How to manage Building Maintenance throughout the asset’s lifecycle with an online 7D BIM application
The maintenance of an asset starts immediately after its construction and ends with its demolition.
When it comes to the digitization of the construction industry, a further understanding of the BIM use could be referring to the BIM “dimensions”, which go beyond the 3 physical dimensions.
Among the widely adopted subsets of BIM, 7D is the dimension that enables the management of the existing building and simplifies all the activities (ordinary and extraordinary) to be carried out throughout the asset’s entire life cycle.
Let’s find out more about 7D BIM and the facility management applications that can help you managing assets and maintenance plans in an integrated manner.
Definition of 7D BIM
As one of the most prominent dimensions of BIM, 7D BIM improves operations and management of the real estate assets, based on the collection, preservation, generation, updating and sharing of documents related to the building’s history (including data sheets, user manuals, warranty documents, reports, plans, etc.).
In other words, 7D BIM addresses all aspects of facility management and also deals with maintenance of existing assets through operations that ensure the quality of services and the safety of users and workers.
These objectives require the adoption of BIM processes to achieve efficient property management based on comprehensive 3D models with integrated data and information together with interoperable information systems.
7D BIM is a unique approach in which everything related to the facility management process is collected within a single building information model, with the objective 0f maintaining the performance standard of the asset’s components (fixtures, installations, energy behaviour, etc.) until its demolition.
Working on a BIM model enables the simulation of various scenarios to efficiently evaluate the assets management activities such as:
- current situation analysis and diagnosis
- interventions definition
- calculation of timescales
- cost estimation.
The seventh dimension of BIM, therefore, allows the management of the building throughout its life cycle and associates the information to the model that is necessary for the maintenance and management of the asset. In this way, information can be shared between the various stakeholders, always be implemented in time and there is no risk of data loss.
What is facility management
Facility management is the set of operations concerning the maintenance and management of all aspects of an existing building: from installations (electrical, plumbing, mechanical) to green areas, from security and surveillance systems to cleaning, from the preservation of the performance levels of the building components to the eventual decommissioning of the asset.
In practice, it is the process of design, implementation and control through which facilities (i.e. the buildings and services needed to support and facilitate the company’s activities) are identified and delivered to achieve and maintain certain performance levels to meet the company’s needs and create a high quality working environment at an optimised cost.
The Ifma – International Facility Management Association- defines facility management as:
It is the discipline that coordinates the physical space of work with the human resources and the company’s own activity, integrates the principles of economic and financial management of the company, of the architecture and behavioral and engineering sciences
The European standard UNI EN 15221-1, 2007 defines it as:
Integration of processes within an organisation to maintain and develop the agreed services which support and improve the effectiveness of its primary activities.
The Facility Manager is primarily responsible for the management of all aspects of facility management, including design, coordination, planning and delivery of services with the objective of increasing effectiveness and productivity.
Furthermore, the Facility Manager’s responsibilities are wide-ranging and include the strategic area of analysis and control of real estate assets while dealing with technical support and general services.
Integration of facility management and BIM
To achieve maximum results in the way an asset is managed, it is possible to integrate facility management with BIM methodology.
We are used to thinking of BIM as an indispensable process in the design phase of a project, but in reality, there are many advantages in the management and maintenance phase as well.
In fact, the BIM model as a digital twin of the physical asset is a faithful virtual representation and it gathers all the information of every single element of the existing building. Therefore, it also becomes an important simulation and programming tool that can be used to better organise the maintenance of an asset.
This approach simplifies ordinary activities (e.g., researching information, surveying, drafting files), ensures a more detailed knowledge of the asset’s consistency, identifies possible problems and makes both the building’s behaviour and performance more efficient.
In summary, the advantages of BIM are evident from the design stage through to the management phase of an asset:
- better communication between stakeholders, avoiding misunderstandings and planning errors
- more accurate and comprehensive maintenance programmes thanks to the information contained in the BIM model
- more reliable information for contractors
- simplified maintenance process for contractors and subcontractors
- more informed decisions and investments
- cost/benefit analysis to increase savings and minimise expenses
- centrality of data and information concerning every useful aspect of the asset
- optimisation of asset performance throughout its life cycle
- optimisation of processes (from design to demolition).
The dimensions of BIM
BIM dimensions refer to the specific way in which distinct kinds of data are linked to an information model and that come into play in the digitization process of a construction project.
BIM is much more than just three-dimensional (3D) modelling for which it is better known and can embrace other “dimensions” that serve to add useful information to the construction to be built or managed:
- 3D modelling | geometrical, graphical information
- 4D time-related info | construction sequencing by means of Gantt charts and timelines
- 5D cost analysis| cost management, construction cost estimating, etc.
- 6D sustainability| environmental, economic and social sustainability impact studies
- 7D life cycle and maintenance | Facility Management: planning and management of maintenance operations throughout the building’s lifecycle.
In addition to the 7 standard dimensions, there is now an open debate on the three ‘new dimensions of BIM’:
- 8D – safety during the design and construction phases
- 9D – lean construction
- 10D – industrialization of construction.
What is COBie used for in asset maintenance?
Various actors (technicians, contractors, owners, management companies, etc.) with different skills are typically involved in the management process of an existing building, managing data and information that come into play in the different maintenance operations.
Data structure specifications such as COBie (Construction Operations Building information exchange) enable the handing over of digital data and information to the FM phase in a gradual and structured way.
In simple terms, COBie is a spreadsheet in .xml format with a precise structure and is a standard for collecting the information that becomes part of the package delivered to the owner during the commissioning of the asset.
Firstly, this allows you to order and share building-related data and to guarantee to the client completeness, compatibility and usability of the information needed to manage the building throughout its lifecycle.
In addition, COBie data, thanks to its structured representation, is also essential for cost estimators and contractors, as it allows to change the management of project data during works in the simplest way possible. In fact, by simply modifying the lines in the spreadsheet, the entire project is immediately revised.
It is possible to obtain COBie in .xml format directly from the BIM authoring software used, or through external applications that generate the file from the BIM model in IFC format.
7D BIM software
In order to manage all aspects of facility management directly on a single BIM model, a software or application dedicated to the control, verification and maintenance of assets is necessary.
An application of this type is used to manage:
- maintenance plans
- maintenance activities
- any other activities to be carried out on the asset during its life cycle.
usBIM.facility, the online application for facility management
usBIM.facility is the usBIM integrated system application for the management and maintenance of buildings and infrastructures and represents the advanced integration of all facility management functions with the BIM model and the digital twin document system.
Compared to traditional software, usBIM.facility has the advantage of being an online application that you can use from mobile devices. You can also receive information in real time and perform maintenance tasks anywhere. For example, you can open, take over and close assets of any kind, relocate assets even if you are not in the office and cannot access your PC.