Building information modelling (BIM) is commonly used in the design phase of the built asset lifecycle but it also has huge potential in asset and facilities management (AM/FM) by steering smarter data collection and enabling better decision making.
Five years ago, Wellington City Council (WCC) piloted BIM processes on a small existing social housing complex called Bracken Road Flats. The council was trialling the retrospective application of BIM as a data collection tool for its social housing maintenance programme. WCC used the data to populate its AM/FM information system database, enabling it to model its social housing portfolio to tune the whole-of-life maintenance and management of its buildings.
The project successfully demonstrated how BIM outputs could be used to populate AM/FM systems — particularly when there is little or no data available on an asset. The benefits were clear. Council’s day-to-day maintenance activity improved as building managers worked with a more detailed picture showing the location and status of building components, such as plumbing and HVAC systems. Tradespeople also benefitted, working with clearer instructions about what to look for and where to find it when they attended a job. Overall, the process of capturing “big data” through BIM helped WCC to cost-effectively identify and schedule maintenance work required on its social housing portfolio to extend the life of the assets and enabled WCC managers to make better informed, evidence-based decisions.
It’s not all plain sailing when it comes to BIM and AM/FM however. With BIM significantly easing the collection of asset data, it is also easy to collect too much data, which can make the exchange of information between the BIM application and asset databases challenging. An important take-out from this project for WCC was to keep the focus on asset management as the driver during the BIM process; using the asset management experience to determine the most relevant data set.