woensdag 10 februari 2016

Building Ops

Overview of the Building Ops tool
It has been a long wait but, with the introduction of Autodesk Building Ops there is a tool that can be fitted into a workflow from Design, to Build, to Operate (PennState phase names).

Over the course of my career I have used several tools to capture building maintenance and they all fell short, where it came to having a connection to the design or build model. Building Ops fills this gap by directly accessing this model information.

Process to get information in Building Ops
Naturally I was curious to get some hands on experience with the capabilities of Building Ops. During the 2015 Christmas period I started an experiment using my own house.

  1. modeled in Revit
  2. exported to BIM 360 Glue (this can be skipped in with the 2016 Revit add-in, but I would recommend to keep using this workflow). 
  3. exported the equipment from BIM 360 Glue to BIM 360 Field.
  4. added bar-codes in BIM 360 Field (I will write about this in more detail later). Bar-codes are already nice and relevant when you are working in BIM 360 Field but, it becomes even better with Building Ops. With the bar-code a user can lookup a piece of equipment and log an issue. At the same time all the information available about that piece of equipment will be available both on an information level, such as schematics, purchace dates, etc. as well as a 3D view of the model.
  5. exported all information from BIM 360 Field to Building Ops. At the moment the export is only one way.

Building Ops currently has interfaces to access the Building Ops platform.

  • iOS
    The iOS platform is intended for mobile users.
  • Web
    The Web is the platform intended for the people that will be responsible for tasking and overseeing the service providers. This can also be handled from the iOS, however the larger screen will help here.

Building Ops is developed to cater to 3 main user groups.

  • tenants / occupants
    This group will be a group of mobile users logging the issues. A room being to hot, window being broken, AC leaking, lights not working, etc. Potentially this can also be used track things, such as chairs, desks, monitors, beds, that sit more on the facilities management side.
  • owners / operators
    This group will be the group that has an interest in understanding and controlling the issues and subsequent actions taken. This group will be involved in the setup of a building, the users, task types, signing service providers, etc. The web-based version will be the primary tool for this group.
  • service providers
    This group consist out of (frame) contractors, such as plumbers, ac maintenance, glas supplier, carpenter, that have been signed on to respond to tasks issued to them through the system. This group will use both the mobile platform as well as the web-based version.

Example #1
AC unit with bar-code
I currently live in the Middle East and AC units are really needed to make life bearable. At the same time the units will have a lot of issues during a year. Sometimes they will breakdown multiple times in one single week. The current process relies on calling the landlord and ask him to send someone over. Putting a bar-code on all the AC units will make it easier to log and track any issues with the units. This process is very intuitive for tenant, landlord and service provider. Additionally this data can be used for analytics as well. I intent to write more on that later.

Example #2
Being involved with building maintenance, I also was confronted with questions related to tracking of more mobile assets such as desk and chairs. Especially schools did not seem to have any records of what they had, while at the same time they were asked to present write off plans to governing bodies. Having a simple bar-code (like some of us will have on their laptops) stuck to these assets will make the difference of throwing things out or holding on to them for another couple of years. I don't envision a model that is continuously updated to have the right table in the right room, that just might prove to labor intensive.

What should be brought into Building Ops
After all of this the main question will be, how much information should be put into Building Ops. The catch here is that there is no easy one size fits all answer. In my opinion users should restrain a bit, look at which items are already causing issues on a regular basis and put those in. In other words what items will be directly actionable, such as toilets that get blocked, issues related to temperature. The opposite of this is to put items in that have long cycles, painting once every 5 years, replace heater between 15-30 years, recover bituminous roof 10-15 years.A rule of thumb, that I picked up working in the planned maintenance sector, is that 20% of the buildings assets will account for 80% of the maintenance cost.

zondag 7 februari 2016

"Automated" Org Charts - With Visio and Excel

Ever had this situation? You have a list of people and you need to turn it into an Org Chart. Think BIM execution plan. There is a quick way to do this with a little help from Visio.


Open up Visio and choose for an Organization Chart.


In the wizard you will have 2 options use the list you had or create a new one. I would go for the first option. This way you control the data in Excel and it is good to have a list that you have prepared. 

NOTE: If you reopen you can also access this wizard through the import button under Org Chart in the Ribbon.


I will assume you have chosen the first option which will bring you to the next window. In this window you can select the source type. Choose for Excel.

Note that you can also pull directly from Exchange or ODBC. Neither of which I have tried.


Once you have selected the source type you can point to your data by using “Browse…”, Select your file and click “Next”.


Access will analyze your file and want you to provide some more information about how your data is structured. An important piece of this wizard is built around the “Reports to”. This is the field that determines the place in the org chart.

NOTE 1 a person can only report to one manager. I appreciate that some organizations have a matrix like structure and that reporting lines are vague. However I would encourage you to think of a project a standalone organization.

NOTE 2 a person rolls up only under his manager all the way up. This means that for me I will report to my manager but not his manager. This keeps the data clean.


Now that we informed on the link between the people it is time to tell Access a bit more about the information we want to display.

This section has two places to edit.


Now you can chose to not use pictures and just jump to step#10 directly or you can choose to add some pictures.


I like to add visual information so I will add the pictures. Do that by creating a folder one level below where you have stored your Visio (and Excel) file. In theory *.PNG should wold but I have only made it work with *.JPG

Note for this tutorial I ran a search on Google for logo's and used these to test the principle. As I do not own the copyright to these logo's I will not show them here.


Inform Visio of the name that you used for the image files. Consider this before you start setting up your data. There will always be with the first name, some will even have the same first and last name. So if you want to use images of people make sure you are using something more unique, e.g. an employee ID#.

When creating BEP's I like to have a clear overview of who is from which company, so I use company logo's. This chart will not be used by the team working on the project. They can an will use the communications table so many BEP's start with. This information is more for the people around the project.

NOTE that a denominator like Organization is smaller than a individual "name".


The most important part is telling Visio how to export the information. If you do nothing access will start to aggregate and output sheets based on:
-        Reports to
-        Organization
and you could easily end up with more than 10 sheets.

To counter this, use the option to tell Visio that you want to be in charge of which data gets used and how it should be presented.


If the this page holds any all the pages that are there and start setting up new ones.

NOTE that if you change your data source to another source because you need or have another Org Chart you want to create. 


Click add to start the wizard. Select
-        The top level “Name at top of page”
-        The depth of the chart “Number of additional levels”
-        A name for you page “Page Name”


Click “OK” when done.
Click “Finish” in the overview of sheets to generate your sheets.

You will see Access read and generate sheets for you. Be sure to check if the images you have defined come in. If not try to find out what is wrong by using the dedicated buttons in the ribbon.


If you made sure your images work it is time to focus on the formatting of the chart. If you brought in large quantities of data you will see that the sheet gets clogged up. I would recommend tweaking your layout until it looks nice.
Generally speaking don’t go down more than 2 levels in horizontal mode.

I hope this helps you create your org charts in an easy way. Happy Charting

NL-SFB Item Catalogue Schema for Navisworks

Quite recently I have been documenting workflows on how to use the Quantity Take Off (QTO) feature in Navisworks.

One of the first things Navisworks will ask you to do when setting up your model for QTO purposes
is to identify an "item catalogue". This item catalogue is used by Naviswork to create Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) of the model. This WBS is usually dependent on what has been identified in the Project and/or BIM execution plan. This in turn will vary based on your location.

Although I have been working internationally for 3 years now, I do still revert back to the Dutch coding system I grew up with the NL-SFB.  The reason for this is that most of the codes used seem to be hardwired into my brain.

NL-SFB is predominantly used by engineers to breakdown a model of a building. Next to NL-SFB there is aslo a Stabu-coding which is mostly used by contractors and quantity surveyors. More on both can be found here.

I was surprised to see that no one had made a custom NL-SFB catalogue available as a download. So decided to create my own. Using the information and the Excel spreadsheet made available on Autodesk Help I was able to generate the required .XML that Navisworks needs to create a WBS. Once you have gone through the wizard the WBS will appear in Navisworks. If you don't like the breakdown at this stage, hit CTRL + Z to undo. You can omport an updated version of your item catalogue using the Import option on the QTO Workbook Ribbon.

On the highest level it looks like this. For the Dutch users, no I have not created the high level roll up, this would require an adding an extra character.

Drilling down to lowest level.

Kindly note that this is only the WBS. In order to perform QTO one will also need to create a list of resources. These can be defined in the same Excel spreadsheet.

For more information exchanging .XML files feel free to reach out to me.