Case Study: MIW Water Cooler Experts expanding construction industry relationship with NBS BIM adoption 

Overview: MIW Water Cooler Experts is the leading supplier of professional drinking water units in the UK. Dealing in the supply, installation and maintenance of watercoolers, drinking fountains and water bottle refill stations, as well as related equipment, the business has built up a strong reputation for knowledge and practised expertise. In 2014 however, MIW began looking for a way to enhance its relationship with the construction industry.

While MIW had the reputation to draw in big names for big projects, there was a growing demand for tools. With the architecture industry becoming ever more reliant on CAD (computer-aided design/drafting), the provision of a picture and a detailed set of specs was no longer enough to convert interest into sales. MIW needed to find a way to position itself as the go-to company for architects, able to supply goods that can be accurately factored into a design model. MIW’s aim was to not just work with the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), but to become a preferred supplier.

Solution: Building Information Modelling (BIM) has been embraced by the construction industry. The process, which sees objects rendered into 3D digital models, which hold full product specifications, has been created to allow architects to create precision CAD plans for projects, down to the finest detail. If MIW created a BIM catalogue of all of its products, architects could see exactly how each water provision unit would fit into their schema, physically, practically and aesthetically. NBS helped MIW with this process.

The NBS National BIM Library has more than 110,000 registered users. It has become one of the prime resources for architects and planners. NBS helped MIW to author BIM drawings of all of the company’s catalogue. In a process which took 4 months, each of the 20 items in MIW’s inventory was carefully and systematically added to the BIM library. By working to the BIM Object Standard, NBS ensured that MIW’s products have the widest possible appeal within the construction market. The BIM drawings don’t only allow for construction planning, but for forward planning, such as the practicality of maintenance and the likely influence on user behaviour and area footfall.

Most Halsey Taylor & Elkay drinking units supplied by MIW now has a complete BIM file available, containing a 3D image, precise dimensions, material, manufacturer, service support and warranty details, certification and power requirements.  This makes the planning process simpler and more streamlined for the architect, while providing the client with all the information they may need for future maintenance. 

Results: In the 2 years since MIW implemented its BIM library catalogue, the company has continued to grow, working with architects on numerous high-profile projects, including the installation of bottle refill stations at Gatwick airport and ZSL London Zoo. MIW’s work with ZSL London Zoo led to the company’s involvement in the #OneLess Bottle Campaign – an endeavour formed to reduce plastic waste in London and to highlight to problem of plastic litter polluting the world’s waterways in general. This has also led to MIW’s involvement in the London Water Project: working in tandem with the London Mayor’s office, MIW is working to install 50 free-to-use public sports bottle refill stations across the capital. Since 2016, all construction projects on behalf of the UK Government have been required BIM planning.

Since working with NBS to create its BIM library, MIW has experienced a significant growth in the commissions it receives from RIBA and early-stage planning projects. The BIM files add a new layer of service to MIW’s offering, which has worked to foster customer loyalty and repeat business.