DR DOMINIK HOLZER from AEC Connect reveals the results of a study to determine the current sentiment regarding the level of effort that consultants put into implementing BIM for FM.
It will soon be 10 years since the building industry first adopted building information modelling (BIM) as the commonly accepted acronym for delivering projects using object-oriented geometry combined with a data-centric approach to manage building information. BIM has undergone a fundamental transition throughout this period.
Whereas initially it was predominantly used by architects in isolation, engineers soon followed suit, as did contractors and suppliers. Ten years of BIM developments have seen an increased focus on the management of the data associated to BIM and the associated value for various stakeholders.
Truth be told, facilities management is coming quite late to the party. Steps to link BIM to facilities management have seen a major development in the past two to three years, but this is far from being commonplace throughout the industry. A number of obstacles that the building industry needs to overcome in close collaboration with suppliers, consultants, contractors, clients and facilities managers still exist.
Some of these obstacles have been addressed in previous posts, such as the fact that BIM only affects a fraction of projects taken care of by facilities managers (while affecting a far larger percentage of projects currently dealt with by consultants and contractors). In addition, clients still struggle to understand what BIM actually means for their business. The building industry also lacks clear policies and guidelines that define BIM for facilities management and contractual agreements often do not facilitate early involvement of subcontractors and facilities managers in the BIM planning process.
Ultimately, one should not overlook that incentives are missing for consultants (or the contractor) to deliver projects using BIM. A recent study among a small number of leading BIM-enabled consultants across Australia revealed an interesting picture.
MEASURING THE EFFORT LEVEL
Fifteen Australian consulting practices participated in a recent study to determine the current sentiment in the industry regarding the level of effort that consultants put into implementing BIM. The respondents provided a ballpark figure complemented by a short statement, based on their initial ‘gut reaction’, to describe the changes to their implementation effort. The responses to those questions, which are mainly related to appropriating information for facilities management, are summarised below.
1. Effort of going from construction to as-built
There still seems to remain scope for streamlining efforts across the industry when it comes to the link from construction to as-built information. Few consultant/contractor teams are currently bridging that gap and stronger designer-subcontractor relations/coordination may be required in order to move this development forward.
2. Effort of creating operations and maintenance (O&M) manuals
Only a very small number (16 percent) of respondents were able to comment on this question. Those who did comment saw a slight increase in effort, depending on the access they would have to facilities managers who could point out the exact requirements for manuals during operation.
3. Effort of appropriating documentation output for FM
Again, responses to this question indicated that this is fairly uncharted territory for consultants. Only about 26 percent of respondents are currently appropriating documentation output for facilities management. An increased effort for doing so is perceived, but a current lack of interaction between consultants, contractors, subcontractors and facilities managers was highlighted as a problem area.
4. Effort of COBie tagging of building information models
Interestingly only 20 percent of respondents are currently tagging their building information models via COBie (Construction-Operations Building Information Exchange). Those who do so seem to do so with varying success and level of effort. There seems to be substantial scope for increasing the industry’s COBie skills, but there also seems to be only a small number of clients who currently demand it.
POTENTIAL YET TO BE REALISED
The attempt to compare effort levels between BIM and pre-BIM (CAD) times is a difficult one and in some cases it is impossible to derive a clear picture. Respondents clearly stated that through BIM they are producing more information and more accurate documents with higher quality, but without necessarily getting compensated for it. This lack of compensation is one factor why there appears to be hesitation by consultants to add facilities management relevant information to their building information models.
Only 20 to 30 percent of respondents are currently actively providing BIM related services that go beyond their traditional scope for design, analysis, documentation and coordination. Links from design building information models to construction building information models and further to facilities management require the active engagement of the contractor and the subcontractors, as well as the facilities manager. Few consultancy firms currently go down that path, even though there are indications that owner/operator clients will increasingly request the handover of BIM data that serves their facility and asset management purposes.
It is suggested here that there is a business case for consultants to reconsider extending their core business in order to extend their current BIM offerings into O&M. The consulting industry still needs to realise the potential of extending its BIM offerings to link to the facilities management world in order to be able to address clients’ more profound business goals.
Dr Dominik Holzer is the previous chair and current member of the joint Building Information Modelling (BIM) and Integrated Project Delivery (IPD) Steering Group of the Australian Institute of Architects and Consult Australia. He advises building owners, contractors and consultants on strategic and implementation issues related to BIM and design technology via his firm AEC Connect.