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FM sector continues to consider the benefits of BIM

Facilities Management

08/07/20 | Rebecca Drewett

FSI Business Development Manager, Tim Parsons, discusses in an article with PFM the use of BIM beyond the initial construction phase of facilities, to deliver wider benefits throughout the lifecycle of buildings.

While CAFM systems have been implemented across the FM sector, the same cannot be said for the uptake of building information modelling (BIM), although a growing number in the industry are either considering its use or coming to appreciate the benefits.

FSI business development manager Tim Parsons says that during more than six years spent in the construction industry, he has seen BIM becoming a more widely adopted process. “It’s typically used in the early design stages by the design team and main contractor, and more often than not the FM team doesn’t have any involvement at this point,” he states.

“Many people don’t understand the benefit of involving the FM team at this stage, which is why they are often overlooked. The long-term savings that could be made on building management costs are significant, but with the initial focus on the immediate outlay, it’s down to the owner-operator and BIM manager to take the initiative and involve the FM team during these early stages to determine which data collation would be useful for the future and help to maximise efficiencies for the operational phase of the building’s life.”

The construction of a building tends to only account for 20% of its overall cost – the remaining 80% covers the lifetime costs of maintaining it, Mr Parsons continues. If the data on the building’s assets is available from the start, FMs can optimise energy usage, waste management and other areas to increase efficiencies and ultimately reduce spending across the board on maintenance, replacements and ongoing management.

“The adoption of BIM has been a slow-burner, even in the construction world. But as FM becomes more elevated, successful case studies surface (such as the one completed for an iconic events stadium) and the industry becomes more educated on the subject, the evolution to make FM a key component of the BIM process should and will happen,” says Mr Parsons.

Planon global product strategy director Erik Jaspers says use of BIM models to support the management of buildings at operational level has been a topic of interest for over 10 years: “The rationale behind this is clear: handing over construction models with their data facilitates commissioning,” he says.

“In addition, the 3D geometry that BIM models provide, allows us to understand the buildings better and easier: the trend towards digital twins often relies on (3D) models of buildings to be available, associating behavioural data of its components with the assets depicted in it.

“Actual BIM adoption at the life cycle has been modest to date,” he continues. “This restricted pace is partly due to the technology available today and partly of an information-managerial nature.

“On the technical side, the natural diversity in BIM authoring tools with each producing its own representation format, forms an impediment to easy adoption. However we are seeing standardisation trends coming from the construction industry, such as IFC, aimed at improving interoperability.

Managerial challenges around BIM for the life cycle: organising change projects incorporating the various BIM models that describe the building is a potentially complex operation. However, the benefits are significant and the technologies to provide them more easily are developing by the day.

“In the design and construction industry we will probably see steep adoption over the next few years due to the high financial and quality gains to be made. Adoption at the life cycle end will increase over the years to come, but probably at a more moderate pace,” Mr Jaspers concludes.