BIM can help facilities managers save money - if only we can work out what information is required


The time has come for the BIM and FM communities to better articulate the business case for BIM to FM - otherwise why should they do things differently?

My recent discussions with the estates teams from various private and public sector client bodies indicate that the client groups are beginning to realise that in order to lever the full and life-long benefits of BIM, they need to better engage with their supply chain partners and define a clear vision and expectations. In BIM speak – it’s defining the Employers Information Requirements (EIRs).

They realise they cannot simply state I want “Level 2 BIM” and expect everything will magically fall into place. The government mandate doesn’t mean that all results will be consistent and attuned to particular client needs.

While they might not wish to change their existing FM packages, nor feel obliged to invest in expensive software simply to view their asset data, clients do need to engage in discussions to help them understand what is possible with the data, and for their suppliers to better understand their asset management needs.

Here are just three areas where money will be saved:

  1. Data can be readily entered directly into an FM package (from the models), meaning faster mobilisation underpinned by statutory and business compliance. This new semi-automatic process can save months on a large project and tens of people. Or save several weeks and two to three people on smaller scale projects.
  2. Access to O&M information and data via BIM models (viewed with free viewer) and the FM database will be much quicker than manually going though drawings and lever arch files. This will save hours of time each month.
  3. With access to more accurate and comprehensive data set of as installed material, there will be greater confidence in the accuracy of life-cycle costing.

The industry now recognises that some clients don’t know what to ask for and that there is a wide inconsistency in the quality of advice given by supposed BIM expert advisers. I hope that the clients, their project management groups and FM bodies will welcome the invitation to engage. The use of data and the opportunities if affords for aiding different methods of maintaining and managing assets is enormous. One size does not fit all.

As these things are achieved, FM companies will be more competitive with their bids and clients will be much more efficient with their in house FM operations.

Peter Trebilcock chairs Balfour Beatty’s UK-wide design community of practice and its UK BIM Steering Group