In one of my blog posts last year I introduced the concept of the BIM for FM model which I believe is the best approach to providing a Revit model to a facilities team in a way that has been purpose-built for their success. The BIM for FM model is an evolution of all the models that came before it in the process of designing, engineering and construction of a building. The primary reason for this approach to modeling is to absorb information from the AEC process that informs the ultimate model that is being used for FM. This approach also recognizes that an operational model has different priorities and will have a much longer life than an AEC model. This means that Revit models you are turning over to facility teams not only have to be useful, but also need to be maintainable thoroughly the potentially long operational life of a facility from acquisition, through operations and finally ending with disposition.
A growing audience for your Revit Models
I get the opportunity to attend several conferences over the course of the year including large conferences such as Autodesk University, IFMA’s World Workplace and the Facility Fusion conference as well as small conferences such as the BIM Workshops and regional IFMA events. Every one of these conferences now have a considerable number of classes and presentations that are emphasizing the potential use of a Revit model for operations. All this points towards that fact that Lifecycle BIM has now moved from theory to practice and building owners are looking for modeling guidance as they begin to explore the integration of Revit models into their facilities processes.
Understand your clients’ needs
Revit models constructed for the purposes of fabrication, coordination and as-built conditions are typically not going to function well in a facilities environment if they are used “as is.” It’s important for AEC service providers and consultants to understand their customer needs. Chuck Mies from Autodesk sums this up best by posing the following three questions that you should be asking a building owner if they intend to use a Revit model for facilities management:
- Who on the facilities team is going to use the data?
- What data is going to be collected during the AEC process for future FM purposes, and how?
- How will it be maintained once operations begin?
By asking these questions and engaging a building owner you can have greater confidence that a Revit model turned over for the purposes of FM will be more successful and actually used during operations. I also recommend that you ask your customer to really think about what data is critical and who in their facilities team will be responsible for maintaining the information once the model is turned over. This will ensure that you don’t over model or provide excessive detail especially in your equipment families that is not critical and will be difficult for a facilities team to maintain.
Know your client’s standards
Re-work is never fun and can be costly for whoever needs to perform the work a second or third time. Before modeling check with your client to see if they have internally developed data standards for their Revit models before you go too far in developing a new one. If they are migrating from an AutoCAD based FM process to Revit, ask them for their existing AutoCAD guidelines as this will at least give you a starting point in understanding what is important to the owner from a facilities perspective. Even something as basic as understanding their room numbering standards as well as how they classify space types, asset types and data etc. will help you ensure that the information you put into their Revit model will translate more easily into facilities operations which can really help to reduce re-work and smooth the transition of the model to the facilities team.
In conclusion, I strongly believe that the transition to a BIM based building lifecycle is well underway in a number of large owner companies and organizations. This creates a tremendous opportunity for AEC professionals to provide better Revit modeling services to building owners especially if you understand your clients’ needs and standards which will help you to better serve their needs and will help you to also strengthen your trusted advisor status.