Blog Post

BIM for facilities management: moving towards smart buildings

27.10.2020 | 5 min read | Written by Alexandra Hasek

Building information modelling (BIM) has become an important tool for architects and contractors in the design and construction of new buildings. When the UK Government mandated the use of level 2 BIM for all public-sector constructions, its popularity grew. Despite the advantages of BIM across the lifecycle of a building, its adoption by facilities managers for the operation and maintenance of buildings has been slow. Next-generation software is facilitating the use of BIM for facilities management by providing integrated solutions.

BIM for facilities management

The rise and rise of BIM

BIM has increased in popularity in recent years and it’s easy to see why. It provides a collaborative, model for shared working for all stakeholders in a building’s design, construction and operation. A federated 3D model provides a single-source-of-truth in a tangible format. But despite a rise in architects and construction businesses using BIM, relatively few facilities management teams use BIM for the maintenance and operation of a building.

There are many advantages of BIM and they aren’t limited to construction; in fact, many success stories are due to operational benefits. A recent PwC report into two government projects showed that BIM generated savings of up to 3% of the total life cost of the projects and that 70% of the benefits were seen in the operation phase.

So, what are the benefits of BIM for facilities management, and how can facilities managers access them?

The benefits of BIM for facilities management

BIM benefits start before the building transfers to facilities management teams. BIM brings architects, contractors, clients and facilities managers together to view and collaborate on the building and its assets during construction. Facilities managers can have more input into the design and the impact it has on operating efficiency, usability and security.

When a building is complete, the contractor should pass over the BIM model to the facilities manager as part of the as-built documentation. This digital twin, sometimes called the asset information model (AIM), should contain all information relating to the building, its construction and every asset. This 3D model becomes the blueprint for the building and its management, and brings the following benefits:

  • All data is in one place: a single source of truth.
  • This digital data file eliminates paperwork and duplicates, as you can attach all information to the 3D design.
  • Include asset data as part of the model, with documentation attached to its location in the digital twin.
  • The BIM provides a safe place for testing. New layouts, trouble-shooting and design modifications can all be tested and signed off in the digital twin before they are put live in the real world.
  • When the model is linked to facility management software, you can reduce the time taken to locate faults and arrange repairs.

Next-generation facility management software is BIM-ready

The most advanced facility management software comes with integrated BIM.

PlanRadar was created to provide a data-rich, single-source-of-truth for complete building maintenance and asset management and has historically featured a 2D digital blueprint function. With the new PlanRadar BIM viewer, users can now view 3D models for all buildings and assets on their laptop, tablet or smartphone.

OpenBIM makes it easy

PlanRadar can accept .ifc format BIM from all major CAD software tools, including Revit, ArchiCAD, AllPlan, Navisworks plus many more. The BIM viewer integrates the model with the rest of PlanRadar’s facility management software. As a result, there’s one place for all maintenance, operation and repair activity.

Complete asset inventory

Storing asset data is easy in PlanRadar. Using the BIM viewer, users can view 3D digital versions of each asset. Within the BIM model, users can store all relevant data relating to individual assets. You can therefore link installation dates, the material used, manufacturer information and consumable sourcing data directly to the asset. Contractors can then easily locate the asset through the 3D model and obtain the information they need through their smartphone. This saves time, making it easier for the contractor to find the fault and fix it.

Send tickets from the plan

Users can mark defects and audit failures directly on the BIM model and send tickets to relevant contractors. Tickets include any additional documentation, images or written or audio notes. Users can also add deadlines. Push notifications can be automatically sent to senior managers when the work is complete or the status changes.

Feedback to design

BIM users can easily store design notes in tickets, passing the BIM model back to design teams for updating. It’s then reloaded into PlanRadar when the model is complete. As a result, PlanRadar has the most up-to-date view of the digital twin, and open tickets and audit history are automatically added to the new model.

BIM: paving the way for the smart buildings of the future

Smart buildings are the future. One day soon, we will live and work in buildings that will provide continuous feedback on assets and efficiencies. Facilities managers will generate huge efficiency gains and automate processes for asset protection and maintenance. The evolution of smart buildings has already started and its green shoots are in BIM. In time, facilities managers will be able to stress-test different settings and layouts on a digital twin. Lighting, heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC), security devices and specialist assets can be controlled in the digital environment. This helps to realise greater efficiencies and lower operating costs. With automation and data feedback, facilities managers will make intelligent, information-based decisions to improve the safety, security and comfort of buildings for all users.

Facility management software, such as PlanRadar, embedded with tools like a BIM viewer, is creating robust common data environments. Open solutions, with the ability to connect assets and software, are taking us one step closer to the smart buildings of the future.

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