As BIM at Level 2 begins to become a more familiar part of the landscape, increasing attention is being turned to the area in which, statistically, it is likely to be most significant: facilities management (FM). It was always going to be the case that given that there are many more existing assets than new build projects, the application of BIM to FM is going to be in monetary terms far greater. It also reflects the fact that the bulk of a building’s lifecycle costs are taken up in its maintenance, refurbishment and redevelopment rather than during the build phase.

The Publicly Available Specification (PAS) that governs BIM during the FM phase is PAS1192-3. This is described as the “Specification for information management at the operational phase of assets using Building Information Modelling” and it does what it says on the tin. PAS1192-3 deals with the availability, integrity and transfer of data and information during the operational phase of an asset’s life. It involves the use of an Asset Information Model (AIM), which is the FM version of the Project Information Model (PIM) developed during the design and construction phase of the project under PAS1192-2. The AIM is generated through the application of the Asset Information Requirements (AIR). The AIR is the data and information requirements of the organisation in relation to the assets for which it is responsible.

The link between PAS1192-2 and PAS1192-3 is important, particularly if you are moving from one to the other. If you are to use BIM properly and apply it throughout the lifecycle of the asset, you actually need to think about the AIM before you begin work on the PIM. Let me explain: the AIR is generated by the information requirements of the owner of the building. The AIR in turn feeds into the Employer’s Information Requirements which form part of the BIM protocol used during the build phase. The AIR also leads to the development of the AIM. The PIM also contributes to the AIM so that the two are closely linked, as you would expect if you are looking for a seamless transition from PIM to AIM and from the build phase to the operational phase. More importantly, if you are seeking the optimal use of the asset it clearly makes sense to ensure that FM considerations are taken into account before you start building. Consequently, you should really think about the AIM first.

The most obvious difference between the PIM and the AIM is that the latter has to be more flexible because it is dealing with a sequence of activities which will occur through the asset’s lifecycle, some of which are planned and others which are unplanned. The AIM at BIM level 2 will be a federated model consisting of a number of parts including information about the original brief, 3D models of the building and its environment, information about the building and information derived from monitoring the building during its operation. When a trigger event occurs (which is a planned or unplanned event which changes the building) either the existing AIM is used or a new AIM is created linked to that specific trigger event. The AIM then acts as a repository for all the information about the works related to the trigger event and as a way of receiving information from the parties involved up to the “as built” stage of the event.

The longer timescales involved in the FM asset lifecycle period also raise issues of their own: for example, dealing with information degradation (which will kick in from day one), the ongoing issues of cyber security, interoperability issues which will apply equally to the FM as to the new build phase and, if the asset lasts that long, Level 2 to Level 3 transfer, which will raise even more acute intellectual property issues than exist at Level 2.

For the FM sector BIM raises huge opportunities but also huge challenges. The proper implementation of PAS1192-3 means the early involvement of FM in the design and construction process. It involves the creation of new roles – the Asset Information Manager to replace the Information Manager during the build phase, and a Data Manager to control information flow – and will require the modification of existing FM contracts to cater for the use of BIM. Is the FM sector ready? FM contractors have for many years been asking to have an earlier involvement in the design process. That time may now have arrived. As they say, be careful what you wish for…