Editor's Letter

March 25, 2011
Are You Using BIM for Maintenance?

BIM (building information modeling) was initially developed as a design and construction tool for communication across architecture, engineering and construction (AEC). But its value to AEC teams, where it has become common, is a pittance compared to its potential for facilities professionals.

According to a National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) study, Cost Analysis of Inadequate Interoperability in the U.S. Capital Facilities Industry, the operations and maintenance phase accounts for 85% of the interoperability costs borne by the industry. These costs include inefficient business process management, redundant FM systems, training and staffing for these systems, idled employees and general delay. And the bill for these inefficiencies? The NIST study estimated it at $0.23 per square foot per year.

Of course there’s more than one way to skin such costs. Birgitta Foster, BIM champion and partnership development lead at Sandia National Labs, polled the maintenance staff at a 6 million-square-foot Sandia campus. As she reported in a recent webinar, if all the information necessary to create a work order could be found in 5 minutes, as much as 2 hours – at a cost of $50 per hour – could be saved on every work order. On 24,000 work orders per year, the total savings at Sandia would be $2.4 million. (For more information, check out Birgitta’s on-demand webinar, Design for Maintenance: Using BIM as an FM Tool. Go to www.buildings.com, click on BuildingsVIP and Webinars, and register for the Smart Sustainability Expo.)

So why isn’t BIM as widespread in FM as it is in AEC? It’s not a technical challenge; information could be shared if there were standards but few are driving them. For competitive and market share reasons, CAD and other software vendors may not be interested in developing solutions that ease extraction of data from their programs. According to the NIST study, similar competitive pressures may discourage building product suppliers if they see BIM as challenging their control of the procurement process and customer relationships.

So who will push BIM? Perhaps those who are paying the cost for its absence. BIM is, at best, an ad hoc affair for FMs, but if you are a member of the minority developing homegrown BIM solutions, contact me. I would like to know what you are doing so BUILDINGS can report on best practices in a future article 

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