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Facilities management is key to realising BIM's potential

Published 26th November, 2012 by Neil Nixon

Facilities management is key to realising BIM's potential

Facilities management professionals must engage with the developing building information modelling (BIM) agenda to realise the full potential that BIM holds for delivering value and cost savings over a building’s lifetime. This was a central theme to come out of the British Institute of Facilities Management’s (BIFM) report from its first FM Leaders Forum which focussed on BIM, entitled ‘BIM and FM: Bridging the gap for success’. The forum brought together leaders from across the sector to discuss issues around BIM and facilities management and to inform BIFM’s strategy going forward.

Essentially, BIM can help create and maintain facilities that are more efficient, have lower carbon emissions, cost less to run and are better, more effective and safer places to live and work. However, this will not be possible without the involvement of integrated delivery teams and facilities management must be a part of this; collaboration is critical. To date BIM has largely evolved from the construction and design side of the built environment but if BIM is all about lifetime value and whole life costings the knowledge and expertise of the facilities management profession must be utilised in the development of this technology.

Gareth Tancred, BIFM CEO, said: “The expertise the facilities management profession offers is key, in both individual projects and in the development of BIM technology for the industry. They bring the insight and understanding of the end user of the buildings, and are currently under-represented in many cases. The FM Leaders Forum discussion highlighted that facilities management is still not wholly understood by the wider built environment professions and that BIM could prove to be a catalyst for building valuable strategic bridges between facilities management and the wider built environment.”

The FM profession must involve itself in the development of BIM if the technology’s true potential is to be realised. BIFM has committed to this, and its engagement is likely to take a number of forms. In particular, BIFM needs to:

• Continue to raise the profile of FM across the construction industry, demonstrating its value and how it can help deliver more effective buildings.

• Clarify what is meant by the lifetime value of buildings, particularly the fact that it includes operational as well as construction costs.

• Keep pushing for the involvement of facilities managers at specification stage, where they would be in a position to work with designers on creating digital plans of work.

• Become involved in the development of standards, systems of classification and datasets, ensuring that the technology is developed in a way that is useful for FMs.

• Ensure it is in a position to lead best practice for FM as the industry adapts to BIM.

This builds on the Institute’s work to date through a working group focusing on BIM and how BIFM can shape its development which is closely aligned to the Government Soft Landings project.

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