The move towards digitalisation of construction processes has enabled greater utilisation of Building Information Modelling (BIM) in asset management. We outline the benefits and practicalities of implementing these processes.
A major pitfall that may arise during a construction project is the fragmented handover of project data between all parties involved, often to the detriment of post-occupancy asset management. BIM, and more specifically an Asset Information Model (AIM), provides facilities management teams with greater input in the design and planning stages, allowing them to inform designers of the information they require, when, and at what level of detail to aid them in the operation of a building. This early consultation is key to ensuring a building or asset will perform to the best of its ability.
The benefits of an AIM
An AIM compiles the model and information required to support asset management, and provides graphical and non-graphical data as well as documents and metadata. For example, an asset manager can measure how many light bulbs there are within a development, how often they are replaced and how much is spent on replacing them. Direct comparison of this data to data from other sites can show how one light bulb brand performs against another. Asset data can also prove invaluable in assessing a building’s fabric and whether it is compliant under new fire safety regulations.
One of the main drivers for using BIM in asset management is improvement of handover processes. Data and information collected through a BIM process during the building lifecycle will reduce the cost and time required to collect and build asset systems (even with current interoperability challenges). BIM also eliminates the need to duplicate information in downstream asset systems.
The early involvement of asset teams provides a vital opportunity for their meaningful input into the end requirements of an asset. This ensures better collaboration between the key parties involved in the design, construction and O&M phases of the building. This in turn allows for knowledge to be captured and exchanged, enabling a greater understanding of the whole lifecycle of a building. This longer-term thinking will reduce the overall cost of construction and building operation.
Creation of an AIM
An AIM can be created from existing asset information systems, from new information, or from information in a Project Information Model (PIM) that was created for the construction of a new asset.
The first step in building an AIM is creation of an asset strategy. This document clearly discusses what is expected of the asset and what the need for an AIM would be. A well thought-out strategy brings long-term benefits for how asset operations work.
Once this strategy is set out, the information entered into the AIM can be defined through creation of Asset Information Requirements (AIRs). These lay out what information is required, in what format, how, when and at what level of detail, whilst providing a number of additional benefits:
- Creating a point of reference that allows the end user to measure whether the AIM meets its core requirements;
- Informing the creation of Employer Information Requirements (EIR);
- Allowing the asset team to classify the data and information entered into the AIM according to an agreed classification system.
AIRs should define the data and information required throughout the asset’s lifecycle at a sufficient level of definition in order to answer the key questions asked at each stage of the lifecycle. These questions are referred to as Plain Language Questions (PLQs), and are a way of communicating a client’s broad information requirements. These PLQs inform key decisions and, ultimately, allow the developer/employer to decide whether or not to proceed to the next project stage.
In the case of a new asset, the AIRs and PLQs will be used to develop the Employer’s Information Requirements (EIRs) which are incorporated into the tender documentation for the project. The EIRs define the information that will be required by the employer from both their own internal team and from suppliers for the development of the project and for the operation of the completed built asset. EIRs also set out the requirements of the Project Information Model (PIM) at Level 2.
The PIM is likely to consist of a federated building information model, non-graphical data and associated documentation. It is developed progressively, first as a design intent model then as a virtual construction model. As stages progress, models will develop from the design intent model to specific objects with specifications and method statements attached to the model, along with information about space allocation for operation, access, maintenance, installation, replacement and so on.
The case for BIM
The increase in scrutiny of information availability within an asset and the constant improvements of regulations on how we store and access our information for an asset are having a great effect on the uptake of BIM within asset management. New fire regulations and the increased importance of higher quality asset information by owners mean a more efficient process will need to be in place in order for asset owners to have high-quality, meaningful information.
However, the only way that the benefits of BIM on an operational scale will be realised is by ensuring the key documentation, and AIRs in particular, is created and developed with early participation from the asset team. In this way, information delivered throughout the project at specified data drops will have a positive impact on how an asset is managed.
To find out more about implementing BIM in your asset management procedures, contact our BIM Manager, Varun Soni.