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This is a long-due article for us. We get this question a lot from prospective buyers, so we thought we would put together a simple and clear definition. But first, we will start by defining BIM and Facility Management separately.
What is BIM?
Building Information Modelling is a process (not software!) supported by various tools for creating and managing the construction information of a project. This process can support the whole lifecycle, from design to operations, enabling collaboration and access to a unique ‘source of truth’. What we typically see when we talk about BIM are the 3D models of the project. (see image below).
What is Facility Management?
The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) defines facility management as the “organizational function which integrates people, place, and process within the built environment to improve the quality of life of people and the productivity of the core business.”
For further understanding, it can be divided into two areas ‘Space and Infrastructure’ (such as planning, design, workplace, construction, lease, occupancy, maintenance, and furniture) and ‘People and Organization’ (such as catering, cleaning, ICT, HR, accounting, marketing, and hospitality).
Then… What is BIM for Facility Management?
Simply put, BIM for Facility Management is leveraging BIM technology during the Operational stage. And that would take us to the following questions: How would BIM be useful during Operations? How do you keep FM in mind when doing BIM?
First and foremost, BIM models are a database, meaning that they’re not ‘dumb’ geometries or drawings. The elements included in the models are rich with data (if done correctly), which enables a smart and smooth handover to operations. This means that Facility Managers can have a reliable, organized, and accurate database of everything they need to manage/operate. In other words, the BIM models could contain all the information related to assets, systems, rooms, and more, that will be managed by the facilities team. If that information is easily accessible, the operators of the building wouldn’t have to spend hours (days or weeks) making sense of endless sets of drawings, O&M manuals, warranties, and a bunch of information delivered in a massive Dropbox (or worse, in paper!).
Now, we said that the BIM models COULD contain all the information. But this needs to be revisited, and it takes us to the second question: HOW to do BIM for FM? As stated before, BIM is a process that provides benefits during each stage of the project lifecycle, but to accomplish that, we must do it intentionally. If we want BIM to support Facility Teams, we need to think about what they need; and they need information (again, structured, reliable, accurate, AND accessible).
This is why Facility Management requirements deserve a place in the BIM Execution Plan, the roadmap for the BIM efforts during the lifecycle. How do we do this? We put together a strategy considering the following:
- What physical assets are critical/trackable/maintainable? The sooner this is identified, the less rework will be needed.
- What information or specific parameters are needed for each category of physical and special assets? For example, we may need to gather more information about a cooling tower than a ball valve.
- Naming conventions: Establishing how we are going to identify EVERY asset from the list.
With these in mind, we synch the data collection process with the BIM process, so the BIM models are the ultimate source of truth. Of course, this is much easier said than done, and every project is different, but the overall process remains the same.
When it’s time to handover the project to the operator, we can extract information in a standardized way from the models for the FM team to plug into their software of choice (or keep it in an Excel format). We can also go one step further and deliver an intelligent BIM model that’s intuitive, easy-to-use, and where all the information is one click away (eg. YouBIM).
To summarize, the above only refers to the process and benefits of the handover. Operators can have access to all the building information, even before they move in! This represents many hours saved going through the information, and making sense of what they have to operate. Now, the benefits of BIM don’t stop there. Having an easy-to-access, cloud-based model with all the assets information represents huge savings in other areas. We invite you to read a few of the articles we’ve written about this.
If you want to learn more about how YouBIM supports the BIM process before, during, and after Handover, look at our portfolio or contact us.
By Florencia Castro