Thursday 30 November 2017

Shaping the Future of the Construction Industry

Recently I read an article in the October CanBIM newsletter by Mark Chidwick from Scius Innovations titled Shaping the Future of the Construction Industry.

I've had the opportunity to speak with Mark on a number of occasions on the state of the Architecture Engineering Construction Owners Operators industry. Mark has a unique perspective on the challenges we face in the AECOO as he comes from the Oil and Gas industry, which faced similar challenges a number of years ago.

I’ve discussed with Mark on the correlation between the Oil and Gas Industry and the AECOO industry. 

You wouldn’t think the two industries are related but the challenges faced by the oil and gas sectors are similar to the AEC sectors, the regulations, processes, and challenges in working collaboratively are similar.

Check out Marks Article here in the latest version of the CanBIM newsletter.

Mark Chidwick is a certified management consultant providing consulting services to a variety of industries in the energy sector. For over 25 years, Mark has provided services including program and project management, change management, thought leadership, technology leadership and development and market research.

Friday 24 November 2017

Changing Perspectives: BIM as a Virtual Community

Changing Perspectives: BIM as a Virtual Community

 We are all familiar with using BIM to report on the information it stores; passive data. In the very near future, data will be used to inform designs with the help of advancements in generative design, software algorithms, and robotic construction; active data. There is no doubt that our current information management processes are going to have to change if we hope to leverage this co-creation capability.

  • Have you always viewed BIM as a means to an end? What about BIM as the beginning?
  • Is the current macro perspective on BIM serving us well? Or is it inhibiting innovation?
  • What if we consider the BIM process, from the very beginning to the very end, as a virtual community? A community in which everyone in the process is an active member and the information stored in that community is also an active member.
  • Shouldn’t we all be responsible for making the virtual community better? Don’t you want your community to outlive you?

Come join us December 7th to hear government, business, academics, and students share their perspectives on BIM. Be prepared to have your perspective changed!




brought to you by Calgary BIM Community

Saturday 11 November 2017

Remembrance Day 2017

There are many battles in too many wars to fully pay tribute to the fallen soldiers of these conflicts.

Earlier this year I was fortunate to be able to tour some of these monuments in the North of France, in particular, my wife and I were able to visit many memorials (there are so many WW1 cemeteries that are so well respectfully kept by the small townships) specifically we visited the Canadian memorial Vimy Ridge, the ANZAC Memorial in Villers Bretonneux, the township of Passchendaele, the Beaumont-Hamel memorial dedicated to the Newfoundland Regiment,and the Thiepval Memorial to the Battle of the Somme where two of my Mum's uncles fought and survived. 

All of which are very powerful, moving tributes to those who served.

Hill 70

We were there to commemorate the unveiling of a monument dedicated to the battle of Hill 70, a pre-cursor to Vimy Ridge and critical in the establishment of Curie's reputation as a strong leader of Canadian forces.

One thing that struck me as I walked by many (too many) headstones was the age of these young men who lay beneath my feet.  18, 20, 34, 17, 21, 18..... and it goes on and on and on....


This Saturday at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month I will be attending our local Remembrance Day event.


If you are able please spend some time to remember those that have sacrificed their lives, whether they were killed in action, wounded or survived and able to come home albeit a changed person.

 Think about those veterans that are come home from our current conflicts, some with visible battle scars, all with the less visible scars of memories of war. 
 Lest we forget.
 Of the Vimy Ridge Monument, Walter Allward once said that his inspiration for the monument came to him in a dream. The two pylons represent Canada and France, the two nations beset by war and united to fight for a common goal of peace and freedom for the Allied nations. 

To some, the pylons seem like twin sentinels, silently guarding a peaceful world, or a gateway to a better world where peace prevails.


Monday 6 November 2017

What does your future look like?

Earlier this year I had the opportunity to speak to a full class of enthusiastic, engaging Architectural, Engineering Technology students at Thompson Rivers University, it was a lot of fun and I was asked some great questions by the students.

I spoke to them on how BIM has changed the AECOO (Architecture, Engineering, Construction, Owners and Operators) industry and the impact of BIM and technology that utilizes BIM will have in the future. I spoke on a wide range of topics from the transition from the traditional drafting process to the current state of BIM and it impacts on our deliverables including BIM utilization and data management and visualization.

Here are some points I made to the class of young people who are just starting out in their career in BIM.

Diversity is the key, diversity in your experiences and diversity of acquired skills which will lead you too opportunities in the AEC industry.

Specialize, find the one thing you can excel at. If you can specialize and become the subject matter expert (SME) in one application or process, you immediately become more valuable as an employee and you just gave yourself a differentiator on your resume. Could be as simple as knowing how to use Navisworks, dRofus or understanding the workflow into Virtual Reality.

Take opportunities to advance your skills. These opportunities may not be directly related to your field of choice but if you learn more about the downstream or upstream processes you’ll be in a greater position to help facilitate the processes, whether that's in a variety of disciplines such as fabrication, construction, project management or design, well-rounded skills will make you more versatile and adaptable.

Quite often opportunities appear when no one else wants the job. I know lots of Architects that cannot adapt and have limited skills because they have limited themselves in their focus and have not taken opportunities presented to them to learn new skills or improve their knowledge outside of their narrowly focused field.

Branding, you create your opportunities by how you promote yourself, branding is key!
Your brand is your image you present to the industry, keep it professional and humble.

I really enjoyed my time at TRU and hope to visit the class again soon to follow up on their progress.

Tuesday 24 October 2017

Training within a minimal budget

I recently was asked how to approach training for a smaller firm with a minimal budget for in-house training. 

This is a common issue with smaller firms who don’t have the budget (both time and $$) for training, yet it is critical for their success and continued viability in keeping up with the competition.

Training can be challenging for smaller firms, there is a fine balance in the need and cost of educating your staff for the benefit of the company, however, if you do not have an education strategy for your staff you are inhibiting your firm's growth potential. 

Education strategy does not necessarily need to be onerous and expensive, a balance needs to be met between the needs of the staff and the economic impact, there is a huge amount of benefits to educating your staff including:
  • Staff satisfaction which equates directly to staff retention
  • Efficiency in production
  • Utilization of assets (your expensive software)

Here are some suggestions for an economic strategy towards training.

In-house training: Look for a champion who can take up the gauntlet of improving the skillsets of the office. This individual typically is passionate about the software and wants to improve the process using the software. This champion will be the go-to person for finding the information and facilitate sharing the knowledge, he or she does not need to be an expert…yes, you read that correctly.. they only need to know the basics and where to get the information and have the skills to share the information, once the information is passed on the users will quickly become the experts which you can then draw upon to share their knowledge with any new or less experienced staff.

Make everyone a champion: Look for people who have existing knowledge or expertise, for example, an individual Revit user may have a great understanding of the use of Schedules. Have this person do a short presentation or develop a handout on the topic, you can utilize the existing wealth of knowledge at your disposal.

Keep it current and mix it up: On-demand training is crucial to address a projects immediate needs, select topics that are in need of for current projects, survey your team to see what challenges they are facing and create a session with brief handouts around their needs. When you don’t have any immediate needs go a little “off script”, have a presentation from someone outside of your typical scope such as someone from Contract Administration or Accounting to talk about their aspect of the project delivery process. The sharing of this knowledge helps us all understand why we have to do certain things (like timesheets, ugh!) and it keeps it interesting.

Online resources: There are many online resources available for eLearning from companies that specialize in application training to simply pulling together a selection of uTube videos or web links as a resource for specific topics, if someone comes to you saying they are having difficulties completing a task, for example, Revit roofs, you can direct them to a series of Blogs (ahem) and uTube videos as a resource. You need to be able to direct people to support themselves, even though you may have an “in-house” champion your staff needs to be able to find answers themselves.

Team building: Spend time once a week on team building, this could be as simple as 1 hour a week discussing project challenges. What you will find is that other people will be able to provide their experience or knowledge with the rest of the team, this helps build respect and comradery with your team.

Training and education is a combined effort and involves everyone from management to interns.

Show appreciation: We all appreciate it when we get a pat on the back, you can do this by periodically providing lunch for your staff that attends the training sessions… and use that time to share knowledge. You also get a better rate of participation when lunch is provided. Recognition of individuals for their efforts is also a reward in itself.

Prioritize your staff’s time: Many AEC offices are approached by suppliers to come in and provide lunch and have the opportunity to present their product. Evaluate what is more important, maybe limit suppliers Lunch and Learn in favor of internal training, evaluate which suppliers you want to present to your staff and set a limit to balance your staff’s time between knowledge of products and internal training.

The number one key to success in training your staff is giving them permission to learn, production staff (everyone) feels an obligation to be productive and when we learn a new process or application we get frustrated because of the additional time it takes to accomplish a task that we typically can do in less time. Management needs to give their staff permission to learn and voice the understanding that immediate efficiency will be impacted while learning is taking place, that they accept that cost in the understanding of the overall long-term benefits. Management needs to give their staff permission to learn.

Monday 25 September 2017

Finally... The ability to show Depth in Revit

Depth Cueing Revit Elevations

A new feature to Revit 2017 is “Depth Cueing”, this function now gives us the ability to graphically display distance to our elevation.

Depth Cueing makes elements that are further away to show up lighter to suggest distance.

Under Graphical Display Options, we now have control over how far away objects relative to how much lighter they become.



Tuesday 29 August 2017

BIM User Group?

Are you a member of a BIM user Group?

I was instrumental in starting our BIM user group in my region as things progress we transitioned the group to Facebook and hold a yearly networking session. 

I'm a great supporter of these types of gatherings as they can be a fantastic opportunity to share information, knowledge and provide an opportunity to network with industry peers.

Here are some links to some Canadian BIM User groups.

The success of these groups is typically the result of a few people who rely on the support and attendance of you, the audience and ultimately the recipients of the benefits of these groups. 

BIM Groups are an excellent way to expand your network and knowledge base.

Support your local user group, whether you're new at BIM or a seasoned expert. Share your experiences, talk about your project challenges and participate in your local BIM User group.


Wednesday 19 July 2017

Acquiring Revit Project Coordinates

Typical workflow to acquire project coordinates that we use goes something like this:

1: Obtain Civil or Survey CAD file + Link it into Revit Project; this is typically the “Site” project, but can also be the “Main model” if you are not breaking out the Site in a separate file.

2: Move the CAD file into the proper location as it relates to the building; you can rotate, shift up down left right, etc., etc. – Important to note that you are looking to match a specific geodetic elevation associated within the CAD file to your main floor elevation in addition to the location of the building on the site.

3: Acquire the coordinates of the CAD file – now your Revit model coordinates will match the Real World Coordinates that are (mostly) always associated with the survey file.

4: Next, provide your consultants with the Revit file that has acquired the CAD coordinates. Have them link it Center to Center, or something other than Shared coordinates.

5: Locate (move) the Linked model in the correct position, and then acquire its coordinates.

Note: There are often steps that we take to clean-up the CAD file first (ie: locate specific topo lines on an easily identifiable layer so that you can associate the CAD file in elevation relative to Main floor levels, for example).

The best test that we use after we have acquired the coordinates of the CAD file, is to export a CAD file from Revit (be sure to use Shared Coordinates in the export set-up) and then open the survey and xref the Revit export to 0,0,0. The files should align perfectly if everything has been done correctly. 

Thanks to Dan Sawyer for writing this out for me... I get a lot of questions on this process and Dan's my go-too guy.

Wednesday 12 July 2017

Developing your BIM Career

I recently read Bob Murray's LinkedIn post on "10 Tips on Personal Career Development" and it got me thinking (as his articles usually do), so I thought I'd write my own 10 tips on how to develop your Career in BIM.

Check out Bob's two books "It's Already Inside" and "Unlocked". 

I often have the opportunity to speak to students at Colleges and University on BIM and how its impact on the AECO industry. 

Here are my 10 tips:

1: The position your want may not exist yet.... technology is changing so rapidly and businesses don't realise the opportunities they're missing out on... you can take advantage of that by carving out your own position.

2: Don't be afraid of change, change is constant and moving at a rapid pace. Everyday you will learn something new! Gather those experiences and apply it to the current situation.

3: Say "Yes" see my post in this topic. Don’t be afraid to take on something new, you may be intimidated or doubt your own abilities, but unless you take on the challenge you may never discover your full potential.

4: Engage, don't be afraid to ask questions, there are not stupid questions.

5: Educate yourself by attending conferences and workshops. These events are fantastic opportunity to network and participate in stimulating conversation. You also get to meet and know the leaders in your industry.

6: Teach; teaching is a great opportunity to learn. Students ask the greatest questions and the discussions resulting from a teaching session are thought provoking. 
You learn by teaching!

7: Read, on line, articles, books (digital or paper). Stay current with what's going on in the world associated to BIM, this will broaden your horizons and knowledge.

8: Encourage other. By promoting and encouraging other around you, you will find that you will develop a group of like minded people with whom you can share idea's, challenges and innovative thinking.

9: Surround yourself with the right people, seek out those that challenge you and inspire you to greatness.

10: Colour outside the lines. Look for cross over opportunities where you see possibilities to share or utilise your skills in other fields. 
For example, BIM for the gaming industry? Gaming tools for the AEC industry!

11: Find a Mentor, be a Mentor.

Yes there are 11, always deliver more than promised ;-)


Wednesday 5 July 2017

Mandating BIM, Yes, No... or Why?

I hear a lot about mandating BIM from all over the world, from Australia to Germany. 
To a certain degree many countries are mandating BIM in one form or another, typically government lead projects where fiscal responsibility and accountability is necessary are the first to adopt a mandate.

I read articles or mandates that refer too the UK's BIM Mandate refering to the structure, organization and "success" of the UK BIM Mandate implementation, it makes me nervous when countries base their mandate, or their decision to mandate BIM on the UK model.

There are a number of factors that influenced in the decision to Mandate BIM in the United Kingdom. There are many positive aspects that the UK have taken advantage of through the mandating, however each country, region, district and local authority have a variety of reasons to adopt, or not to adopt a BIM mandate, interwoven into this decision are their own specific requirements and reasons to mandate BIM.

When looking into mandating BIM, whether your making the decision on behalf of a country, local authority or your own business, take existing BIM mandates with a grain of salt and evaluate your own needs. Look at implementing incrementally but with a view of the bigger picture, and if it needs to change due to changes in the industry, be flexible enough to accommodate those changes and influences. 

Ask Why you are Mandating BIM and what is the impact or effect your looking for.
There are many influences to the decision to Mandate BIM including:
  • Predominant software, there maybe a high level of diversity in BIM applications such as in Europe compared to North America (IFC becomes more of a factor). 
  • Industry's ability to adopt the BIM Mandate, some countries are still developing their BIM ability in the AEC industry and Mandating BIM may be premature and place undue pressure resuklting in resistance to adoption.
  • Market driver, some BIM mandates are designed to help drive and stimulate the industry. Used as an economic stimuli encouraging industry to learn and utilize technology, stimulating associated services or industries such as education, associated applications and beyond BIM services such as direct to fabrication etc.. 
  • Industry demand, some countries are further along in BIM adoption and the timing is right to have in place a formal mandate addressing BIM. Countries like Canada and Australia where BIM adoption is successful and projects are demanding BIM are in a position to develop and create there own Mandate often lead by sectors of the government such as Infrastructure or  Department of Defense etc.
Either way, a BIM mandate needs to stand alone in it's development, taking lessons learned from similar mandates with an understanding and reasoning of the why and how they were developed.

Much like a project, each mandate is a prototype, drawing upon experiences and skills developed from other mandates and utilizing what's applicable according to the needs.


Saturday 1 July 2017

Happy Canada Day

Yes July 1st is Canada Day celebrating 150 years of confederation... sort of... 
Canada is actually a Federation, the term Confederation caught on in the in the 19th century. 
Canada was announced as being "one Dominion under the crown," a.k.a. the Dominion of Canada, as per the British North America Act of 1867 that unified the colonies (Province of Canada, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick).

On July 1, 1867, what we now know of as Canada was in fact just four provinces (Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick) that composed the New Dominion of Canada

The remaining provinces and territories formed over time and joined the Dominion of Canada.  

Happy 150 Canada, you dont look a day over 200 million.

Tuesday 27 June 2017

Digital Amnesia

Digital amnesia is a phenomenon in which technological knowledge becomes lost to humanity through constant technological advancement.

Is IFC the solution to Digital amnesia? 

The Industry Foundation Classes (IFC) data model is intended to describe building and construction industry data. It is a platform neutral, open file format specification that is not controlled by a single vendor or group of vendors.

Hence, IFC is software agnostic thus should be the format of choice for not only file sharing but also archiving projects?

In North America IFC usage is minimal as we are dominated primarily by one BIM software company. Not so in Europe where we have multiple players with equal market share in the competition for your BIM platform of choice. 

As we see the project collaboration efforts cross not only multiple disciplines but also multi platforms the need for us to rely upon one common file format becomes more crucial.
today's large scale projects typically include not only the common "Building" disciplines but also infrastructure... a discipline they typically uses a different platforms than AEC industry (can you spell Microstation?)

Organizations requesting BIM as their deliverable typically have to be platform agnostic, especially government RFP's. As the Industry progresses and the demand for BIM deliverable increase we will need to stay abreast of IFC and how best to take advantage of this file format.

And maybe consider Archiving projects in a IFC file format?


Friday 23 June 2017

How to be an effective Leader

Here's another image that was recently shared with me.

I think this very accurately describes how good leaders lead.

Vulnerable: Dont be afraid to admit your wrong, you will gain the respect of others. 

Mirror: Act in a way you want others on your team to act, lead by example.

Started: We all started at the bottom, respect and listen to those starting from the beginning as they often have a "fresh" view.... and be humble of your position. 

Integrity: Dictionary defines Integrity as "the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; moral uprightness". Do what is right, for your team, for the company and for the project.

Before: Promote other and encourage development.

Not about you: It'll backfire if it's about you.

On your own: Surround yourself by good people and good things will happen, the key to your success is the success of your team and their ability to thrive under your leadership.


Wednesday 21 June 2017


I came across this image today and felt the need to share.

Sometimes those in a leadership loose focus of this and their main concern is the "business model".
A leaders responsibility is to maintain the businesses success... and manage, in a thoughtful manner, those under their charge. This means making sure that their goals and aspirations are being met.

Your success is dependent upon the quality of those around you and you will only be able to retain quality people by keeping them engaged, active in leadership decisions (direction) and providing them with opportunities to grow.  I think this is crucial than ever before as this is the evolution of good business management.

And remember, you are a leader, regardless of your position.


Wednesday 7 June 2017

BIM All Aboard!

Can BIM Regional Session - Calgary
BIM All Aboard!
June 28-29th 2017
Register now!

Event Description.
A two day event. Day one will kick off with the CanBIM Tours and the CanBIM Opening Reception. Day two, in the morning, will host concurrent BIM/VDC workshops. 

BIM Foundations: Are we BIM-ing yet? develop a fundamental understanding of BIM/VDC and associated strategies. 

BIM for Advanced Practitioners: Collaborative BIM Workflows & Processes for all Stakeholders optimize your current BIM/VDC workflow/environment to achieve efficiencies. 

BIM for Owners: Expectations, Challenges and Rewards, leveraging BIM to address the needs of facility owners and operators and ensuring supplier cooperation. 

In the afternoon, attendees will hear from presenters with industry based case studies showcasing projects that address key issues and challenges for all stakeholders. Following these presentations attendees will participate in an open forum panel discussion with industry leaders about the current state of BIM/VDC adoption in the Province of Alberta and the future outlook for the province.

Day 2
8:00AM-8:30AM: Registration

8:30AM-8:35AM: Opening Address - Brent Mauti, CanBIM Director

8:35AM-9:00AM: Keynote Address - Neil McFarlane, P.Eng. Assistant Deputy Minister, Health and Government Facilities Division, Alberta Infrastructure

Workshop 1: BIM Foundations: Are We BIM-ing Yet?
Workshop 2: BIM For Advanced Practitioners: Collaborative BIM Workflows & Processes for all Stakeholders
Workshop 3: BIM for Owners: Expectations, Challenges and Rewards

10:30AM-11:00AM: BREAK

11:00AM-12:15PM: Panel Discussion - BIM: Change Management to Execution Plans

12:15PM-1:00PM: LUNCH

1:00PM-1:30PM: Presentation - Almost There! A BIM Postmortem From $350M Stanton Hospital Project - Daniel Doherty, CM BIM Manager of Virtual Construction, Clark Builders

1:30PM-2:00PM: Presentation - BIM: What’s Around The Bend? - John Locke, Sr. Principal Research Scientist, Autodesk

2:00PM-2:30PM: Presentation - PCL Rocky Ridge Recreation Centre

2:30PM-3:00PM: Presentation - Using Mobile Technology to Reduce Risk

3:00PM-3:30PM: BREAK

3:30PM-4:30PM: Panel Discussion - Alberta Next Steps

4:30PM-5:00PM: CanBIM Certification Update & Ceremony - Pietro Ferrari, Chair of Education & Research Committee

5:00PM-7:00PM: Closing Reception

Workshop 1 - BIM Foundations: Are We BIM-ing Yet?
Lead Instructor: William Myers, Director of Operations, Global eTraining

Are you looking to sharpen your understanding of what BIM is, or review how BIM can benefit your company?
This workshop aims to provide a better understanding of the basics of BIM, then moving into practical concepts and workflows, which have been proven effective globally. 

Some key issues this workshop will cover are:

Are you really doing BIM?
• Levels of BIM - What are you trying to accomplish?
• Impacts to workflow, culture, technology itself.
• BIM – what is it good for? (Visualization, Virtualization, Project Management)

BIM Fundamentals
• What is BIM and why?
• Benefits and Challenges of BIM
• Terminology - Strategy Stage, Project Planning, Operational Phase
• BIM Acronyms

BIM Roles and Responsibilities
• Overview of Roles
• Client Driven Roles
• Supplier Roles
• Role of Information Management

Workshop 2 - BIM For Practitioners: Collaborative BIM Workflows & Processes for all Stakeholders 
Lead Instructor: Martin Neault, Major Projects BIM Leader, DIALOG

Evolving project delivery brings quick changes in process methodology. Understand how new processes and changes in the working culture are opening opportunities to a more collaborative and integrated way of delivering projects. The dynamics are different today and continuously moving to a more collaborative working philosophy. 

BIM is moving stakeholders out of their silos with a different workflow. Learn how some AEC leaders are managing the process of interoperability and collaboration in a successful way including the design team and contractor/trades through BIM project Execution Plan. 

Workshop 3 - BIM for Owners: Expectations, Challenges and Rewards 
Lead Instructor: Geraldine Rayner, Director Architect AIBC BA DipArch RIBA LEED®AP, SummitBIM

BIM is transforming architecture, engineering, and construction. Yet, many Building Owners are not seeing the full benefit of data flowing through the building life cycle from design and construction to facilities management. Why not? 

This workshop will work through the steps that need to be considered to control this new digital process so that the maximum benefits can be reaped. Starting from the very beginning – what the definition of BIM should be for Building Owners – this is a fast-paced, interactive session:

• Demonstrates why you can’t afford to ignore BIM from a business case perspective;
• Offers insights into the challenges for an Owner and how to overcome them;
• Delivers a practical outline for defining a BIM process that meets expectations;
• Offers proven tactics for reaping the rewards of BIM in Facilities Management.

Hope to see you there.