BIM and facilities management
Everybody is talking about BIM. Most say they are doing it now, but only a few are doing it right.
Building Information Modelling (BIM) is a process. It is not a tool or solution. It is a holistic approach to the design, construction and management of the facilities used in the built environment. At present, the technology tends to be confined to the construction phase, where design and engineering teams use three-dimensional, real-time, dynamic building modelling software to create a building information model that encompasses geometry, spatial relationships, geographic information, and the quantities and properties of building components. If appropriate operational information could be incorporated into this model, end users would have all the information they need to operate the building contained in one central database without having to maintain separate asset management systems.
2014 saw a dramatic increase in interest within the facilities management (FM) community, with over 62% recognising that BIM will support the delivery of facilities management. Although this increase is encouraging, along with the great work that Deborah Rowland and her Government Soft Landings team have done, the biggest concern by far appears to be how FMs will access, use and manage BIM data. Is it the responsibility of the building owners and occupiers to maintain it?
Findings from a survey carried out by the BIM4FM Taskgroup completed in 2013 found that “the majority of respondents believed that BIM could support the delivery of FM services, although over a third remain uncertain". One of the misconceptions that still exists around BIM is that it is no more than just a 3D computer model.
The realisation that Level 2 BIM is now required as a minimum has brought about the development of the Government's Soft Landings (GSL) approach. GSL provides a process to ensure BIM is embedded and adopted into future developments in a way that supports facilities managers and is mandated alongside BIM Level 2.
In essence, soft landings ensures the involvement of facilities managers to improve the performance of assets and to meet the requirements of those that use them. To enable this to happen across a wide range of assets, we need support from FMs at an early stage, not only on individual projects, but to ensure the development of data technology and BIM tools will be fit for purpose.
- Early engagement of FMs and the end user during the design and construction process;
- Delivery and operation of building purpose considered as a key element of the design;
- Continued commitment to aftercare post-handover from the design and construction teams;
- Post-occupancy evaluation and feedback to design and construction teams to ensure lessons learnt are captured for future projects, and
- BIM to provide a fully-populated asset data set to feed into Computer Aided Facility Management (CAFM) systems and modelling to enable planning modifications. This data will need to be maintained throughout the building lifecycle.
With the advancement of Life Cycle Management Systems, facilities managers can now look forward with the confidence that their engagement in any project should, and needs to be, considered from the outset. As an industry, we need to look at the landscape from the operator's perspective and work backwards, instead of just dictating to them what they should have.
The introduction of Project & Life Cycle Management Systems means that the FMs will not see their existing CAFM or Building Management Systems (BMS) become redundant but will benefit from things like:
- Early project engagement for best practices;
- 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, and
- Integrated links to existing CAFM and external systems.
This article originally appeared in the September 2014 edition of BSRIA's Delta T magazine. It was written by Jo Harris, Principal Consultant, BSRIA Sustainable Construction Group.
 Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki
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- BIM for dummies - an interview.
- BIM glossary of terms.
- BIM resources.
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- Computer aided facilities management.
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- Enterprise asset management.
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- Government soft landings.
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- London Build 2020: Best Practice in Design and Build panel discussion.
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