DR DOMINIK HOLZER of AEC Connect sheds light on how to build a bridge between building information modelling (BIM) and the owner/operator realm, and how facilities managers can start engaging with BIM.
The fact that property owners and developers seldom engage with building information modelling (BIM), or even understand it, is holding back its adoption across the industry. In all fairness, the benefits of BIM are not always obvious for developers and property owners. BIM is mostly portrayed in the media as new technology that helps consultants to document their projects and contractors to coordinate information virtually and on site.
The value of the information inherent to BIM is often disregarded by owner/operators, which is not surprising given that it commonly remains untapped, embedded in inaccessible formats within the three-dimensional models that were produced by consultants and trade contractors. Owner/operators and facilities and asset managers don’t deal much with three-dimensional models. They predominantly want data that ultimately benefits their operational requirements and that links to their computerised maintenance management systems.
The key problem is that when it comes to the kind of information that owner/operators want out of BIM and nobody seems to ask them about it when it counts – at the start of a project.
CLEARLY COMMUNICATING REQUIREMENTS
This problem is being addressed in the UK, where a BIM taskforce led by David Philip has introduced the concept of Employer’s Information Requirements (EIR). They form part of a newly developed specification for information management for the capital/delivery phase of construction projects using BIM (PAS 1192:2). At a recent BIM conference in Sydney, Philip joined a round table of Australian and international speakers to introduce the idea behind EIR.
EIR is a template document for clients to fill in their information requirements in order to communicate them clearly to consultant team and contractors who bid for their jobs. The EIR template not only helps to define what models are required and what the purposes of the models will be, it also helps to establish the technical and commercial information requirements, as well as regulating BIM management for any particular job.
HOW TO DEFINE INFORMATION REQUIREMENTS
The requirements defined in the EIR template are designed to form part of the tender documents and, ultimately, feed into a project’s BIM Execution Plan (BEP). As described in a previous edition of this column, BEPs are increasingly becoming the standard form to regulate the flow of BIM-related information among consultants and contractors on many mid- to large-scale construction projects. Whereas BEPs are predominantly set up without considerations of the client or their facilities/asset manager in mind, EIR is set up to ensure that this will change.
Some notable adaptations to the EIR template will guarantee projects’ specificity, such as the type of asset, the project stages, the type of information required (for newly built or ongoing asset management), the procurement strategy, IT requirements or the alignment with other project-relevant documents.
Data drops throughout the various design and construction stages stemming from well-configured building information models will continue to form the backbone for successful life cycle BIM that takes into account the information requirements during handover (and beyond).
OPPORTUNITY TO ENGAGE
Simply specifying ‘Full BIM’ in their tenders will not suffice for clients who want to derive useful data from their design team and the contractors. EIR gives clients an opportunity to engage with those groups and to clearly communicate their specific information requirements.
It will still take time for clients to consider their information requirements more proactively and to engage with the relatively new BIM context. In the beginning they may well depend on their facilities and asset management experts (or on expert BIM consultants) to assist them with this transition.
Ultimately, the potential of life cycle BIM can only be realised with informed clients who drive this process to their own benefit as well as the benefit of their collaborators. The EIR guidelines by the UK BIM taskforce are freely available and can be downloaded here.
Dr Dominik Holzer is the previous chair of the BIM and IPD Steering Group of the Australian Institute of Architects and Consult Australia. He is also a member of the Standards Australia BD-104 Working Group for the development of Australian BIM Standards. Dr Holzer advises building owners, contractors and consultants on strategy and implementation related to BIM and design technology via his firm AEC Connect.