Asset information models for asset owners

If you’re an asset owner and you’ve bought or developed a large(ish) commercial property, at least £1m of its value is tied to the time and effort in creating an Asset Information Model (AIM). What asset owners should know is: (1) what is the value of that AIM to me as an asset owner, and (2) why it’s important to maintain it.

An AIM will go through various stages of evolution before it becomes an AIM. It starts its life as a Project Information Model (PIM) which is used to manage the information required to coordinate the design and construction of the asset. It’s made up of design and construction models, drawings, documentation of all kinds, and data. A lot of this is created to industry standards of good practice but some of it you, as the asset owner, have specifically asked for. This might be information you need to maintain compliance, aid in operations and maintenance and also satisfy information needs at an organisational level.

Most asset owners are sold the idea of Building Information Modelling (BIM) and Asset Information Models (AIMs) in the form of 3D models. But 3D models are just the tip of the iceberg. The real value lies in the data and information below the surface. A lot of this data and information is going to help you get your property up and running. The clearer it is and more aligned to your needs, the quicker you’ll be up and running.

For example, if you’ve asked for specific data within an asset register, your facilities manager can populate this within their Computer Aided Facilities Management (CAFM) software and start running planned and preventative maintenance (PPM) on the day of handover. If you don’t have this information, your Facilities Management (FM) provider might have to spend 3-4 months and £10-15k in labour in surveying the facility. In the end, they won’t record everything they could and equipment isn’t being maintained as per their warranty requirements. Not to mention, after 4 months you’ll have tenants moving in changing things and your £1m AIM is out of date!

That’s just one example. You’ll be onboarding technology such as a Building Management System (BMS), Internet of Things (IoT) sensors, room booking, entry controls, energy management and lighting. All of these need specific and standardised data about your building including level names, space names, system and asset IDs and other specs. If this data is either incorrect or incomplete, you risk these technologies being siloed and the data they produce cannot be captured and exploited. If, as an organisation, you wish to capture building data into a data lake for analysis and you’ve not used an Asset Information Model or standards and policies that would maintain one, be prepared to spend a lot of time and effort normalising this data.

With an AIM in place, you’ll be able to share key information to the technology vendors prior to handover when they are being installed and commissioned. At handover, they’ll be humming away, all producing data that you can capture and cross analyse, deriving more value. You’ll also have onboarded your Computer Aided Facilities Management (CAFM) platform and Facilities Management (FM) team prior to handover so that the many millions of pounds worth of equipment is being maintained effectively and safely.

You’ll want to do this at a portfolio level as the more data you have, the more power you have to cross analyse previously disparate data sets to better run your properties, keep operating costs low, reduce carbon emissions and keep the occupants happy and productive.

At the moment, most buildings are producing their data inconsistently and named differently, being captured in different, disconnected silos or in some cases, not at all! To see the potential value in consistent and aligned data, one only has to look at Tesla and the value they derive from capturing data from 2 million cars on the road. Imagine what the data of the 1 billion+ buildings there are in the world would tell us?

With only new buildings benefiting from an AIM, what do we do with the rest? New buildings account for only a fraction of what exists. Most large real estate asset owners are undertaking digitisation programmes. They might have assets that hold a few paper documents as an AIM, compared to new assets that have 10s of 1,000s of documents and data points in their AIM. A good Information Management (IM) strategy will help prioritise the digitisation of information based on the asset owners needs, and a good set of standards and policies will help maintain them and enforce them on new assets and refurbishments.

Buying an AIM and putting one to use is the easy thing, however most don’t do enough to maintain them. Think of the AIM as a digital asset that needs to be managed by a digital property manager. Much like the physical asset needs to be managed by a property manager.

Not having an AIM or not maintaining an AIM that was given to you at the end of construction will cost you far more in the long run than the cost of maintaining it. And implementing the growing amount of new technologies becoming available is going to be much more expensive.

There are so many reasons to make the case for maintaining an AIM on an asset but ultimately the asset will become more valuable in the long run. It will be cheaper to run, generate more revenue and be a nicer place to be. If you take care of the AIM, the AIM will take care of the asset.

To find out more, watch our webinar on demand ‘Asset Information Models: What asset owners need to know’

Lucas Cusack
About the Author
Lucas Cusack,  Strategic Lead for Asset Management 

Lucas is a digital trailblazer within the built environment industry and has a well-established career working in Building Information Management (BIM) and the rapidly establishing digital twin market.