When Building Information Modeling (BIM) first hit the marketplace, it was touted as the solution for many of our industry’s challenges. Until recently, however, that promise had not been realized. BIM technologies were too complex, cumbersome and cost prohibitive to be implemented across the entire project life cycle.

Instead, the focus of BIM was on a facility’s design and solving engineering and construction challenges. Missing was the Operations & Management component, which represents nearly 40 percent of a facility’s total cost.

Within the past few years that dynamic has started to change, as more BIM software vendors turn their focus to facility management (FM).

BIM for Operations & Management

Maintaining an up-to-date record of modifications to facility systems is critical for minimizing downtime and providing accurate data in support of renovation projects. Historically, facility managers have used a mix of hard copy data and 2-D CAD files to maintain plant records.

With BIM replacing 2-D CAD as the standard method used by architects and engineers for building design, facility managers who stick with the old methods are missing an opportunity.

Advances in BIM technology allow for significant efficiency gains and provide stakeholders with real-time access to data about plant systems. Imagine being able to quickly locate a shut-off valve after a water line break, and having an up-to-date, as-built model in the palm of your hand with manuals and preventative maintenance schedules included.

BIM software platforms, like Autodesk’s Revit, are now connecting with computerized maintenance management systems (CMMS) to significantly increase the value of maintaining BIM data to improve functionality of the systems, resulting in greater uptime and improved efficiency for both old and new facilities.

A BIM Case Study

Let’s take a closer look at how facility managers can benefit from implementing an FM-BIM model, like the one we developed for a client’s new manufacturing facility.

When such managers were left without an FM model at the completion of construction, they quickly realized there was too much at stake to rely on traditional maintenance records.

Their manufacturing environment changed so rapidly that they were executing more than 200 plant modification projects annually in their new 1M+ square-foot facility with no tracking system in place.

With a customized FM-BIM model in place, they were able to quickly respond to customer demands and minimize ongoing maintenance required to keep the system up-to-date. Our solution delivered:

  • Customized views, offering plant maps to meet engineering and production needs.
  • System shutdown maps, with graphic illustrations showing impacts to production when a utility is taken offline.
  • Streamlined processes for updating the FM model with as-built information from plant modifications.
  • Ability to add functionality down the road as needed.

While still in development, the client is already seeing efficiency improvements as they use the FM model to gain easy access to data for system analysis.

Steve Cline is a projects director at Burns & McDonnell with experience in transforming BIM models into digital twins for use in making the management of facilities more efficient and effective.