure that the model contained the complete and correct COBie data. It is very inefficient to spend time validating, and checking COBie outputs only to have to correct them further down the line. Using SMC rule sets, we were able to validate the completeness of the COBie output before exporting to the data sheets. Using the classification tables to coordinate all consultant models is a particularly powerful feature of SMC, furthermore, SMCs infinitely configurable user interface makes coordinating data straight forward and particularly excels when using IFC models prepared by varying authoring software. Within SMC we were able to federate all discipline models using IFC, which is the industry standard exchange format and also a requirement of the COBie deliverable. At every stage, the Solibri UK team worked with us closely to optimise these solutions.’   How successful was the application of SMC? ‘We believe we successfully implemented the workflow that we initially set out to achieve. We strongly believe that COBie should be an output provided by data in the authoring software which is then federated, coordinated, validated, and checked by SMC, which then automates the export to the completed COBie sheets. By eliminating any manual data entry in the final COBie sheets we not only save a huge amount of time, but more importantly eliminate user error from the process. Large projects that require data output from many maintainable assets becomes almost impossible to achieve without using automation software such as SMC.’   How do you see the future for COBie and Solbri’s role in its implementation? ‘Being championed by government, COBie will be business as usual from 2016 and we are already seeing elements of COBie being requested by some private clients. We feel ultimately that Excel as the output will gradually disappear; however, COBie data will remain and become the universal delivery method across all projects. Stride Treglown has now adopted SMC software to undertake internal coordination so that as a practice we can deliver fully co-ordinated buildings. We feel confident that SMCs communication method is far superior to its competitors and will be an essential component of future project deliveries.’