BIM and it’s correlation with Facility Management

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BIM is a process which is evolving fast. The link between the model and the facilities management system varies depending upon the software that is used. The building design team uses a variety of software products to conceptualize and analyze a model along with the Autodesk Revit which the best available BIM software. In addition to Revit, we can also use Navisworks coordinate Architectural, Structural and MEP models together helping us to visualize any interferences or discrepancies prior to construction.  A virtual construction model helps the contractor provide a more accurate time and cost estimate as well as helps them avoid costly on-site changes.

With all of the possible software combinations that exist in the design and construction world, when you’re requesting a BIM Model as a final deliverable along with drawings and schedules (along with the physical building), be sure you know what software your project team is using and to specify what classifications and standards you expect to see within the model. If your organization does not have its own standards, there is an industry standard for building operations called COBie (Construction Operations Building Information Exchange) and your development team can use their model to create a COBie output for you at the end of the project. Each part of the team will provide different aspects of COBie output. Architects would give you spaces and equipment locations, construction teams can give the manufacturer and installed product information. This will help you import the relevant data into your facilities management system instead of trying to go through a model provided and create the link yourself.

Getting a relevant model, either via COBie or your own designated standards, allows you immediate access to your as-built data making it easier to get your facilities system updated with information that can be used not only by the facilities team but also the rest of the organization for better strategic planning. Understand that some facility management systems allow you to directly link with Revit, meaning you could conceivably skip some steps in having a separate COBie deliverable, though you likely want to request this in addition so you can augment the model.

As mentioned, there are some limitations on what a building model can provide to a facilities manager today. Not all manufacturers are providing their products for inclusion in a building model. That means when a construction team uses a product without a manufacturer model provided, the facilities manager may have to track down the relevant data to include in the facilities management system. And remember that model bloat mentioned earlier? The more data you want to get from a model, the larger
the file will be. Bear this in mind when you’re talking with your project teams. Have each team member know what will be expected of them so they can model appropriately and not include irrelevant data.

The latest progression within BIM is the unique contractual agreement known as Integrated Project Delivery (IPD). IPD is “a delivery methodology that fully integrates project teams in order to take
advantage of the knowledge of all team members to maximize the project outcome. Integrated Project Delivery is the highest form of collaboration because all three parties (Owner, Architect, and Constructor) are aligned by a single contract.” Note that the definition does not include facilities managers but does state that all parties are bound by one contract. Usually within that contract there is shared risk—both fiscal and legal—for the project. Sometimes there is a shared reward as well for early and/or under-budget delivery. BIM Coordination is the most critical part of BIM, and for IPD to become successful; all parties must be open to communicating more often and more openly than in a traditional contractual arrangement.

Within IPD, project delivery includes a lot of valuable information, not just the model but also the requested revisions, email conversations, project approvals and more. Being able to track this data is one thing, being able to work on it in a team environment—whether that team is internal or contracted—is something else entirely. New ways of working together virtually allow teams from across the globe to keep on track. Cloud computing, data management as well as virtual building models keep all team members up-to-date on the latest developments within their project. Of all these technologies, Cloud computing has the largest potential impact on BIM and IPD because it enables the delivery of computing services over the internet in real-time, allowing end-users access to data and applications from any device with an Internet connection. By hosting a model within the Cloud, teams can view pieces of the model relevant to them, without fear of being behind an iteration (or two or three). It also allows for project participants to add more data to the model, since the model is not delivered in one system or another. Finally, it allows owners and facilities manager’s insight into the project at any time, knowing that the data they are viewing is up-to-date. However, because the final deliverable may not be Cloud based today, model inaccuracy and unnecessary detailing is still a concern.

All of these new technologies hold potential, but it will depend on how the software manufacturers develop and partner together. Given that even today there are not only multiple Cloud computing options, but there are also different types of Cloud offerings—public, semi-private and private—will one Cloud rule over all or will there be multiple Cloud sites that your team will have to work within? Also, using Cloud computing is new to BIM. Adding this technology to the process means rethinking how the team works together. This is still an evolving practice and what works today may not be what is best in the future.

The next logical step in BIM is BLM or Building Lifecycle Management. This is where the model is just one integrated piece of data used by a facility manager or owner to help with the life of the building. When BIM and FM completely tie together we’ll have BLM. The technology is moving towards a living, breathing building model that will sustain itself as the as-built environment. It will get integrated into the facilities management system and data will flow back and forth between the two, allowing individuals to get the information they need in the system they need to view it.

Cloud computing will also play a large role in BLM. Having one site where the model and the facilities management system come together—perhaps even being one program—will allow facilities managers to use the rich data available in the building model. They’ll be able to look directly at a model, hiding irrelevant information—sharing that model data with management in a meaningful way. And their project teams on redevelopment will have the most accurate picture of the building because the model has been kept up to date as changes were made.

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