Leveraging BIM for Enhanced Maintenance: A New Era in Facility Management

Anna Liza Montenegro, Director of Marketing, Microsol Resources – AEC Technology Solutions

Posted 5/14/2024

Over the past twenty years, building information modeling (BIM) has been steadily securing itself as an essential tool in the architecture, engineering, and construction fields. Its advanced 3D capabilities are used in just about every design and construction phase. However, with new developments in real-time data collection, the advantages of BIM can extend beyond the completion of a facility.

When applied to facility management, BIM opens the door to better asset management, improved safety, and optimized maintenance strategies that ensure that a building performs at its best 100 percent of the time.

Understanding BIM’s Relation to Facility Management

What is BIM? At its core, BIM is a complex 3D modeling technology with the power to generate intricate digital models of a structure, including its functional characteristics. These models allow facility managers to visualize building systems that they wouldn’t otherwise be able to see. 

For example, plumbing, HVAC, and electrical systems are typically hidden within a facility’s walls and ceilings. However, with a BIM-generated 3D model, a property manager can isolate these systems to give them a clearer picture of their configuration and how they interact with other components of the facility.

In recent years, BIM has taken an even further step in the future of facility management with the implementation of on-site sensors, which send real-time data to a central BIM software system. These sensors provide valuable insight into system usage, wear and tear, as well as damage or failure.

Optimizing Asset Management with BIM Technologies

Facility assets (or systems) refer to the different functional components that make up a facility. Each asset has its specific purpose in the overall operation of a building. A system may be comprised of a single element, such as a roof, or a series of components, like a security system.

As time goes on and new technologies emerge, these assets become more complex and more challenging to manage effectively. Thankfully, BIM technology helps facility administrators stay ahead of the game by implementing active condition tracking. This feature first collects asset data such as air and water flow rates, HVAC energy efficiency, and solar charging speeds. Then, it feeds this data into a 3D BIM model where an engineer can see the simulated effects of adjusting or modifying the assets and building systems. 

Overall, BIM technology eliminates the trial-and-error process of building maintenance by finding the most efficient strategy from the start. 

Predictive Maintenance Strategies Powered by BIM

Before BIM, it required a lot of work for property managers to pinpoint the optimal moment for maintenance. The scheduling of tasks was based on inspections or noticeable drops in performance. However, with BIM technology, Facility managers can shift away from a reactive maintenance strategy and adopt a more proactive one. By integrating analytics and real-time data from a facility, a manager can create optimal maintenance schedules with included benefits such as:

1. Reduced Downtime and Maintenance Costs

BIM-based prediction tools, like AutoDesk Revit’s clash detection feature, can use sensor data to detect abnormalities in an asset’s performance, helping to predict potential failures in advance. This insight can help a facility manager efficiently allocate funds and pinpoint the optimal time to perform maintenance with minimal operational disruptions. 

2. Improved Safety and Risk Mitigation

Knowing the most opportune moment for building maintenance can help those in charge of safety to identify potential risks and train their workers to perform their tasks as safely as possible. Additionally, the data collected by a BIM program can also help to ensure compliance with current safety regulations and standards. 

3. Asset Upgrade Suggestion

BIM technology is not only able to help maximize current performance, but the analytics it collects can help facility administrators to identify potential upgrades that can boost asset performance and reliability.

4. Increased Overall Productivity

Large-scale buildings often employ dozens of maintenance workers, amounting to a significant portion of their monthly budget. BIM implementation can maximize worker productivity by optimizing maintenance schedules, enabling faster emergency response times, and creating a safer working environment.

BIM helps with PM

BIM-Driven Preventive Maintenance Schedules

In terms of dedicated time and funds, facility management is centered around preventative maintenance. According to a study conducted by the IMFA (International Facility Management Association), on average, preventative maintenance makes up 54 percent of a facility management team’s annual cost total.

Taking this statistic into consideration, streamlining a facility’s preventative maintenance schedule is one of the best ways to cut back on costs and extend the lifespan of a building system.

Combining the data gathered by BIM with warranty information and recommended service specifications, facility managers can plan maintenance, replacement, and repair tasks at the most opportune moment, helping to maximize allocated funds.

Once preventative maintenance tasks have been completed, BIM will continuously add data to the existing digital model, meaning that preventative maintenance schedules will become even more efficient as time goes on.

Data-Driven Decision-Making for Facility Managers with BIM

In the realm of facility management, the data collected from a building will have a direct impact on the choices a manager makes about schedules, maintenance, and asset replacement. The more information that can be gathered, the better.

However, a BIM system does more than just collect information; instead, it helps managers make sense of it and apply it in a practical way. Real-time data gathered from a facility can be easily converted into:

  • Comprehensive cost analysis reports
  • Asset health assessment
  • Hazard Identification reports
  • Asset lifetime expectancy
  • Energy efficiency analysis 
  • Projected budgets

Analyzing these data-based reports can help facility managers make informed decisions in the best interest of a building and those who work within it.

BIM – Setting the Standard for Facility Management

BIM is setting a new standard for facility management, as it did with the engineering and architecture fields before it. By implementing this incredible technology into their everyday workflow, building managers are significantly improving how they schedule maintenance, make decisions, and optimize resource allocation. 

For modern businesses, adopting BIM is more than a simple technical upgrade; it is a crucial investment that yields significant rewards over time. 


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Anna Liza Montenegro

Anna Liza Montenegro develops design technology conferences for architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) professionals as a forum to exchange innovative strategies, and best practices, and facilitate discussions into the technology trends driving significant change in building design and construction. As Director of Marketing and as a trained architect, these events are offered to AEC professionals by Microsol Resources, a value-added reseller of Autodesk, Bluebeam, Enscape, Rhino, V-Ray, CADLearning, and other various technology partnerships.

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