Best Practices, Facilities Management

Square Peg. Round Hole. Integrating BIM and FM

Do you see a vacation as a journey or a destination? The difference may be subtle but it illustrates the difference between traditional FM systems and object-oriented building information models (BIM). Integrating these two building information technologies can be like forcing a square peg into a round hole.

Traditional FM systems are about recording the “journey”. What work was done, across your building portfolio, to get to where you are now? Often service requests, work orders, asset records, and preventive maintenance schedules are recorded independently, without consistent references to the building or assets involved. Finding information becomes a process of searching one or more databases, to piece together the history of a building or asset.

BIM is about managing the physical “destination”. BIM evolved from computer aided design, to allow architects and engineers collaboratively design better buildings. It creates a virtual model of your building as a framework for managing building information. Within the model, you can navigate through the virtual building to find specific building objects such as spaces, assets or equipment, and obtain design and related information about each.

These two approaches collide when operating existing facilities, designed and built using BIM, are operated using traditional FM software.

Simple BIM for FM
FM software generally lacks the sophistication of a building information model which establishes relationships between objects within the building. Simple queries, like “Which assets are located in this room?” are native to BIM, but may be far less accessible in most traditional FM systems.

Extensive use of BIM within the design and construction phase now leaves facilities managers with a dilemma. On handover of the new building, the rich BIM model often doesn’t fit well within their current FM solution. Some have tried to extend BIM into facilities operations, but for many the BIM solution is overkill for day to day O&M processes. Fortunately operators have something much more useful, and readily available, than the virtual model; the physical building.

Getting the best of both worlds, where the richness of BIM is available when needed, but with the simplicity required for daily operations, requires a much simpler, easier-to-use, integrated, FM solution. This FM solution will incorporate a simplified object-oriented BIM into an open integration platform, allowing the seamless integration of the as-built BIM with building automation systems, daily FM processes, building stakeholders, and the physical building.

Creating an end point for integration of energy data into BuiltSpace.

Creating an end point for integration of energy data into BuiltSpace. An energy meter object can be defined to measure consumption for any fuel, and assigned to the whole building, spaces or assets.

Integration using Simple BIM
A simple BIM for FM framework will create “endpoints” for integration, and provide a common object reference mapping (ie. account numbers, asset IDs etc.), so that all these systems can play nicely together.

The illustration to the right, demonstrates how an energy meter object can be defined as an integration endpoint, where the energy consumption can be defined to relate to the entire building, an asset or spaces within the building.

What does this simple BIM mean for the building operator?

Access to information about the building will change dramatically. Where he now searches for information, the building operator will now be able to navigate directly to it.

Better access to information, and the ability to capture information in real time, as part of facilities operational processes, will reduce administrative and overall operational costs.

About Rick Rolston

Rick is CEO of BuiltSpace Technologies Corp. (Vancouver Canada). BuiltSpace provides integrated building information management services to help building stakeholders create more sustainable and valuable building ecosystems.

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