We are currently developing a new in-house IT platform to support the new division, that will interface with BIM, designed to bring a new level of data collection into the FM world, handling information related to social housing R&M, cyclical maintenance and remote working.– Gary Lester, Morgan Sindall
Gary Lester, managing director of Morgan Sindall’s new Property Services division, explains how a new IT platform and increasing involvement in BIM is impacting on the future direction of the business.
What is the new division and why was it set up?
The division employs over 500 staff and offers a range of property support and facilities management services at branches across the UK, from Poole in Dorset to Dumfries and Galloway in Scotland.
It was set up to expand on the Group’s current offering. The previous Lovell Property Service unit was predominantly focused on social and affordable housing repair and maintenance (R&M) contracts, while Morgan Sindall plc and its construction and infrastructure unit delivered facilities management (FM) services covering insurance work, education and local government contracts. We have combined all existing contracts and put them under one banner to maintain consistency.
What will you do differently?
It is hoped the divisions can work closely and learn from each other: FM could learn from R&M about customer service, while social housing could learn from strategies around cyclical maintenance on FM services.
Social housing accounts for about two thirds of our contracts. The sector has been quite critical of contractors, which for me is a result of a lack of transparency, ownership, and consistency, hence the push towards the use of Direct Labour Organisations by some clients.
We think the new business is well placed to match their needs, with a focus on customer service, delivery and keeping our promises. We are also planning to develop the FM market north and south and build on our existing Blue Light, education and insurance work.
What is your BIM strategy?
We are working closely with an internal BIM team in the Construction and Infrastructure division to embed BIM into all the various stages of design and construction. One of the major stages on the horizon is the 6D “as-built” BIM model [handed over to the client and populated with all the relevant building component information], which means ensuring the data is structured, supported and that we understand what elements of a built asset are important.
We are currently developing a new in-house IT platform to support the new division, that will interface with BIM, designed to bring a new level of data collection into the FM world, handling information related to social housing R&M, cyclical maintenance and remote working.
As we build the system, we have one eye on making sure it is fit for purpose and tailored to our working practices, while the a working group in the Construction and Infrastructure division ensures it is BIM considered and BIM aware for the future as the technology picks up speed and goes forward.
We are very conscious of the fact that most R&M and FM computer systems are very service driven and needed greater focus on management and development of the asset.
What is the significance of BIM to an FM client?
It’s an exciting time for the FM business. I’m fairly new to construction with a services based background in social housing and FM so to see BIM bringing in a whole new level of whole life costing and management can only be good news for the sustained maintenance of properties and buildings.
It is a massive opportunity to bring some real stability to the market, we see it growing and becoming a very tangible part of what we do. It will also tie us in more tightly with the use of BIM by the main Construction and Infrastructure business to bring greater consistency overall.
Will you be adopting COBie spreadsheets?
We are keen to adopt them as they provide a clear and recognisable format.
Is there currently a smooth enough transition getting data out of BIM and into CAFM software?
We are currently discussing this with clients, one of the challenges is getting customers to understand and appreciate the long term value of digital assets and bringing everything together in a single format. Industry-wide everyone is on a learning curve and working to get up to speed with the technology, as a result it can still be difficult getting clients to understand the benefits.
Are you Level 2 BIM compliant in line with the government’s 2016 mandate?
The majority of projects are Level 1 and we have an increasing number of larger contracts coming in at Level 2. We’re on target to meet the 2016 mandate.