BIM… Building Information Modelling

I was requested by Sarfraz Patel from Black Arrow Events to speak on BIM at Project Management Workshop, for Construction Planning & Operations, on 9th January in Bangalore. While preparing for this lecture, I have put across my (personal) observations on what is happening on this high octane activity of building construction industry.

I have attended few BIM sessions globally but most of them were delivered / centered around the project managers or construction managers! Haven’t seen majority addressing the requirement for BIM’s success from the last leg of Real Estate, i.e., Facility managers. Here is the great opportunity, I thought I can speak on what is required from a facility manager’s perspective to support BIM a successful deployment in Real Estate industry.

BIM as the name sounds, talk about the Building Information Modelling, which is also called as VDC (Virtual Design & Construction) in India. In one of the forums, BIM is compared with Building Management System (BMS) / Building Automation System (BAS) back in 80’s and 90’s. The author mentioned, there was a great amount of resistance when the BMS/BAS was deployed during the early years from Real Estate community, and it took time for people to realize the benefits and start adopting to it. Of course, I am one of the many who still argue that some 90%~95% of the new buildings will never get the BMS/BAS up and running during the ‘Go-Live’ date of the facility! I have personally struggled making our BMS vendors complete a part job, when Steve Ballmer, the then CEO of Microsoft was about to inaugurate the Microsoft Campus in Hyderabad in 2004. After a decade, I have experienced the same outcome to make the BMS up and running for a high profile visit / inauguration, at the investment bank where I worked last in Bangalore…. story line remained the same with dates changing!

But, Facility managers do embrace BMS/BAS closely to their hearts as this is a way to reduce complications in running buildings (a.k.a. human factories!). Not to mention the ‘Green Facility Promoters’, who can’t breath without an optimized computer system to support & run the buildings effectively & efficiently.

Reason for me to talk on this comparison is, the success of BMS / BAS is attributed to the simplicity of the system and ease of operation once the project managers wash their hands after handing over the buildings to facility managers for the operations.Perhaps, this is the missing link, I see in BIM to garner better support from the facility managers.

BIM on the other hand, is more focused on the 3D, 4D and 5D imaging technologies. With limited expertise available on this subject, what I have seen is simulation techniques, that would help you in a way to understand the clashing of internal designs, paths, budgets etc., gives a great viewing experience with real time renderings for visualisation, a coordinated effort for various teams to sync their schedules to get an optimised outcome as the top deliverables of BIM. There is a lot and interesting articles published by many.

As a facility manager, what I would like to see from BIM is to help me simplify my operations…be it on a manufacturing shop floor or a human factory (tech park buildings). BIM does wonders when we have a big team, to support this execution and follow through. Once the buildings are handed over, it is literally impossible for a facility manager to get a dedicated resource who works exclusively for BIM! Forget about the 3D/4D, in the current day facility operations, getting a 2D-CAD resource to update all the additions & alterations in a building itself is becoming a herculean task.

This, perhaps is the greatest stumbling block for BIM’s success, as there are no takers beyond the project management personnel! The life cycle management of BIM cycle is not an easy task unless simplification of the systems are done and facility managers who are supposed to carry the baton for long, after the project completion get a comfortable handover. Of course, the C-suite executives viewing this not as another ‘necessary evil’, but a long term investment in the company will also help fuelling the BIM era!

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