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Building Information Modeling (BIM)

Jonathan Haney headhsot
Jonathan Haney

Senior Director, Marketplaces

Modified on

June 6, 2024

What is BIM (Building Information Modeling)?

Building information modeling (BIM) is a digital representation that helps architecture, engineering, and construction professionals design a building’s infrastructure and predict project outcomes.

BIM provides a 3D model that helps stakeholders visualize the building and understand the implications of their decisions before the building’s final construction phase. This proactive visualization generally leads to better project outcomes.

Facilities management may choose to keep a BIM model of their building on hand, despite the fact the construction project is complete. The reason why having these information models proves useful is because the 3D representation helps facilities managers support operations and plan maintenance activities.

How Building Owners Can Use BIM For Their Fully Constructed Buildings

Although BIM software is typically associated with the construction industry and designing sustainable civil infrastructure, owners and managers can use a BIM object to support more efficient management.

Here are some examples of how you can use building information modeling (BIM) beyond the construction stage.

Space Management

Managers can use building information modeling (BIM) to analyze and optimize space utilization by mimicking potential scenarios on the model. This process helps facilities management directly align space usage with organizational goals. Optimized space usage can also increase employee efficiency and occupant satisfaction.

Asset Management

Integrating BIM software with asset management systems helps managers monitor and maintain their building’s components and assets. Precise tracking and proactive asset management lead to less downtime and lower maintenance costs.

Lifecycle Management

BIM supports informed decision-making throughout every stage of a building’s life. That’s because it can provide a detailed digital representation of how different components interact as they age. This information helps owners maximize the building’s value by improving efficiency and reducing costs at each phase.

Maintenance Scheduling

Because BIM provides a 3D visualization of the building, maintenance teams can see the location and condition of all components. This visualization helps them identify maintenance needs without requiring physical inspections. Having this insight helps maintenance managers efficiently plan activities.

Energy Analysis

BIM tools can simulate and analyze a building’s energy usage. These simulations provide relevant information that helps managers pinpoint inefficiencies. From there, managers can plan improvements that lead to significant energy savings.

Renovation and Retrofitting

BIM provides accurate, current data that enhances planning and execution. Project teams can use this information to make precise renovations that enhance building performance and value. Project participants may also use the BIM model to assess where additional renovations may be needed.

Benefits of Using BIM as a Facility Manager

Operational Efficiency

Building information modeling (BIM) enhances operational efficiency by providing a digital twin of real-world building components. Having this information readily available helps managers proactively plan preventive maintenance tasks and layout adjustments.

Management and maintenance teams can also use their BIM model as a shared knowledge resource of what work has and has not been done.

Cost Savings

Up-to-date building information helps facilities identify maintenance needs early. Therefore, you can proactively plan inspections, allocate resources, and prevent unplanned downtime. All of these factors will help your facility lower your maintenance costs.

Better Decision-Making

Access to accurate and comprehensive building data structures supports better decision-making throughout the building’s lifecycle. Managers can use this information to make informed choices about repairs, upgrades, and space utilization.

Improved Collaboration

Since the BIM model provides the same information to everyone on a project team, there’s less risk of errors and discrepancies. This common data environment facilitates better communication, and consequently, improved project outcomes or a lower project cost.

Data Management

BIM centralizes building information, which makes it easier to manage, retrieve, and analyze data. This consolidation improves the accessibility of key information on building systems or past infrastructure projects.

BIM Implementation for Facilities Management

1. Invest in BIM Software

Choosing BIM tools that meet the specific needs of your facility is crucial. The right tool ensures compatibility and maximizes the benefits of BIM technology. For this reason, it’s also important to plan your BIM strategy and perform a cost analysis before you make a purchase.

2. Train Your Staff

If your staff doesn’t know how to interpret BIM information, your facility won’t get much from BIM software. Therefore, make sure you train them on what the data means, not just on how to use the tool.

3. Data Integration

Integrating BIM data with other facility management systems supports comprehensive operations. If you use other tools for building management, such as a CMMS, choose a BIM software platform designed to work alongside them. Also, verify that your other tools can support BIM.

4. Standardization

Develop standard practices for using BIM at your facility. Standardization ensures that everyone uses the tools correctly so that the information remains accurate.

5. Continuously Update Your BIM Model

Keep your model up-to-date by adding any changes that may occur during and after construction. Regular updates ensure that the model accurately reflects the current state of the building.

What’s The Difference Between BIM and CAD?

Computer-aided design (CAD) tools create 2D or 3D technical drawings for detailed engineering or architectural designs.

On the other hand, building information modeling (BIM) is more focused on helping structural engineers and the construction sector make key decisions before completing construction projects.

So, while CAD and BIM processes are similar, BIM processes provide geometric expressions of the planned building, alongside other key factors, such as spatial relationships and light analysis, that CAD software generally won’t provide.

As a result, project teams ultimately get a better idea of how the building’s functional characteristics will affect potential occupants.

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