BIM for the UK Ministry of Justice – Quality assured!


Bond Bryan Digital took part in the UK estate transformation for the Ministry of Justice to work collaboratively with two contractors, providing quality assurance in the project between December 2017 and August 2018.

The role was to carry out checking not for the geometry, but instead, for the data in all the discipline models, and also to create project-specific rulesets to support the information managers. The successful outcome included nearly 20,000 Solibri rules and 16 federated models with very, very few errors.

Apart of the Bond Bryan architectural company, Bond Bryan Digital (BBD) is an award-winning consultancy offering expertise especially in information definition and management throughout building projects. Their goal is to help clients gain better value for the entire lifecycle of their built assets. Therefore, rather than just modelling, BBD Associate Director Rob Jackson defines BIM as Better Information Management – supported by OpenBIM processes.

In the estate transformation project, the original scope for BBD was quality assurance with Kier and another contractor, but after getting started, the scope extended to also re-align the requirements with open standards. “You can’t use information until you’ve checked that information.”

The two contractors had different authoring software in use and there were data exchanges between different systems where there was room for clarification. Furthermore, the models were quite complex, for example, as they were also designed for manufacture and assembly. This made it even more important to ensure the requirements aligned with the model checking. “That connection is very important, so we spent some time reorganising the requirements in order to then build the checking rules around them,” Jackson explains. For true consistency of the data, the information needed to be aligned with open standards as far as possible, going further than merely mapping the authoring tool models for IFC classification. There was a clear need for OpenBIM.

OpenBIM allowed for all the parties to deliver in the COBie and IFC formats regardless of the tools they were using. Jackson emphasises: “When I talk about delivering in IFC, I don’t mean a model which is coded in IFC with some data in it. What I mean is a model which is as compliant as can be with the IFC schema.” Along with OpenBIM, the original data was reconfigured to use the IFC classifications instead of the original categorisation. Some of the attributes were amended, for example, the original attribute for heating and cooling capacity was broken down into two attributes, one for heating and another one for cooling. In addition, BBD wanted to be very clear not just about which attributes were wanted, but also where in the IFC they were wanted. This resulted in a requirement document for how the data was going to be delivered, setting a very clear framework for the actual model checking processes. “People think of geometry as being important on the site, of course it is, but so is the data.”

As the project output, BBD created nearly 20,000 Solibri rules for checking different concepts, disciplines, element types and stages in the models. Some of the rules were re-builds from earlier projects. Although initially a massive task, it’s bringing great benefits and time-savings also in the long run. Jackson describes: “Some of the work was a part of the estate transformation project and some of it we took as our own research and developed the rules further. It has involved most of this year, but I’ve just taken a very similar set of rules for another project and it took me less than half a day, now that I’ve got those rules, to re-configure.”

From that, the benefit of data validation is really in removing errors as early as possible, and ultimately, reduce cost by minimising risks, and that can only benefit the clients in the long run.” In another recent coordination management project, BBD found 1,000 truly important issues. “Even if you took a conservative cost estimate for £500 for a clash on site, for 1,000 issues that’s almost half a million pounds of saving or potential risk pot that hasn’t been spent.” It’s an opportunity that Jackson wants to promote and spread out not just in the UK, but also in other parts of the world.


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