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BIM for facility managers and owners - mobile data collection

This week in our series on BIM for facility managers and owners we will cover mobile data collection. We will cover both planned building surveys and ad-hoc snag-reporting.

Mobile data collection is an important activity tightly integrated with many lifecycle BIM processes - maintenance planning, work order management and asset management etc.

FM BIM mobile data collection

Why mobile data collection is important

At the heart of true FM BIM lays access to virtual facility models containg the current and planned state of your facilities and assets. To be useful models needs to be kept up to date and issues and requested changes needs to be part of the model. Such data needs to be collected in the field. Having access to the model in the field and registring snags and requests directly on the model increases accuracy and remove redundant work.

Even if you are not "all in" on lifecycle BIM yet (who are?), incorporating BIM in mobile data-collection is a great way to get started on the BIM FM journey - eating the BIM FM elephant one bite at a time. Later that data can feed into other FM BIM processes, e.g work order management.

Eating the BIM FM elephant one bite at a time

It is also important to understand that you do not need 3D models to do FM BIM. The important part is having a model where data and information is kept structured and connected supporting your work processes over time. If you have 3D geometry it is great, but if you do not a database system that tracks connections between building structures, assets, documents and processes also are facility model that can be enriched with geometry at a later stage.

Similarily it is important to note that even if you have 3D geometry of you model, it is not necessary to use it in all situations if it do not provide additional value. For some surveying tasks for instance, registering against an up to date floorplan may be more efficient for the surveyor. The important part is that the floorplan and 3d model should just be two different views of the same model.

Challenges

When planning for mobile BIM data-collection beware of some challenges, both organizational and technical. Some are specific to BIM and some are not.

In of itself data collection and inspections are hard for facility managers. If you have an existing portfolio of assets you most likely already have a big backlog of issues and reported problems. Your staff is working hard to get on top of it all. The last thing you want is new stream of incoming service requests. This fact may prevent facility managers from making it easier to log service requests.

The recent development in smartphones and tablet computers together with software is a driver and enabler of BIM supported data-collection. Be aware that some of the technologies are in its infancy and make sure you do your due dilligence before jumping in.

Oppurtunities

The good news are these challenges are being adressed.

Mobile devices are getting more memory, faster processors and bigger and better screens. Connectivity are getting better and so are solutions for offline support. Both standard and rugged mobile units now include cameras and video recorders. In of itself these are not BIM tools but they are a great way both to support the FM process and enrich the lifecycle BIM FM model. Furthermore technologies like geopositioning, RFID and NFC make it easier to identify components and register positioning.

With a connected model you get access to the asset register, as built documentation and component history etc on site. With access to the model you can see what is inside the wall or above the ceiling. All of this means more analysis can happen during registration.

Advice

Start now. Use new technology to collect data and receive service requests. Integrate with the rest of your system. Start building up that lifecycle repository regardsless of you BIM maturity.

System needs to work well in unstable/ low bandwith situations.

Take a holistic and longterm approvach to lifecycle BIM. Eat the elefant one bite at a time, and position yourself for the future.

If you have 3d bim models convert them to mobile friendly versions. Also use them to generate floorplans and asset classification systems (asset list, space schedueles etc)

Make sure your system of choice allows you to export your data in an open format, preferrably supporting industry standards.