BIM for facility managers and owners - Construction handover

Following our introduction to BIM for facility managers and owners we will start a series of posts to discuss common processes that make up "lifecycle BIM". We will keep our focus on the owner and facility manager. Our first process is construction handover.

Contruction handover - BIM for facilities management

Why contruction handover is important for lifecycle BIM

Bridging the gap between the construction and operation phases, the handover process represents the greatest information divide in the facility lifecycle. The amount of information generated so far is huge, but the information is not tailored for the coming processes. New information needs to be generated, gathered, structured and merged with the existing information. From being mostly about what, why and how to construct the facility the information will now more act as a "backbone" and reference for the ongoing operations.

Even if you have no current intention to implement "BIM FM" you need to learn about BIM content in a handover context. More and more often design and construction will be supported by BIM and information will already be in BIM formats. Also, more and more you will be asked for BIM data in downstream processes when doing modifications or hiring specialists.

If you do plan to implement BIM FM now or in the future it is important to get this process right. If the handover process fails, you will have a hard time catching up with the other BIM FM processes we will cover later.

BIM handover challenges

Information transfer in contruction handover has always been hard. In some ways introducing BIM content and BIM processes into the mix make it even harder, at least in the short term.

Information are now again generated in new formats. Owners and FMs that has been struggelig to make sense of CAD file formats (DWG, DGN, DXF etc) now have a new generation of file formats to deal with (RVT, PLN, IFC etc). As with the cad formats these formats are often proprietary and undocumented. Common for both closed and open formats today are that they are in a certain version of the underlaying format and therefore needs specific versions of the tools to open. This is a big challenge for facilities with multi-decade lifespans.

Often the extra formats means one more version of the same information. Geometry will now be in the model, in CAD files, PFDs and printed on paper. equipment information will be in the model, in speadsheets and in the binder.

Currently the information stored in models are hard to quality check. Participants on both sides of the handover will have limited knowledge and experience in the coming years. The nature of the industry will make this a slow change.

And then there is the legal challenges of what should be delivered, at what cost, who owns the information etc.

BIM handover oppurtunities

On the positive side data storage is cheap and getting cheaper every day. This allows you to keep all the data you think may be useful in the future. The key part is deciding what information to keep up to date and what are saved in a stale format in case it is needed.

Information retrieval and auto-classification technologies are getting more powerful reducing the need to manually classify information. New standards and data formats are emerging to provide openness and interoperability between tools. We also see new tools and plugins emerging that help verify, transform, generate and import information suited for FM processes.

BIM tools and processes do make it easier for participants in design and construction to collaborate and work on a common model. If the projects gets this right it will be easier to capture, classify and transfer information in a common format preparing for handover.
It will also make it easier for owners and facility managers to get access to information during these preceding phases to learn about the information and make corrections along the way, further reducing the information divide.

Some advice

We have put together a quick list of advice to get you started thinking about BIM FM in construction handover. We hope at least some of them will be relevant in your specific situation.

  • Start now. Assess where you are and where you want to be. Have a look at your portifolio of construction and major development projects and see what could and should be done immedeately.

  • Align with industry standards and industry best practices. At the same time you need to respect your legacy systems and specific needs. To make informed decisions you need to read up on the subject, get training or get help from professionals. Get hands-on experience and join a community to share findings.

  • When receiving digital information from the construction project save most of it for future reference. Separate the information into categories:

  • Information about spaces and "managed assets" (equipment and technology that have moving parts, needs periodic maintenance and routinely inspections). This is information you want to keep up to date in some kind of FM system. It also includes "linked" documentation such as o&m manuals, parts lists, contact information etc

  • As built documentation - This is up to date information from the contruction project describing the facility as is (the virtuel copy of the project). You want this information to be correct on the handover date but you will not be able to keep it up to date at this detail level as time goes by. For BIM information this should be in two formats, both the original proprietary format and an open format tailored for long time storage (E.g keep both the revit/ archcad and the ifc files)

  • Process documentation. The is digital information about the construction process. You probably have a lot of this information gathered in a project extranet. This information can give useful information about what happened, the background for decisions etc. This should be kept around in an accessible format at least during the warranty periods.

  • Handover is a great time to pilot other BIM supported processes to see the value of an integrated aproach. E.g. BIM supported tools to track defect lists both before and after handover date. This is also a great way to bridge gap between construction and operations phases.