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 Software

About the Author: Sasha Reed has over 12 years of experience working directly in the architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) market. As VP of Strategic Alliances at Bluebeam Software, Sasha interacts directly with AEC leaders to better understand the long-range goals of the industry and help align Bluebeam’s technology partnerships. In addition, Sasha is acting Chair of the Construction PDF Coalition.  The purpose of the Coalition is to establish Guidelines to provide Architects, Engineers, Constructors and Owners (AECO) with a common framework in which to create and maintain Construction PDF Documents. Sasha has been featured as the keynote speaker at the 2014 Bentley Florida User Group and spoken at numerous industry events including the American Institute of Architects’ DesignDC Conference, NTI Danish BIM Conference, the International Highway Engineering Exchange Program and the International Facilities Management Association Conference. Sasha has also contributed articles to numerous national publications and authors the Digital Com blog for Building Design + Construction magazine. Before Bluebeam, Sasha was a Project Manager for M3, a Herman Miller dealer, where she learned ?rsthand the challenges faced by the AEC industry from project conception to completion. 

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