Sunday, November 24, 2013

A SPECTACULAR BIM OFFER at a fraction of a price! Exclusively for the UAE and for a very limited time only!

Well informed people operating in the construction industry of the UAE will be aware of a circular released by the Dubai Municipality to all Consultants and Contractors working in Dubai notifying them, that it is has been decided to implement (Building Information Modelling) for all Architectural and MEP Works on projects of a certain type and size, starting from the 1st of January 2014.

In conjunction with this initiative and taking into account my personal circumstances, I am using this opportunity to offer up my skills for any UAE based contractor or AEC client impacted by this new rule;
My offer is:
A world class BIM service delivered by myself working as an employee based in their Dubai – or other UAE office.
Absolute commitment to work in the best interest of the company and assist them get to grips with what BIM really is and what it can do for both the company and its projects (in a positive as well negative way, i.e. how to mitigate risks that will inevitably creep in and inflict major damages for the uninitiated).  

Good news:
Those that know me and appreciate the value I bring to any job I get involved in will also know that this is a pretty good deal on offer.

Bad news:
There is still extremely few if any people or entities that truly do appreciate this;

What I ask in return:
  • Commit to a 6 months contract at 25,000 UAE Dirhams salary/month
  • Arrange and provide UAE sponsorship/visa for me and 2 teenage daughters
  • Allow me to use my software, approach and processes
  • (i.e. judge me by the results I deliver rather than how I do them)
  • Let me work max 6 days/week 8-9hrs/day              
  • Don’t limit or in any way control what I do after hours
  • (as long as it is not related to the company I’m contracted to);
Offer expires on the 3rd  of December 2013 (or when the supply is gone – first come, first served);

Personal note to Friends, colleagues (ex), acquaintances that this note ends up being sent to (by me or others):
This is not a spam, not a joke, not even desperation kicking in; (trust me I always have a Plan B)

Just a potentially pretty good deal for two savvy business partners – and if not interested – there is a ‘delete’ button on most computers these days;

Monday, November 18, 2013

BIM 101 for Andrew Hayward; Balfour Beatty plc: Head of Ethics, Risk and Assurance

On Sunday, August the 25th this year, within this blog I published the third instalment of the story I like to refer to as the ‘HK MTR BIM experiment’.

Although I was still very bitter over being fired mainly because of my actions related to this job (mainly, but not entirely) at the time of writing, I was still genuinely hoping to start an exchange of ideas going within the learned and even more importantly, experienced part of the global BIM community.
I was very eager not to breach confidentiality of the participants beyond quoting what was already out in the public domain. I definitely had no intention to create further cynicism towards mandating BIM, just wanted to call for caution, halt the horses of unbridled BIM enthusiasm that seemed to have driven some of the architects of the HK MTR’s 11xx line’s BIM framework as well as the creators behind many other large scale BIM initiatives currently in action all around the globe.

I wrote numerous blog-posts (at least the previously mentioned trilogy) I explained my story through a slideshow, with the help of my daughter, we turned it even into a youtube movie.
The reactions were meek, mooted, mostly negative, happening almost entirely behind closed doors, if anywhere.
Previously publicly available presentations on the goals and objectives of the grand ‘exercise’ were taken off air – then briefly put back just to disappear again for (I guess) good.
I suspect feverish modelling took place within many of the contractors’ offices to catch up with the dubious ‘3 month deadline’ so long gone, parallel with hastily amended specifications and briefs.
Could the entire line of contracts have been rewritten to suit the factual status of the job or had everyone just closed their eyes shut and hoped nothing bad will come out of this, I’ll probably never get to know, unless MTR ‘spills the beans’ 3 years down the track when the claims that were never supposed to happen due to the revolutionary BIM use still eventuate en masse?

For now, let me follow my colleague Andrew Hayward; (Balfour Beatty plc: Head of Ethics, Risk and Assurance) style who has bluntly dismissed my concerns of any wrong doings of Gammon on this case (as alleged by me and detailed on my other blog) and give him a just-as-arrogantly blunt lecture on BIM as set up on this large project by the HK MTR in collusion with their advisors and the actions that the directors of Gammon have taken to guide their project (and in turn BB) through this possibly fatal trap:

Timeline and background:
·         Sometime before 2012 Intelibuild had sold the idea of BIM being a great thing for MTR and employed ‘it’ at least on one project (West Kowloon Terminus project);
·         Sometime in 2012 MTR had negotiated and set in place a bunch of contracts with a number of contractors to build parts of the SCL (11xx) line and also obliged them to deliver those contract by following a highly prescriptive BIM approach.
·         This approach, though explained at a professional gathering where the CEO of Gammon was also presenting had somehow been missed by the bidders and later by the management of the project and the director in charge of BIM implementation. Missed and/or ignored.
·         As a result or due to some other reasons an unspecified amount of resources were spent by the project and the company on employing an alternative BIM, that was neither in line with what the client had asked for, nor had Gammon in house capabilities to deliver it.
·         An external consultant was hired to assist with the implementation of this non-complying BIM and engaged over a lengthy period of time.
·         I joined the company when it was close to the end of its 5th month of the contract. After my discovery of the mandated BIM and the 3 month cut-off I questioned the strategy of the project delivery team and the guidance given to them by the director in charge of BIM.
·         The struggle between them and me lasted around 6-8 weeks.
·         I foolishly assumed that the people in charge of the project truly wanted to tick all the boxes the client presented to them with minimal extra cost involved.
As in complying with the clients requirements, but also minimising the risk of unacceptable claims in the future and assisting the project delivery.
·         I had come up with various options of various risks and costs associated with each.
·         While all of this was happening the ‘alternative BIM’ set up by the BIM director carried on even though the goals or indeed results of it were not fully disclosed to me, yet all of it was technically under my portfolio. (The Head of Innovation reported to the BIM Director)
·         Even taking all its shortcoming into account, the MTR BIM spec had its heart on the right place and implemented correctly (or at least with the original intent intact) would have given the clients certainty beyond that normally awarded by contractors engaged on their projects.
·         The fact, that 8 months in their own contract Gammon was still trying to ‘all but wiggle out of this’ requirement is a testimony to their ‘special relationship’ with MTR.
·         The fact that they attempted to still get me take full responsibility for this non-compliance is a totally different story.
·         Or maybe it is not, just another part of the same one.
·         Either way, I got kicked out because I refused to implement a half-arsed approach to ‘a pretend BIM’, on the false pretence of saving money while probably much more money was being spent freely on BIM initiatives on this same project that benefited little more than the BIM director’s ego and his relationship with the alternative software and service supplier.

Everyone but me appears to treat this little incident as ‘water under the bridge’ and it could easily be seen a bit pretentious of me to think that me listing of these events will give Mr Andrew Hayward; (Balfour Beatty plc: Head of Ethics, Risk and Assurance) any new knowledge of what this ‘BIM thing’  is or may yet do to his ethics, risk and even assurance portfolio in the future.
But it may just get him to read up a bit on it and not just accept the assurance of any-old ‘BIM expert’ (even if he carries the reputation of a ‘trusted, talented director’) that things have all been done by the book.
Hong Kong may be a bit out of sight and out of mind but I’m not.

picture from here


Saturday, November 9, 2013

Isn’t someone missing here? (What is my problem with Autodesk?)

I get regular updates through my FB page on how the big event of The Hong Kong Institute of Building Information Modelling (HKIBIM) planned for the 13th of December is shaping up.
See, not long ago I was setting up myself to attempt to become ‘a professional member’ of that organisation – saved some money on the application process by my quick exit from the town and anyhow, was not rating my chances high for passing the ‘bar’ (it was set pretty high!);

Still, the updates on successful sponsorships keep coming, so it looks like it will be quite an event.

There is one organisation visibly missing from the list (as published so far) of corporate sponsors and it is, Autodesk.
If I’m going to be cynical, I’ll predict that they will come in last minute with the overarching ‘super-sponsorship’ (whatever colour of ‘a gem’ that may be) or better still – no sponsorship at all, after all, most of the speakers will be falling over backwards to advertise their products, anyway.
Autodesk has sewn up the HK market. The global AEC too.

What is my problem with Autodesk?
In the end, they are ‘just’ a software provider, successful at what they are doing, why can’t I just let them be.
Their foot soldiers are pretty agreeable people world-wide. I’ve met many, worked with some.
I’ve learned AutoCAD on DOS, in 3D with no mouse in the early 1990s.
I owned professional licences of AutoCAD, Revit, Studio Max for many years.
I had my first training in Revit in 2004 and get around it OK.

My biggest problem is not that Revit is a ‘dog of a software’.
Although, it is.
Even if I consider the vastly superior ArchiCAD and the Bentley/Microstation range, all the more so Tekla and everything Trimble had collected over the last year or two - these tools, all together are still ‘so last century’.

As I do my own soul-searching on when did the AEC and I lose our connection so irrevocably, I go back to those late 80s-early 1990s, when things could go one way or other, not just for me, but AEC digital tool developments – probably not surprisingly in line with world-wide political changes.

3 things I can point to as relevant had their start in those years related to the global/big scale AEC:
1/ tendency to work hands-off was born (I call this large scale illiteracy)
2/ multi-national mega-sized consultancies were starting staking out new territories and were more often than not run by MBA’s as opposed to technically savvy people with some business skills.
3/ information management tool providers (unlike in manual drafting days) got given an unprecedented opening to influence a globally active industry.

The 1980-s AutoCAD was a good product for its time and the AEC industry;
It supported the thinking of the ‘old master builders’, thinking and working in 3D.

By the early nineties though, they stumbled on a much better recipe than pushing AEC into the digital 3D world.
They created the role of the ‘CAD manager’ and hooked them onto their products, or even more importantly the feeling of ‘power’ that these, up-to-that-point mostly average ex-draftsmen could now exercise over both their management and everyone below.
From that point, things were lost for the AEC – like smokers addicted at young age, these foot-soldiers become Autodesk’s slaves and savours for the following 2 decades.
For a while they backed the use of AutoCAD 2D to the hilt, no matter how much damage senseless production of uncoordinated 2D drawings and unthinking CAD people did to the industry, projects, clients.

When the pressure got a bit too much to ‘move with time’, (2 year old kids were playing 3D based computer games) they bought Revit (the business and the product) and have ever since been half-heartedly developing it.

They had various stages of marketing themselves as ‘Solution suppliers’, ‘trusted technology partners’ and whatnot – their loyal CAD managers got upgraded to BIM Managers – often even elevated to be the exclusive  ‘Change agents’ that ruled over highly sophisticated looking  ‘evolutionary or revolutionary‘ change management processes overseen by the ‘masters of the CAD/BIM universe’, Autodesk.
But, they did no good for the industry.

So finally, it is crystal clear for me, what my problem is with Autodesk and to large extents with all of the other current, mainstream AEC information management tool-and-system providers.

Knowingly or just by following the ‘crowds’ they all had become the ‘manipulators’ of the industry, and have a large share of responsibility to carry for why it is in such a bad shape, as it currently is.

There may have been a scantily clad ‘Emperor’ walking the industry when Autodesk first entered the market (in the eighties) and this is by no means their fault that the guy was a bit under-dressed, but over the last 2 decades the Emperor had lost all of its clothes while the Autodesk-machine has weaved the most beautifulness of garments around him and is doing fine from this financial/business/manipulation exercise globally, thank you very much.

Autodesk, as my first love and the biggest of cheaters is my number one disappointment and the one that wears the most of guilt in my mind of being a wicked manipulator.
The rest is not far behind, even though they may argue that the inertia and strength needing to fight the big boys took too much out of them to do anything else.

Sorry, you are all in the same arena and just by fluffing up the hot-air balloon of unrealistic, mostly undeliverable, make-believe, choice-driven, play nicely BIM probably as guilty as Autodesk of manipulating the industry into a corner, I don’t know if it can recover from, any time soon.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Trust and confidentiality

A friend of mine asked me recently, how come I was not worried about being unemployable for life due to the ‘things I wrote about certain companies’ in my blog-posts over the last couple of years?
He also added that it would be a ‘brave bastard’ (his word) to employ me in any way after the things ‘I’ve been dishing up on certain ‘large’ entities…’
Jokingly, he finished his thoughts with questioning himself and if he should trust me any-more and at all  with any personal data – in view of my ‘behaviour’.
(this is a ‘seriously close’ friendship that has been in existence for close to 3 decades)

Forgive me, and my naivety, but what has the world come to?
The last time that I remember that I knowingly mislead anyone was when my daughter cut her knee on a jagged piece of mosaic (and I’ll tell that story separately one day, no big deal, really) –
I am as straight as they come.

I have a terrible memory to keep even the shortest lies going-on  and look after ’made up’ stories, so I say things as they are, keeps it easy for me.
Is this really such a big crime? I see fraud - I report it – if it gets not acted-on (in-house) eventually I write it up to the public to make its judgement on it.
Where I see negligence, incompetence that causes other parties lose money, I point it out.
First to the ones involved; then, if no one cares, to the ones above.
If the impacted party is too removed (like a public-client or society at large) I try to get the average ‘Joe Blogs’ take ownership of issues and start to care.
Mostly unsuccessfully.

It is construction after all. Concrete, bricks and mortar. Very un-sexy.
Not rocket science, not even medical stuff where answers to tricky questions would mean the difference between life and death.

We build buildings, small and large and the questions I raise are most often about how clients’ money is spent in construction processes. Spent or squandered;
Mostly wasted through blatant negligence.
And quite often we do talk of a lot of money
And more often than not, ‘people’ do not want to know.
Construction is, as it is. Everyone knows: Uncertain.
Bless it’s heart AND keep it that way!
So much easier for everyone to keep their highly paid jobs!

Still, just because I publicly say any particular company is incompetent to build any building to a set budget and set time-frame, and the impacted party is more than happy 'to forgive', should I be the one and the only one left penalised?
Should I be the one to see all my friends shy away from telling me little friendly secrets, because I'm a certified ‘nark’?
This ‘fact’ is hard to accept.
It would be the other way in almost any other industry
Bring me the Mafia, any day!

One can be a defence attorney or part of a public prosecution team and have a proper social life.
One can work as an auditor for any IRD and still get workplace gossip handed down freely.
One can even be an ‘f…’-en parking warden and still keep seeing friends.

Why can’t I speak frankly about the global AEC and stay employable, let alone retain a handful of friends that will share a joke or two with me?

Is it because this industry IS more rotten than the medical, judicial and political sector combined together?
Could be! Think about it!
Go back to that ‘watchdog idea’ I wrote about a couple of weeks ago just as a reminder…

(picture here is taken 24.5 year ago when I become an architect –soon to turn into an unemployable, highly over-qualified, dangerous nark! Maybe not as soon as I faired , but it happened, anyway)