BIM and FM Go Together, Naturally

July 04, 2013

Low and behold, the worlds of BIM (building information modeling) and FM (facilities management) should naturally fit together, right? If you listen to the reports, these worlds are on a path to intersect and just need the proper plans for which to do so. But just how close are we to having a BIM/FM marriage in construction? The answer remains, at best, undefined.

According to a study published for the Construction Owners Assn. of America, www.coaa.org, Austell, Ga., this past spring, owners remain enthusiastic about the use of BIM, yet for the most part are not currently using these tools and processes to their fullest capacity in the realm of facilities management. However this is indeed a trend that owners are looking to change in the near term.

The survey, conducted by Mortenson Construction, www.mortenson.com, Minneapolis, Minn., showed nearly 70% of owners believe they will use BIM to manage their facilities in some capacity in the coming years. But challenges exist. No single challenge seemed to stand out when asked about primary obstacles that hinder the use of BIM as an ongoing maintenance tool—with answers ranging from a lack of training for facilities personnel to inadequacies of current software and the lack of complete information. However, the fact that no one clear obstacle exists could make the process of solving the challenge more difficult in the end. 

The idea of linking BIM with FM isn’t limited to the United States. This continues to be a worldwide discussion. News from UK-based Workplace Law, www.workplacelaw.net, Cambridge, U.K., a specialist in employment law, health and safety, and environmental management, put focus on headline results of a study focused on linking BIM to lifecycle management for facilities.

The survey cited by Workplace Law was commissioned by the BIM4FM Group, www.bimtaskgroup.org, London, U.K., and intended to link the importance of the relationships between BIM and GSL (Government Soft Landings) projects. Supported by the Cabinet Office Government Property Unit, the group helps provide valuable input into the ongoing development of BIM being developed through the Cabinet Office Government Property Unit and BIM Task Group.

The BIM Task Group is a group that brings together expertise from industry, government, public sector, institutes, and academia to help deliver the objectives of the Government Construction Strategy and the requirement to strengthen the public sector’s capability in BIM implementation. This work is done with the intent that all central government departments will be adopting, as a minimum, collaborative Level 2 BIM by 2016.

The BIM Task Group explains GSL as: The cost of maintenance, operation, and the business benefits from an asset far outweigh the cost of its initial creation. Thus, GLS helps to address these costs and the value that is created through the asset, as well as to ensure transition from operation to use is smooth and that optimal performance is achieved.

Furthermore, the BIM Task Group explains government as a client can derive significant improvements in cost, value, and carbon performance through the use of GSL.

According to Workplace Law, survey results show 75% of respondents pointed to lifecycle management as a driving factor for how they would like to see BIM supporting facilities management. Looking bigger picture, when questioned how they anticipated their organization would use BIM going forward, more than 80% tabbed lifecycle management as the most important issue.

The survey also revealed some important timeframes as well, saying facility managers, owners, and occupiers believe BIM will become increasingly important in day-to-day working practices within the next two-to-three years. This would fall in line with the aforementioned government deadline for construction projects being BIM Level 2 compliant. Full results are expected to be released later this summer, according to Workplace Law.

As the worlds of BIM and FM continue down a path to intersect, the question becomes how the global construction market can reach such a goal in a timely and efficient manner. Questions surrounding such things as the role technology will play for facilities management, which technology tools will help ensure information is complete and accurate from design through completion, and which available tools can assist with user training and adoption, are just a few that need to be answered.

The Sept/Oct issue of Constructech will feature a special section dedicated to the future of managing data throughout the lifecycle of a facility. From the role of BIM to the devices for data management, and even the change management needed for employees, construction organizations have many things to consider going forward.