Joe Bell, head of marketing communications at Formica Group, looks at what can be done to encourage FMs to understand and reap the benefits of BIM

We all know BIM-enabled facilities management is still fairly rare, especially when compared to BIM adoption levels during a buildings’ planning, design and construction phases. While it’s still an everyday occurrence to pass physical files between colleagues and handwritten maintenance logs are still commonplace, digitisation is picking up pace and FM BIM adoption is at a tipping point.

BIM adoption rates rise systematically in a way that mirrors the building process, as you’d expect the highest BIM levels are found at the earlier construction stages; planning and design. Time will naturally lead to improved BIM FM rates as those buildings planned, designed and built using BIM come on stream. Realistically, BIM FM is only going to be used in new buildings, retrospective installation is many years away.

There are a few things that need to be addressed and planned for by the industry to truly speed up adoption.

FM is an outsourced function and key to driving adoption is demonstrating the benefits to clients. They need to be aware of how BIM implementation can lead to improved lifetime efficiencies. A few years ago there wasn’t the understanding of what it could do at a client level, now the building and construction industry is seeing an uptick in enquiries about how BIM can benefit estates, so it’s clear that perceptions are starting to change.

The best FM BIM based software system in the world cannot overcome poor design. FMs need to be in the design phase zero conversations, so that they can say: if you design something that way costs will go up. FMs have to be part of the conversation from day one talking about building lifecycle costs and clients really need to factor this strategic FM involvement into to their design phase costs.

When used well BIM allows FMs to plan and make significant and informed decisions about the whole of the building’s life including space use, floor planning, maintenance, energy consumption, even before the building is complete. Problems can be swiftly identified before they arise. Consumables such as light bulbs can be automatically re-ordered. This is machine learning in action.

Increasingly BIM data is being passed from the build programme, through to the operations and maintenance phase of the building lifecycle, and we’re seeing a digital handover along with the keys. FMs then gain access to a Common Data Environment, a digital logbook for each building of exactly what’s been installed and when along with maintenance records. These digital logbooks clearly outline everyone’s roles and responsibilities, helping to ensure that no specification is overlooked, maintenance schedules are on track and FMs are alerted to problems with the building’s systems.

BIM will allow for smart FM in action where facilities managers can make informed choices with all the information.


Joe Bell

Head of Marketing Communications

Formica Group

Twitter: @FormicaGroup



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