What is BIM in Facilities Management?
By Katherine Schwartz
Demand Generation Specialist
Buildings are getting smarter and so are the technologies used to govern them. One of the most prevalent pieces of technology businesses can deploy today is Building Information Modeling (BIM). What is BIM in facilities management? It’s the next step in digitization of facilities, to glean quantifiable information from physical environments. Everyone from architects and contractors, to facilities managers and maintenance technicians use BIM. Today, BIM is a cornerstone for smart buildings, office IoT build outs, and all-around better facilities management.
What is BIM and what can it tell us?
BIM is a process-driven technology used to map and quantify the physical aspects of a building. BIM is part of everything from building design, to construction of a structure, to facilities maintenance. The core objective is simple: quantify as much of a building as possible and use that data to inform better decision-making about how to manage facilities.
The simplest introduction to BIM for facilities managers is through digital twins. A digital twin is a 3D digital replication of a physical building and the baseline model for a BIM record. A digital twin allows a facilities manager to identify different elements of a building, isolate them for their information, and understand the needs of both that specific element and its relationship to peripheral systems.
There’s virtually no limit to what BIM can tell us about a building. As machine learning folds into BIM software, computers are able to tell us more about our buildings than we could ever hope to learn looking at schematics and blueprints! It’s why BIM is now a mandatory requirement on UK public sector projects and will be mandatory for all German transportation projects by the end of this year.
BIM as a function of facilities management
BIM’s role in facilities management is to provide quantifiable insights. How much money is X costing you within the framework of facilities maintenance? What is the service record for Y this year? If you make an upgrade to Z, what will the ramifications be to peripheral systems?
BIM lets you look into a true-to-life model of facilities and parse information on an as-needed basis. It’s one thing to look at a balance sheet and see costs and figures associated with facilities—it’s another to look at a building model and see, specifically, what those costs equate to and how they manifest.
Companies broadly apply BIM today is because it’s useful at every phase of facilities upkeep. It provides proactive insight into vital systems and can model the effects and changes affiliated with upkeep, repair, or improvement. In a practical sense, it delivers real-time insight into how facilities currently operate, right down to the system level. Finally, it’s a system of record that integrates with vital management software to drive data-backed solutions. It’s a useful tool for facilities managers at every level of decision-making.
How does BIM benefit facility managers?
The results of BIM for facility managers are undeniable. Researchers have spent decades developing BIM to aid building managers as they seek to reduce costs, improve building ROI, streamline operations, improve employee engagement, and prevent problems from arising. Here are some of the ways, specifically, that BIM benefits facilities managers on a day-to-day basis.
- Generates cost savings in facilities upkeep, maintenance, and improvements
- Improves project efficiency and expedites delivery time for results
- Reduces safety risks and clashes, which lowers passive change orders
- Offers greater predictability for facilities maintenance and upkeep
- Improves the visibility and oversight of facilities managers in everyday upkeep
- Provides a system of record and visibility for vital systems within the building
- Integrates with facilities management software and systems to automate processes
BIM goes beyond facilities management, too. The information and modeling provided by BIM help facilities managers communicate needs and expectations with contractors and craftspeople. BIM facilitates total management of a building across diverse teams. Anyone can glean robust information from the powerful data of a digitized building and its systems to provide better, more efficient, targeted results.
BIM matters in the future of smart workplaces
As buildings become smarter, they’ll continue to produce information that’s relevant to BIM. Every IoT sensor provides contextual data points that factor into the ecosystem of a building. Someday soon, BIM will be able to replicate a real-time dynamic picture of a building, from the infrastructure down to the people within it. And, with each new data stream aggregated into the greater BIM schema, facilities managers will have that much more information to work with as they strive to create the best possible management approach.
Keep reading: Breaking Down BIM Facility Management Software