If we are going to invest in BIM, let’s focus on where it can make the most difference: the operation and maintenance period
Expenditure on construction is a small fraction of the overall cost of building and maintaining an asset (and a tiny fraction of the value of use over the life of an asset). So if we are going to invest in BIM, let’s focus on where it can make the most difference: the operation and maintenance period.
What this requires first and foremost is the input of facilities managers at the inception of the project. Of course, there is an imperative to interrogate the intended maintenance processes and to examine the true whole-life costing which applies to BIM and non-BIM projects. But it also gives an opportunity for real savings and efficiencies in the administration of handover and FM.
The FM provider should be specifying at the outset what data needs to be captured during the procurement-design-build phases specifically for the CAFM system
The problem at the moment is that an owner might require a complete COBie (Construction Operations Building Information Exchange) data drop at handover, but the information that is passed over to the FM managers may be many times greater in volume than is required for the CAFM (Computer Aided Facilities Management) system.
Instead, the FM provider should be specifying at the outset what data needs to be captured during the procurement-design-build phases specifically for the CAFM system. The client needs to be savvy about ensuring that they are not wasting time and money procuring the greatest volume of data but are instead well-advised to focus on the required data.
For those of you who are only concerned with the construction and not the maintenance of built assets, you might legitimately question why you would be interested in gaining efficiencies in the lifecycle and maintenance period. The simple answer is that if there are clear savings that investment in BIM at the outset can make to the FM period, it might be that the efficiency savings that owners and purchasers are looking to achieve can be savings to the overall cost of the asset, rather than simple cost-cutting in the construction phase.
What is interesting is where this will lead the market: if the efficiencies are being gained during the operating period, will a purchaser value that? Instead, I think it will lead the market to a greater use of develop-own-operate models, where the developer reaps the rewards it has sown.
Stephanie Canham is national head of projects and construction at law firm Trowers & Hamlins