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Reaping the benefits of BIM


The Government Soft Landings Process was launched to champion better outcomes for our built assets during the design and construction stages, and crucially it utilises BIM to help ensure value is achieved in the operation lifecycle of an asset.

I’ve outlined ten easy steps to ensure you achieve a soft landing to your project using BIM:

  • Identify your soft landings champion for the project and embed them into the project team, this is about true collaboration – preferably the FM responsible for the ongoing operational management of an asset, someone with the skills and ability to challenge design/construction decisions that impact operational outcomes.
  • Ensure you are involved in the strategy stage 0 and input to the OIR (Organisation Information Requirements) and EIR (Employer’s Information Requirements) – getting it right here is essential, as it sets the tone including the vision and outcomes of what is trying to be achieved and provides some key performance indicators to be measured on delivery. Better operational outcomes = better business.
  • Read BS8536 BS8536 – Part 1: Code of practice for Facilities Management (Buildings Infrastructure). Briefing for design and construction that focuses on those aspects that are concerned with achieving the required operational performance of a new of refurbished asset.
  • Identify your baseline operational budget – service cost per m2 – use existing data on current assets as a baseline to determine cost for new service design, from this you will start to develop your own reference class to enable future forecasting.
  • Remember that BIM is a process that enables soft landings to obtain varying degrees of asset information at each stage. Test and challenge (where appropriate) throughout the design/construction process to ensure design continues to meet operational outcomes.
  • Be prepared to validate and receive asset data – have your AIM (Asset information Model) developed (PAS1192.3) and agree data definitions. You will not need all the data that comes out of BIM so be clear on what data you actually need. The data will be used for asset operation and condition, to understand asset performance, define better project briefs and lifecycle cost forecasting and form the basis of the contracting model.
  • Engage and source your supplier base early, ensure they input where appropriate to design of spaces that they will be responsible for.
  • Ensure training for commissioning and handover is early and thorough and with the right people who will run the asset including the FM team and FM suppliers.
  • Develop a post occupancy evaluation model – who will be responsible for auditing, what is the remedy of not achieving the outcomes set down in the strategy – is contractual or reputational? Identify and capture lessons learnt for future projects.
  • Remember the asset will change over time and it is important to keep the BIM model up to date periodically with changes identified from the asset management/CAFM system.

Government Soft Landings Process


Up until very recently FM operational requirements have been neglected in the early stages of BIM projects, or, if they are considered at all, they are not evaluated with specific emphasis on how FM requirements would be implemented in an operational CAFM system. Our early experience with UK BIM projects is that the FM team is involved only after construction or right at the point of handover, leaving the FM team with a digital output from the BIM authoring software expecting them to work out how to use that data operationally on their own.

As BIM becomes more prevalent in FM we hope that FM teams are engaged much earlier in BIM projects. But, while we are still in the early days of adoption, it’s important for us to address the challenges posed at handover by simplifying the flow of data between BIM software and CAFM. We need to change the perception that the transition from BIM to CAFM is challenging or complex and instead focus on how BIM project outputs could have an immediate and practical benefit to FM Service Providers and Facilities Managers. These benefits can be realised at the CAFM mobilisation phase and well in to the operational lifecycle of the facility.

To start with mobilisation, most CAFM systems and FM providers will probably have their own methods for manually collating and importing data, consuming time and resource. With BIM, the FM teams are provided with ‘as built’ asset data, including accurate connections and sub-components of assets, as well as a wealth of type-specific asset detail such as product specifications and expected lifespan. Typically BIM projects will also use a universally recognised categorisation standard for facility and asset data.

However, simply dumping this BIM data in to a CAFM database isn’t appropriate and FMs also need to be confident that the data they receive from BIM projects is fit for purpose. Many BIM outputs contain information which isn’t relevant to the operation and maintenance of the facility, and can often use unfamiliar terminology which doesn’t match up with the client’s established asset naming and classification terms. Too much detail in an unfiltered BIM output can be overwhelming when imported directly into a CAFM asset register.

To meet these challenges FSI developed an import tool that takes the BIM Authoring software output and automatically creates all of the Facility and Asset information in the FSI Concept Evolution CAFM system, including Buildings, Floors, Locations, Areas, Assets, Asset Systems, Asset Classifications, Asset Connections and Networks

The import process is configurable, agile and repeatable so users can run, discard and then re-run different versions of the data. To ensure that the CAFM Asset Register is not swamped with unnecessary detail, the imported information can be filtered to ensure that only the critical information needed to operate the facility reaches the system.

Most importantly, all of the standard BIM object classifications (e.g. Uniclass) can be translated to the terminology appropriate to the FM client meaning assets are grouped and classified in a way that makes sense to the on-site teams and fits in with any existing FM asset maintenance strategy.

By simplifying the transition from BIM to CAFM it’s much easier for FM teams to have a clear vision of how BIM data maps to the software and business processes they will use in the day-to-day operation of the facility. FMs can begin to see how BIM data can work together with their established Asset Management strategies to give them truly ‘soft landings’ for new facilities. Consistent asset categorisation will make it much easier to automate the creation of all Planned Maintenance requirements for new facilities, based on SFG20 or other established standards.

It also makes it possible for FM teams to get involved early on in the BIM project. As BIM data can be imported into the CAFM system at any stage, FMs can visualise the data in a working CAFM system and analyse whether the model is developing in a way that will allow them to maintain the facility as efficiently as possible. 

About Sarah OBeirne


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