As a BIM company, much of our time is spent on producing high-quality CAD solutions for consulting engineers, and mechanical and electrical contractors which means we deal with facilities management (FM) issues as well. The introduction of BIM to the construction process has the potential to add significant value to the approach to FM, so let’s explore this subject a little further.

Approach to FM Currently

The definition of facilities management covers many different disciplines within the built environment, including cleaning, financial management, and maintenance and integrating not just processes and technology, but people and places. As you can imagine, facilities management is quite a complex area which currently involves the handover of paper documents once a refurbishment or new build has been completed. These paper documents are essential to the management of the facility, and the goal is that they are accurate, complete, and contain all of the required information. If papers are lost or not complete, then time and money must be spent in order to recreate the information otherwise contractors are working with inefficient workflows.

What is BIM?

Let’s give ourselves a reminder of what BIM is – BIM or Building Information Modelling is the term used to describe the digital process through which coordinated and reliable data is shared throughout the whole construction project. There are four levels of BIM (0 to 3), and the British Government set a minimum target of Level 2 for all public sector work by April 2016. Level 2 of BIM means that each discipline within the construction project should create their own 3D model, and share this information using a common data standard such as COBie(Construction Operations Building Information Exchange).

The next stage is BIM Level 3, which involves full collaboration between disciplines to produce a model that is data rich and shared through a common data environment. This allows for the smooth flow of information throughout the whole team of contractors. This is some way off though, with some firms not having achieved Level 2 yet.

How does BIM affect FM?

The easiest way to explain the ways that BIM can help (and hinder) facilities management is to break it down into three categories: people, process and technology.

The people part of BIM is all about collaboration between all parties involved in the project, and the sharing of knowledge so that there is a better all-around understanding of the lifecycle of the building. This will also encourage more longer-term thinking which should also help to reduce the cost of the building in the long run. Getting Facilities Managers involved in this process early on is therefore crucial, as it would help them to provide continuous maintenance information, but firstly, there needs to be an investment in staff training and software.

When we come to the BIM process, it needs to focus on engaging the personnel who will be involved in the operational phase of the building, making sure that their feedback is heard during the design process. Adopting BIM at an early stage in the project should, therefore, mean that correct information about the facilities are included early on in the process, allowing for any issues to be identified quickly, meaning that facilities management should be more efficient in the long run.

Technology is key to BIM as the ability to capture information in 3D objects means that there should be a reduction in duplicate asset information and an increase in the reliability and quality of the data used. The fact that data is exchanged through a common data environment as well means that there is more flexibility built in, and it can be continuously used throughout the life of the building which will make it easier to manage, maintain and operate the building more effectively.

BIM will have a positive effect on FM as the more knowledge that can be fed into the BIM model, the better and more effective the building will be, and the more efficient the running of the building will be.

If you would like to know more about our BIM consultancy service, please get in touch with our experienced team today.