BIM for FM or how to facilitate building maintenance during the operational phase

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BIM for FM is a new application of the BIM concept that facilitates and optimizes building maintenance by broadening its scope. By linking the digital model of the building design, with sensors installed on the equipment and CMMS software, BIM for FM helps maintenance professionals to reduce operating costs by optimizing their interventions.

From BIM for construction to BIM for FM

What is BIM?

The term BIM stands for “Building Information Modeling” or “Building Information Management”. It refers to a methodology based on the use of a digital model (or digital twin) in three dimensions, which allows an intelligent structuring of information relating to the construction or operation of a building or other construction works.

Starting in the 1960’s, the concept of BIM has fully developed in the 2010’s and is now widely used in the construction industry.

Read also: What is Open BIM?

BIM and construction

In the construction industry, BIM software has become essential thanks to its ecological and economic benefits. Through intelligent data sharing and the design of dynamic 3D models, BIM helps to unify methodologies and improve construction time.

This tool is particularly useful in a context where construction projects are constantly expanding, involving more and more stakeholders and subject to a growing number of constraints. BIM allows for efficient collaboration by providing a common reference system, which enables all project partners to speak the same language and move in the same direction.

In practice, the use of a 3D model allows them to visualize the project as a whole and to identify any defects or shortcomings before implementation. BIM can now be easily connected to other computer tools used, such as software for architects or design offices.

With real-time exchange and modeling automation, the model-based simulation allows for preliminary verification of the project to avoid construction defects and ensures compliance with current regulations. This model can even be updated during the construction phase, to ensure the proper organization and optimal synchronization of the work performed by different stakeholders.

The collaborative aspect of BIM represents a real advantage for optimizing costs and deadlines: contractors, architects, constructors, and engineers collaborate more easily around a concrete project. Therefore, this tool is now being used beyond the construction phase, for the operation and maintenance.

BIM for FM at the service of maintenance

The importance of building operational costs

In terms of the overall cost of a building, calculated over the entire life cycle, the investment in operations, maintenance and demolition represents on average 75%, compared to only 5% for the design phase and 20% for construction. Furthermore, operations-related activities are the second largest source of business expenditure, after human resources.

With this in mind, why not use BIM to manage building maintenance and optimize costs during the operational phase?

How does BIM for FM work?

Until recently, BIM was primarily used during the construction of a building, rather than the operational phase, even though the latter is the longest phase of a building’s life cycle and has many advantages for quality asset maintenance.

The use of a 3D model enables the monitoring of a building’s occupancy, wear and tear or energy consumption: this is BIM for FM. Thanks to this, maintenance teams have access to a comprehensive overview of the facilities they work on, including the changes and improvements carried out over time.

The 3D model allows them to easily identify the location of elements and technical premises, but also, and above all, to optimize their interventions and the pertinence of these interventions. Just as in the construction phase, BIM for FM enables good communication and collaboration between the various players in building maintenance. In particular, it facilitates compliance with regulations, mutual understanding of the work already done by others, and therefore the overall consistency of maintenance.


BIM for FM and CMMS

The main challenge of BIM for FM is to ensure continuity between the design model of the building and its maintenance. To do this, the operational BIM must be based on the original BIM and be considered as an entity, which contains the elements relevant to operations and can be adapted.

More specifically, the implementation of BIM for FM to manage the maintenance of a building consists first of all of extracting the data from the digital design model to a CMMS software (Computerized Maintenance Management System). Then, the building’s evolutions are integrated into the original model using computer connectors and applications to obtain a digital twin of the building that can evolve in real time.

As a result, it becomes possible to manage maintenance as closely as possible to the building’s needs, thanks to occupancy monitoring, intervention management, work supervision, etc. For instance, in the event of an equipment breakdown or technical malfunction, the CMMS receives the information and generates an alarm, then automatically triggers an intervention request.

In addition, it is important to include the right information in the digital model of the building’s operation. The BIM for operation and maintenance management must therefore define from the outset the expectations of the project and the way in which the information is structured. Consequently, the efficiency of the chosen IT tools and the use of methodologies adapted to current needs will allow for long-term monitoring, targeted maintenance interventions and coherent management.

In the long or even medium term, the investment in BIM for FM can be highly profitable for a company in charge of the building operation. By choosing the right digital tools and a coherent approach, the company will see a significant reduction in operating costs, an increase in the lifespan and performance of all the building’s equipment and will be able to respond effectively to the environmental challenges that are weighing ever more heavily on its business.

To learn more, you can also watch our latest webinar on BIM for facility management.

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