Opinion

Beyond Information Requirements

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From BIM Journal. Click Here to Read Issue 5

The effect of increasing shifts in client sentiment, as felt throughout the supply chain, are captured head on as Nicholas Nisbet (BuildingSMART UKI) introduces a call to arms that champions asset performance and new business opportunities.

The UK Government Construction Strategy (and the US work on COBie) has given a considerable boost to improving the handover process on all of our projects. Not just the asset inventory, but also the information relating to the immediate needs for operation, maintenance and replacement planning as well. That said, there is a further opportunity to go beyond facility-management into asset and portfolio management - if we include zones and systems as manageable assets.

Clients have been empowered and educated to expect information alongside their physical asset. A shift that has, by taking baby-steps, helped to create a lean client-driven and more responsive sector.  This has rippled through the Tier 1 designers, engineers and constructors such that many more information requirements are beginning to cascade through the supply chain, even if manufactures believe that they can dictate upwards.

This known, it could be concluded that we now have a map of the road ahead. This being a gradual process improvement which generates better information flow and a more accurate and complete handover processes. But this is not nearly enough, in fact it is a sideshow compared to the real challenge.

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Value

The real, urgent and compelling challenge is to deliver value. The industry has agreed to 30% savings in CapEx, OpeEx and Carbon and 50% savings in project timescales.  Incremental improvements in handover and incremental reductions in waste will not deliver on these targets. What can deliver them, however, is the confident and accurate delivery of client requirements. We need to focus not on the Employers/Asset Information Requirements but on the Asset Requirements as a whole. These requirements span across projects and across the in-use phase.

It is these requirements that unite the importance of BIM in projects, as well as in use.

Mark Bew has written ‘The delivery of an asset can be viewed as a time-bounded experiment. For an experiment to be effective it needs to be measured throughout its life against a control. The brief is the control and for it to be effective it needs to be able to be digitally readable and testable.’ If we want the building and infrastructure sector to be welcome partners at the boardroom level, then we must show that the client brief, the organisational requirements, and the asset requirements can be systematically documented and tested throughout the project lifecycle and the asset lifecycle.

We need to show that we can answer the high level questions such as Capacity, CapEx, OpEx, and Carbon accurately - with manageable uncertainties. These measures are not Key Performance Indicators, they are the performance. Instead of occasionally doing cost, whole life sinking-fund or space compliance checks, we need to check these performance questions on a daily basis during design, construction and operation.

Where we now have analysis and prediction being data dead-ends, driven by craft processes, instead we need robust tools and robust information flows. The knowledge base that is currently applied to hand-crafting each individual assessment needs to be assimilated into the process and the tools and the data.

Of course requirements change, but a client-focussed industry can learn to manage this as a business opportunity, not a contractual risk.

Performance Monitoring

How about a live client dashboard reflecting the predicted and actual performance of each facility? Five performance numbers, predicted or actual, compared against the briefing objectives (allowing for uncertainties).  

Some clients may be able to express their weighted preferences between capacity and cost, between capital and operational impacts, between mean values and uncertainties. If so, their reward is seeing a single master dial that answers the one question – how well is the facility performing?

To do this, we certainly need a structured information hub - not just a CDE but an integrated, coherent facility model. We also need a single coherent requirements model, showing how the basic QTO, WLC, LCA estimates, BREEAM points and whatever else feeds the dials.

The IFC schema gives us the framework that we need for both the facility and the requirements model. It gives us the language for exchanging information throughout the tiers both forward and back. It also gives us the business case for developing ever more specific knowledge as well.

So thank you EIR you were great, but let’s now focus on the ER!

 

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