10 Benefits of BIM
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In a perfect world, a construction project handover delivers everything facility and maintenance managers need to efficiently run the new facility, including data on all critical assets and equipment, where they are, and how best to operate and maintain them. But we don’t live in a perfect world, and that means handovers are often full of missing data or data trapped on paper, where it’s easy to lose and hard to leverage.
Before looking at how to improve them, it’s important to think about why handovers are so important.
Why is the construction project handover so important?
It’s important because no matter how much it costs to design and construct a new facility, it costs more to operate and maintain it, and the handover is what should set everyone up to run the new facility as efficiently as possible. It’s the first step to saving the most money when saving money matters most.
With the right data in the right formats, the owners know exactly what assets and equipment they have, where they have them, and what they need in place to both operate and maintain them.
Without a handover, or with one that’s slow and incomplete, owners find themselves spending many months and lots of money recreating or converting data into something their facility and maintenance managers can use.
In a recent Eptura webinar, Joy Trinquet, an industry analyst at Verdandix with a focus on BIM for operations, explains the problems with the traditional construction project handover.
“The existing handover processes at the end of construction projects are poor, at best. Building owners either receive no information or mounds of physical documents… They receive everything months after completion when the building’s already operating, and they can’t leverage it.”
And being inefficient gets expensive fast. “The cost of understanding these big close-out packages is about 10 cents per square foot, adding a lot of costs to a building owner who is just trying to get started.”
But with a successful construction handover process, earlier investments in building information modeling (BIM) data pay off throughout the entire facility life cycle.
That means owners get more value from their facilities, and they get it sooner. For construction companies, they can deliver more value to their customers. Instead of just a facility, you’re also including a turn-key plan for how to run it.
At the foundation of a successful construction handover is the seventh dimension of BIM.
What are the building information modeling (BIM) dimensions and what is 7D BIM?
BIM models have revolutionized the design and construction industries, allowing everyone involved in a project to contribute to a shared pile of data that’s both accurate and connected.
But the data’s not really a pile, after all.
One of the important things to understand about BIM data is that as you add in new types, you expand into new dimensions. So, 3D BIM is the basic dimensions for the facility, 4D includes all your design and construction timelines. 5D is money, while 6D BIM is all the data on sustainability. The data is not layered, and so it’s not really a pile. Instead, everything is interconnected, allowing you to see, for example, specific costs at different times in the construction phase, or the relationships between environmental studies and projected energy use.
7D BIM, which is BIM for facility management, is where you move all your earlier BIM data into new formats and a facility management software solution. Unlike earlier BIM data, though, which tends to both larger and more static, BIM for FM data is smaller, lighter, and constantly updating.
Why do you need different data for the design and construction phases and the operations and maintenance phases?
Different goals call for different types of data.
During the design and construction phases, a lot of that data, once it’s finalized, stays static. But for operations and maintenance, you need data that you can update in real time.
For example, the data you have for where the HVAC system goes in the walls and ceilings during design and construction always stays the same. But the data you have on usage, maintenance, and repairs on your HVAC systems changes over time. During construction, you only need to know where the roof units go. But to create and run a good maintenance program, you need to know where the units are location plus:
- Serial numbers
- O&M manuals
- Associated parts and materials
- Maintenance inspection schedules
- Maintenance tasks schedules
- Maintenance and repair histories
Instead of as-built data, which tells you where everything is the day of the handover, you need as-maintained data, which tells you how best to run the facility.
Facilities are complex combinations of structures, assets, equipment, and grounds. But the same idea holds for much simpler products. When someone buys a car, they don’t need the blueprints. Instead, they need an owner’s manual.
7D BIM, BIM for FM, is the facility owner’s manual.
What are the benefits of BIM in facility management?
With the right data in the right formats, facility and maintenance managers know what they have, where they have it, and what they need to keep everything up and running.
So, when setting up preventive maintenance programs, they already have the first critical steps covered, including building their asset registry and going over the manufacturers’ recommendations on inspections and tasks.
And when technicians head out to do the work, they know exactly where to go because everything is already mapped out in the BIM data. Instead of walking around in circles, maintenance techs can move in efficient, straight lines.
For larger projects, when there’s a need to retrofit or renovate, planning is much faster and easier thanks to simple conflict detection. When you can easily access data on where everything is inside the walls, it makes it a lot easier to plan the plumbing for the new breakroom, for example.
Looking even further into the future, the BIM data from the turnover gets added to and updated throughout the facility’s life cycle, generating critical insights into choices made during design and construction. For example, the architect might have chosen a specific type of window for the sunnier side of a building to trap heat, hoping to reduce heating costs. However, during operations and maintenance, you might have a lot of new data that shows it costs more to replace the expensive panes than was ever saved in heating costs. When it’s time to design and construct a new facility, the architect would now know to use different windows.
The construction project handover has traditionally left owners frustrated, unable to capitalize on earlier investments in BIM data from design and construction. Instead of delivering a useful owner’s manual, construction companies can only offer a lot of the wrong data, much of it in the wrong format. Instead of being able to efficiently operate and maintenance their new facility starting right away, owners are left playing catch up, spending time and money converting piles of paper into workable data. BIM for FM is the process of taking static as-built data and creating dynamic as-maintained data that facility and maintenance managers can use to create preventive maintenance programs and more easily complete retrofits and renovations. BIM for FM is the facility owner’s manual.