ready, fire AIM *)
More and more projects are using BIM to support design and construction. More and more processes are going digital in the AEC industry. New tools and open standards are key enablers. Governments and businesses alike are touting the benefits of BIM across the board. It is assumed by all that the operations phase are the main beneficiary (We just have not gotten there yet).
But what happens to BIM based projects when they finish? Will the operations team use the models? Will they find what they need, will they keep models up-to-date and will owners and operators get the benefits promised? If we are not screaming “Yes, of course” in unison then what is needed for it to happen? And where do we start?
Previously in this blog we have covered bits and pieces to help in this transition. We have looked at interoperability standards for model exchange and structured “data drops”. We have covered BIM requirements, model checking and BIM levels, all focusing on the lifecycle aspect of BIM in an information management context.
In this article we will continue on our mission to bridge the gap between design/construction and operations and do what we can to “bring the world's asset registers alive”. We will put the bits and pieces from earlier articles into a larger setting by looking at the concept of an Asset Information Model (AIM). We will explore how the AIM can support the need for data and information to support decision making during the lifetime of an asset. The goal is to maximise value and optimize capital and operational expenditures for the asset and for the asset portfolio.
In our exploration we will look at standardization efforts today, specifically UK PAS 1192-3, to act as a base to start exploring the future of the Asset Information Model.
What is an Asset Information Model and what is its role in Facilities Management?
Facilities management (FM) are an integrated approach to operating, maintaining, improving and adapting building and infrastructure assets in order to support the primary objectives of the occupants and owners of those assets.
FM functions require extensive data and information from various fields and disciplines in order to fulfil their purpose. An Asset Information Model (AIM) is a data model that contains all digital data required to operate the asset and thereby fulfill the purpose described.
This digital repository contains the history of the building and its components and the information needed for decision support in the future. It need to support processes like planning of maintenance activities, failure root cause detection, service life planning etc etc.
The actual “model” or “data repository” should be a unified information system for the users, but underneath the model can consist of multiple different databases, file stores and bi-directional links to enterprise systems and domain tools.
The AIM contains data from design and construction of the asset supplemented with ongoing data from operations, maintenance and minor and major changes along the life-cycle of the asset. The data is a mix of geometry (drawings and 3d models), structured data (database records describing components, sensor data etc) and documents (o&m manuals, contracts, spare parts lists etc).
You can say that in the description given above it is only the “digital” part that separates this from how any random building archive are/ should be - and you would be correct. So let's add some “intelligence” into the mix.
The same way that BIM implies object intelligence, relations and interoperability there is a need for the AIM to be intelligent and integrated
- The basis for the AIM should be an intelligent model - objects with their properties and relations should be based on industry best practices and standards
- There should be support for classification systems, both industry standard ones and asset owner specific ones
- The model/ repository will consist of a mix of geometry, data and documents, and there should be controls in place to interlink those different content types
- Some master data need to be kept at the core of the AIM but a lot of the interlinked data could reside in enterprise systems as long as there is a bi-directional connection to make it a holistic system
- The contents of the AIM should be the single source of truth of approved and validated information related to the asset(s), spaces and items
- The AIM should support core information management services like version control, access control, state and lifecycle management etc etc
Some of these are attainable short term and some are longer term goals (the same way as the BIM levels for capital projects are). We have in an earlier article proposed a maturity model for Asset Information Models which looks at integration of BIM data with CAFM/CMMS and building archives to describe AIMs at different maturity levels.
Why do you need an AIM?
“Government as a client can derive significant improvements in cost, value and carbon performance through the use of open sharable asset information”
A good AIM is crucial for the correct operation and cost control of an asset. The model and the information management processes surrounding it should ensure the availability, integrity and correct transfer of data and information during the operational phase.
We can take service life of systems and components as an example. Without good data you will replace the wrong components and assets, take incorrect actions or skip maintaining components altogether. If components are not maintained their service life is reduced, warranties and guarantees are not valid, there may be safety hazards etc etc.
Another way to put it is - the assets need an owner's manual, a users guide and a service booklet. The owner needs it for himself and the current service provider, and it is definitely needed if the assets are to be sold or if the service provider will be replaced.
In addition to solving the current needs we must remember that we are preparing for an even more complex future with more technology, more demands of flexibility from users and even tougher resource constraints. If our assets need better information infrastructure in the future the time to get the AIMs in order are today when the assets are being designed, built and handed over. We also need to get processes in place to keep asset registers up to date.
We also see a future where more and more asset data will be generated (think sensors and other monitoring services). Also the kinds of systems in the enterprise and in the FM profession that needs to talk to and update the AIM will continue to grow.
Are there initiatives to standardise an Asset Information Model?
“Construction 2025 calls for future whole life cost savings of up to 33% and the application of digital capabilities such as those described in PAS 1192-3 is a part of achieving that target.“
In this article we will focus on “BIM-based” AIMs. When people talk about lifecycle BIM they typically either assume the project BIM with some linked data and documentation or they talk about importing data into CAFM/CMMS systems and linking model geometry from there. How to do this is either not defined or it is defined as a short paragraph in the BIM Execution Plan (BEP). This again as a result of copying a BEP template or the BEP of the previous project.
But there are standardisation efforts underway to help the industry evolve. The most notably one is part of the UK Government “BIM programme”. Their initiative is interesting because :
- They have a holistic view of the whole design, build, operate industry. They also cover both building and infrastructure assets.
- The initiatives are based on very ambitious goals for savings on the life-cycle costs of assets
- They have mandated minimum requirements for government funded major works projects. Related to the requirements a whole supporting organisation with standards, guidelines, promotional marketing, industry networking etc have been established
- The UK is using their BIM programme to both get more efficient assets for themselves but also to be more competitive in the globalising construction industry
- The whole world of BIM is looking to the UK for “guidance”. Internationalisation of the UK standards are already under way as we will see below.
So what parts of the UK BIM programme are most relevant for our AIM discussion? The key document that defines the Asset Information Model is “PAS 1192-3:2014 Specification for information management for the operational phase of assets using building information modelling“. PAS 1192-3 is the lesser known “companion” to “PAS 1192-2:2013 Specification for information management for the capital/delivery phase of construction projects using building information modelling”.
As the name implies 1192-3 is for operations phase and 1192-2 for capital delivery phase (design and construction). 1192-2 was released first and 1192-2 is also the first in line to be standardised within the ISO system (A technical committee is already working on this within ISO). There are expectations that 1192-3 will be included into the ISO track as well.
The combination of the two PAS’es give us a good framework to discuss the role of AIM, project BIMs and how they are related.
What are key requirements for the AIM according to PAS 1192-3
To have a proper AIM it is Important that handovers between project work and ongoing operations are properly designed and implemented. Handovers can happen both from a project to operations but also the other way is relevant, when an existing asset will have major works you need background information from the AIM to inform your design process. And then there are all the existing assets with no current plans for major works that could still benefit from BIM and AIM processes
PAS 1192-3 describes three major areas to standardise the AIM and related processes
- It defines a process of how to make sure your overall need for asset related data are specified at a higher level and trickles down to the specific asset and major work so that the data will be there for the organisation in their enterprise systems when it is needed for their operations and decision making
- It defines how a federated model of data from discipline BIM models, structured data and documents are combined to generate the AIM and link it to enterprise systems
- It defines the nature and type of data, both for within the AIM and for information exchanges between the AIM and external systems, phases and processes. This definition is mostly done by cross referencing other standards.
The 1192-3 Combines BS 1192 (collaborative production of AEC information) with ISO 55000/ PAS 55 (Asset Management). See the figure for how the asset management process and Information Management process fits together.
The organization that own the asset need to identify what information it needs in order to make key operational decisions. These are strategic high level decisions related to optimal value and optimal life-cycle cost. To answer these questions input is needed from different departments in the organization - in particular people making strategic decisions related to the asset portfolio and asset systems. Out of this process will come Organizational Information Requirements (OIRs) - Information requirements to meet needs of asset management systems and other organizational functions.
As covered earlier asset information will originate and be updated partly from major works (e.g. handover of Project information models from construction projects) and partly from day to day operations and minor works (data and information from external service contracts and in-house works). This data and information are detailed pieces of data and information that when placed in context can answer questions raised in OIR. To specify the requirements for these specific pieces of information Asset Information Requirements (AIRs) needs to be generated and validated against. To specify the AIRs input is needed from people more engaged in day to day activities of running, operating and maintaining the facility.
As we see in the figure and have partly covered earlier the AIRs will inform and regulate the Project Information Models for major works. This is where other acronyms like Employer's Information Requirements, Plain Language Questions and BIM Execution Plans comes into play. They are defined and explained in PAS 1192-2 and will be covered in a separate article on this blog.
Data and information content
In this article we will not cover an extensive list of the data and information content to be included in the AIM. Partly because the PAS 1102-3 do not cover it and partly because we will save it for another article. However it is important to cover how the PAS envision how the AIM will be generated by what kind of information at a higher level.
At the highest level the AIM will consist of “data and information related to or required for the operational phase”. The “consist of” is a bit loose as the information can be both contained in the model and it could be linked to the model.
The same way as the PAS 1192-2 does it, the PAS 1192-3 defines a “level 2” approach to information management as a “federated model” - “Managed 3D environment held in separate BIM tools with attached data”. The core of the AIM will according to the UK PAS will be
- Original brief, specification, design intent
- 3d object based models (BIM) as federated discipline models
- Structured data and documents required to operate and maintain the facility
- Ownership, rights and covenants
- Info obtained from maintenance and survey
- Info obtained from monitoring the operation and condition
The AIM is envisioned to be made up a data store (COBie data and operations data) and a file store (models and documents - o&m manuals, photos, correspondence etc etc)
Common Data Environment (CDE)
As an information management standard PAS 1192-3 also includes processes and requirements to control the accuracy and currency of the information within. It mainly does so by defining the asset information model as a “Common Data Environment” (CDE) similar to what is defined in PAS 1192-2. It also reuses the information lifecycle statuses that are used in the design/build focused PAS.
At the same time the PAS 1193-3 itself states that “an obvious difference between PAS 1192-2 and this PAS is the more flexible sequence of activities throughout the asset life cycle. Whereas PAS 1192-2 is able to follow a clear and well-understood sequence, commonly defined by project stages, this PAS applies across a mixture of planned and unplanned events in the life of an asset that can happen in any order between the points of asset handover and asset disposal”
The statuses are still relevant but the workflow support will need to be less rigid that what is commonly the case on project extranet CDEs.
Annexes and pointers
In addition to the formal core part of the standard the PAS also contains a number of annexes with informational content and pointers to external resources. In combination these provide a good collection of domain best practice and things to consider when planning for implementing the PAS requirements. We will not cover these properly in this article. We will revisit them in follow up articles and in the meantime we suggest you read through the PAS itself, at least the areas of interest. The annexes contain listings of
- Activities - a listing of high level asset management activities to be considered when defining the Organizational Information Requirements
- Information requirements - Example Asset Information Requirements grouped by sub-domains (legal, commercial, financial, technical and managerial information)
- Enterprise systems - examples of systems to be linked, both specific to asset and property management, but also more generic Enterprise Resource Planning systems and similar
- Triggers - Types of activities/ happenings in the organisation/ asset portfolio that means an information management process needs to be triggered, e.g. major/minor works, change of ownership etc etc
- Comprehensive examples of the CDE in use
Transferring Project BIM models to AIM models (handover to operations)
Transferring an AIM between service providers
- Contractual scenarios - some common scenarios are discussed, e.g “Develop, transfer own” is one scenario where asset management is relevant. Not to much specific information is given on how the scenarios affect asset information management though
- Stakeholder roles and responsibilities - a matrix is given that describe the roles of “owner, operator, maintainer and other” are given based on what the trigger event are for the asset management process - e.g what is the responsibility of the owner when “developing an AIM for an existing asset”
What is not covered
Apart from listing some examples of types of content the Asset Information Model will consist of the PAS 1102-3 do not cover or set requirements on what types of content or what data at what detail level should be included and linked to the model. Those requirements should be uncovered as part of the OIR and AIR processes for each organization and asset individually. We expect multiple templates and best practice checklists to be available and are planning on providing the community with some ourselves. But as always - Beware of “ready made templates”. You always have to make adjustments to suit the needs and ambitions of your specific situation
The road ahead
“Here are your IFC files & COBie spreadsheets. I cut your maintenance budget by 33%. Now go save the planet!"
We already mentioned some follow-up content around the Asset Information Model and PAS 1192-3 we are planning to do on this blog. We also want to share our vision for the AIM of the future where we evolve in maturity from where the current PAS aspire. If you have inputs or comments either to the current article or what we should cover next, please share below
*) And - what´s with the subtitle - ready, fire AIM?
As you may have guessed - its a pun. The lifecycle consideration and post-handover considerations (and thereby the AIM) always comes last. Even with all the best intentions of the UK BIM programme the CAPEX PAS came before the OPEX PAS (even if they state that the strategy and overall planning should start with the latter informing the former). Also the PAS-1192-2 is the one heading for ISO with a "maybe later" for the PAS-1192-3.
Thats why we say that as an industry we always ready-fire-AIM, never ready-AIM-fire