Value of BIM-ILM Integration in the Design, Build and Operation Phases


With BIM providing a complete lifecycle perspective of design data for a building, and Infrastructure Lifecycle Management (ILM) providing a complete lifecycle of operational business data for a building, the two used in conjunction create many integration touch points that lead to even greater business value. This article presents a series of examples of the value of BIM-ILM integration in the Design, Build and Operation phases of a project.


Design to Budget Development Integration
Building information models typically progress iteratively from a design phase (comprised of cores discipline models produced by the Architects and Engineers) to construction phase (comprised of numerous trade models developed by the various Subcontractors). As the model progresses, the individual model elements develop in detail and complexity, forming rich, intelligent virtual design models.

Even at an early design phase project managers and owner representatives can access the data to develop preliminary cost estimates. Typically the project budget does not get created at one time, but is developed via multiple budget scope documents. This process allows for certain aspects of the project to be known and thus management can provide partial approvals over a budget or a set of funding.

A key integration scenario would be to take a cost-loaded BIM and export the data to populate a scope document. The scope document can then be routed through a workflow process to the owner or project manager who then approves it and creates a baseline budget for that part of the project.

In the example above, the BIM cost model would be defined sufficiently to export multiple scopes of work on different dates, while the rest of the mechanical, electrical, and plumbing are still being designed. Once these scopes are imported into the budget and cost management application within an ILM software solution, the individual scope documents can be approved, creating an original approved budget.

Bill of materials integrated with buyout items
BIM models not only manage parametric objects in a given geometry, but they can save properties around specifications for materials. The systems also have the ability to calculate the quantities of material at various levels of assembly-type hierarchies. This detailed level of modeling provides the ability to produce a bill of materials for various building systems within the model.

The integration of this data is a natural fit to buyout items within a project management system. These buyout items can quickly start the procurement and bidding process of:

  1. bundling multiple buyout items into a bid package,
  2. determining which companies should be invited to provide quotes, and
  3. ultimately analysing quotes from multiple bidders.

This level of integration streamlines the design to procurement process and facilitates a higher degree of accuracy in the bidding process.


4D Schedule Integration
4D schedule integration involves linking tasks on a “critical path method” schedule to various objects within the model. The challenge is to break up the schedule into a set of tasks that can realistically demonstrate an animation over how materials get installed, and directly drive the schedule document.

The base design model can be appended with temporary works such as cranes, man lifts, scaffolding, traffic routing and other equipment and logistics required to construct the building. The time-based view provides a much higher level of construction logistics planning.

Fabrication BIM with Submittals
Submittals are an operational business process where subcontractors and fabricators must submit shop drawings and material specifications for approval. The submittal process, typically involving multiple project stakeholders, is critical in order to gain designer approvals prior to fabricating materials off site, as well as ensuring that materials are delivered in a timely manner for construction.

Many fabricators are already creating their shop drawings using BIM methodology. Structural steel and mechanical trades are designing their production models to interact with designer models. Bringing together the business submittal process with these fabricator BIM models creates another valuable integration point.

BIM Integration with Requests for Information
One of the key benefits of a virtual building model is to eliminate problems downstream in the construction phase. While this means more effort up front to create accurate, multi-discipline models, problems discovered virtually are much cheaper to resolve than problems discovered once materials are fabricated and partially installed.

The design team can interact with the general contractor, key subcontractors and fabricators to consolidate all of their models, invariably creating more “virtual” conflicts earlier in the building process. With more parallel virtual designs occurring, the RFI business process can also move upstream to document these virtual conflicts, and provide documented answers on how these virtual conflicts will get resolved. Providing the ability to have visual links from a business process of an RFI directly to the virtual conflict allows the entire team to understand the issues sooner and with greater clarity.


Spatial and Equipment Models Integrated with Asset Management
As a BIM model progressively becomes more detailed, it can evolve into an as-built virtual model for the owner to operate a new building. For example, the BIM can store specifications data about each and every fixture, wall type, and piece of equipment within the building. These detailed specifications can be added to the model throughout the process by the designer, the general contractor, subcontractor, or fabricator.

From a business process perspective, an owner must have an asset management system to catalogue all these assets in a hierarchy.

This hierarchy can include “location assets” like the first floor or the roof, to specific equipment assets like VAV boxes or HVAC units. This hierarchy also must include an entire portfolio of buildings where owners need to identify what assets are installed in multiple buildings. The owner must also have a maintenance management business process that is integrated with the asset management piece to properly maintain the building and all of the components within the building.

Integrating the building and equipment specifications within a BIM model can occur at the completion of the new building, and then pre-populate an owner’s asset hierarchy and maintenance plans. Contractors and designers can differentiate themselves to owners by providing a more fully developed turnover package through this integrated BIM and ILM approach. The facility operations team can also benefit from integrating a BIM model and an ILM solution, as they can interact using both systems. The facility manager could select a piece of equipment visually in the BIM model, locate where that piece of equipment fits within the asset hierarchy, then view the maintenance plan against the item. Conversely, a user could view the asset hierarchy in the asset management system, and then view in 3D where that piece of equipment is located within the building. This interaction makes facility maintenance much more proactive, reducing on-going maintenance costs.