BIM Brings More Efficiencies to Facilities Management

BIM is the commonly used acronym for Business Information Modeling, however, as its applications expand, the “M” can also pertain to management, specifically in regards to facilities and asset management.

The model-based technology enables the AECO (architecture, engineering, construction, and owner/operator) industry to use data and 3-D models for all aspects of building design, construction, and operations and maintenance.

Many industry professionals are familiar with BIM in the development phases of structures through its coordination, collaboration and data sharing on and offsite. Yet, BIM’s true value as a digital asset is fully realized when its application goes beyond design and construction and into operations and maintenance supporting the entire lifecycle of the structure.  Long-lasting benefits materialize when the data created and captured through the BIM design and construction process is seamlessly transferred into the operations phase.

The Stanford University Neuroscience Health Center is a case study of how BIM in operations can improve quality and reduce costs. By applying BIM in operations to the 92,000-square-foot facility, which centralizes comprehensive care of neuroscience patients, the center realized many benefits including quick response times and a 4.5 percent reduction in maintenance costs.

The center’s pilot project evaluated seven use cases including: major plumbing leaks, structural and fire safety analysis, asset information entry and updating, integration of design finish scheduling, engineering staff training, shutdown requests, and Infection Control Risk Assessment (ICRA) / Patient Care Risk Assessment (PCRA) Reviews.

With BIM’s 3D visualization, there was a 60 to 70 percent reduction in time spent on fix and repair because staff could see the asset’s location and proximity to patient rooms and procedural rooms. Workers knew the tools and equipment needed for repairs. They easily accessed information identifying materials affected, ceiling height, and ceiling tile placement. This knowledge decreased the number of trips to and from the work site.

In one case, the correction time was reduced by 80 percent or two hours. With the data supplied by BIM, the time needed to resolve the second case was decreased by 63 percent, a savings of 35 hours, and BIM allowed systems engineers and field staff to communicate more efficiently. 

In order to implement BIM, maintenance staff provided baseline data, and asset data entry information was obtained from the staff member responsible for the task. With all asset data being organized and available digitally though the model, staff no longer had to manually look up technical specification and structural information, which had caused a backlog of requests.

End users said the most significant improvements from using BIM in Facilities Management were improved responses to reactive and proactive shutdowns, better ICRA/PCRA regulatory compliance and increased access to institutional knowledge. 

Additionally, the initiative showed enhanced patient care and safety, and decreased daily patient costs. The program determined projected patient costs could be reduced by four percent over a five-year period, and the annual budget costs for the Engineering Maintenance, Environmental Health and Safety, and Facilities Management departments would be decreased by 4.5 percent. Furthermore, the number of hours to complete work orders would be cut by 63 percent for scheduled shutdowns and other types of projects.  

The more complex a facility is the more its operators stand to benefit from BIM. It delivers real-time information and specifications maintenance and operations staffs require for their jobs. BIM eliminates reliance on paper documents for building, utility systems, and equipment information. It enables better work order tracking to detect potential problem areas as well as providing alerts for maintenance updates and ensures proper repair material availability.

Using BIM for facilities management and operations leads to more equipment uptime, an organized approach to preventive maintenance, and can bring transformative change through increased revenue and potential reduction of annual operating expenses by up to five percent.

Its application for facilities management is accelerating but there is still hesitation among some owners and operators, who are not looking into BIM’s long-term benefits due to concerns regarding initial costs, training, or simply trying a new approach. Based on the significant benefits and cost reduction clearly demonstrated by applying BIM in operations, the time spent by building owners/operators, and facility managers to understand how to integrate BIM into their process will be well worth it.

Michael DeLacey is principal and CEO of Microdesk, an enterprise-level Architecture, Engineering, Construction and Operations and Maintenance (AECO) industry consultancy, with 28 years of experience in integrating technology into the planning, design, construction and operations and maintenance process specializing in Building Information Modeling (BIM) and Enterprise Asset Management (EAM). www.microdesk.com

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