Tag: Revit

FM:Interact and the Autodesk Forge Viewer


We’ve been integrating bi-directionally between our FM:Interact Integrated Workplace Management System (IWMS) and Revit models since 2010 and have been on the forefront of Lifecycle BIM since then. For the most part, building owners who are going to utilize Revit models for day-to-day facilities operations primarily relied upon 2D plan views generated from the model for all aspects of managing their facilities including space and occupancy planning, assets and maintenance management etc. Traditionally plan views have provided a tremendous amount of information to facilities teams, especially intelligent plans, where users can query a drawing and get direct feedback on space and assets on the plan. Over the past two years we’ve been integrating 3D viewing technology from Autodesk to help our customers take better advantage of the entire model.

We’ve recently updated FM:Interact to the latest Forge Viewer from Autodesk and the results are truly fantastic. The Autodesk Forge Viewer gives us the next generation graphics engine that enables our customers to take greater advantage of their Revit models for operations. Here are some of the top reasons why the time is right now and why we are now making this fantastic viewer available to FM:Interact customers who are using Revit models in their implementations of our software.


Revit models can be large. They can contain a tremendous level of rich object data that goes far beyond what is possibly in a traditional 2D CAD environment. Facility team members either at their desks or in the field need rapid access to data both graphical and tabular and waiting for excessive load times of drawings or models just isn’t going to work for building professionals who to handle tremendous workloads. The Autodesk Forge Model Viewer is incredibly fast and streams the models to the browser real-time even with large multi-discipline models.


3D Model Viewers have been around for years. For our customers the rich building data that resides within each of the objects in a Revit model is more important than the actual 3D geometry. The Autodesk Forge Model Viewer not only streams the entire building model quickly to the browser, it also includes the data associated with the building elements in a way that end users can easily select building components in the browser interface. Once they select an object in the viewer they can see information about the item they are selecting in the FM:Interact data pane that is not only in the model but also in FM:Interact database itself.

FMI Autodesk Forge Viewer - FM:Interact and the Autodesk Forge Viewer

Ease of use

The majority of the end users on facility teams are not BIM experts nor do they need to be. Access to the model and the ability to navigate, select and control what is being viewed has to be simple and intuitive and needs to support either simple mouse navigation or finger gestures when used in a mobile interface. The Autodesk Forge Viewer’s interface is elegant and simple to navigate, is easy to use and has easy to understand menus to help anyone who needs to access the model in their daily facilities workflows. This can be done with minimal training and even the most tech challenged users will be working with Revit models in no time.


Facility team members are more mobile than ever. Being able to access, interact with and report on facilities data through a variety of web-based interfaces is a necessity. The Autodesk Forge Viewer works with most common Web browsers and also supports viewing and interacting with the model directly in FM:Mobile on Apple iOS or Android devices.

We are extremely excited about our latest integration with the Autodesk Forge Viewer. Support for this viewing technology is available now. If you would like to find out how you can add this capability to your FM:Interact implementation please reach out to your FM:Systems sales manager or our dedicated support team.

The Benefits of Lifecycle BIM for Facility Management


Business Information Modeling (BIM) has transformed architecture, engineering and construction. However the great potential of BIM is to provide accurate, timely, and relevant information not just during design and construction for a single building, but also throughout the lifecycle of an entire portfolio of facilities. The use of BIM technology in the operational phase of a building’s lifecycle is just beginning to take hold as building owners look for new ways to improve the effectiveness of their facility operations.

The most recent McGraw Hill Smart Marketing Report on the business value of BIM for building owners which was completed in 2014 said that 84% of building owners in the US and 95% of building owners would be adopting the use of BIM for all new construction within 2 years….which is now.

But why are we seeing this transformation and what are the reasons that building owners are beginning to rapidly adopt BIM based solutions for the entire building lifecycle including all aspects of building operations?

Lifecycle BIM is the practice of creating, maintaining and utilizing building information to manage operations and maintenance of buildings throughout their operational lifecycles. Facility managers are finding value in a number of areas of building operations that benefit from enhanced data.

BIM Lifecycle Participants - The Benefits of Lifecycle BIM for Facility Management

BIM Lifecycle Participants

Some areas of value for using BIM in facilities management are as follows:

Improved Space Management

By understanding the details of how space is used, facility professionals can reduce vacancy and ultimately achieve major reductions in real estate expenses. The room and area information in BIM models are the foundation for good space management.

Streamlined Maintenance

The key challenge in developing a maintenance program is entering the product and asset information required for preventive maintenance. The information about building equipment stored in BIM models can eliminate months of effort to accurately populate maintenance systems.

Efficient use of Energy

BIM can help facilitate the analysis and comparisons of various energy alternatives to help facility managers dramatically reduce environmental impacts and operating costs. By analyzing the costs and the savings of various facility improvements and building system retrofits, facility managers gain a tool to optimize building performance over the life of the building.

Economical Retrofits and Renovations

A “living” BIM model provides an easier means of representing three-dimensional aspects of the building. Better information about existing conditions reduces the cost and complexity of building renovation and retrofit projects. By providing more accurate and dependable information to contractors, change orders resulting from “surprises” in as-built conditions can be greatly reduced.

Enhanced Lifecycle Management

Some building design professionals are embedding data on life expectancy and replacement costs in BIM models, thereby helping an owner understand benefits of investing in materials and systems that may cost more initially but have a better payback over the life of the building. For example, using vinyl wall covering for interior wall finishes is more expensive than paint initially, but may result in reduced overall lifecycle costs since it is more durable. The lifecycle data is also very valuable for forecasting ongoing capital improvement costs.

The evolution of a BIM for FM



Building owners are widely embracing Building Information Modeling (BIM) as a core part of their design and construction process and now are beginning to extend the value of BIM to the entire lifecycle of a facility or portfolio of facilities.

Lifecycle BIM is the collaborative model based process for creating, maintaining and utilizing building information to effectively manage operations and maintenance of a building or portfolio of buildings throughout their operational lifecycle. There are two primary methods for gathering and creating a data rich “model” on one or multiple buildings in a building owner’s facility portfolio.  Both of these methods work in conjunction with one another to enable an owner to move to Lifecycle BIM for all of their facilities.

The first method includes leveraging BIM data for post construction use within facilities systems, creating an interactive operations and maintenance manual between the BIM model and an Integrated Workplace Management System (IWMS) product suite such as the FM:Systems FM:Interact product. This requires close coordination between AEC teams who have chosen to design, engineer and construct new facilities or renovations and the building owner’s project team for which the building is being constructed.

The second method involves modeling existing facilities and is an important aspect of embracing a holistic and comprehensive approach to Lifecycle BIM for the entire portfolio.  For owners who own and operate a number of facilities within their building portfolio, only taking advantage of a BIM based lifecycle approach for buildings, which are newly constructed, inherently limits the value that building information modeling can provide, even for existing facilities.

The evolution of a facilities BIM

Many building owner’s approach us who have Revit models that were developed through the design and construction process and ask us if they will work with our facility management software, FM:Interact.  The short answer to this question is yes, but it’s usually followed with a short list of questions just to make sure that the model is appropriate for use within a CAFM or IWMS environment. Typical questions can range from what Level of Development (LOD) is represented in the model all the way down to where the spaces are defined on the floors. The truth is, value can be derived from any of the models developed previously in the lifecycle process.  There are varying degrees to the usefulness of the information based upon the quality, type, amount of detail, and appropriateness for facilities management of the information contained in the model(s).

Here is a general overview of how I view model development and what its primary use is for each phase of a buildings lifecycle.  This generalization of a models use is not intended to capture everything you can do with a model in its various states as that would be extremely difficult to do in this brief article. The main intent is to help you to understand how Building Information Models develop over time as we move towards FM and building operations. This also primarily addresses models described in the first method of the introduction portion of this article which is a facilities BIM that has been strongly informed by the AEC process.  Figure 1 and the descriptions below described the basic types of models that can inform a model that works well for facilities management.

BIM Evolution - The evolution of a BIM for FM

Figure 1 – Evolution of a BIM

Design model

Developed by the design team with a LOD to relay design intent and generate documentation and details used during construction.

Construction model

Contains a high level of detail used before and during actual construction to reduce uncertainty, improve safety, eliminate conflicts, and simulate real world outcomes.

As-built model

Contains both construction and fabrication data with detailed geometry and multiple disciplines aggregated into a single model that facilitates turnover from AEC to owners.

Facilities BIM

Contains a level of accuracy that reflects the design model but with updated as-built conditions for space and assets used for operations and maintenance.

Revit Modeling Tips Part 5–Fixed versus movable assets and linked modeling coordinates


Additional Revit modeling considerations

In my previous Revit Modeling tips for FM I covered several specific Revit capabilities and features to help you build basic models that can use successfully for facilities management.  This included tips for creating facility area plans, type vs. instance parameters and how much data you should be tracking in your model to keep it meaningful and maintainable thoroughly the potentially long operational life of a facility from acquisition, through operations and finally ending with disposition.  In my last post in this 5 part series I’m going to focus on some bigger picture considerations that should be taken into account when creating BIM for FM models that I haven’t covered previously.

The majority of the Revit modeling standards that have been developed for building owners have been primarily focused on documenting the attribution of the as-built conditions of a building once a building has been completed. This in a sense helps to create an accurate digital turnover for the building owner.  FM:Systems has been working on modeling guidelines for building owners focused on building operations over the past years and a few of the additional considerations that we are looking at to help building owners determine what to model and to what level of detail are as follows:

What is the primary purpose of the modeled element?

Typical considerations when answering this question could include whether or not the object I am creating in Revit is being created primarily to help me run a more effective maintenance program for a particular facility or am I modeling simply for reporting/inventory purposes or perhaps a combination of both. I believe this is important for owners to consider because it gives the modeler an additional point to address when determining which attributes to track. If I have 9,000 chairs of the same type it’s probably not important to track serial numbers for instance but I might want to track an asset tag or barcode so I can keep an accurate count as part of my furniture inventory. On the other hand if I am tracking a critical mechanical asset such as a chiller I might not need to only track the originally installed serial number but also additional information such as warranty expirations, power requirements etc. as these items would be critical to maintaining this piece of equipment.

 Is the modeled element fixed or movable?

If a piece of equipment is in a system and unlikely to be easily moved we most likely consider tracking several ways that this item is being hosted. For instance a chiller which probably will never move once it has been installed could be hosted not only in a room but also will be hosted as part of the mechanical system. A chair which is on wheels and moves around as-needed probably doesn’t need this level of consideration.

 Spatial location and coordinate system

This point focuses more on model management and is one of the lessons I’ve learned recently; and highlights the importance of  managing modeling coordinates as part of an organizations overall Revit modeling management process. This is especially important if I am bringing AutoCAD backgrounds into my Revit model from other disciplines or trades. This also applies to bringing in Revit models from other disciplines. Careful consideration of this needs to occur as part of an overall model management process to ensure that models and drawings that are used either as overlays or attachments. All discipline or trade specific models or AutoCAD backgrounds should share a common coordinate system to enable them to be referenced into each other without modification which ensures that fit together perfectly.  Even being slightly off and cause huge problems and methods should be adopted by modelers to ensure accuracy.

Revit Tips Part 3 – The difference between Revit Type and Instance Parameters


This blog post is focused on helping facilities team members understanding the differences between type and instance parameters in Revit and how they can be used effectively to help you track the most important data associated with your building assets.  We’ll focus on the types of assets that facility managers work with every single day such as moveable equipment like furniture and computers and fixed equipment such as HVAC, plumbing and electrical equipment that needs to have either corrective or preventive maintained performed on it.  When I first started using Revit type and instance parameters were a little bit of a mystery so let me see if I can explain how and when to use them from a facilities management standpoint.

I think the best way to approach this topic is to think of building assets both fixed and movable within a facility and how you would describe them.  Facility mangers think of building assets in terms of their location, use, type and individual characteristics that help you to understand exactly where they are and what they are used for and then apply these principals to how you would expect to track an asset in a model and not vice versa.  To help show you how we can make this correlation easy to understand I think it’s best to think of instance and type parameters in Revit like this:

  • Type = A catalog item where the properties for that item are the same for all occurrences of that asset
  • Instance = An item from a catalog that is installed in your facility where the properties for that asset are unique to its installation

For example, a building might use the same model of a pump in ten locations.  The model number and basic specifications for the pump would be identical and should therefore be tracked as part of the “Type.”

Other properties will be unique to each occurrence.  For example, each pump would serve a different zone of the building, so the zone would be an “Instance” property and each pump would have its own unique identifier such as a serial or barcode number.

Think of Types and Instances in terms of their one to many relationship where you will have only one specific type of an item but it might be installed in a number of your facilities any number of times and each installation will have its own unique identifying attributes.  Image 1 below portrays this one to many relationship.

type versus instance parameters - Revit Tips Part 3 - The difference between Revit Type and Instance Parameters

In Revit itself we apply these same principals. Image 2 shows an example Revit model in floor plan view where you can see that we have one type of pump in this mechanical space but there are two instances of that specific pump

type versus instance parameters screenshot - Revit Tips Part 3 - The difference between Revit Type and Instance Parameters

In a future blog post I’ll cover tip number 4 which will apply directly to the Type vs. Instance topic where we’ll discuss attribution and when and where to track specific types of data on the furniture and equipment in your facilities.