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Why FMs can't be ostriches when it comes to BIMOctober 2014

Written by Jo Harris, Principal Consultant, BSRIA Sustainable Construction Group

BIM – Building Information Modelling; everybody’s talking about it, and most say they are doing it now, but only a few are doing it right.

PGE Arena Gdansk (c) Martifer Polska / Tekla Corporation

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, realtime, dynamic building modelling software to create a building information model that encompasses geometry, spatial relationships, geographic information, and quantities and properties of building components. If appropriate operational information could be incorporated into this model, and 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.

FM is without doubt the most talked about area of Project & Building Life Cycle Management and we have seen the rate of interest rise dramatically in the last 12 months within the FM community to 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, the biggest concern by far appears to be how FMs will access, use and manage this data. Is it the responsibility of the building owners and occupiers to maintain?

Findings from a survey that was 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. Some of the misconceptions that still exist around BIM is that it’s no more than just a 3D computer model.

Level 2 will be mandated in 2016 – What does this really mean to FM?

This realisation 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 development in a way that supports facilities managers and will be mandated in 2016 alongside BIM Level 2.

In essence, Soft Landings ensures the involvement of facilities managers, as a way to improve 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 that the development of the data technology and BIM tools will be fit for purpose.

We need:

  • Early engagement of FM 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
  • BIM to provide a fully populated asset data set to feed into 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, FMs can now start to look forward with the confidence that their engagement in any project should, and needs to be, considered from the outset. As an industry we all need to take a step back and 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 become redundant but 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
  • 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
Understanding Level 2 BIM
This one day course will provide an overview of BIM and a good understanding of the Government's BIM strategy and 8 components of BIM Level 2.