Bim Model of building interior

Bridging the asset data gap: The value of BIM for asset managers

Insight by COSOL /

Building Information Modelling (BIM) is a digital representation of the physical and functional characteristics of built assets – from bridges and buildings to production plants and processing facilities. It helps design and construction teams aggregate information and work more efficiently on the creation of new assets and infrastructure. 

Although intended to serve as a single, reliable source of information across the entire asset lifecycle, BIM has been most widely applied to support design and construction processes where it has been promoted as the solution to the problems of poor documentation, fragmentation and lack of collaboration. An increasing number of countries around the world are now mandating BIM for new public infrastructure projects, and in the UK, US and Australia BIM standards have been published to provide guidance for industry on how to produce, exchange and use information in BIM.

In an ideal world, BIM standards are specified from the outset of new building projects, with a view to meeting the requirements of design, construction and operational stages of the asset lifecycle. A Common Data Environment is centrally managed, handover between lifecycle stages is carefully managed, and models are regularly updated throughout construction.

In reality, the BIM specification is developed well before operate and maintain (O&M) providers are considered and, quite reasonably, proceed with the needs of design and construction (D&C) in mind. As a result, the value of BIM is lost in the handover at completion when operators find the model isn’t applicable to ongoing asset management and maintenance functions. The value for the asset owner (who invested in BIM from the outset) is diminished and the poor experience leaves little incentive for O&M teams to attempt further efforts.

While complex infrastructure may be years in the construction, its working life will span tens, if not hundreds of years. Long after the safety barriers have been dismantled, and the builders have all gone home, how can operators and maintainers continue to leverage BIM investments and drive significant value and efficiencies during the longest phase of the asset’s lifecycle?

In this series of articles, we’ll provide a refresher on BIM and its benefits across the asset lifecycle. We’ll outline the use cases for leveraging BIM in enterprise asset management and how they can be achieved.

What is BIM?

Building Information Modelling (BIM) is the holistic process of creating and managing digital information for a built asset. As a shared knowledge resource across multi-disciplinary project teams, the BIM forms a reliable basis for decision-making.

Traditionally, design and construction processes were reliant on two-dimensional technical drawings (plans, elevations, sections). BIM extends the three primary spatial dimensions (width, height and depth) to incorporate other information vital to a successful project, such as time (sometimes called 4D BIM), cost, or materials. BIM can therefore capture more than just the geometric design and supports a wide range of collaborative processes.

A global study on digital transformation through BIM explored the adoption and impact of BIM in the design and construction industry. The benefits were found to include:

  • improved ability to manage complexity
  • reduced number of constructability issues onsite
  • reduced defects at handover
  • improved stakeholder engagement
  • improved cost control

The value of BIM in operate and maintain processes

Although the uptake of BIM has been led by the design and construction industries, there are applications across the asset lifecycle. In fact, the largest potential benefits can be found in asset operations for organisations who can successfully integrate BIM to enterprise asset management systems like Maximo Application Suite (MAS).

Some of the common use cases driving value through BIM in the O&M stage of the asset lifecycle include:

Automate creation of the asset register on handover
The Project Information Model (PIM) used in design and construction is rarely conditioned and ready for use as an Asset Information Model (AIM). As a result, the transition from construction to operations for many large infrastructure projects involves extensive manipulation of project data in spreadsheets before loading it into the EAMS. Depending on the maturity of existing EAMS and BIM practices, the process of creating functional locations and their respective assets can be automated during handover, reducing the effort required to leverage BIM in operations.

Improve maintenance planning
Leverage the model to graphically plan work execution and create work packages based on related tasks or asset classes in proximity to each other. This could include things like graphically identifying all fire valves within a specified area of a tunnel network and creating a work package to service or inspect them all at once or identifying relationships between different assets that will be impacted by a shutdown. Alternatively, the 3D model can be used to see inside the walls around a work site to visualise the location of structural elements and services.

Inform repair or replace decisions
Generate context and eliminate subjectivity from condition assessment by thematically displaying asset health scores on a BIM representation.

Visualise real-time asset performance
Develop real-time reporting and situational awareness with an operational dashboard based on the federated model. Visualise current work tasks, completion rates, open/closed works and scheduled jobs and model scenarios in a fully interactive digital twin.

The savings realised through a coordinated and managed approach for BIM to MAS integration across brownfield or capex projects can be immense. Alastair Brook, Global General Manager – Digital Engineering at DBM Vircon and COSOL partner, works extensively with asset-intensive industries to drive value through BIM across the asset lifecycle.

“We’ve seen evidence of savings in the realm of $500m over a four-year period for one of our oil and gas sector clients as a result of improved operational and asset management processes after integrating a foundational model into their EAMS,”
Alastair Brook, DBM Vircon

BIM-driven asset management has the potential to deliver greater efficiencies through:

  • Early O&M Mobilisation – greater awareness and access to asset information sooner to plan O&M activities
  • Managed Handover – centralise data and reduce rework when incorporating assets into operational environments
  • Improved Coordination – visually understand and coordinate maintenance works within a 3D environment
  • Speed to Information – create a single point of truth
  • Foundational Data – create a layer of standardised, open and bi-directional data to leverage within the EAMS​
  • Data Ownership – ensure foundational data sets (models) are owned, stored and built upon during the life of the asset​
  • Maximise Resources – improved work order planning through visual assessment of defects, work orders and planned preventative maintenance. Opportunity to create work packs.​
  • Safety & Risk – reduction in number of resources and time spent on site​
  • Compliance – improved and reduced complexity to secure and maintain regulatory compliance (asset depending)
  • Life Extension – scenario modelling on assets with digital twin.

Leveraging BIM to improve, operate and maintain asset management processes remains a largely untapped opportunity for many organisations. Beyond limited awareness and understanding of BIM’s potential, challenges to wider adoption of BIM in operations and maintenance include a lack of standards, data deliverables in construction contracts and effort required to translate data between construction and operational requirements.

Working with the combination of a digital engineering partner with a vision to drive value from data beyond the asset handover, and enterprise asset management specialist with experience applying and integrating BIM in maintenance operations can help. COSOL and DBM Vircon will be at MaximoWorld 2023, ready to help asset-intensive organisations work more efficiently across the entire asset lifecycle. Contact us to see demonstrations of BIM in action for O&M processes across industrial, mining and infrastructure sectors.

Find out how COSOL and strategic digital engineering partner DBM Vircon can assist with your BIM journey.

Contact us to arrange an online or in-person meeting at a time that suits you.