Building Information Modelling (BIM) continues to be one of the most influential paradigm shifts for the construction sector since the move from drawing board to CAD screen. The benefits of BIM for design and construction professionals have been widely documented, but what has yet to be fully realised is the potential of BIM as a tool for building owners or occupiers engaged in Facilities or Life Cycle Management.
Currently, Life Cycle Management involves the physical transfer of information between each phase of a building’s life. Between the designers and the management team for example, or when the building is sold or a new tenant occupies it. Crucial information is lost with every transfer and the process of rework can be expensive, if it is conducted at all. Maintaining up to date record information continues to be a challenge and base building information soon becomes inaccurate and unreliable.
The 3D BIM model used to design and construct buildings is essentially a collaboration tool for architects, engineers and builders, but it has a potentially richer life beyond this development stage. With the right level of information it can be immensely valuable as a management tool throughout the building’s life, allowing owners and occupiers to manage the day to day operation of their facilities through a varying degree of cloud based platforms. It is this single hosted platform that allows all the information on any built asset to be held in one easy to find, accessible and uniformly organised domain.
The FM industry is beginning to tap into the potential of this newly developed information data bank by introducing ‘Geo-Tags’ and Augmented Reality (AR) applications to the ‘As-Built’ 3D models of their assets. Information at a very detailed level can be attached to every element and component of the building to allow sophisticated control over maintenance and replacement strategies and to have a clear picture at any time of the location, performance, service history and manufacturer of every component.
By embracing mobile technology, facility managers are able to ‘see’ components in their actual location on a tablet screen even though they are concealed above ceilings or inside ducts. This computer-generated view creates a composite image rooted in both real and virtual worlds. Once linked with a Building Information Model, this augmented view is able to display hidden information, obviating the need to open up parts of the building fabric. This approach also allows asset management to be optimised by providing prompts based on efficiency calculations.
The development of AR technology continues through the likes of Google Glass and Epson’s forthcoming Moverio BT-200 glasses. Industry professionals will need to engage fully with the virtual environment that mobile computing power will inevitably provide, in order to gain the tangible benefits of BIM and AR.
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