10 things facilities managers should know about BIM

Les Pickford

Freelance writer and former Editor of the RICS Construction Journal (RICS)

Kath Fontana FRICS, Managing Director of BAM FM, talks about the drivers for BIM adoption and how facilities managers should respond.

Kath Fontana

The public sector’s increasing focus on BIM shows that the operational stages of a project will only become more important and it expects FM to be ready for these new ways of working. There are a few things happening that only increase the importance of BIM to our sector.

The first is fulfilling the government mandate of reaching Level 2 BIM by 2016, which requires all project and asset information, documentation and data to be electronic. This target is less than 200 working days away.

The recent Digital Built Britain report is clear about how the government wants to move BIM after 2016. This includes creating new commercial models that link design/build/operate contracts, and developing commercial mechanisms requiring FM to deliver against BIM standards. Public sector requirements are going to be increasingly robust for FM. We can’t ignore this momentum and we need to respond well to this public sector challenge.

Secondly, the private sector is very keen on BIM, especially for new speculative developments. BIM is seen as cutting edge and high-specification premium buildings expect to have a model as part of the handover package. Facilities managers working with premium developers are starting to be asked to handle BIM and digital FM.

The final point is a general one around data. The term ‘big data’ is a little overused but management of data, transparency, management information, smart buildings, aggregation of data, smart cities, etc are all becoming much more important. FM must be aware of this new focus.

Interestingly, Jones Lang LaSalle has recently said its vision is to be a technology company that delivers property. It wants to use data to enable clients to make strategic decisions about their property assets, especially during the operational phases.

Facilitites management and BIM maturity

On the BIM maturity scale, FM is roughly at Level 1, i.e. data is moved around manually, or sometimes electronically through spreadsheets, but it’s not federated or validated. For some, achieving Level 2 by 2016 will be quite a challenge.

There’s some talk about a Level 3A, which is effectively an enhanced Level 2 with added operational depth. Unfortunately, some clients don’t want to engage with BIM and the FM supply chain because they can’t find a commercial or contractual solution for it, other than varying a building contract or consultancy agreement. This is a barrier to adoption but the wider industry reaching Level 3A will actually help FM achieve Level 2.

10 things facilities managers should know about BIM

  1. BIM is just as much about digital FM as it is about virtual construction.
  2. BIM is bringing transparency of asset data and so it is bound to change how FM is procured and managed.
  3. It’s absolutely not about more work, it’s about smarter working.
  4. It applies to all public and private sectors and all types of property, from housing to hospitals, and will be incredibly useful for all buildings, not just new build.
  5. Project size does not matter. As more buildings of all sizes have models, BIM will be the standard way to do things.
  6. It’s not about technology, it’s about process and collaboration. Facilities managers do not need to be experts in CAD technology or 3D modelling.
  7. New commercial models are coming and FM should help shape these.
  8. A focus on post-occupancy evaluation will mean FM needs to support the collection, interpretation and analysis of this data.
  9. Facilities managers need new skills and capabilities to engage with BIM, work with post-occupancy evaluations, get involved with the design teams, etc.
  10. The BIM genie is out of the bottle - there’s absolutely no going back.

The benefits of BIM

A great example of a practical benefit can be seen in our work at a large general hospital. There was a fire in the client’s (non-BAM) facility, impacted by failed fire dampers and breaches in firewalls from post-construction installations. Safety Notices were issued to every establishment requesting information on the fire dampers and firewalls in all buildings.

Using our building information model, we were able to generate a full schedule of information for the BAM facility in about 15 minutes containing asset numbers, classifications, locations, etc. This saved us around four days of effort and had an intangible benefit of increased client confidence in us.

In contrast, we recently received a new build project to price on a tender basis. We had four weeks to analyse the job without an asset register, and using only 150 general arrangement PDFs, which is quite typical for the industry. How much easier would this be using BIM?

Be proactive

We must understand the impact of BIM on our sector. Every FM business should have a BIM strategy so we can plan our approach and allocate appropriate resources.

BIM is a fast-moving field and FM must engage and influence how the operational aspects of an asset are developed digitally. If this isn’t done by us it will be done to us.

The BIM clock is ticking. Are you ready?

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