Ease of data migration provides new potential for CAFM and BIM

Neither CAFM systems nor BIM are new developments, but the increasing ease of data migration makes it more likely that a combination of the two will be seen as a market disruptor in future.

With increasing attention devoted to disruptive products and processes in all areas of the FM sector, this can also be seen to be giving established concepts the opportunity to gain a new lease of life by using the latest developments.

Although the Internet of Things (IoT) and artificial intelligence (AI) can no longer be described as new developments - as they have both been around for a number of years - both have the potential to continue their expansion for some time to come. Industry experts have stated that in many instances the impact of IoT and AI has been relatively low key, leading to further comment that their potential to increase considerably is to be expected over the next few years.

Use of CAFM systems by FMs and their service providers has continued to develop and many have found that the emergence of new options, including the application of IoT and AI, has provided them with added functionality and features. The building information modelling (BIM) concept has also been around for many years - although the UK is one of the more recent adopters - but the ease with which data can be captured, processed and reassigned means that there are increasing options for combining the two in the running of facilities of all types and sizes.

Another factor to consider is that the use of Level 2 BIM in public sector construction projects has been compulsory for nearly three years, with consideration now being given to how this is expanded in the future. Thoughts on combining CAFM systems and BIM are provided by FSI business development manager Jason Searle, who says: "CAFM systems now have the ability to facilitate the optimised export of data from a BIM model, such that it best suits the requirements of the FM teams taking over responsibility for a new building.

"These capabilities allow the vast plethora of BIM data to be honed down to that which is relevant for FM - chiefly for building services and fabric maintenance (with high priority on asset classifications and asset location)," he says.

However, Mr Searle continues, BIM models are often assembled without incorporating some data that would be of high importance for the FM sector: "We estimate that BIM's value to a property owner is located 10-20% in the construction project aspect of the lifecycle and 80-90% in the building's operating life."

Despite this, he has seen that BIM's initial development as a project tool has meant the ability to transition the model data into CAFM has been somewhat neglected. Often, FM collaboration is not sought early enough in the process, so export of BIM data to CAFM can be more problematic than it needs to be. 

There is scope for more education across the property development ecosystem to highlight the importance of the "total lifecycle" perspective for BIM to CAFM.

"Choice of a CAFM system that is highly attuned to BIM is an increasingly important consideration for building owners and operators," he continues. "The manpower, time and cost/efficiency savings through importing BIM data into the CAFM set-up are vast in comparison to creating a CAFM deployment from scratch.

"A £1m-plus sum may have been spent on a BIM model through a building's project phase, so using it for CAFM set-up adds significant value to that sunk cost," Mr Searle concludes.

Using the approach outlined above could also prove to be highly effective to help avoiding instances where a new facility has been built using a BIM model, but not passed on to the FM team after project completion. This will often be due to BIM being regarded as an additional expense and one that gets left behind in the rush to see facilities opened to provide return on investment for building owners as soon as possible.

Adopting an alternative view, such as that proposed by Mr Searle, can ensure that the BIM model is passed on after the construction phase has been successfully completed and can therefore increase the value it provides. This can also help the FM industry in its quest to see increasing recognition of its continuing potential to deliver value rather than simply being regarded as a cost base.

At present the FM sector is a long way from regarding BIM as a "must have" option, of course, but showing its potential to work increasingly effectively with CAFM systems - which are much more widely used and expected to increase in number in the future - is an option that is providing food for thought for both FMs and service providers throughout the industry.