Data transition for a BIM-to-FM process

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    Asset management — or facilities management (FM) — has both a strategic and tactical component to it, with both being vital to any long-term program success. The technical component boils down to two main areas. The first centers on where the information is coming from; the second evaluates how the system will be used to support asset/work order management. However, there’s a fundamental component in between these two areas that’s often overlooked. This is the area of the region we call a data transition period.

    Denver International Airport’s (DIA) administration recognized that data transition was a critical component to its long-term success and began taking steps to fill the gap between the collection of information and population of the asset management system.

    The first look at this process became the need to develop a Single Source of Truth, which is where information would be centrally stored and used to feed all other systems. However, building and maintaining a Single Source of Truth system is a complex project and requires systems and controls in place that will constantly update the data from both the source and the destination system so all systems are in sync.

    About three years ago, DIA moved away from the central repository model for the information toward a shared communication between systems, known as a Federated Model for Information Management.

    Any information management plan that is developed needs to understand what the source and the destination is for the information as well as the Extract Transform and Load (ETL) process for that data. It’s only by ensuring the process is consistent and reliable that you can ensure the data is also consistent and reliable.

    In a Federated Model for Information Management, the individual systems that are responsible for the data to maintain their system keep data outside that system. It is sent through a trusted connection. The ETL process moves the information from one system to the Target system. At the Target system, processes are put in place to maintain and upkeep the data. Then the data can be returned to the store system based on information that’s updated from the Target. This bi-directional flow of information was appealing to DIA, which would not have to maintain a third database for storing information.

    Microdesk ModelStream was the product selected to help build the Federated Model for Information Management. ModelStream allows the information to be mapped between the source and the destination system. In DIA’s case, the source was a BIM model and the destination was the IBM Maximo system. This mapping extracts information, transforms it, and loads it into the Maximo system.

    The Maximo system information is constantly being updated with new equipment and information. This information can then go back into the BIM model using ModelStream’s functions. This process allows each group to continue to update and maintain the data as needed based on their jobs. ModelStream handles the ETL process of moving information from one system to the other on an as-needed basis so the BIM process can be updated through the normal established workflow. The two systems are tied together through this mapping but they are not dependent on each other.

    As the BIM models evolve and standards are developed for data being captured within those models, the mapping file is updated to show where the information needs to go into the Target system. There is a profile for each set of existing models using a different data standard. These don’t need to be updated to the new standard but can continue to use their existing map of information to push and pull information into the Maximo system.

    The process that developed at DIA and other infrastructure locations allows this approach to be used by MEP and structural engineers. The approach has been proven to be useful in fixed structural assets such as bridges and is being extended to tunnel infrastructure.

    Impact on owners

    From the owner’s perspective, the construction process contains rich data sets that are needed in operations and maintenance. Unfortunately, the traditional methods of data delivery require additional time and money to get the information into the hands of the operations and maintenance staff. This time has been measured as somewhere between six and 18 months to process the close-out packages, extract the data, and convert the data to something a computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) can use.

    This process using ModelStream greatly reduces the time to data delivery for operations and maintenance.

    Asset management impacts

    “Day One” operational support is the holy grail of facility maintenance and operations, where at the end of major construction, the assets and related data and reference documents are loaded into an asset management system. On this first day of operations and maintenance, all relevant information about the assets is made available to facility staff. ModelStream allows the industry to get one step closer to Day One operations by streamlining the data transfer process from a unified as-built model into an operations and maintenance CMMS.

    In addition, operations staff can view the 3D model information and all related data while inside Maximo through the introduction of a Model Viewer Tab. This Model Viewer Tab allows the facility technician to see where the asset is located and what equipment is around the asset. The Autodesk Forge platform is used to display the 3D models without a need to have Autodesk Revit installed. The Autodesk Forge Platform is a browser-based system for viewing 2D and 3D drawings.

    Implementation challenges

    As with any data management system, complexities of implementation always come up. In this case, the challenges revolved around ensuring the Maximo system for the development staging and production environments were of similar Rev levels for data consistency across each platform for populating assets. All information updates were handled through the specifications or classifications in Maximo and then through an automation process.

    The main technical issues were Maximo patch level differences among the environments and network/firewall that had to be worked through. The firewall issues were mainly getting its exceptions from the hosted Maximo environment to the Forge platform.

    As a part of a separate effort, DIA realized the BIM process had to be modified to add placeholders for the data they were looking to collect and eventually transfer to Maximo. Even though the data didn’t exist yet, the placeholders allowed for the creation of the mapping files. All the additional parameters were created at the instance level in the models to allow for individual values (as opposed to global values that are placed at the family level). This provided support for using the model as a facility model.

    DIA wanted to have Maximo auto number the assets, but also be able to see what a particular element in Revit was linked to in Maximo. To accomplish this, we set up an inbound (Maximo to Revit) mapping that brings the value for the “assetnum” field back into the Revit model after it is loaded in Maximo to give full visibility.

    Conclusion

    What this and other projects like this have shown is that BIM does have a role within operations and maintenance. The Single Source of Truth model may not currently exist, but there is a role for a federated data model with BIM as the primary source of information. What is left for the facility maintenance and operations industry to figure out is if the 3D model itself has a useful role in operations and maintenance.

    The 3D model allows the facility staff to view and examine the work area prior to going into the field. Future integrations of technology will allow the 3D model to be used in the field for the “behind-the-wall” view. However, for the industry to get there, a robust BIM workflow must be in place to ensure the data is consistent and reliable.


    George Broadbent is the director of asset management for Microdesk (www.microdesk.com). He has more than 25 years of experience in the areas of asset management electronic content management (ECM), system architecture, and vital records planning and management and is a leader in the design and implementation of asset management systems using IBM’s Maximo and ECM systems.


    George Wright is the vice president, western region for Microdesk. He is an enterprise-level architecture, engineering, construction, and operations technology specialist with expert knowledge in transitioning public and private organizations and government agencies to the latest planning, design, construction, and operations and maintenance software and methodologies including BIM and virtual design and construction, and has nearly 20 years of civil and survey engineering experience.