Driving construction industry change using BS 1192: 2007

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Marc Thomas attended Bentley Systems’ seminar on the latest British Standards for CAD.

CAD standards can be a sleep-inducing topic, despite this endless discussions ensue because we all have somehow to name, organise and process our data.

At the end of February Bentley Systems hosted a seminar at the Institute of Civil Engineers, ‘Driving Construction Industry Change Using BS 1192’. Set against the perception that British Standards for CAD are just about file and layer naming conventions, this sounds like an ambitious objective.

However BS 1192:2007 has a wider scope. Its predecessor, the withdrawn BS 1192-5:1998 simply dealt with the mechanics of CAD use, layer and file naming for instance, and became widely regarded as obsolete. BS 1192:2007 is updated and elevated to ‘Code of Practice’ status, together with support for formative Building Information Modelling (BIM) workflows. Fundamental to this change is new material describing collaborative data process and management when using model-based systems.

The industry has been trying to deal with the general lack of efficiency for many years. Even with BS 1192, the federated nature of projects, lack of co-ordination and accuracy has not managed to deliver any noticeable improvement despite many industry studies and initiatives. As we move to modelling over drafting, the complexities of co-ordination increase with new file formats, new CAD systems and a requirement to change the culture and contracts in working together. BS 1192 and key players in the industry are looking to identify potential problems and provide common ground rules for all project members.

BS 1192:2007 includes support for formative Building Information Modelling (BIM) workflows.

The seminar contained a series of presentations from industry experts, project leaders and Bentley staff covering the history and background to BS 1192, case studies and, as it was a Bentley sponsored event, how Bentley’s ProjectWise document management system now features a specific configuration to implement BS 1192.

Phil Jackson, chair of ICE Information Systems Panel and a Bentley senior consultant reminded us of the quest for ‘Project Truth’. Where can it be found among the ‘Babel’ of varying company management systems, software file formats and delivery systems?

This led onto Mervyn Richards, covering familiar ground, highlighting the inefficiencies inherent in the existing industry and the challenges we face while moving to a BIM approach. At the end of a presentation by Mr Richards one is always left asking ‘why don’t we just do this?’.


The key to BS 1192:2007 is the Common Data Environment (CDE) where data is always in one of four states: Work in Progress; Shared; Documentation and Archive. Once these states are understood, delineated and applied they can assist project teams to create and manage information more effectively. Note that the CDE is not software, it is a way of thinking about information creation and flow.

Seminar participants received a complimentary copy of the BSi/CPIC’s recently published ‘Building Information Management, A Standard Framework and Guide to BS 1192’ by Mervyn Richards. Pulling together content from BS 1192:2007, CPIC’s ‘Production information: A code of procedure for the construction industry’ and other current standards, methods for implementing the CDE are clearly described.

Andrew Wolstenholme of Balfour Beatty referred to his 2009 report ‘Never Waste A Good Crisis’, which found that while the industry has moved in the right direction, it is still far short of targets set by Egan’s 1998 ‘Rethinking Construction’ report. Mr Wolstenholme referred to the forthcoming report by Paul Morrel, chief construction advisor to the UK government, which is anticipated to include an aim for delivery of public construction projects at BIM “Level 2”.

Later, in his session covering the ‘UK Government Perspective on Collaboration’ Mark Bew, chairman of Building Smart (UK), said: “BS 1192 is about regaining control of your data”. ‘Work in progress’ standards for project collaboration will soon be published by the Treasury. These are likely to specify that project metadata will need to comply with the COBie standard for facilities management data, currently not fully supported by mainstream AEC CAD applications. The government’s engagement with BIM is clearly going to have significant implications for design production processes.

Malcolm Taylor, head of Technical Support Services at Crossrail, gave an overview of the processes used on the project, using ProjectWise at the heart of information management. Mr Taylor’s most striking slide featured a cross section of a station tunnel showing the multiplicity of contractors involved at that one point.

Bentley launched its off-the-shelf implementation of ProjectWise: ‘ProjectWise BS 1192 Out of the Box for Construction and Rail’. A sensible step forward as ProjectWise has a reputation for requiring extensive configuration before it can be used. The ‘out of the box’ product incorporates the BS 1192 processes and naming standards into ProjectWise containing appropriate folder structures, naming and workflow conventions. It can be deployed ready for design teams to fill with project data, once trained to understand and use it correctly.

Apart from perhaps being a good sales pitch for Bentley’s ProjectWise and its use in co-ordinating the huge Crossrail project, important issues were raised and potential solutions explained through the implementation of BS 1192.

The central message of BS 1192:2007 is familiar, get organised, reduce waste, deliver on time.

BS 1192:2007 is a framework applicable at all project scales and we really don’t need to waste time inventing our own “standards”. The CDE encourages clarity of thought about the current state and purpose of project information. Applying the CDE to your projects will help you to regain control of your data now and help you to prepare for a future where clients will increasingly expect delivery to a common usable standard.


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