Facilities management is a multidisciplinary profession that deals with the functionality, safety, efficiency, and management of a building or premise. Clearly, the effective and efficient management of a facility is dependent upon the integration of information, process, data, people, and technology. The facilities management discipline aims to provide a good quality of life to the people inhabiting the facility as well as increased productivity of the core businesses that inhabit it.
Managing a facility like a hospital, shopping centre, residential, and commercial building is no mean task. The facility managers need to always be on their toes to ensure the continued smooth running and the safety of the inhabitants on the building at any given point in time. This requires collating massive amounts of data and personnel coordination, along with creating situations for the seamless flow of accurate information. In such a challenging role, the topmost challenges faced by facility managers are:
· Integrating data
· Accessibility to data
· Keeping records
· Controlling costs
· Coordinating with the teams
· Managing aging equipment and buildings
· Anticipating disruption
· Taking timely action
BIM and Facilities Management
Effective management of the facility starts with gathering the most comprehensive, current, and complete data about the structure as it stands when people occupy it. A missing piece of information can prove fatal for the facility manager during an emergency. A massive amount of data is created during the construction phase, not all of it in synch. Every individual contractor involved during the construction phase uses different tools and models to generate and manage the data relevant to them. The use of various software and technology leads to incompatibility and confusion. This has driven the need for a centralised platform to share, exchange, and control data.
BIM technology helps in reducing the inconsistencies in the base data of the building as it is created. And the value can continue as the data builds up as the building operations carry on. BIM incorporates all the changes and modifications made over time in a facility’s design, thereby providing the facility managers access to information that is up-to-date and complete.
Apart from the centralisation of data and information, BIM plays a crucial role in addressing other challenges faced by facilities management too. Let’s look into them:
1. Digitisation of data
The BIM information is recorded and stored in a digital format, which makes it easier to keep track of the records. The digitisation of data helps in preventing any loss of information, unlike traditional record-keeping. Any input of data is stored forever in the digital files. It’s available to find when needed. As a facilities manager, access to every bit of information is vital, and data in digital format is a great help.
2. Accessibility of data
The integration of data at a centralised platform in BIM is its biggest asset. Facility managers can access information at a click from anywhere. The information can be accessed fast and easily. This helps in mitigating miscommunication and avoiding any errors due to loss or unavailability of useful information during the operational phase of the building on an ongoing basis. This can help improve the efficiency and effectiveness of facilities management.
3. Collating data in existing structures
Of course, BIM can also be useful in the task of assembling data for an existing structure. The available data can be captured in the BIM software through integrations with laser scanning and by generating a 3D model of the existing structure. This can provide access to comprehensive building data that can be used to optimise the operational efficiency of an existing structure.
4. Seamless flow of information
The BIM software makes information from each team and operational element available at a centralised platform. This can be accessed by facility managers, their team members, maintenance contractors, and equipment vendors, as needed. The centralised data allows the facilities management teams to coordinate and communicate efficiently with each other and align their efforts during an emergency. Their efforts are better aligned since they would all be working on the basis of the same version of truth as far as the building information goes.
5. Cost-effectiveness and savings
The costs of running and managing a facility can run amuck without accurate information and data. Having the most accurate present picture of elements like the plumbing, utilities, security systems, and other elements can help drive efficient responses to problems. BIM can give the most current and comprehensive information that can help facilities management teams respond better to issues like water leaks, short-circuits, fire and other unforeseen events. The work can be better directed and reduce rework and wasted efforts in fixes.
It's clear that BIM is useful not only while facilities are being constructed but can help maintain existing structures as well. Accessibility to facilities data is most vital for facilities management, and BIM provides just that.