Glider Technology is powering the digitalisation of the built environment. The company does this by providing Information Management (IM) software and consultancy services to the construction and property sectors, notably to principal contractors and major asset owners.

Stuart Bell, Director of Sales and Marketing at Glider discusses how the Building Information Management (BIM) software provider is at the forefront of innovation within the Architecture, Construction, Engineering and Operators (AECO) industry.

Easy Engineering: A brief description of the company and its activities 

Stuart Bell: We recognise that construction projects and assets ‘in operation’ often incur losses due to delays and unforeseen expenses that arise because of a lack of cohesion in information management processes in design, construction and facilities management activities. These issues exist due in part, to the siloed model of the construction industry with teams working independently of one another. They also exist due to the poor fulfilment of project and asset information requirements, through the delivery of wrongly named and/or formatted documents, drawings, models and data files.  

Our flagship software product, gliderbim®, is a Common Data Environment (CDE), designed to support principal contractors and asset owners to deliver projects and manage assets in a compliant manner and in accordance with defined Information Requirements.

Depending on the organisational role and CDE purpose, gliderbim® manages the communication, capture, production and validation of BIM models, asset data and Operations and Maintenance (O&M) information throughout design and construction, and into handover and operations. This results in gliderbim® ultimately becoming the digital platform for asset information for the life of a facility. As an open and interoperable platform, our rich API provides deep integration with other collaborative software platforms to automate workflows and bring about efficiencies to the digital delivery and operations process.

Our leadership team is made up of some of the most technically inventive and experienced minds in the construction industry. These future-thinking digital construction specialists offer insight into digital trends and are the powerhouse behind our holistic approach to complex problem-solving.

Our experience and first-hand knowledge enable us to consult our clients on the delivery of Asset Information Models, asset data and Operations and Maintenance (O&M) information throughout design and construction to provide building owners with comprehensive asset information required to effectively operate and maintain their assets.

E.E: What are the main areas of activity of the company? 

S.B: We specialise in Information Management software and consultancy services. We guide asset owners, public sector bodies, developers, architects, engineers and contractors through the full lifecycle of a building project, from conception to operation through to decommission or disposal ensuring they get precisely the information they need to operate the assets across their built estate.

We have helped some of the world’s largest technology, property and engineering companies, plus public sector bodies and government agencies accelerate their ability to design, build and understand the performance of their built assets. By consulting on their requirements documentation and then designing and configuring gliderbim® specific to an organisation’s needs, we help our clients deliver projects and complex assets and fuel the rapid, ongoing transformation of their business.

We support our clients through every phase of the asset lifecycle with our flagship product, gliderbim®. Our custom-built CDE platform, gliderbim® is a simple yet powerful storage tool to control all your project and asset data. Using our intelligent online platform for managing project information, compliance records and asset data, clients can create their own uniquely configured CDE for their projects, programmes and built assets across their wider estate. It is an end-to-end asset information platform to connect your projects and teams with real-time data from design through to operation, therefore minimising risk and generating profitable outcomes.

We also offer consultancy and training to support better information management practices and the use of gliderbim® to ensure clients maximise its capabilities. The platform is user-friendly and designed for quick access to all your models, data and documents. But when getting started, we can tailor training for relevant team members on how to maximise the capabilities of gliderbim® and show you not only quick wins but longer-term benefits and outputs. We also provide an extensive range of IM Consultancy services to ensure the true value of a digital approach is realised at all stages of a project.

We are also on the Crown Commercial Service Digital Outcomes and Specialists 5 Framework as a trusted supplier, able to help the public sector buy, design, build and deliver digital solutions and services using an agile approach.

E.E: What’s the news about new customers? 

S.B: gliderbim® is enjoying success with many new adopters, including several high-profile clients in commercial development, healthcare and defence including contractors ISG and Tilbury Douglas who both selected gliderbim® as their secure CDE supporting their client’s data sovereign and cyber security needs. Focusing on one enterprise customer, and as of August 2022, the Defence Infrastructure Organisation has extended the use of its new Asset Information Management (AIM) CDE across all Future Defence Infrastructure Services (FDIS) contracts using the gliderbim® platform, and the support of Glider’s information management consultants. 

This has been delivered by the AIM team, which sits within its Data Exploitation (DEx) department. The DIO is an operating arm of the Ministry of Defence and plays a critical role in supporting the UK’s armed forces by building, maintaining and servicing the UK’s defence infrastructure. DIO manages around 1.8% of the UK’s landmass, including 115,000 non-residential buildings and 50,000 houses. 

DIO required a CDE platform which could manage this level of asset data and keep it secure. Managing a government body’s volume of data is no easy task and safety is a heightened concern, but the AIM CDE enabled by gliderbim® significantly improves data control, enhancing information flow and communication across the varied work streams that DIO delivers in, enabling a ‘one-stop shop’ approach for project delivery and asset detail.

We are building on our current success by continuing to develop gliderbim® to ensure it is as high-performing as possible, and we plan to release new software updates and features soon.

E.E: What are the range of products and services Glider promotes? 

S.B: Currently, our range includes our flagship program, gliderbim®, and our consultancy and information management services, underpinned by Glider’s transformative Information Value Chain methodology. Complementing our CDE implementation skills, our information management services capability is tailored to contractor or asset owners and covers BIM coordination and management, clash detection and 3D modelling, through to handover information management (O&M’s), COBie production and smart buildings consultancy. From a technical perspective we have a strong pedigree in data migration and systems integration as well, meaning Glider can offer a full turnkey service.

Depending on your organisation/organisational role, gliderbim® offers you an easy way to manage information through the whole life cycle of a built asset, enabling users to classify and validate their structured data, and exchange it using openBIM formats such as IFC and COBie. From document and workflow management to transmittals and project reporting, the gliderbim® controls have been designed for rapid delivery, analysis and maintenance of asset-data-rich models and comprehensive O&M information.

One of the benefits of our product is that it allows clients to define and communicate their specific asset data and document requirements, through the Master Information Delivery Planning function. Suppliers can then deliver against these requirements with document naming, metadata and component level asset data attribute validation taking place on upload to ensure right first-time delivery. With gliderbim® you have data versioning, model viewing and the ability to create custom data schemas and ontologies. Clients can collate all their asset information in one, easy-to-access place.

In terms of information security, gliderbim® is ISO 27001 compliant and can integrate with your single sign-on solution using SAML.  Additionally, gliderbim® has metadata security classifications, and is Cyber Essentials Plus and MOD CyDR certified, providing the utmost assurance to our clients that their data will always remain secure.

With our data management software solutions and digital delivery consultants, our clients can seamlessly share project information and work collaboratively across their supply chain and take control of built asset and estate data and records.

E.E: Where in the market are you currently active? 

S.B: Currently, Glider’s client base consists of principal contractors, project management consultants and major asset owners. We have been recently awarded the Digital Outcomes 6 contract from the Crown Commercial Service, making Glider a trusted Crown Commercial Service supplier. We are honoured to have secured a position on another public sector framework, in addition to our existing G-Cloud Digital 12 Marketplace contracts with clients such as the Ministry of Defence (MOD), British Antarctic Surveys (BAS) and the National Health Service (NHS).

One of our greatest achievements has been working with contractor Kier to deliver against the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) information requirements on HMP Five Wells. This is now the largest private prison in England, comprising 13 buildings, featuring a unique design enabling more contact between staff and prisoners. Delivering our handover management and COBie information management services, this project involved one of the largest datasets our team has worked on to date, with highly complex information requirements. We used gliderbim®, to ensure that the large data sets were kept accurate, compliant with standards, and future-proof. 

E.E: What can you tell us about market trends? 

S.B: One of the most exciting trends in the market is Digital Twins. Federating static model data with dynamic sensor data from multiple sources, creating a connected, digital representation of the physical build – a virtual twin. It spans the lifecycle of the building and can be updated with data in real-time. This technology is ground-breaking, as it uses Artificial Intelligence (AI) to support decision-making, by predicting how buildings will perform through simulation. Amongst other things, the insights enable companies to meet their Net Zero commitments by reviewing space utilisation and reducing emissions from traditional energy uses and improving the economics of greener energy sources.

Glider has worked with several progressive clients including most recently Deutsche Bank’s and their 21 Moorfield project in the role of IM and digital twin consultant. We’ve played a key role in defining and establishing the required information model and sharing protocols to integrate information across this complex asset. Glider is also part of a consortium that has developed a Smart Buildings overlay to the RIBA Plan of Work due to launch in Autumn-22, providing clear guidance on the requirements for ‘smart’ at each RIBA stage.

Digital twinning offers excellent prospects for asset owners and AEC professionals such as connecting separate systems, tracing data, predictive analytics, troubleshooting equipment remotely, and the all-around improvement of facility management. While these technologies are still developing, the possibilities digital twins currently offer to construction, and the related sectors are already highly impressive and critical to Smart Building use.

E.E: What are the most innovative products marketed? 

S.B: At Glider, innovation is a driving factor for all our products. gliderbim® is at the forefront of accurate information deliverables management, providing AEC professionals with a comprehensive solution for all their asset information management needs.

In addition to our cutting-edge CDE software, we are unique from other software providers in that we also offer also offer information management consultancy services alongside full training on the platform, to ensure that good working practices are embedded, project and asset delivery objectives are achieved, and our clients are reaching their full information management potential.  

Given the construction and property expertise of our team, we specialise in consulting for developers and asset owners. With our experience in major capital delivery projects and managing asset information for large complex estates, we are experts in helping our clients define their information needs and creating software solutions to manage digital estates.

Moreover, our BIM consultancy services are engineered to meet our clients’ current and future needs. We help our clients to manage their supply chain to deliver compliant, coordinated asset data and accurate handover information for their projects.

We are proficient in advising on: CDE Implementation, BIM Management, BIM Coordination, Model Validation, 3D Modelling, COBie Production, Handover Documentation Management (and technical authoring), Information Management Operational Phase Consultancy, Interface/Integration, Information Security (ISO 19650-50), Digital Twins and Smart Buildings.

E.E: What are your forecasts for the next 12 months?  

S.B: Throughout 2022 we will continue to evolve gliderbim® and release new features. As a company that prides itself on innovation, we are always looking for new methods for resolving challenges and engineering the technology to facilitate this. Our focus remains on providing the best possible user experience. 

We are witnessing a maturing of understanding across major asset owners of the downstream operational value of well modelled data deliverables, communicating more explicit information requirements to their supply chains. The early engagement through design and construction stages for operational teams to ensure a ‘soft landing’ at handover is key to ensuring newly acquired assets are mobilised and operational immediately following Practical Completion (PC). Being able to leverage and connect O&M information and maintainable asset data with other enterprise systems like Computer Aided Facilities Management (CaFM) and Building Management Systems (BMS) and Building Operating Systems (BOS) is also an increasingly key requirement

The most recent gliderbim® software updates have seen changes to the view of the software to ensure compliance with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), which sets out optimal international standards for accessible online content.

Cyber threat is on the increase so many major asset owners and their supply chains are specifying much tighter organisational and application security requirements to ensure critical national infrastructure and/or built asset information is securely managed and stored. For Public Sector and Government clients, UK data sovereignty is also a requirement (ensuring no data, even for processing of e.g., BIM models, takes place outside UK shores).

One of Glider’s principal tenets is accelerating the process of securing a collaborative culture across the built environment. We recognise that there is no collaborative culture without inclusion, so we live by our philosophy and continue to develop our software to deliver an optimal user experience for all.