BIM and O+M: Are facility managers ready for the 3D world?

Although I am encouraged to see BIM for O+M mandates coming from building owners, I can’t help but feel we’re overlooking a very important part of the handover process: making O+M information easily accessible.

August 01, 2013 |
Sasha Reed

Editor's note: This is a sponsored article. All text and images were provided by the sponsor company.


Over the past few months I’ve spoken with quite a few owners who are not only on board with using BIM on their projects, but are aggressively pushing their project teams to go fully-digital with BIM. These owners are even requesting a linked and integrated model for facility managers at project completion. Although I am very encouraged to see mandates for digital communication pushed from the top, I can’t help but feel like we’re overlooking a very important part of the handover process: making O+M information easily accessible.

One conversation in particular illustrates this point quite well. I was listening to an owner discuss his plans to standardize the BIM requirements on future projects. In his exuberance he explained, “We’re going all BIM, we want our final deliverable to be a model handed over to our FM team. We are way past PDFs at this point.” It was here that he paused and looked over at me saying, “I’m sure you’re not happy to hear that, but we are moving beyond 2D to 3D models.”  

I then looked back at him and said, “Congratulations! That’s quite an accomplishment. I have one question for you, though. How would you get your FM team on board with that mandate?” I wasn’t being facetious; I was genuinely curious. Most facility management professionals I’ve spoken with aren’t comfortable with navigating 3D models to get all of the information critical to doing their daily job. If he had an FM team that was not only on board, but also able to operate and maintain a building from a 3D model, I wanted him to spill his secret.

Well, as it turns out, delivering a model to his FM team was still a bit of a conundrum for this owner. In fact, he said it kept him up at night as he realized most FM professionals are highly skilled in managing operating buildings but aren’t yet properly trained to apply that knowledge to a 3D model. He stated that at the end of his most recent project, he handed over a beautiful 3D Revit model to the heads of his FM team. He said their first comment to him was, “That’s really impressive. But where’s the hard drive with all the Windows files for accessing the equipment and warranty information? You don’t expect us to use that to manage the building, do you?”  

This particular owner was truly at a loss for finding a solution to bridge the gap between the benefits of integrated design and BIM and the reality of O+M facility management needs. It was at this juncture that another person in the conversation offered up, “If you want to keep everything digital, why not just use hyperlinked PDF drawings? We’ve started delivering the model to the owner along with a hard drive with all the PDF drawings loaded on it. We show the FM guys that if they open the PDF drawings and click on the equipment symbols, it automatically opens up the spec sheets and warranty info. Since we hyperlink the drawings during construction, it wasn’t much more work to save it all to a hard drive and hand it over.”  

I could have reached over and hugged this guy. In the mad dash to mandate BIM, it’s simple solutions like this that carry a lot of weight in getting everyone on board with digitizing project information.

Do you agree with me or do you disagree? Have you seen successful handovers with 3D models being used by facility managers? If so, tell us about it. I’m still pretty curious.

Sasha Reed | Digital COM
Bluebeam, Inc.
Vice President of Strategic Development

As Vice President of Strategic Development at Bluebeam, Inc., Sasha Reed collaborates with leaders in the architecture, engineering and construction industry to guide Bluebeam’s technology, partnerships and long-term goals. She joined Bluebeam in 2007 and co-created the Concierge Approach, a distinctly branded process of customer engagement, product feedback and solution delivery to which much of Bluebeam’s success is attributed, and which today is replicated at every organizational level.

Sasha is known industry-wide as a “conversation facilitator,” creating platforms for exchanges necessary to digitally advance the industry, including the BD+C Magazine Digital COM Blog, which she authors and manages. She’s been a featured presenter at numerous national and international conferences, including the 2014 Design-Build Institute of America (DBIA), Federal Project Delivery Symposium and NTI Danish BIM Conference. Sasha also co-chairs the Construction PDF Coalition, a grassroots effort to provide a common industry framework from which to create and maintain construction PDF documents, serves on the City College of San Francisco BIM Industry Council, and is Advisor to the Board of Direction for the National Institute of Building Sciences BuildingSMART Alliance.

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