BIM News

Last trends of the AECO sector

Facility Management and BIM

Explore how BIM improves facility management by integrating design, maintenance, and operational efficiency

Published: 22/05/2024

Country: Spain
The overall interest in BIM seems to grow rapidly in many fields, and the facility management industry is no exception. BIM can be a source of a lot of information that could be used for Facility Management purposes – be it information about specific building components or the overall geometry of a structure. However, there are still many questions left when it comes to using BIM in this specific industry, mostly revolving around specific ways BIM could help facility management. This is a rather relevant topic, which is why we took some of the more prevalent questions about it and answered them below.

The Definition of BIM

There are three main explanations for BIM as an acronym:

  • Building Information Modelling: Combines methods, technologies, and processes to create a BIM model.

  • Building Information Management: Combination of processes directly related to managing information about buildings/projects.

  • Building Information Model: A 3D model that includes a project's visual representation and a wealth of information about every single part of a building.

As such, it is always recommended to make sure that any discussion on the topic of BIM is about the same definition of BIM – to avoid unnecessary confusion, first and foremost. Additionally, it is necessary to mention that BIM is much more than just a 3D model of a project. BIM as a concept has different use cases depending on the project creation phase – it is used to simulate the construction sequence and plan during the construction phase. It can also be used for describing the specifications of a building during the design phase.

Planning and simulating during the construction phase are what the “fourth dimension” of BIM is (often shortened to 4D BIM), and adding cost information to the BIM model upgrades it to the “fifth dimension,” or 5D BIM. A part of that information is usually included in a document called a Bill of Materials, or BOM. It is a collection of all the elements the building comprises – from the number of doors of a specific variation to the number of painted surfaces throughout the building.

The Value of BIM for Facility Management

There are several different phases that the lifecycle of a building can be separated into – design, engineering, construction, and so on. A rather common abbreviation for it is DBFMO – as in Design, Build, Finance, Maintain, and Operate. Since its rise in popularity, BIM was mostly used for the benefit of the first three phases – starting at the design phase and ending at the construction phase.

From this standpoint, the biggest advantage of BIM is error detection – BIM helps identify various incorrect design choices and other potential errors as early as the design stage, fixing clashes between systems such as mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, or even the building structure itself. The ability to identify these kinds of errors early makes them that much easier – and less expensive – to fix at the design phase rather than at the construction phase.

However, BIM can also be used during the remaining two project phases – maintenance and operation. This allows for the construction and the design information to be used again for various maintenance-related tasks or even help with the proper deconstruction when necessary. This transition from construction to maintenance and operation is called “building commissioning.”

For example, the aforementioned Bill of Materials can be used for long-term planning purposes, and BIM also provides spatial data that could be useful for spatial planning/space management. Both data types would be useful in Integrated Workplace Management Systems – but the data in question must be adapted appropriately first. The problem here is that the entire BIM data is structured to be useful for the design and construction phases – and this kind of structure is not the same as what facility management usually works with during the operation phase. As such, a proper information conversion has to be done first, and there is also a term for that process – “model preparation.”

Can BIM Work with Integrated Workplace Management Systems (IWMS)?

Integrating BIM with IWMS is fairly new, and there are still very few examples of that happening. A BIM model usually consists of multiple “aspect models” combined to create one BIM model – the construction model, the architectural model, etc. Plenty of software can work with these models, such as Tekla, Revit, Bentley, ArchiCAD, and more. However, the demand for BIM to be used in IWMS has never been high until very recently, even though there are plenty of areas in which IWMS can be improved with the help of BIM data, such as portfolio management, maintenance management, and space management.

Integrating BIM data into an IWMS system is much more complicated than one might think. First of all, different BIM software vendors can have different file formats and approaches to storing the model’s data, which creates a massive issue of compatibility, or, more appropriately, interoperability – when a single model is created using multiple different software appliances with different standards and formats.

This issue is a massive deterrent to different parts of a model being combined together to be used as a single model. Standardization in BIM data formats was created to fix this exact problem, with IFC (Industry Foundation Classes) being one of the most commonly used examples – a lot of BIM vendors allow their models to be exported in the aforementioned IFC format. This makes it much easier for data created with different software to be used together.

There were also several different attempts between industries to make it easier to exchange data, and one popular example of that is the initiative taken by BIM vendors and the AEC (Architecture, Engineering, Construction) industry – which resulted in the creation of a format called COBie – Construction Operations Building Information Exchange.


How to Integrate BIM into IWMS?

The first step when it comes to integrating BIM into IWMS is to reach an understanding of what facility management processes could benefit from BIM data. This is a great way of reducing the work that would have to be done to perform the aforementioned integration. For example, suppose the main goal of integration is to improve space management. In that case, there is no need to try transferring building asset data from BIM because it is irrelevant to this particular goal.

As soon as there is a clear understanding of the purpose of BIM integration, it is time to identify what BIM data is needed for this and how it has to be structured to be of any use for facility management. Performing these assessments as early as possible is highly recommended, with the design phase being the preferred time frame. That way, it is a lot easier for both architects and building contractors to consider these requirements, so BIM data could also be created initially in a format that is required for facility management purposes.

It is also wise to remember that different phases of the project require different data for facility management, and some data also becomes irrelevant once a specific project phase is reached – keeping all that in mind is also necessary for proper BIM integration into facility management.

Of course, it would not be enough to determine what information needs to be converted appropriately – it is also necessary to know the purpose of that information and determine the amount of detail needed and the department/stakeholder that needs said information in the first place.

A good example of that is maintenance planning. It is highly unlikely that a Bill of Materials that BIM works with would be enough for facility management to create an entire maintenance planning schedule. Some assets might not be relevant for this task, or there might be a need to separate assets into groups depending on the maintenance goals.

As such, we can conclude what is needed for a guaranteed IWMS and BIM integration – the first step would be to identify what areas of maintenance and operation stages BIM could be helpful in. It is also necessary to perform a detailed analysis of all the required BIM data for the aforementioned improvements. That is a good way of ensuring that all of the necessary data takes a specific form that can be used for facility management purposes.

Revizto and Facility Management

Solutions such as Revizto are a great example of how beneficial a BIM platform can be for facility management. Revizto is capable of empowering facility management in terms of providing both models and data, providing the most up-to-date information about the project's current state. It can also help with a more detailed visualization of the project’s current status; it can simplify site maintenance by using relevant data to track on-site maintenance better, delegating tasks, etc.

Various facility management-related tasks can be pushed out to a BIM system such as Revizto to offer a much better overall experience regarding maintenance, operation, and other stages. Facility management can also communicate with the BIM system by pushing status updates and reports to make it easier to generate better workflows and ensure that every task is performed competently.
+ Post an article
Stay updated with the latest news, events, job offers, software and much more. Sign up to our monthly Newsletter and enjoy the best of BIM for free

Thank you for subscribing to the Newsletter!