There is a lot to be said about the benefits of using BIM for Facility Management (we even wrote a few blog posts about it) and we like to divide them into two categories:
1. Handover benefits
2. Operational stage benefits
In this case, we will be talking about the benefits during Operations, tied to specific use cases where BIM is leveraged in Maintenance Processes.
For a start, BIM for FM platforms will never replace a Computerized Maintenance Management System (CMMS), the main system utilized by Maintenance Managers and teams. The CMMS is where maintenance plans, Work Orders, Inventory, and more are registered and reported. All the assets have a specific record in the CMMS where the Work Order history and planned maintenance can be reviewed. Bottom line, CMMS (or EAM=Enterprise Asset Management) will be around for quite a while and they’re extremely beneficial. So, in this context, how does BIM add value? Why would a maintenance team implement a 3D model for maintenance?
We always like to explain this with specific use-cases. A large Pharmaceutical Client we work with has put together an ROI analysis, but it’s quite straightforward to translate the use cases into time or money saved.
Leveraging BIM models for maintenance processes can add value in several areas, here are the three most common:
The more experienced team members will not be around forever and technology changes fast, so updates and new staff member training are needed more often than ever. Well-set-up BIM models can be utilized for training to understand systems, relationships between assets, and perform virtual walk down. The interaction of trainees with an easy-to-use interface will provide a better understanding and retention of the information than written materials, floor plans, or Power Point slides.
To effectively implement the maintenance plan, teams need to know a fair amount of information about the work to be performed. A 3D model allows them to assess the equipment location, accessibility, upstream and downstream impact, and more. Although this information does exist in drawings, a 3D view is more intuitive and provides a representation of the reality where the technician can virtually ‘stand’ and reduce guesswork.
When something goes wrong, response time is paramount to avoid extended downtime or associated risks. With BIM, the technician can quickly isolate systems and find out where the critical components or shut-off valves are located. Trying to find that out through 2D drawings can be VERY time-consuming.
To summarize, CMMS systems work alongside BIM to support maintenance processes. However, as we have explained in previous articles, BIM’s audience is engineers and architects, while CMMS users are maintenance folks. For all the above to take place, adoption is a must, and the BIM platform must be very intuitive and simple to interact with.
BIM technology can really support Maintenance processes, but we need to keep in mind that ‘just adding’ more technology to a process doesn’t necessarily makes it better/easier/more efficient.