Computer aided facilities management CAFM
Computer aided facilities management software assists facilities managers with planning, managing, reporting and tracking facilities operations. It is usually is a mixture of Computer Aided Design (CAD) and/or specific facilities management relational database software.
Facilities management software tools were first developed in the late 1980s and became popular in a variety of sectors including; healthcare, government, education, commercial organisations and industry. Many computer aided facilities management (CAFM) software solutions are now web-based and offer a wide variety of features including facilities orientated scheduling and analysis techniques.
Computer aided facilities management systems can:
- Help facilities managers ensure organisation’s assets are fully utilised at the lowest cost, through all stages of a building’s life cycle.
- Support the operational and strategic parts of facilities management including technical, administrative and infrastructure tasks and the strategic processes required for planning and management.
Computer aided facilities management systems will include a variety of functions and features which can be tailored to the exact requirements of the organisation. This might include:
- Strategic planning: Systems can assist in determining space requirements, equipment layouts, construction costs, environmental constraints, and other critical planning functions.
- Space inventory and organisation: Space attributes and elements can be defined and standardised and asset inventories prepared including; floor plans, locations, dimensions, cost, usage, energy consumption, age, construction data, important contact details, key pieces of equipment and essential infrastructure, fire and safety properties and so on.
- Operations: Building services can be monitored and managed.
- Maintenance and repairs: Routine repairs and preventive maintenance operations can be scheduled and monitored.
- Forecasting: It is possible to predict future requirements for space, utilities, equipment and so on, and to cost and plan changes.
 Integrated computer aided facilities management systems
Integrated CAFM systems have intelligent interfaces, along with advanced functionalities and links to analysis packages. Features common to most integrated CAFM systems include:
- Interactive databases: Relational databases that focus on the functional requirements of facility managers.
- Interactive graphics: Allowing for basic alterations to layouts, plans or other visual documents with most having standard CAD engines.
- Data management tools: It is possible for systems to use existing data and to export useful information.
Increasingly, CAFM systems include or are linked to building information models (or asset information models). BIM can provide a fully-populated asset data set to feed into CAFM systems and modelling to enable planning modifications. This data need to be maintained throughout the building lifecycle.
The introduction of Project & Life Cycle Management Systems should ensure that existing CAFM systems do not become redundant but rather that facilities managers benefit from:
- Early project engagement.
- Making their contribution towards materials and products used, rather than allowing procurement to make that decision.
- Enhanced asset intelligence through the use of integrated Product Information Portals.
- Smarter assets.
- Cross fertilisation of information across disciplines.
- A single version of the ‘truth’.
- Starting to understand the performance of the project pre-handover.
- Understanding the intended operation of the project for maximum efficiency.
- Integrated links to existing CAFM and external systems.
 Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki.
- Asset information requirements.
- BIM and facilities management.
- Employer’s information requirements.
- Facilities management.
- Geographic information systems.
- PAS 1192-3 Specification for information management for the operational phase of construction projects using building information modelling.
- Soft landings.
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