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Building Information Modeling for O+M:

What owners really want

The following article contains excerpts from a published article in the October 2014 issue of Building Design + Construction (BD+C) magazine.

The AEC industry has been building intelligent-project models for well more than a decade. On large construction projects, multiple building team disciplines often will spend years performing extensive work on modeling, designing, populating, re-populating, coordinating, re-coordinating and signing off on massive, metadata-rich models.

What happens to these models when the projects are completed? Until recently, they were filed on the proverbial bookshelf to collect digital dust.

There’s a growing movement in the Building Information Modeling/Virtual Design and Construction field that aims to make use of the vast amounts of data and documentation built into project models. Facilities information modeling, or FiM, integrates facilities management data into the building’s BIM model, to be accessible during occupancy. Typically, the information is loaded into a user-friendly graphical user interface.

[This new methodology integrates a single database to completely integrate information for the lifecycle of facilities. It uses holistic lifecycle thinking that factors in operations, maintenance, energy and carbon footprints, as well as additional information that requires careful planning.]

To find out what building owners and facilities managers really want with FiM solutions, I reached out to several prominent owners and contractors. This is what they said:

- More data built into the model, including information such as occupancy information, warranty information, plans, specs, parts and system information.

- Less data. Some owners want only the most pertinent information to be made available to their facilities engineering teams. Why? In many cases, they feel their staff is not sufficiently trained.

- Easily accessible data. The software developers are making headway with more user-friendly FiM graphical interfaces, but the learning curve for FM teams remains steep.

- Real-time building performance information. Many clients are realizing the benefits of utilizing FiM for real-time energy tracking of their facility, thanks to the energy dashboards offered by some FM software providers.

- Transparency on costs associated with FiM deliverables. There are added costs for FiM applications.

- Data to help them plan and manage future retrofits and tenant improvements. This is where FiM shines, offering accurate spatial data and detailed information on the systems and infrastructure.

- Not surprisingly, there are still some owners who don’t know what they want in FiM. The more savvy owners are bringing FiM requests up in initial contract talks. But most clients are still leaning on general contractors and construction managers to pitch this functionality to them. Others know enough about FiM to realize they need it, but are unsure of the level of FiM services required for their operations.

- [Control the data. Some owners want the ability to connect, integrate and/or absorb data into existing owner maintenance and management tools.]

Overall, we’re hearing from early adopters that FiM is a welcome tool for their teams.

All [bracketed] text is new content. To read the full article, visit bdcnetwork.com. To learn more about how Balfour Beatty Construction can help you take your project to the next level, visit balfourbeattyus.com, or call us at 858-635-7400.

-Submitted by William Campbell, Balfour Beatty Construction.

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