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Piecing together the complex BIM puzzle

Traditional projects vs complex BIM projects

Traditional projects typically include a siloed 2D design project, stand-alone specification, hard copy Operations and Maintenance (O&M) handover, and a post-handover survey to create an Asset Register. Complex BIM projects see a coordinated Project Information Model (PIM) to Asset Information Model (AIM) process responding to specific end-user asset owner requirements. As we incrementally build up the AIM, we provide models, data and documents to the client, employer, and appointed parties as the prevailing IM standards e.g. ISO 19650 requires.

It is inefficient for a client and their operational/FM teams to solely receive operational data about their facility at Practical Completion (PC) when procuring digital deliverables from the principal contractor. Soft landing approaches encourage earlier engagement of operational teams by the project delivery team to ensure information being procured has a purpose, and sample data loads can be accessed for trial testing to ensure compatibility with operational systems (e.g. CaFM and BMS platforms). However, it must be understood that creating an AIM adds complexity to traditional trade contractor handover management because we are trying to build an information model alongside the built asset and this can include multiple model and data authors as the project progresses from design through construction to handover (RIBA stage 6).

As part of the BIM process, we must also have Information Exchanges that respond to a client’s Information Delivery Plan (IDP) – the asset owner’s shopping list. We are seeing more and more clients creating IDPs to help them standardise on mandatory deliverables and procure data to drive downstream decisions. These incremental data exchanges enable asset owners to take decisions progressively through the asset lifecycle. A data rich client is a more informed client!

Verified deliverables and Information Management Platform Adoption

From a handover management perspective, we need to be handing over information that aligns with the client’s requirements. Adopting an Information Management Platform to communicate, capture, validate, manage and store information is essential for the project delivery team, as well as the receiving client organisation. Having a standardised naming convention (for file containers and assets) is central to making sure all collaborating party system information is consistent, and the data can be analysed to drive actionable insights.

This sounds like common sense, but if designers, contractors and suppliers enter the project at different times and give files and asset data different names, information can become misaligned and uncoordinated. Storing this data correctly is essential for clients looking to integrate data into their operational systems.

Smart buildings and Internet of Things (IoT)

A new consideration is the creation of smart buildings with their IoT sensor devices producing dynamic data, often channelled through building management and operating systems. Some devices provide connectivity but asset owners must consider how they want to exploit the data and plan accordingly. Information requirements need to be defined with spatial locations and an asset tag system so operational teams can onboard and manage a facility without completing a post-PC room condition survey. Failure to define this means sensors don’t know where they are, and attempts to manage and react to occupancy, CO2 and heat data would be challenging.

The role of the GIIG – defining secure, open and interoperable ways of working

The Government & Industry Interoperability Group (GIIG) is creating an information management framework to support ‘design, construct, operate’ industry digital processes. Glider has advocated this approach with key public sector clients like Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO) and British Antarctic Survey (BAS). When creating a common data model, we must define the use of the information in the model by all stakeholders. By starting with the end in mind and putting it into the information requirements, people with information needs at any stage can create or reference information in line with the common data model.

To support this, a Reference Data Library (RDL) can add the ‘why’ and ‘how’ to these information requests. Requirements will vary depending on asset type, so making sure we are clear on our Information Requirements and how to respond to and validate against these is critical when working on shared projects.

Examples impacting BIM delivery

Instead of the historic ‘give me BIM’ generic requirement boilerplates, the asset information model is designed to meet the client’s organisation and asset information requirements. An example of digital complexity is the COBie or enriched IFC asset register with digital O&M, health & Safety file deliverables. Traditionally, the industry has worked with hard copies but is advancing at pace using a document and data driven approach including adoption of a managed Information Management platform. This platform not only controls the communication and capture of project deliverables, it also acts as a repository for operational teams to manage information relating to the asset as its use changes over time.

At the handover phase, a digital handover drives more immediate benefits. However it must be maintained through the operational phase if this repository is to become the single source of truth. This may include integration with other operational systems like Computer Aided Facilities Management (CaFM) systems (used for planned and reactive maintenance management) where static records and data like manufacturer, maintenance and performance data may change over time and should be updated back in to the asset information model.

Glider is passionate about shaping and powering the digitalisation of the built environment. With our data management software solutions and digital delivery consultancy expertise, our clients can seamlessly share project information and work collaboratively across their supply chain and take control of asset data that enables greater operational insights into the performance of buildings and the wider estate.

Get in touch

To find out more about Glider and how we can solve your complex BIM challenges us on 0203 8268 001 or email us.