BIM – is this the dawn of new FM revolution? | Macro

BIM – is this the dawn of new FM revolution?


By Rebecca Hodgson, Facilities Manager

Building Information Modelling (BIM) is the innovative process through which many buildings are now being delivered.

The model is created at design level to provide a visualisation of the finished structure. It then acts as a simulation tool during construction and continues to be used at an operational level providing a valuable reference for operations and maintenance details.

BIM is a collaborative process which brings all teams within the design, build and operational sectors together throughout a project. It includes the specification details of every component required for construction from start to finish and enables simulation of construction and engineering processes prior to on-site implementation. As a result it is really effective in providing cost savings and eliminating the potential for delays.  It is also an excellent process to assist clients in the visualisation process.

Depending on the level of sophistication desired, BIM models can operate in 4D, taking into consideration time through phasing and sequencing, 5D which includes the cost estimation and 6D including the full life-cycle management data for FMs’ on-going operational needs.

The construction industry is actively pushing the boundaries of BIM and moving ahead with 4D, 5D and 6D in order to meet the UK Government Construction Strategy aim of achieving BIM Level 2 for all government run projects by 2016.

With this goal post not too far away, there are some that consider the project to be behind schedule.  However with the main benefits being the reduction of capital cost and carbon burden it is without a doubt the way forward for the construction sector.

For FM, one of the many benefits is the automation of the often laborious process of generating the paper-based hard copy O&M manuals and as-built drawings. 

Just imagine the future in FM with:

  • a model where you have every as-built drawing and layout imaginable to reference at your fingertips
  • a full library of all specifications for all material and component plant and equipment; from chiller specifications, façade material, paint colours and carpet shade references, to appliance models and serial numbers
  • accurate supplier and contractor information available at your finger tips for the life history of the project
  • a ready to go database for all asset management and associated life cycle asset maintenance

The vision is far-sighted and thought-provoking, but will it really take-off? There is a lot of front-end work required at the start of BIM and due to the time implications of this; it is not a cheap solution for clients. Sadly it cannot easily be retrospectively compiled either, so for FM to gain value from BIM, the true potential still needs to be fully recognised at the start.

Only time will tell what success will follow and how BIM will develop, but it’s an exciting prospect to consider. There are a number of videos available through You Tube that illustrate BIM’s capabilities, take a look to find out more.

By Rebecca Hodgson, Facilities Manager

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