Will combining with CAFM systems drive the uptake of BIM?

With increasing concern that the FM sector has not utilised the benefits of BIM, industry experts have proposed that this may change when incorporated with CAFM systems

During several meetings of the PFM Editorial Advisory Board (EAB), the conversation has turned to members' thoughts on the use of building information modelling (BIM) to assist with the running of facilities.

This has led to the same question in each discussion: where will the funding come from to pay for the software to run it? Unless additional budget is allocated specifically to allow for the use of BIM, it seems that FMs are unwilling to consider the investment, as there are always a number of other areas to consider when allocating the use of funds.

Perhaps this also provides an explanation for the fact that a number of buildings whose construction has included the use of BIM - with three examples witnessed by PFM within the last 18 months - has not seen this passed on for use by the FM team. Those in favour of BIM would argue that this means the most valuable part - including a comprehensive database of all the building's components and their maintenance and end of life details - is being lost.

With all major public sector new-build projects now required to include the use of Level 2 BIM, with the expectation that this will be upgraded to Level 3 in the future, its use within construction has undoubtedly increased and also includes many commercial buildings. However, the continuing reluctance of the FM sector has proved frustrating to many, leading to further consideration of how the situation could be addressed.

Consideration of who holds the CAFM system has also been discussed by our EAB members, with favour expressed for this to remain with the client. The reason for this was explained as providing continuity for the running of each facility, that would be unaffected by any change in service providers and avoiding the necessity of learning or integrating new systems following a newly-awarded contract if the provider introduced a different system to the one used by their predecessor.

BIM on the world stage

The use of BIM is not confined to the UK alone, of course, and has been seen to have been incorporated by many other countries around the world. Further thoughts on its use within the international arena are provided by FSI (FM Solutions) Middle East business development manager Schalk Vorster, who states that the evolution and drive towards the use of BIM for the project lifecycle of new developments has significant momentum.

"It is increasingly compulsory for state-backed construction in many parts of the world," he says. "And the spread of awareness of the benefits for developers, for the design and construction, means BIM is now essential, not just a ‘nice to have', for most private projects as well.

"However, it is from the point of commissioning and handover into the ‘building lifecycle' that a BIM model's real value can be derived - underpinning 20-30 years and more of sustainable FM activities, plant and services refurbishments/replacements, etc."

Mr Vorster states that the Middle East, particularly Dubai, is currently a "hotbed" of state infrastructure projects and commercial development, where BIM is to the fore. Developers are investing £0.5m-£2m in models.

"It's becoming something of a proving ground for us and looks set to be a beacon which points the way for other regions, including Europe and the USA. We estimate a BIM model's value to a property owner is located 10- 20% in the project lifecycle and 80-90% in the building lifecycle," he continues.

"But BIM's initial development as a project lifecycle tool has meant the ability to transition the modelling data into CAFM has been somewhat neglected. Often, FM collaboration hasn't been invited early enough in the process and when project partners' BIM models are consolidated the federated model for export to CAFM can prove to be unusable. The data needs to be coherent and meaningful.

 "We have developed tools to check and validate data prior to that critical transition point. These allow existing models to be remediated and, perhaps more importantly, are influencing initial BIM model-building strategies so export to CAFM can be done first time, without error," says Mr Vorster.

 Additional opinion on the growth in the scope and use of CAFM systems is provided by Concerto director Kevan Davey, whose company is part of the Bellrock Group. He says these systems are increasingly expanding the range of modules that are available beyond helpdesk and job allocation to support property and facilities related activities such as asset tracking and property management. 

The centralisation of data is the main driver for this trend, Mr Davey states, and explains why increasingly the CAFM system is becoming part of an enterprise-wide solution of connected software that includes accounting, EPR solutions, and human resources platforms.

There is an ever-present demand to broaden not only the functionality, but tracking and reporting delivered by a CAFM system, he continues. The Internet of Things creates more integration possibilities, for example with smart building monitoring systems and access control systems.

Pressure on workspace utilisation has driven greater adoption of alternative workplace strategies such as hot desking that require management systems such as desk and meeting room booking to work effectively for both users and FMs. All of the data collected from these activities can provide new insights to make more informed decisions.

"The most powerful component of a CAFM system is the reporting dashboard," says Mr Davey. "The data not only creates greater visibility on aspects such as compliance, but also transparency of supplier performance.

"The future of CAFM systems is not only to enable more efficient delivery, but to be the management tool that analyses data and provides FMs with the information they need to make the best decisions to enhance the performance of its facilities services be that for cost or improved user experience," Mr Davey concludes.

Industry BIM study

On a final note on this subject, a study on the use of BIM is currently being prepared by Sandra Matarneh, who is a PhD student with the School of Civil Engineering and Surveying at the University of Portsmouth. She is also a member of BIFM, which is encouraging its members to take part in the survey.

The project Ms Matarneh is working on is examing how the FM sector uses BIM for the maintenance and running of facilities. The aim of her project is to develop a workflow of the extraction of information from the BIM models or use within a computerized maintenance management system (CMMS). She is currently identifying the required information for maintenance and CMMS data inputs by carrying out a survey through an online questionnaire targeting facilities/ maintenance managers to collect their feedback.

Those wishing to take part in the survey can do so at: https://www.smartsurvey. co.uk/s/11F6C/ with the results of the survey to be shared within the FM sector following the completion of Ms Matarneh's project.