We all need to be aware of the growing BIM performance gap says Nick Tune, CEO of coBuilder UK.
Many of us of heard of the gap between as-designed and as-built energy performance in buildings, and how most of the time buildings use much more energy than they were designed to. I fear we have fallen into the same trap in regards to BIM. The aspiration of BIM often does not meet what is delivered.
BIM Level 2 requests that the client should develop an Employers Information Requirement (EIR) and in conjunction with a facilities manager (if one has been appointed) an Asset Information Requirement (AIR).
Here lies our first problem, as most EIRs and AIRs that I have seen don’t state clearly what information they require be it PDFs for O&M manuals or product data. If it is a BIM project I usually get asked for ‘basic’ COBie info, what is that? COBie is an information exchange format not a data specification tool.
The “minimal/basic” COBie they are referring to is usually basic FM properties ie manufacturer, serial number etc. Here lies the first gap as many of the CAFM tools still cannot take COBie and most of the properties that are needed to improve performance aren’t actually being specified and collected.
Design teams are upskilling so fast, and doing a great job on BIM, but this is where the next problem lies. They usually specify product types and the properties/values that are required, but often do not relate to the EIR/AIRs and often the requirements themselves i.e. the properties and values that are required are only stated in PDFs issued by the designers.
We need designers to specify the construction product data attributes and values that they require, I would suggest in a Product Data Template (PDT) and then link them to the model, so that the contractors, clients can validate the designed with as build data.
The manufacturers have the product information available in PDF and some have been busy paying for BIM objects that designers may want to use in the design stage. However, the product that gets installed is often not what was designed and the data within the object is often not aligned to the data requirements of the project.
What we need is for the manufactures to make their data available in multiple BIM formats/languages so that the contractors can select the data they need in the format they need, when they need it.
The next stage is the contractor who delivers to the BIM Execution Plan. However, they has been told to deliver a COBie (again what?) and an as built model. This is where I have real sympathy for the BIM manager who is (most of the time) young, keen, technology savvy, but, often without enough clout on a project.
They must now collect the product information, usually from a random selection of PDFs from the O&M manual and extract the data that is required from the EIR/AIR, and they aren’t actually sure what that should be (as no one has actually told them i.e. what does sustainability rating mean in COBie?) and then deliver the as built COBie.
This is where the BIM mangers need more clout, as they need to tell the design, contract, and project managers what they require to do their job. The amount of times I hear the project team just want to collect PDFs in their standards O&M manual formats.
This really makes the poor BIM managers life hard, and what we end up with at the end of the project is some data manually entered in COBie by the BIM manager, but with the juicy key product attribute data missing, some PDFs in an O&M manual and certainly not a credible as built model delivered.
Finally, we have the FMs, they just want to use their standard CAFM tool, and aren’t bothered with all the BIM stuff, so as long as you give them the basic info they need for their CAFM tool then that’s ok. Well it isn’t, as the building/infrastructure we end up with does not and will not perform, as it was proposed/designed to perform.
This sounds like a rather negative and depressing picture, but it can be easily fixed.
So what can we do to reduce the gap?
- Let’s work with clients to understand exactly what they require and to show the art of the possible so that we can get good briefs and this includes their advisors upskilling too.
- Designers please can you link your design criteria with the EIR/AIR data requirements and make them available as data preferably attributed to the model.
- Manufacturers, set your data free from PDF and make it available in multiple BIM formats/languages via tools such as goBIM.
- We need the FM community to come on board now. Bar one well know senior FM director they are still absent from most BIM conversations. We need them to demand that the CAFM tools they use take in more data, and that they can take in open data formats such as COBie and IFC, and that they actually start using the data they recive to manage their assets more effectively.
- Bosses out there, please give more power to your BIM managers, they are great people who are vital to grow your business and need all the help they require. And don’t let your project team just deliver as they always have done.
I believe if we address these fundamental issues we will maximise the benefit of BIM, which will actually lead to better quality, efficiencies and reduce costs. If we don’t then BIM is a just a nice thing for design.