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BIM Can Bring Efficiency to Facility Management


A building information model (BIM) provides designers, construction engineers and facilities managers a means to share information about building components from initial design through ongoing maintenance. For example, many manufacturers provide models of their equipment, which building designers can place directly into their global project model. The data associated with equipment models can contain warranty information, maintenance schedules—even diagnostic routines for troubleshooting. In addition, the resulting model will also include the equipment’s exact location within the facility. The more data are included in the global project model, the better a facility manager can take advantage of the model for commissioning, maintenance, refurbishing and end-of-building life decisions.
Working Better Together

When an as-built model is properly set up, facility professionals can port it into their facility management system. This allows space and asset information to be available for facilities use from day one of operation. Because the information you need to run a building is already in the BIM, you do not have to manually enter model numbers, floor plan details, equipment locations, or other items required to open the doors and keep the building running smoothly.

Integrating your facility management system directly with the BIM means it can take advantage of information that helps facility professionals make decisions about maintenance and refurbishing. Similarly, data about actual maintenance performed can flow from the facility management system to the model. This ensures consistency between the model and the facility management system, reducing the possiblity of surprises when the model is used as a basis for future modifications or renovations to the facility. In turn, the facility management system acts as a single repository and stores the most up-to-date conditions in the building, allowing facility managers to generate reports easily and rapidly respond to regulatory requests.

Streamline Preventive Maintenance

With a BIM, you have a better handle on what is inside your building and how to take care of it from the get-go. A facility manager can proactively schedule routine maintenance for assets requiring regular upkeep. For example, in the case of water purification systems that might require daily updates, managers can track and ensure that regular maintenance tasks are taking place. Also, you can predict when larger ticket items such as windows, elevators or HVAC systems should be replaced. Maintaining modeled equipment is made easier because warranties, manuals and other item-specific information are readily available.

The Whole Equals More Than the Sum of Its Parts

A BIM allows facility managers to evaluate entire systems, not just separate components. For example, a ventilation system is composed of HVAC units, piping, fans and other individual items that work together throughout the building and under continually changing conditions. When you evaluate replacements or repairs, looking at the cost of a single component alone will not tell the whole story. If a ventilation system needs replacement and you are considering a new, more energy-efficient model, it helps to understand the airflow in all related areas of the building. For example, sun exposure through windows and lighting will impact the efficiency of systems under consideration. A BIM allows for more precise airflow analysis so that you can right-size equipment—saving money in both capital expenditures and ongoing operations.

Aiding Compliance

The importance of ventilation to healthcare is underscored by the fact that this area of facility management is highly regulated. Because many factors can impact the distribution of airflow in central systems, hospital engineers and facility managers realize the importance of scheduled checks for adequate air exchange, room pressure and directional air movement in critical areas. Verification provides documentation proving to the healthcare regulatory commission that the hospital is diligent in maintaining systems to meet guidelines.

What’s Behind That Wall?

While compliance is paramount, understanding whole systems can also positively influence operational efficiency, resulting in reduced operating costs. A BIM provides more than just data about space and assets. It will locate them in time and space as well, allowing facility management professionals to see exactly where wiring, piping, ducting and structural elements are located. This helps immensely if you are considering tear-downs and/or installation of new equipment. It is a lot easier to place a new server when you know exactly where the T1 cable runs throughout the building. Alternatively, if you are installing new critical care beds, you can ensure that the electrical and plumbing infrastructure can accommodate increased demands or build new services as necessary.

Both building information models and facility management systems are only as good as the data they contain. Working together with the same information makes operational sense that can be realized in improved compliance and reduced maintenance costs.

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