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Interior architecture with futuristic approach

Future of Facility Management

What is Facility Management?

Facility management is a multidisciplinary topic that requires the collaboration and coordination of different people. ISO 41011:2017 defines FM as an “organizational function which integrates people, place and process within the built environment with the purpose of improving the quality of life of people and the productivity of the core business”.

According to International Facility Management Association (IFMA), there are 11 core competencies in FM: Occupancy and Human Factors, Operations and Maintenance (O&M), Sustainability, Facility Information and Technology Management, Risk Management, Communication, Performance and Quality, Leadership and Strategy, Real Estate, Project Management, Finance and Business.

Currently in design and architecture industry, not all buildings have optimal management due to outdated procedures that cause a lack of data and information. In other cases, despite the use of sensors/automatic devices and databases, the information collected is not entirely exploited. An example is given by FM information systems, e.g., Computerized Maintenance Management Systems (CMMS), Energy Management Systems (EMS) and Building Automation Systems (BAS), where data are often fragmented and manually entered after the handover of the building. Fragmentation and data poorness could generate laborious and inefficient processes. Furthermore, FM operators often rely on paper documents in their daily activities. This increases both the time needed and the difficulties of getting accurate information. For these reasons, the improvement of both FM tools and processes is a crucial issue in FM companies. Hence, with increasing industry interest, a review of the current status and a description of a future research agenda on FM is needed.

Facility Management in Architecture

Digitization and FM

New technologies have transformed many people’s daily lives and have revolutionized several traditional industry practices aiming to achieve efficiency, accuracy, and precision. This evolution has gained momentum due to advancements in technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT), big data, cloud computing and cyber-physical systems (digital twin).

The strengths of these innovations 4.0 lie in monitoring, controlling, interoperability, real-time information processing and process self-optimization. The physical world’s connection with the virtual world enables products and components to create a self- adapting and self-managing communication network. In the construction sector, the first attempt at digitization aiming to increase the sector’s efficiency has already been seen with the spread of BIM.

Digitization in Architecture

Building Information Modelling for FM

The United States National Institute of Building Sciences (NIBS) defines BIM as “The digital representation of physical and functional characteristics of a facility. As such, it serves as a shared knowledge resource for information about a facility, forming a reliable basis for decisions during its life cycle from inception onwards”.

In recent years, BIM has been more and more employed in the AECO sector to improve information management. BIM Models (BIMs) allow integrated management of information throughout the building’s entire life cycle, hence improving FM. On the one hand, BIM allows working more efficiently during the design and construction phases by developing a 3D model that avoids project interference and allows project time and cost calculation. On the other hand, it allows acquiring data created during several phases of the building life cycle to use them in operations management, maintenance activities, environmental analysis and energy performance simulations. The latter is related to Building Energy Modelling (BEM), which has become an essential aspect for FM.

Benefits of using BIM in FM include providing “as-is” information and enabling Facility Managers to work on information using a single source of data, overcoming all the issues deriving from the sources’ fragmentation.

A BIM model has different Levels of Information Needs. To deal with them, the American BIM Forum defined the Level of Development (LOD) Specification. This reference enables practitioners in the AEC Industry to specify and articulate with a high level of clarity the content and reliability of Building Information Models (BIMs) at various stages in the design and construction process. A BIM model has six Levels of Development (LOD): LOD 100, LOD 200, LOD 300, LOD 350, LOD 400 and LOD 500. Each LOD defines how much information is included in a building component. The higher the LOD, the greater the clarity and reliability of data and information.

According to Love et al., using the highest LOD is possible in order to enrich the digital model with all the information necessary for assets management and maintenance. In this way, data are more efficiently stored in a single file without fragmentation or loss of information. Moreover, improving the handover process is possible using fewer paper documents or manual transfer of information.

As early as 2012, Becerik-Gerber et al. have defined, also through surveys and interviews, how BIM can support FM practices. Their paper assesses the status of BIM implementations in FM, potential applications, level of interest in BIM utilization, application areas, and data requirements for BIM-enabled FM practices. To date, studies on BIM application in FM confirm momentum (e.g., [18,28–33]).

However, despite all the advantages, BIM is not often used in the FM phase. The most significant causes that hinder this integration are:

  1. Industry perception, which considers BIM models just as 3D models and not as informative models with business value.
  2. Lack of involvement of the facility managers in the creation of the BIM model. Consequently, less information useful for FM is integrated into the model.
  3. The need for interoperability between BIM and FM technologies and the lack of open systems and standardized data libraries that can be utilized as a bridge between BIM and CAFM technologies.
  4. Lack of clear roles, responsibilities, contract and liability framework.
  5. Furthermore, the main limitation of BIM methodology is its static information: data are provided during the design phase but not updated during the building’s life cycle. This is a relevant issue for buildings management, and research is moving in this direction. 

Internet of Things for FM

IoT defines as “an ecosystem that contains smart objects equipped with sensors, networking and processing technologies integrating and working together to provide an environment in which smart services are taken to the end-users”. They show how this ecosystem is being applied in healthcare, environmental, architecture, smart cities, commercial and industrial contexts. IoT has led to an interconnection between people and objects at an unprecedented scale and pace and will allow new strategies to improve quality of life. Furthermore, connected devices could be programmed to make autonomous decisions and adequately inform users to make the best decisions. Operation and maintenance stages represent 50–70% of the total annual facility operating costs, and buildings management requires integrating and analyzing different types of data and information generated by various stakeholders. This implies that improved data and information management can have a significant impact on building performance.

In this context, the application and integration of IoT and BIM technologies to gather and store data/information for the entire life cycle of the building have caught wide attention. In recent years, a growing number of innovations have been developed. IoT and smart connection have great potential in optimizing FM activities, including inventory and document management, building security, logistics and materials tracking, tracking of building component life cycle and building energy controls. Several studies about the use of data coming from IoT devices have been carried out although many of them do not include the integration of BIM.

From: Building Information Modeling and Internet of Things Integration for Facility Management—Literature Review and Future Needs / 

Antonino Mannino, Mario Claudio Dejaco and Fulvio Re Cecconi 

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