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21 June 2018
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In Focus: Model opportunities

The Issue: Transitioning FM data into BIM systems

The Interviewee: Kath Fontana, managing director, BAM FM

22 February 2013

Earlier this month, the head of the Government Property Unit, Deborah Rowland, once again stressed the importance of FM in the development of building information modelling (BIM).

At the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS)’s BIM conference in London, Rowland spoke about how the sharing of data and co-operation between partnering organisations was routinely espoused, but that the real-world practicalities involved in following the “golden thread” of a building project, from design through to operation, still lacked some definition.

Soon after, BAM Construct UK unveiled its own plans to create and test an automated BIM workflow and process. Its aim is the seamless integration of BIM data with FM-relevant information – thus answering Rowland’s call.

BAM, a company ranked in the top ten construction to FM businesses in the world, is developing the project with FSI and Autodesk, in effect combining the CAFM expertise of the former with the BIM skills of the latter.

Key to the process is the embedding of a facilities manager into the construction team at
the beginning of a project to advise on data input for the BIM model. This is to ensure
that relevant, usable data will flow directly into the FM-system phase of the process.

BAM FM managing director Kath Fontana says the aims is for the process and workflow to become part of BAM’s core offering to create a complete solution for customers.

“We believe that BIM is a valuable tool,” she says. “There’s definitely an emerging trend and
a realisation that operations and FM is where the real value of BIM can be. We think that in
the not-too-distant future, this will be a standard solution.

“The process is about taking out the risk of getting to the end of a project without knowing the costs of maintaining it,” she said. “The automated workflow we are developing will make the COBie data (a common file format for transferring BIM data between systems) more usable immediately. At the moment, a lot of manual work has to be done to it, and FMs have to deal with PDFs, DVDs and CDs. We want to be able to create a fully populated CAFM system more easily.”

Initially, the project will use data from a number of existing projects to “retro-test” the process, with a “lessons learned” report out in the spring. The process will then be tested on an as-yet undecided live project later on this year, likely to be one of BAM’s public sector schemes.
According to Fontana, the project is essentially about putting into practice the theory that BIM benefits asset management.

“For a lot of facilities managers, BIM is a bit of a mystery and we want to show that it’s not incredibly technical,” she says. “Wherever I go, the message is the same: BIM is of real benefit to FM. We want to make that happen and demonstrate it to people.”