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Analysis

FM integration is more the norm in the Middle East, says Mace Macro

1 April 2015 | By Elaine Knutt

Hugh Henderson, director of consultancy at Mace Macro and a member of the BIFM Task Group on Soft Landings, on FM integration into the BIM process.

Can you explain to us what Mace Macro does?

We’re the FM division of Mace, with up to 550 staff worldwide. We’re based in the UK and in Dubai but we operate across four continents with a large number of projects in the Middle East. We’re a management company that offers clients FM consultancy, managed FM services and FM helpdesk services – so we’re not a typical service provider, that’s what differentiates us from service providers such as Sodexo or Interserve.

We offer clients strategic advice on FM strategies, asset management, workplace management and then as a managing contractor or managing agent we subcontract work to service providers. We have a global turnover of about £80m a year.

So how is BIM changing the way you work?

BIM is certainly starting to have an impact on FM. BIM has been regarded as a tool for design and construction, but there is a growing realisation that it’s a tool for life-cycle asset management. BIM and Soft Landings are being applied by clients, and they’re now getting FM involved at an early stage of new build projects.

Usually, clients want the asset register and as-built drawings, and the O&M manuals. The 3D model might be a bonus, generally it’s something they’re not yet familiar with. We can talk to clients early and we can help influence the Employer’s Information Requirements, help them to understand what they can get from BIM and guide them through Soft Landings so that the building meets the client’s overall performance objectives.

Are you primarily talking to existing Macro clients, or Mace’s other clients?

Our own client group at Macro is starting to ask about BIM, but if they’re not involved in a new build, they may not be thinking about BIM. The interest and demand for FM input to BIM projects is coming more from the construction side of the wider Mace business, from both the public and private sector. Clients are asking if we can we help with the data handover, or moving the data into the CAFM system and we’re working closely with our construction colleagues to ensure we can meet the client’s needs. We have a number of BIM projects that we’re now supporting and I can see this growing over time.

And is the idea that BIM would help you convert construction clients into FM clients?

Not necessarily. There’s a lot of people out there who can do this, they don’t have to come to us – we don’t always go straight from consultancy to managed services. If we take clients through the design and the eight stages of the RIBA Plan of Work, then it’s their call how they manage their services after that. If they want to use us that’s a bonus, but never a given. But clients may want the specialist input from us as a Soft Landings champion from the early stage and our team can support them through the project to initial and long-term aftercare.

Many clients and FM teams are a bit lukewarm about COBie – what’s your experience?

I think the understanding of COBie today reflects the maturity of BIM at the moment, so it will become more commonplace and more understood in the future. The main issue is being able to extract the data for COBIe and present it in a form clients can use.

To bridge the data gap between COBie and the asset register format we can help clients capture the data at the earliest stages, and make sure most, if not all, information is being supplied by the designers and subcontractors. Some of the most important outputs will be O&M manuals and an asset register with a PPM [Planned preventative maintenance] schedule, which the client will need if they are going to outsource M&E services, for instance. We’ll be providing all that data before the handover, not six months later.

Is this actually happening on projects you’re consulting on?

It’s already becoming a reality. In the Middle East we’re providing FM consultancy support to some major projects, and the principles of getting FM engaged at the earliest stage have been adopted. In Qatar, Saudi and the UAE we’re guiding clients through design reviews, cost modelling and procurement to handover and beyond.

It’s almost followed as a matter of course there for the large-scale projects. Having recently returned from the Middle East I’d say that here is a greater willingness to get FM involved sooner on projects whether it’s commercial, residential or mixed-use projects. From what I’m seeing in the UK it’s not quite so common, although Soft Landings is helping bring this to the fore.

So how much can clients really save on long-term FM costs by adopting BIM?

That’s a hard call. The government called for an ambitious saving of 33% reduction in both the initial cost of construction and the whole-life cost of assets. I’d say 10-20% is more realistic at this stage if BIM and Soft Landings are applied correctly.

More informed clients who use BIM and adopt Soft Landings will probably already have CAFM systems and skilled staff and they are more likely to reap the benefits of lower construction costs, lower whole-life asset costs and better building performance. At BIFM we’re gathering evidence and case studies of where BIM and Soft Landings is being adopted to find out what the likely savings and benefits are.

What else is the BIFM Soft Landings Task Group working on?

We’re collating best practice evidence and drawing up guidance for FMs, at each stage of the [design and construction] process. The Soft Landings Task group was set up four months ago and we’ve already issued initial guidance for the FM community, and we want to build up a body of knowledge. In time, we may well see BIM and Soft Landings being introduced into formal training for FMs.