Electrical facility management is a complex field covering a wide spectrum of functions within the built environment, from cleaning to technology management. Typically, the lifetime cost of operation and maintenance of a facility far exceeds the initial construction costs. However, when it comes to generating cost efficiencies, more focus is often placed on short term construction costs rather than the longer-term cost efficiencies that can be achieved at the facility management level.
Traditional facility management relies on the manual handover of documents on completion of construction or refurbishment which are then used to manage the facility throughout its lifetime. Therefore, it is vital that all documentation is completed accurately to ensure it is managed in an efficient and safe manner. The problem with this method is that when documents become misplaced or outdated, they must be recreated at a cost or the quality of facility management could become compromised.
As the construction sector continues to grow and seek sustainability, digital facility management processes such as BIM Enabled Facility Management are becoming more prevalent. We are all familiar with the benefits of BIM in the design and construction process, however the benefits go far beyond project completion. Through BIM, electrical infrastructure can be managed and maintained via an accurate and intelligent digital replica of the facility and its infrastructure creating lifetime efficiencies across all aspects of electrical facility management.
1. Information Management
As buildings become more technologically sophisticated, the management of electrical infrastructure also becomes more complex, demanding more efficient information management procedures to ensure accurate and up to date electrical documentation is maintained.
Through BIM Enabled Facility Management, all data that would have traditionally been handed over as paper documents are stored and updated in real time within the digital model that was developed in the design phase. As this digital handover would have been created through the collaborative BIM process, it provides a clearer overview of how each element works together.
As a result, facility managers can benefit from increased availability and accuracy of data and reduced data redundancy.
2. Maintenance Management
BIM facilitates an efficient maintenance management process, from planning through to execution. Through the 3D BIM model, facility managers can quickly and accurately locate concealed assets to pinpoint the source of a problem without risking damage to other critical infrastructure. Additionally, the BIM model contains asset profiles for each object within the model, including performance and condition data, physical dimensions and operation and maintenance manuals. Facility managers can use this product specific information to efficiently plan and conduct maintenance strategy.
3. Space Management
It is extremely important for facility managers to know exactly how their space is laid out in terms of asset location and capacity to manage the space efficiently. This is particularly important for electrical facilities such as data centres, where it is imperative to know which power infrastructure is connected to which power supply due to the mission critical nature of the electrical system. This information allows data centre managers to identify capacity limits before they are reached to avoid costly downtime.
4. Change Management
When a change requirement has been identified facility managers can use the BIM model to virtually plan and configure space more efficiently. BIM can also identify conflicts with proposed changes before they are physically implemented, saving both time and money throughout the change management process. For instance, by modelling new busbar routes in the original BIM model, facility managers can manage the placement of additional electrical infrastructure based on position and capacity of all available tap off points and can assess how the proposed changes would impact the current layout of the electrical system.
The key to successful facility management is the ability to anticipate and respond to change in a timely and cost-effective manner. Through the BIM process, facility managers can keep track of all aspects of the building’s electrical assets through one centralised and intelligent model. As the BIM model can be updated in real time, quality and reliability of data is greatly improved, which in turn improves workflow efficiency.