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D4COST Software


 
Nowhere to Hide: BIM Makes Inroads
From Preconstruction to Facilities Management
By Norm Cadsawan, Sr. Director of Product Management at Sage Construction and Real Estate

There have been many technological advancements in the construction industry over the past few years that have helped construction companies streamline and facilitate their processes. One of these is the use of building information modeling, or BIM, to analyze construction projects in ways that were not possible in the past. Once used exclusively by design firms, BIM is now a process that construction companies are embracing as a way to deliver projects faster and on budget and owners are using to design and operate their buildings.

Preconstruction is the phase where the use of models – and the data about the models – created by BIM software has traditionally been used. During a presentation at the Construction Financial Management Association's 2012 Conference & Exhibition, it was noted that before ground is ever broken on the construction site, what happens in the preconstruction phase of a project can affect up to 70 percent of the cost drivers. This makes it vital that firms focus their efforts on accurately estimating expenses for the entire project in order to efficiently develop and maintain budgets. This can be challenging if the scope of the project changes rapidly in the preconstruction phase. BIM tools integrated with estimating software can provide builders with accurate construction cost estimates in real time, allowing the team to make critical decisions early. BIM software can also accurately simulate a structure’s annual energy usage based on its design and geographical location. Again, owners, designers and builders
can use this analysis to decide whether it makes sense to use different building materials, change the structure’s orientation or change geographic location in order to reduce energy consumption and total operating costs of the structure over its lifetime.

In the construction phase, building information models are providing cost savings as well. The collaborative nature of creating a building information model and the capability of many BIM tools to identify potential design issues – or “clashes” – in the model before construction starts greatly reduces the construction delays caused by addressing the same issues in the field. Construction teams are capable of addressing issues quickly in the virtual world of the model, lowering the number of RFIs and change orders that occur when issues are uncovered during construction.

The construction trades such as HVAC, mechanical and electrical contractors are also using building information models to accurately fabricate building materials offsite, in a more controlled environment than the jobsite. This has led to better safety records, lower material waste and lower costs for these companies. In a highly competitive construction market, companies that can show that they can deliver projects faster and at a lower cost – without sacrificing safety – are in a better position to win more work than others.

Finally, BIM has begun to make inroad in the post-construction market. In the latest AGC BIM Forum held in Tacoma, WA this Fall, the entire meeting focused on BIM and facilities management (FM), with the spotlight landing on the owner. Pretty interesting for an AGC event! Rather than contractors highlighting new and innovative ways that BIM is being used in construction today, various construction owners addressed the contractors about how they currently managed construction information after handoff – a chaotic situation at best – and what their vision of the future of facilities management could be if owners and contractors worked closer together. As several owners pointed out, the initial cost of designing and constructing a building could be as low as less than 10 percent of the total cost of a building over its lifespan, with maintenance and operations making up the bulk of total cost.

One key area the group focused on was as-built information. Traditionally “as-builts” have been provided to the owner in physical form, typically as a pallet-load of drawings delivered at project end. Now, both owners and contractors believe that the as-built building information models used in construction are key components to saving the owner significant amounts of money over the typical lifespan of a building. After all, when something breaks, knowing where it’s located, what model it is, what it’s connected to, how old it is, and more is a major time saver.

Therein lays the rub. At the time of construction, the contractor has all of this information at his or her fingertips, but if the information isn’t recorded it can’t be handed over to the owner. Enter COBie, or the Construction Operations Building Information Exchange. COBie explains both a process and a data format for collecting information about a building from the design phase through construction and commissioning. It allows architects, contractors and manufacturers to input data as the building is being constructed so that the data can be easily given to the owner at handoff. At the BIMForum, owners from several universities showed how COBie data combined with building information models and GIS data are currently being incorporated into their facilities management operations today with major success.

For any software company in the BIM or project management field, this has big implications about how construction data is being captured and how it will be used after construction. We have to start looking at the “construction data lifespan” extending well beyond the traditional construction phase. All it took was to have owners (finally) tell us what they wanted!

It's no surprise that technology helps make things easier for people and businesses. This rings especially true for the construction industry, as additional software, hardware and other devices help increase the efficiency and timeliness of projects. BIM tools have a positive impact by creating accurate, data-rich models that are used in all phases of construction to help construction companies and owners alike see construction projects in a whole new light.

About the Author: Norm Cadsawan is a senior director of product management for Sage North America’s Construction and Real Estate division. Prior to this position, Norm led Sage Construction and Real Estate’s preconstruction business development efforts as a strategic planning director. His experience at Sage also includes leading the third-party software developer program. In his current position, Norm is responsible for Sage Estimating and Sage Construction and Real Estate’s cloud solutions, including Sage Construction Anywhere.

Norm brings more than 18 years of experience in the technology and construction industries to Sage. Prior to joining Sage, Norm led software development projects for preconstruction services and technology company, Eos Group. He also gained extensive knowledge of the worldwide construction industry by managing construction product lines for both Hilti Corporation and BASF. His software experience includes leading software enabling programs for Intel Corporation, managing key accounts for financial services software provider, Fiserv, and holding key marketing roles in two early-stage software-as-a-service (SaaS) vendors.


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