Kris Atkinson Is the Technical Director at bimstore.co.uk. Kris first worked as an Architectural Technician for GWK Architects in Newcastle Upon Tyne. He attended Northumbria University and achieved an Architectural Technology degree. Before working at bimstore, Kris worked at bimstore’s sister company BIM.Technologies and Space Architecture (All three are parts of Space Group).
BIMIreland.ie recently spoke to Kris about his work, BIM Objects, and bimstore.
Please tell us how you got involved in BIM and your work at bimstore?
My introduction to BIM came early in my role as an architectural technician for Space Architecture (part of Space Group). The benefits of BIM, and particularly the Autodesk Revit platform, and the impact it could have to provide additional value to our clients were clear to the practice – this resulted in the company-wide adoption of BIM on all projects.
Initially, I was heavily involved in a number of education projects. I have always had a bit of inner geek within me and been keen on the software element of the process so this came naturally when picking up new platforms. Being able to manipulate the software to create and achieve new processes that reduced time and effort was always a challenge I was keen to be involved with and took pride from my successful outputs.
Space Group’s creation of sister companies, bimstore and BIM.Technologies allowed my role to be diverse and to develop across the various aspects a BIM project has to offer. After a short stint with BIM. Technologies coordinating BIM projects in London, I turned my attention to bimstore and driving the content library forward. Now in its 5th year, bimstore continues to set the pace for manufacturers and specifiers alike. As Technical Director, I oversee the UK’s largest team of content creators, perform compliance checks relating to evolving industry standards and ensure the integrity and standard of all the content www.bimstore.co.uk has to offer.
Could you tell us about bimstore and the work it does?
bimstore was the brainchild of my colleagues Adam Ward and James Austin, with the support and backing of Space Group’s CEO Rob Charlton. bimstore was the first free content library of its kind and our goal was simple –
‘To provide free to use, high quality content/components to designers and specifiers, that would assist BIM processes and make life easier’.
The content we host not only meets current industry standards but often surpasses them. Our library of manufacturer specific content has continued to grow at a rapid pace and we now host content for 150 established manufacturers who trade worldwide.
As well as assisting the designer with their project, our services increasingly benefit manufacturers who choose bimstore as their content provider. BIM is a minefield of individual views and debate. Manufacturers looking to adopt BIM are often confused by all the terminology, software arguments, and viewpoints. As a complete service bimstore not only provides the manufacturer with BIM content but also provides guidance, assistance and a number of other features that push their brand and products to be widely specified by our vast number of registered specifiers.
Can you tell us about the company staff structure the professional backgrounds of bimstore staff?
bimstore hosts the largest team of expert content creators in the UK. Because of our affiliation with Space Group and Space Architecture, the majority of our content creators already have BIM project experience. I believe this is a key element in the creation and understanding of the products we produce. By having the experience of working on live projects our creators understand how the components will be used in a BIM project.
Please briefly describe BIM Objects and how they are used?
So, imagine you are a designer working on a project and you’re placing doors into that project. In software packages such as AutoCAD, this has meant the user placing the representation of a door in several views and schedules, i.e. plan and elevation. The building information model and BIM component offer a completely 3D data-rich environment by which all elements in the model are linked and can read each other. So inputting a door in say Revit, would mean a single click to place it and have it appear in all applicable views and schedules, time-saving already.
All BIM software packages have ‘out the box’ generic content which can be used, however, these are typically very basic with only a few features, if any. For example, the door component may only be provided with a solid leaf, whereas the specifier actually requires a door with a vision panel and various ironmongery sets. What do they do? They can create a new door to their own requirements or adjust the existing content – this is often time-consuming. bimstore work closely with manufacturers to understand the variations, options, and specification that a particular product has to offer. These are built into the content and provided to the designer in a number of simple to use formats to adjust the specification as required. Guidance notes are often provided in our content which will inform the designer if they select a bespoke width of door that is above the maximum recommended size.
The ‘Information’ element of BIM content should also never be overlooked; it is these data sets that are driving models to be used intelligently throughout the buildings life cycle and for the management of those facilities. Imagine the door you placed in you model is having some issues 3 years into handover. By navigating the model and selecting the door in question, I can easily see important information relating to the door i.e. when the door was installed on site, the warranty duration of the door and who to contact to order replacement parts. Clever stuff!
bimstore is very distinctive and has eye-catching marketing. Can you tell us about your marketing activities?
bimstore has always been a little bit different! Our corporate yellow branding, advertising and marketing campaigns, along with our mascot ‘Ermintrude’ the bimstore yellow cow often turns heads and gets people asking questions. The construction industry can be a very serious place, so we feel that we offer a little light-hearted relief from that at times. Our approach to the marketing and branding of our site matches that of the content we create – we are different. In everything we do, we aim to stand out head and shoulders above the rest and push the boundaries. We are already looking at other countries for bimstore to pop up and the discussions about which mascots to assign them is providing some interesting discussions!
Can you please describe the range of manufacturers and suppliers you work with?
bimstore currently host over 150 manufacturers through our site and ecosystem. Our manufacturers span across a varied range of product categories, from brickwork to boilers! With the implementation of the Level 2 mandate, the number of manufacturers adopting BIM is set to increase. bimstore offers an outlet to assist manufacturers with this transition.
As more manufacturers begin to understand the benefits of BIM, we are already in the process of developing new products, features and ways to create and promote their content.
What are your most downloaded Objects and who are the most sought after manufacturers?
Currently, our top search terms being asked for by specifiers include doors, valve, Kingspan, chair and radiator – this continually changes as more content goes live on the site.
Manufacturers like Kingspan, Dorma, and Bosch, who are globally recognised, tend not to need much additional marketing and these continue to be some of our most downloaded components.
How do you see BIM and BIM Objects creation and use changing in the next decade?
BIM is now the norm; the government mandate is driving more projects to adopt digital processes. The UK is already a leader in the field and other countries are now adopting similar approaches. As more people start to work on BIM projects, their skillsets will need to adjust. The amount of content being created by manufacturers internally is likely to increase as they see the benefit of spending to provide in-house BIM design services for their clients.
The software element is one that continues to develop at a frightening pace and I believe this will continue. Platforms that we use today will continue to improve with each release offering new features and upgrades. The amount of available plug-ins and need for interaction/communication between different software platforms already has a large demand from BIM adopters. Software giants will need to move towards adopting the principles of Open BIM and allowing collaboration despite the chosen software package.
What are the key challenges witnessed to the adoption of BIM internationally?
bimstore initially started in the UK, which is currently seen to be at the forefront of the BIM evolution. With the UK putting in place rigid standards and deadlines to encourage the adoption of BIM it has provided other countries with a precedent by which to follow. As we have grown our manufacturers and specifiers have also stressed the requirement to accommodate international BIM content for their global sales. In 2015, bimstore launched international sites in Australia and North America with European countries following in 2016.
One of the main challenges is that even though the software and geometry of the BIM component may act in the same fashion, it is the attributed data set which differs depending on the country selling the product. This was an issue that had us scratching our head for a while, not wanting to duplicate content and change data sets each time. We feel we have found the solution with ‘Airship’ which will allow the correct data set to be pushed into the content as the user downloads.
What has the bimstore planned for the rest of 2016?
The Level 2 mandate has really shaken things up this year, and it’s a very busy time for us. We recently hosted our annual ‘futures workshop’ which outlined to our manufacturers the industry landscape and the added-value products we are launching this year. A few things have us really excited! Our ‘Airship’ product is in the final stages of polishing before we launch the BETA. This will allow manufacturers to adjust data sets in their content via a web browser and allow specifiers to select which data sets they wish to be included in their content on download. I can’t say much more at this time as its hush hush, but watch this space.
Is there a message you would like to send to BIMIreland.ie readers?
BIM is here to stay! The transition of going digital and improving dated processes which may have worked at one time, mean that we are able to offer more value to our clients and intern make our efforts more cost effective, accurate and quicker. What’s not to like! Viva la revolution! For further information contact firstname.lastname@example.org
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