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APTIM Discusses Building Information Modeling (BIM) For Facilities Management

Building Information Modeling (BIM) sparked the imagination of many since the Rebellion invoked a 3-D model of the Death Star to keep Luke on target. First, architects used this technology for design, but as the software developed, contractors became the top users of BIM during the construction phase. With its ability to track information, BIM for facility management is a powerful tool for responding to emergencies, protecting assets, and reducing remodeling time and expense. Due to revolutionary software development released in 2012, BIM emerges as a method for all users, from designers to operators, to gather vital data on the life of a building.

As best practice facility management evolves, BIM becomes more germane throughout the operational processes in oil, gas and chemical facilities. BIM logs the structural history of complicated piping and geography. It incorporates geographic information as well, aiding further in the operational process. When it’s time to renovate — a constant in maintaining utility facilities that meet community demands and incorporate improved technology — BIM is a way for facility, design and construction teams to collaborate with ease and implement the least intrusive and most efficient plan, increasing the return on investment (ROI). The presence of greater information in this process reduces time and frustration. Operators don’t need to hunt down architects to determine what information is needed to renovate; they can easily find a leak by assessing which pipe and valve rest above the drip and have a wealth of information to share with emergency responders.

From conception to renovations, BIM provides a platform and multidimensional model for ease in communication and collaboration between building teams. This, in conjunction with multidimensional models for reference, reduces wasted time and expense during emergencies and renovations. For the oil, gas and chemical industries, lives are protected as responders know where pipes and systems exist and what assets surround the area in distress. Assets also benefit with better tracking of an asset’s life and more knowledgeable guides for incorporating new assets. As BIM emerged, the 3-D model of sharing information for better collaboration in the design phase morphed into a 4-D model that programs the construction phase, building more accurate plans and offering a visualization of each part of the process. The 5-D model adds the vital layer of costs and budget concerns. This information helps track the data and create the construction budget.

For the first time, the life of a building, its assets and components can be documented in one central location. This development paves the way for a shifting understanding of the life of a structure. Six-Dimensional Information Modeling, or T6D BIM, takes the model past the construction phase into the operations of thefacility. Economic data on the built facility focuses on all stages of its lifespan, and developers can view the project in terms of overall costs of the life of the facility instead of budgeting phase by phase. This better understanding provides a whole-life cost of assets and facilitates better decision- making for sustainability and ROI. The benefits are increased efficiency and reduced energy consumption; proper asset management for long-term ROI; a flexible and lifetime virtual building model; and a localized container for facility design, construction and operations. Designers are now empowered with this information to facilitate making cost-saving decisions that might have been determined at a greater expense later in the process.

For everyone beyond the designer, information can now be extrapolated at any point in the facility’s lifespan. What used to take days of research and hunting for papers and blueprints can now be done with the support of the software. Everyone in the process has access to the information and can view in 3-D models for greater understanding and efficiency. Costs and maintenance data can be gathered on specific systems, reducing energy consumption and surprises. In the oil and gas and chemical industries, this gift saves lives, money and precious time.

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