Tag Archives: level 2 BIM

World FM Day, a day to talk and to listen


Today is World FM Day and, as the BIFM website says, it’s a day ‘To draw attention to the aims, objectives and progress of the facilities management profession around the globe’. In the building design and construction industry FM is increasingly becoming a topic of discussion, not least because of the cryptically named Government Soft Landings (GSL). This programme is focussed on helping building operators to understand and use their facilities as they were design to be operated.

We are part of the way through a digital construction revolution in the UK with the goal of producing accurate, data rich models that will be used throughout the design, construction and operation of buildings. There is no question that parties at the front end of the process are increasingly aware that someone may want to use their information to run the building, but what happens next. Discussion about the ‘importance of FM in BIM’ has been common place for at least five years now, but there is little evidence that integration is moving forwards.

What really concerns me is the evidence of silo like behaviour between FMs and design and construction disciplines. This is a two directional problem and it’s typical of the early stages of integration. The good news is that there is a lesson that can be learnt from what has come before, because the industry has been through these growing pains previously several times. I say been through, maybe I mean is further along the way to resolving. One of the biggest culture changes with BIM workflows is the realisation of just how much more understanding we must have of other disciplines needs, in both what we deliver, and when we deliver it. The risk is a focus on your own needs to the detriment of other disciplines needs. Alarm bells ring when I hear language like ‘we must teach designers how to work’ because this often translates as ‘I want you to consider my needs while I ignore yours.’ Successful BIM process helps everyone do their job better, not one party serve another.

I’ve heard too many complaints that the BIM data is wrong for FMs, or there is too much. One of the reasons for adopting BIM is to prevent the loss of information, and yet I hear a lot of FMs talk about throwing away the stuff they don’t need from the design and construction of a building.

If we look to PAS1192 part 3, which is focussed on the operation of buildings, for guidance one particular diagram shows a central store of information about the building which FM systems will interface with, for both using existing data and feeding back new data. It is encouraging because it makes it clear that this central store of information has value beyond the operation of the building, some of which an operator will want, some which they will provide and some which should be preserved until the building needs to be refurbished or demolished. None of it should be thrown away and operation is a continuation of collection, development and maintenance of the information about the building. FMs need to buy into this idea just as much as the designer and builders need to buy into delivering the FMs requirements.

For those FMs that think they really are the top of the food chain, like perhaps main contractors feel they are at present, I’ll leave you with this thought; If the ratio of cost through design:build:operate is 1:10:100 what happens when the buildings you operate are populated with internet connected devices and this stream of new big data is crunched en-masse to optimise whole portfolios, or reconsider the operation of whole sectors of buildings. Those data gatherers are going to have their own requirements, and if a new tier is added to the ratio of cost 1:10:100:1000 it maybe that ‘teaching’ FMs how to work will be what they think they should do. It would be far better if everyone’s needs were considered so we could all add value at every point we work on a building.

BIM is about working together and taking the huge benefits of the free flow of high quality information coming from constructing a building. Supporting the operation of buildings is a goal that we all have to work towards. We all have to understand each other better, designers, contractors, operators alike we all have a job to do to make and run great and efficient buildings. So I hope that World FM Day can be as much about engagement with the people that operators rely on as it is about celebrating success in FM.

We must deliver BIM Level 2 before moving on

We need to start treating the government’s 2016 deadline with the urgency it requires

A couple of weeks ago I attended a very positive session at the UK chapter of BuildingSmart. At the event a review was presented of the latest round of testing COBie output from IFC files, which was a broadly successful exercise.

One of the presentations was a short piece by Mark Bew, where he made a very pertinent comment about the behaviour of the industry. He observed that if we are to get funding for the next phase of the development of the UK’s BIM strategy after 2016, we must demonstrate that we can deliver maturity Level 2 before that i.e. before we move on to the next phase, Level 3 and beyond.

This comment embodies a great many of the problems that surround the success of BIM in the industry and perhaps with the news that the government may scrap the Task Group last week we should all realise that we need to start treating 2016 with the urgency it requires instead of complaining about the difficulties of implementing it.

In recent months we’ve seen the headline that “The government will miss the key 2016 BIM target”, published after a survey of the industry by Pinsent Mason. As an industry we need to be honest about this. It is industry failing to deliver, not the government. We have a clearly defined process that for their own reasons institutions and corporations feel they need to change but are never able to explain convincingly why.

In the future the value and profit in construction may be generated by companies like Google, Oracle and SAP

Industry must stop playing the culture argument too. How can teams be “culturally” unaware when we have been talking about the need to modernise for at least the last five years and when all the design, construction, management and FM journals have dedicated areas on their websites for BIM articles and information.

I’m still amazed at how few people have read anything of the resources on the BIM Task Group website, but have a detailed, presumably second or third hand opinion of why the 1192 suite can’t work for the industry. We have to break out of the two polarised groups of those either too afraid or sceptical to engage with BIM, or those who are convinced they know better and stubbornly assert that they’ll do it in their own arbitrarily different but incompatible way.

While personally I hope that the future of the construction industry will be shaped by the people I work with now, I can’t help but think that we are currently on a path where the next big players in the design, construction and maintenance of buildings will come from outside the companies that we currently know in the industry. While the board will not be swept clean, the names we know the industry for will become the blue collar end of construction while the value and profit are generated by companies we don’t currently associate with the industry, companies like Google, Oracle and SAP.

If we don’t act now then there will come a point where we have lost the opportunity, where contracts start going abroad

You may have detected frustration in the tone of this article, and you’re right. As a small practitioner I have invested a great deal in BIM over the lifetime of my company, but ultimately the success or failure of BIM in the UK is not in my hands. As a designer of buildings and provider of existing building BIM I’m too low in the decision-making process to affect the set-up of projects, and once they are under way I have no power to enforce protocols, standards or programmes. I may be capable of working in a Level 2 environment, but without clients agents establishing projects on Level 2 principles my preparation goes to waste. Level 2 maturity is fundamentally project based, and cannot be achieved by an individual company.

If we don’t act now then there will come a point where we have lost the opportunity, where contracts start going abroad to the countries that are implementing our own 1192 suite of standards without all the squabbling and excuses. At that point we will have failed to deliver level two BIM, and if we do we will only have ourselves to blame.

First published on 27 May 2014 on Building.co.uk