Building For The Future: Linking BIM and BSI standards to improve off-site construction

Building For The Future: Linking BIM and BSI standards to improve off-site construction

Xbim are delighted to announce that we’re working with Northumbria University, Heriot Watt and BIM Academy on an exciting new research and design project.  

The project, backed by Government, founding partners Building Research Establishment (BRE), Manufacturing Technology Centre (MTC) and the Centre for Digital Built Britain (CDBB) is part of the ‘Transforming Construction Challenge’ initiative.  Over 300 organisations, industry bodies, policymakers, practitioners and academics have been tasked with developing solutions that will keep driving the transformation of the construction sector forward.  

This project is focused on off-site assemblies, the BRE is creating a set of building assembly definitions to allow large parts of a building to be made in a factory and shipped, ‘ready-built’ to site.  A typical assembly might be a complete roof  or  wall panel.  

Traditionally, the erection of a roof on site would require multiple materials from different suppliers to be delivered to site with roofers carrying out construction from erecting joists, to adding chipboard, insulation and bitumen roofing sheets.  This traditional task process itself could take days to complete and would be reliant on material delivery times, different trades being available on site and in many circumstances the weather!  

The BRE project aims to simplify this process, by enabling off-site factory-based manufacture followed by rapid on-site erection. 

BRE’s vision is to provide standard definitions for a range of typical building assemblies (walls, roofs, floors, bathrooms), allowing manufacturers to make bespoke but interchangeable versions. This in turn will enable a wider market for off-site construction. 

The benefits of a commercially viable outcome for the project would include; improved build quality, quicker build times, greater efficiencies in project programming, reduced project lag, improved Health & Safety and, in many cases, reduced cost and carbon emissions during the build process.  

In theory off-site assembly appears to be a win-win for manufacturers, however, in the wake of Grenfell a key concern is that these assemblies meet current legislation and safety standards. Understanding and complying with a considerable number of relevant, continually updating building standards is essential for this initiative to work. 

The work currently being carried out by a team at Northumbria University and Heriot Watt aims to make the process of ensuring compliance much quicker and simpler for manufacturers, hopefully helping to alleviate one of the key areas of concern they’d have about adopting this type of build process.  

The university research teams have been creating a ‘search engine’ that understands the construction knowledge domain. Xbim and the BIM Academy are working with the Universities to join this search engine with the output of industry standard BIM models. Ideally manufacturers would develop their own library of BIM models for each assembly they manufacture and running these models against the BSI standards search engine would return the relevant standards to be considered for compliance.  

The project requirement will allow the team at xbim to use the newly developed workflows capability within their Flex platform. Once integrated the Flex platform will extract materials and product data from an uploaded model, submit this to the search engine written by Heriot Watt University and return a set of British Standards that need to be complied with in order to progress with the build.  

This will be demonstrated, for roofs and aspects of fire performance and structural stability.