At the completion of the design and construction phases, there’s an opportunity to hand over a lot more than just the keys to the facility. With BIM for facility management, you could be setting up stakeholders for improved space management, streamlined maintenance workflows, and a better understanding of the opportunities for long-term energy savings. By carefully leveraging some of the data from earlier phases, you can cut future operating and maintenance costs – the two biggest parts of your total cost of ownership across the facility life cycle. 

How do you get started with BIM for FM?

In Expert Discuss: Must-Know BIM for FM Considerations, which is one in a three-part series of webinars from Eptura covering the concepts, benefits, and implementation of BIM for FM, Andy Burg, a 31-year construction industry veteran and current Vice President of Operations Technology Solutions at Messer Construction, explains that one of the first steps is simply understanding that you’re working with a process. And not only is it a process but it’s also one you can’t get through quickly. 

“This is a long journey, to get to where you want to go… A lot of our facility owners have multiple systems, you’re dealing with multiple departments, and they all like to do things their way. And to unify all this, to make it work, takes time.” 

And like all long journeys, it starts with a first step.  

Step 1: Discover the benefits of BIM in facility management 

Burg encourages exploration. 

If you want to implement BIM for FM, you need to first understand what it is and how it can benefit departments across the organization. And once you become convinced of the benefits of BIM for FM, you need to think of ways to convince others. If you want to make the process work, you need to become a strong advocate for it. 

Part of the process here is just making facility owners aware of all the possibilities when it comes to BIM, including improving, for example: 

  • Space utilization 
  • Asset management 
  • Energy analysis 

Along the way, different people have their own “a-ha moments,” where everything falls into place. Burg shares a similar experience from when he first began establishing the BIM for FM journey.  

“…had a large project. We were expanding their campus by 25%. And we had this guy from the facilities team who saw how we were using these tools, and [he] just latched on and said, ‘I need that.'” 

Step 2: Identify the problems BIM for FM can solve 

But Burg warns against overgeneralization when it comes to looking at the problems you can solve with BIM for FM.  

If you look at the benefits, you can see not everyone enjoys the same ones. The facility manager gets better space management while the maintenance manager finds it easier to stay on top of asset inspections and repairs. The facility owners might like all those but still be more focused on the big picture cost-savings for total cost of ownership.  

And in some cases, if you’re not careful, no one sees any real benefits at all. 

“Implementing technology for technology’s sake is dangerous,” Burg explains.  

And it’s the same for identifying the problems you want to solve. Not every project has the same set, and there can be differences even when on the surface, everything looks the same. 

For example, in one set of cases, Burg says he worked with two universities located close to each other, inside the same state. But for all their similarities, they needed solutions to different problems. One needed better space management while the other needed better oversight and control of asset management. 

So, it’s important to look for the specific problems you need to solve. One way is to set up a steering committee with people from different departments. From there, you need to get a good grasp of how things currently run, including identifying all the systems you currently have in place.  

You need to understand your data, including:  

  • What you have 
  • How you capture it 
  • Where you share it 

By looking at what you have, you can get a sense of what some of your future standards might be. When you look at how you capture it, you can judge where you need to automate and how much you can trust your data. Data inside an EAM, for example, is much better than notes in spreadsheets or loose slips of paper. By understanding where you share the data, you get a sense of where you’re missing opportunities to break down data silos between departments. 

Step 3: Set out the BIM for FM roadmap 

Just like planning for a regular road trip, the last thing you want to do is pack too much, Burg explains. 

So, a critical step in setting out the roadmap is deciding which data you don’t need. And remember, with BIM, you’re starting off with lots of data, including: 

  • 3D models 
  • Digital twins 
  • Building designs
  • Life cycle costs 

In fact, you can have everything from the financials for every step of the construction project to the sizes for the screws that hold up the closet doors. 

There are costs to not having enough of the right data. But there are also costs to having more than you need. Remember, you don’t need to just get the data. You also need to maintain it, which means ongoing costs.  

“Be specific because data costs money,” Burg says. 

And it’s not just what data you include. You also need a clear path forward in terms of how you are going to connect it in ways that make sense and deliver value. 

Nick Stefanidakis, Senior Vice President of Strategic Alliances from Eptura, who was co-hosting the webinar, echoed the importance of having the right data set up in the right ways. 

 “…a place to correlate all that data, to connect it, to make sense of it … it’s not just extracting data from a BIM model and bringing it into an operations model. There’s a lot of over connections, so you can operationalize it,” he explains. 

BIM for FM process

Next steps in BIM for FM  

Once you know what you already have and what data you want to maintain, you can start to look at developing standards and guidelines. From there, you can implement and pilot, followed by a proactive system of reviewing, adjusting, and expanding. 

At every step of the way, you can expect to come up against some resistance. Everyone has an established way of doing things and getting them to change can take some convincing.  

Summary 

BIM for FM helps you hand over more than just the keys to the front door at the completion of the design and construction phases. In fact, you could be setting up stakeholders for better space management and lower operational and maintenance costs. But it’s a process, and one of the first steps is understanding that it is not a quick one.

Andy Burg, in a recent Eptura webinar, encourages exploration at the start. You begin by learning about the benefits of BIM for FM so you can get others on board. From there, you need to find the specific problems you’re trying to solve with BIM for FM.

No two facilities are the same, and it’s important to not assume what works for one works for all. Part of the process is looking closely at what you already have up and running, including what data you have, how you get it, and where you share it.

In the third step, setting up the roadmap, you need to carefully choose the data you want to bring along and maintain. Not having data can be expensive, but so can having data you don’t need. The next three steps are where you set up guidelines, implement your program, and then periodically go back and fine-tune. 

Tags:  Building Information Modeling (BIM) Facility Management