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5 ways virtual modeling can improve facilities management

Improved space management, streamlined maintenance, and economical retrofits are among the ways building owners and facility managers can benefit from building information modeling.

January 12, 2014 |
Constructive Thinking Blog

Building information modeling (BIM) has become standard practice for design and construction, but often little attention is paid to what happens to model data post-construction.

At Skanska, we’re engaging with our clients to think about ways we can use BIM data to help improve the entire lifecycle of a building, not just its construction. For a facility owner, that’s where BIM can have the most long-lasting benefits. Below are five ways virtual modeling can improve facilities management:

1. Improved space management. By understanding the details of how space is used, facility professionals can reduce vacancy and ultimately achieve major reductions in real estate expenses. Including room and area information in BIM models is the foundation for good space management, aiding in the collection of data as well as any renovation work.

At George Washington University in Washington, D.C., Skanska is creating protocols for the management and storage of such data so that it is consistent for historical and future work.  GW will use these new processes to be more efficient at operating and maintaining its campuses.

2. Streamlined maintenance. A key challenge in developing a maintenance program is entering into databases the product and asset information required for preventive maintenance. Storing this data in BIM models – and potentially downloading it into the facility management system –  can eliminate months of effort to accurately populate maintenance systems while providing better performance.

Read more posts from Skanska's Constructive Thinking Blog at blog.usa.skanska.com.

With BIM, a maintenance engineer is able to access maintenance information by clicking on the object in the model. Or even better, the system would know when maintenance is required, and would send an alert. 

For the Good Samaritan Hospital in Payallup, Wash., Skanska helped to integrate a BIM model with ArtrA software, which allowed the facilities management  team to navigate through the 3-D as-built drawings. This saved time planning preventive maintenance, as the integrated model has pre-mapped viewpoints, easy access to operations and maintenance documents, drawings and training videos, all accessible through a single interface.

3. Efficient use of energy. By streamlining the maintenance process through BIM, this allows equipment to be more properly maintained to the optimal environmental conditions, avoiding the waste associated with increased operating costs for facilities not operating as intended.

On the Tier III, LEED Gold data center for eBay in South Jordan, Utah, Skanska supplied the client with a detailed as-built BIM model and integrated it with the facility’s building maintenance and automation systems. The model is now used as a comprehensive portal to obtain information and statistics for every piece of equipment in the data center, including temperatures, flux and pressures for mechanical systems, as well as power consumption and utilization for electrical and IT equipment. Such granular data is crucial to continuous improvement of the data center’s performance and energy efficiency

4. Economical retrofits and renovations. Better information about existing conditions helps reduce the cost and complexity of renovation and retrofit projects, as well as aids in avoiding costly mistakes associated with changes that don’t comply with code requirements

5. Enhanced lifecycle management. Some building design professionals are embedding data on life expectancy and replacement costs in BIM models, thereby helping an owner understand benefits of investing in materials and systems that may cost more initially but have a better payback over the life of the building. There is also the ability to track depreciation of assets to fully recognize financial and tax benefits, all of which can be managed through data obtained from BIM.

As BIM grows in popularity, it’s the responsibility of the design and construction industry to recognize this  technology’s full potential for the lifecycle of a building. An example of that is the BIM protocol plan we’re developing for George Washington University, a plan that’s creating new standards and approaches in facilities management.

With this, the protocols our team is developing – which are to be included in future university design and construction contracts – will address such elements as how the model is set up and how that model is shared between architects and construction managers, and later how an integrated model is delivered. We’re creating a living document for the campus. This is the next step for virtual model integration and an important development in thinking holistically about our industry’s role in the lifecycle of a building.

About the Author

Jennifer Macks is a Vice President with Skanska USA 

Constructive Thinking Blog | Skanska USA

Skanska USA is one of the largest, most financially sound construction and development networks in the country, serving a broad range of industries including healthcare, education, sports, data centers, government, aviation, transportation, power, energy, water/wastewater and commercial. Skanska USA is committed to a set of core values which they call the Five Zeros: zero loss making projects, zero environmental incidents, zero accidents, zero ethical breaches and zero defects. Constructive Thinking is Skanska USA’s blog, where team members share their experiences and viewpoints on Skanska’s core values and explore trends in U.S. construction, development and infrastructure.

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