BIM for FM: Testing the ground

by FM Media
0 comment

The lessons learned from a building information modelling for facilities management pilot project are shared by DR DOMINIK HOLZER from AEC Connect.

In Australia, we are only just beginning to see projects where facilities managers engage design consultants or contractors early on to agree upon the best strategy for extracting useful information from building information modelling (BIM) for use in facilities management. One reason for this slow uptake is the lack of incentives for lead consultants to consider the requirements of facilities managers, who, therefore, are only rarely exposed to the early stage design process and the integration of design during design development and construction documentation.

Queensland-based architect firm Arkhefield was eager to explore a different path for its 420 Flinders Street project in Townsville. Delivering on a fast-tracked design and construction contract, the team of consultants and subcontractors had to come up with innovative strategies for sharing information in order to meet tight timelines and increase interoperability.
Despite the absence of a contractual requirement for delivering facilities management data based on the BIM of the project, Arkhefield nevertheless decided to use it as a pilot to explore new paths in taking BIM to the next level in collaboration with Melbourne-based facilities management group Performance Ideas. Andrew Gutteridge, principal of Arkhefield, explains that it was the lack of a contractual obligation to deliver BIM for facilities management that provided the company with the opportunity to work with Performance Ideas to test how such a requirement could be fulfilled.

BIM for FM architectural model construction documentation (C) Arkhefield

The architectural model 50 percent through construction documentation © Arkhefield


A key stepping stone allowing Arkhefield and Performance Ideas to break new ground in the development of facilities management grade BIM was early stakeholder engagement and asset identification in order to determine what elements would be part of the facilities management system. Adding to their success was an agreement to use COBie (Construction Operations Building Information Exchange – described in a previous post) to extract information from BIM authoring tools, as well as the creation of a federated BIM.
The coordinated multidisciplinary BIM (using Navisworks) contained information from the architects (Arkhefield), structural engineers (Bornhorst and Ward), mechanical subcontractors (VAE Group) and steel subcontractor (Casa Engineering), with hydraulic data from WSP, in addition to sequencing information from the builder (Hutchinson).
Early subcontractor involvement for this project meant that, instead of coordinating only ‘design intent BIM’ among consultants (to then repeat the exercise for coordination of ‘construction BIM’ among the trades), the process facilitated a direct dialogue between the consultants and the subcontractors. This allowed the team to become highly descriptive of the components to be installed and serviced further down the track during operations and maintenance (O&M).

BIM for FM Navisworks coordination & review basement services (C) Arkhefield

Navisworks coordination and review of the basement services © Arkhefield

In order to test the process of extracting data from the building information model, Performance Ideas and Arkhefield preselected elements based on formulated scenarios to demonstrate specific asset requirements. These assets included:

  • plumbing
  • mechanical
  • vertical transportation, and
  • electrical components.

They then identified specific attributes such as level, room name and number, system and zone, object name, object type and various product specifications to help determine what was relevant for O&M. This information included the identification of emergency shut-off locations or procedures, service logs, call-out histories, the creation of maintenance manuals and technician/service contact details.

The tests on the pilot project highlighted several challenges to Arkhefield and Performance Ideas. The development of an effective facilities management grade BIM relies heavily on the ability to produce a well-executed integrated BIM.
The architects and facilities managers learned that not all data could automatically be extracted from the integrated model. They identified that those attributes that didn’t form part of the modelling process for the model element authors (MEA) would need to be captured later on through external COBie schedules. It proved to be pivotal in building a relationship of trust between the MEAs and those interacting with the BIM for facilities management purposes.
Other lessons learned included the need for robust naming conventions that are jargon free, the avoidance of duplications of model elements and the early involvement of other consultants – the contractor and subcontractors to assist with the capture of dates of commissioning, warranties and certificates. During the pilot project, it soon became evident that most of the required assets lay within the subcontractor scope of the services due to their high value to the building tenant and their requisites for scheduled maintenance.

BIM for FM workflow diagram (C) Arkhefield

Workflow diagram © Arkhefield

Using the 420 Flinders Street as a pilot project is giving Arkhefield and Performance Ideas the advantage of exploring new pathways for collaboration. There is certainly risk and additional effort involved in expanding on traditional deliverables as per the contract. In return, however, the architects and facilities managers can now be confident in their ability to offer value-add on future projects due to the lessons learned on this pilot.

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.

Holzer would like to acknowledge Andrew Gutteridge and Michael Carlotto from Arkhefield for their support.

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. Accept Read More