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The Benefits of Combining CAFM and BIM


25/11/21 | Rebecca Drewett

Learn how a robust CAFM system enables FM teams to reap the complete benefits of the extensive data generated by BIM.

Building Information Modelling (BIM) is one of the fastest-growing technologies in architecture and construction. Research by Statista demonstrates that in 2020, 73% of construction industry professionals were using this technology – a huge leap from the 13% back in 2011.

Now established as standard procedure in the design and development of buildings globally, BIM is making it easier to visualise and guide projects to successful outcomes. These models also contain rich data that can hugely benefit the continued management of these buildings.

Yet, in order to truly reap the ongoing benefits of BIM data, integrating this technology with effective CAFM software is crucial. Without this, it is very possible that this information cannot be properly utilised by the teams responsible for running buildings long term, and they miss out on vastly improved operational efficiencies.

Here we will explain the significance of this relationship between BIM and CAFM, and the benefits it offers years after a building’s construction.

What is BIM and its role in building management?

BIM is a digitally-driven integrated process allowing everyone involved in a construction project – architects, engineers, contractors and more – to collaborate and design a building in one 3D model.

However, unlike CAD systems that also produce detailed technical drawings, BIM has built on this foundation significantly. Within a BIM model contains all of the information that these professionals need to conduct projects, be it construction, reconstruction or demolition, and data spanning into continued operation and management.

Through BIM, the construction industry is benefiting from:

  • Clearer project management

  • Collaboration in a single digital environment

  • Stronger visualisation of space management

  • Understanding of life-cycle requirements

Together, this is emphatically improving approaches to building design, construction and maintenance worldwide.

Thousands of projects each year harness BIM to establish accurate assessments of buildings’ needs and lifecycles, making their processes much more structured. In fact, this technology is mandatory for public projects in several countries, including the UK, Spain, the USA and across Scandinavia – and more are expected to follow suit in the coming years.

Overall, BIM represents the present and future of architecture and construction across the globe. It will remain at the forefront of these projects enabling designers and supply chains to engage with each other and reach consensus before any work on-site commences.

Unlocking the true value of BIM

Nevertheless, as BIM steadily becomes a pillar of the construction sector, many still struggle to reap the greatest benefit this technology can offer – supporting the continued operation of the building.

Consider this – the design and construction of a building may take a number of months or years to conclude. Certainly not an insignificant amount of time. However, it pales in comparison to the decades that the building will be expected to operate for. Therefore, the greatest value BIM data can offer is this long-term management.

Yet, in numerous cases, this value remains locked. Often this is a communication and language issue. If the building management team is not involved in the initial BIM phase, design and construction will naturally prioritise materials and layouts that favour their needs – even if this creates problems for its future operation. All stakeholders must be involved.

Furthermore, the format, quality and level of detail in a BIM model can be far removed from what FM teams require. Without their involvement, data will be formatted in the way the construction team prefers, which may not align with the FM teams’ systems.

The end result? Massive, expensive BIM models that are barely touched once construction is complete. Data that is spread across disparate systems. Information that rapidly becomes outdated and unusable. Fundamentally, the true value of BIM is lost.

For more on the problems that can emerge with BIM integration, read “A True BIM to FM Transformation” by FSI’s Hong Kong Region Manager, Danny Ho.

The value of integrating CAFM and BIM together

To prevent the use of BIM technology from being limited to the construction phase, it is increasingly important for this technology to be integrated with CAFM (Computer Aided Facilities Management) software.

A solid CAFM system is a bedrock of building management. A quality BIM output will provide a wealth of type-specific asset data, spatial data and additional O&M detail. It is clear to see that a successful merging of the two would supply FM teams with an abundance of information that will benefit the efficiency, profitability and sustainability of their facilities.

For instance, our distinct BIM module can take a data output such as COBie, wexBIM or IFC and use this to generate all of the facility and asset information in the CAFM solution. From mapping out floors and rooms to classifying assets and components, everything created within the BIM model can be mapped and contained within one, central platform.

With the capacity to do this within their preferred FM software, FM teams will have a ton of data at their disposal to organise operations and drive decision-making.

5 benefits of combining CAFM and BIM

With the frequency of BIM usage growing with each passing year, below we explore 5 advantages of combining this technology with a CAFM solution to extend its usefulness to FM professionals.

1. Greater asset performance

First, the bounty of asset data held within an effective BIM model will be massively advantageous for FM teams. With this information to hand, building managers can establish more comprehensive asset registers, tracking their performance over time in an unprecedented level of detail.

By adding this exhaustive BIM data to your CAFM software, you benefit from:

  • Enhanced planning of maintenance routines

  • A stronger understanding of asset positioning, making it easier to locate them

  • Firmer grasps on asset lifecycles and how long they will remain functional

  • A more streamlined way to oversee and manage assets

As a whole, this extends the cost-saving potential associated with asset management, and makes the whole process much more straightforward.

2. Enhanced space management

At its core, BIM provides an ideal visualisation of a building. Its layout, number of rooms, corridors, stairwells, elevators, storage spaces – everything within the infrastructure is accounted for and presented in an easily digestible way.

This undoubtedly helps your employees better navigate around the premises. Yet, even more usefully, combining these models with your CAFM system can form the basis for stronger space management.

You can identify opportunities to reconfigure and repurpose space and rooms across your facilities based on current patterns and as your business evolves. You will know how space is used and where it is underutilised, which will help guide meaningful decisions that ensure no space is unnecessarily going to waste.

3. Rapidly identify issues

With a firmer grasp on the layout and configuration of your facilities, and an impressive amount of real-time asset data, connecting BIM and CAFM helps you to:

  1. Quickly be made aware if any asset or component is not performing as expected

  2. Immediately locate that asset within your building

  3. Direct the relevant engineer or technician to handle this issue

This timely information empowers your team to address issues before they can become problematic, reducing the ramifications they have on your operations or bottom line.

4. Smooth transitions into building management

As noted earlier, one of the biggest reasons why FM teams fail to take full advantage of BIM data is it being formatted in a way that doesn’t translate as it should. This leads to teams not being able to harness these models to improve the running of their facilities.

As our CAFM solution makes it straightforward to translate BIM software language into the format that’s comfortable for your professionals, this ensures that all the data contained within these models is helpful and usable.

This results in quicker, smoother transitions when a building is handed over from the design and construction team to its management team, who will have total reassurance that their system is perfectly set up for their needs.

5. Intelligence to shape your company’s future

By focusing on the long-term efficiency and performance of your buildings, the combination of BIM and CAFM enables you to make meaningful, informed decisions that can transform your facilities across their lifespan.

Having one version of the truth, rather than data strewn around multiple distinct platforms, FM professionals have uninterrupted insight into activity across their buildings.

In addition, by leveraging reporting capabilities within CAFM software, data can be sent to and analysed by stakeholders and decision-makers across the company. They have all the information required to strategize for the future, being guided by data rather than gut instinct.

Harness the power of your BIM data

The potential that is offered by effective BIM data can have a game-changing impact on the direction of your organisation. When it is housed within an equally robust CAFM system, you gain access to a powerful data resource that can optimise operations, reduce running costs and maximise the performance of the assets across your facilities.

We hope that this encourages you to think about the relationship between BIM and CAFM, and what advantages this could have on your approach moving forward. With BIM’s usage becoming more and more widespread, being able to tap this well of information to support ongoing building management seems like a sensible path to take.

At FSI, we are here to help you on that path. Concept Evolution helps you own the future of your buildings, facilities and assets, enabling you to model and visualise layout, connections and maintenance requirements with greater clarity.

For more on this topic, we recommend downloading our free whitepaper “Optimising BIM for Facilities Management”. It offers further insight into the benefits this technology offers to FM teams, and how it can be unlocked in your own organisation.

Alternatively, to get started with Concept Evolution, get in touch with our team today.