Avvir Academy
December 7, 2022

How BIM can Improve Facility Management

Construction is complete, and the project was on budget. The team involved with the product can feel proud of the work. But what about the building’s next phase, namely, operation? The construction team moves on while a new team takes over the responsibility of management. Content with design and construction phases that came in on budget, the owner expects their facility to be managed as efficiently as possible. We believe this is the perfect opportunity to allow BIM (building information modeling) and other building technology to help teams with facilities management, leading to a greener building with reduced operating costs. 


An often-cited report from the National Institute of Standards and Technology entitled Cost Analysis of Inadequate Interoperability in the US Capital Facilities Industry estimated that $15.8 billion per year is wasted due to poor interoperability in the US capital facilities industry. The bulk of those costs – $10.6 billion – is borne by owners.


What is causing the waste? A large portion can be attributed to inefficient handovers. Key information is fragmented and not smoothly transferred from the construction team to the facility management team. At project closeout, the facilities and operations teams are typically handed piles of unstructured data in the form of O&M manuals and often inaccurate as-built information.


The facilities and operations teams are left to sort out the unstructured data and figure out how to best operate the building. Important information is either lost or never shared, leading to delays and additional costs for operations teams. 


These inefficiencies can be avoided. With the wide adoption and proper application of BIM, teams can revisit data standards and change how projects are handed over to facilities management teams.


Barriers to adoption

With so much money wasted on facilities management, why don’t more owners insist on using BIM? The software serves as a single source of truth and a holding place for all things construction related.


It boils down to incentives. The challenges begin long before operations and management teams are on a project. The design team takes the first pass at creating BIM content, but they're hired to only oversee the successful design, permitting, and construction of a building. Once a building has achieved its certificate of occupancy and closed out the punch list, a design team is no longer involved. Therefore there is no incentive for them to spend additional time enriching a model with information a facilities team would need.


Incentives and timing are also at the root of the next roadblock. Consider that to be profitable, a general contractor must focus on handing over a project so they can receive payment and move on to their next job. Anything that requires more time and/or effort (unless they are under obligation or are compensated) isn’t going to happen. So, unless there are strict requirements regarding project handover, a GC will essentially pass data along in whatever format it was provided to them, since that is simplest and quickest.


Finally, there’s the operations and management team itself, who are not necessarily familiar with BIM. So, a facilities team would need training to use model-based information.


These barriers can be overcome. Design-build contracts are more conducive to a collaborative environment where cross-team coordination leads to a better outcome for a facilities management team.


However, other project delivery scenarios can also result in better outcomes for a facilities management team. One way to make this happen is to involve the operations team early in the process.


A team can discuss and determine their goals for building operations. For example, they can create procedures for  asset inventory reports. With a goal in mind, it’s now possible to start taking steps towards enriching BIMs for the purposes of facility management.


By involving the operations team in the BIM execution plan, a facilities management team can help dictate how a BIM is arranged, so it will have the information needed to efficiently manage a building. It also leads to a cohesive vision that makes it more likely a building will meet key performance indicators.


Important information for facility managers

Just how does BIM help facility managers? One easy win is that BIM elementscontain information such as unique identification numbers. These could simplify documentation and cataloging of equipment on site as they contain the makes and/or model names of equipment, manufacturer information, and approximate location.


Let’s review how a facility manager would benefit from such information. With relevant data about equipment stored in an easily accessible way, a facility manager could avoid countless hours hunting down physical copies of O&M binders and stacks of drawings. In this way, they can focus more on the issue at hand rather than hunting down product information. In addition, optimally managed equipment runs more efficiently and lasts longer.


Such data is also useful when repair or replacement is needed. Having relevant information handy helps a facility manager skillfully interact with a repair company. When a team is sent over to look at equipment, a facility manager will be more prepared. So, equipment will be fixed more quickly, with less downtime.


Vital data gained from BIM 

Specific data that BIMs should contain that general contractors can provide for facilities management at project close-out include the following:

i.               Replacement timelines – With this data a replacement can be planned with minimal downtime. Budgeting will also be more accurate as replacement surprises can be limited.

ii.               Servicing requirements – This information will enable the facilities management team to best operate the equipment from day one. Following a servicing schedule extends the life of equipment.

iii.             Approved/recommended repair companies. Working with knowledgeable companies leads to repairs that effectively solve problems. Finding a reliable repair company can be time consuming and expensive.

iv.             Safety manuals – Keeping staff safe and out of harm's way should be a priority for every facility management team. Having relevant safety manuals assists in this goal.


Avvir: More information and more help

When you use Avvir to validate As-Built conditions, facility management is easier. There’s no guessing or approximating where assets are located because you know the exact as-built conditions. The facility management team can have confidence that future renovations are based on reality.


You also get a historical-reality capture record. With this, teams can see behind walls, above ceilings, and within slabs without having to demo. Issues remain localized, and more extensive remedies are utilized only when necessary.


Finally, with Avvir, a facility management team has the approximate date of installation. With this information a team knows when items/equipment need to be updated and when maintenance should happen. When this data is easily trackable, upkeep is more likely to be done on an ideal schedule.


Encouraging adoption of BIM practices for facilities management

BIM can help owners and their teams define their data goals and standards. With BIM (particularly when the operations team is brought in early), maintaining equipment and systems within a building is easier. Facility management teams are better able to keep a building operating, and at an optimal level, leading to real savings for owners.

Men showing construction tool to group
3 Tips for using BIM as a Database throughout the Project Lifecycle

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