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«Quantifying the effect of using BIM and COBie for facility management on work order processing times: a case study Sarel, Lavy1 and Nishaant, Saxena2 ...»

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Quantifying the effect of using BIM and COBie for facility

management on work order processing times: a case study

Sarel, Lavy1 and Nishaant, Saxena2

PhD, Associate Professor, Department of Construction Science, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX

77843-3137; PH (979) 845-0632; FAX (979) 862-1572; email: slavy@arch.tamu.edu

M.Sc. in Construction Management, Department of Construction Science, Texas A&M University, College Station,

TX 77843-3137


This paper investigates the effects of using Building Information Modeling (BIM) and Construction-Operations Building Information Exchange (COBie) data for facility management (FM) in Texas A&M Health Science Center (TAMHSC) buildings. Studies conducted in the past have determined that obtaining quick access to information about building systems can reduce work order processing time. While earlier studies were based on interviews and surveys, this paper utilizes actual work order data exported from the Computerized Maintenance Management System (CMMS) used by TAMHSC. In order to compare the performance of TAMHSC campuses that use BIM for FM with the campuses that use a drawing based approach, a two sample t-test was conducted on the “actual number of hours” taken to process maintenance work orders. Statistical analysis contradicts the perception that work order processing time may be reduced by using BIM for FM. However, the results may not convey an accurate scenario as there were no standard policies for recording work order data across all campuses. Hence, this study identifies the importance of developing standards from the very beginning of a project in order to validate the effects of using BIM and COBie data for FM.

Keywords: Building Information Modeling, Computerized Maintenance Management System, Construction-Operations Building Information Exchange, Facility Management, Texas A&M Health Science Center.

Introduction A study conducted by the U.S Department of Commerce Technology Administration, National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) (2004) states that inadequate interoperability is a major cause of inefficiency in the capital facilities industry. The report estimates the financial cost of inadequate interoperability at $15.8 billion per year with owners incurring two-thirds of this cost during the operations and maintenance phase of a facility. In order to improve the operations of any facility, it is most important to integrate different sources of information throughout the project life cycle from the very beginning of a project. A collaborative BIM to FM data exchange solution integrated at the beginning of a project may help reduce life cycle costs with more efficient facility operations and maintenance (O&M) processes and operational workflows (Kasprzak and Dubler 2012). With O&M being the longest phase in the life cycle of any facility, its efficiency is crucial, particularly for healthcare buildings, due to the presence of complex mechanical, electrical and plumbing (MEP) systems, and the sensitive nature of the buildings’ occupants. Thus, adequate interoperability assumes prime importance for the safe and efficient functioning of healthcare buildings.

TAMHSC is an academic unit of the Texas A&M University System that provides comprehensive healthcare solutions through education and research in medical sciences. TAMHSC operates nine campus locations in the state of Texas and has adopted a BIM and COBie-based approach for FM in two of its newly built campus buildings - Bryan and Round Rock, Texas. The other campus buildings located in College Station, Corpus Christi, Houston, Kingsville, Dallas, McAllen and Temple, Texas, still follow the drawing-based approach to FM. Broaddus and Associates (Broaddus) is a privately held facility program management firm that assisted TAMHSC with formulating and implementing BIM and COBie databases for the management of its newer facilities. Broaddus helped integrate COBie data into the CMMS used by Texas A&M University with the help of a software called “AiM,” developed and sold by AssetWorks. Broaddus and AssetWorks conducted a pre-analysis study (Beatty et al., 2013) to estimate the expected reduction in work order processing time that may be achieved by using a BIM and COBie-based process.

This study found that there could be a reduction of 8.7% in work order processing time by following a BIM and COBie based approach. This reduction may be attributed to obtaining quicker access to accurate and complete digital information and documents (Beatty et al., 2013). Since the Bryan and Round Rock campuses have been operational for more than three years, abundant data is available in the CMMS to determine the efficacy of the BIM based approach to FM. This paper analyzes the difference in time spent in processing maintenance work orders by using BIM and COBie data for FM in TAMHSC campus buildings.

Literature Review Importance of interoperability in healthcare buildings Facility managers in the healthcare industry face unique challenges as they must maintain complex MEP systems while ensuring patient safety (Lucas et al., 2012). Coordinating information from earlier phases of the life cycle, which is often incomplete and housed in multiple systems, may result in delays and monetary loss (Lucas et al., 2013). Response to emergency situations in the facility can affect patients’ exposure to health risks. To improve the management and increase the efficiency of information transfer, a BIM based facility management system was proposed by the researchers (Lucas et al., 2012).

Scope for application of BIM for FM Research indicates that there is scope for wide scale application of BIM in FM. Using BIM, O&M efficiency can be increased in areas such as locating building components, facilitating real time data access, visualization, marketing, checking maintainability, creating and updating digital assets, space management, controlling and monitoring energy, and emergency management (Becerik-Gerber et al., 2011). To improve the operations of any facility, integrating different sources of information throughout the project life cycle is most important. In order to maximize the interoperability of information, owners should identify these information requirements before beginning a project, and develop a collaborative BIM to FM data exchange solution during the early stages of a project’s life cycle. Such information solutions will help reduce life cycle costs with more efficient facility O&M processes and operational workflows (Kasprzak and Dubler, 2012).

The role of facility owners in the adoption of BIM for FM Although facility owners play a vital role in the adoption of BIM for FM, many still lack the technical proficiency and knowledge required to manage and fully utilize BIM processes downstream during operations and maintenance. Research suggests that having a defined plan of action for BIM execution and the skills, staffing, and technology to implement it are better indicators of an organization’s/owner’s competency than are traditional construction administration factors (Giel and Issa, 2014).

Jawadekar (2012) and Lavy and Jawadekar (2014) reported three case studies on projects of the TAMHSC campus buildings, where COBie data was integrated with the CMMS. They found that there were no laid down rules or procedures for turning over COBie data for the Bryan and Round Rock campuses of TAMHSC. Further, the data received from the contractor upon completion of the project was not in an interoperable format like COBie, Microsoft Excel spreadsheets, or Industry Foundation Classes (IFC). Hence, the data had to be recreated by a consultant (Broaddus & Associates) for use with the CMMS. However, the owner did streamline the process of data handover in the Round Rock campus, after applying the lessons learned from data integration for the Bryan campus.

Need to quantify potential benefits from using BIM for FM The General Services Administration’s (GSA) BIM for FM Guide (U.S. General Services Administration, 2011) states that a reduction in the time to process work orders may be expected since accurate field conditions are known without a time-intensive search of drawings and documents. The Guide estimates that O&M contracting costs could be reduced by 3% to 6% by identifying and tracking facility equipment and square footage, and it may also help reduce the cost for re-documenting. Broaddus & Associates (Beatty et al., 2013) conducted an initial study to estimate the time that could be saved during processing a work order by using a COBie-based process. They used surveys and interviews with facility management staff of the existing Health Science Center campus buildings in Texas to predict potential savings. In their study, the work order process was divided into individual steps to determine the time spent during each step.

Reductions in work order processing time are realized in finding and reviewing O&M data, identifying warranty information, visiting equipment, retrieving additional data in the field, and returning to the shop. Hence, according to the facility management staff, there should be a cumulative saving of 11.6 minutes in each work order corresponding to a saving of 8.7% in the processing times. According to the findings of the report, facility managers expressed confidence that obtaining quick access to accurate and complete digital information and documents could save time (Beatty et al., 2013).

The use of advanced technologies is improving efficiency in the building industry, but the information flow among various parties involved is far from seamless. Currently, most organizations in the industry do not quantify cost reductions attributable to improved processes and technologies. Collecting these metrics is essential for understanding the value of implementing this improved technology (U.S Department of Commerce Technology Administration, NIST, 2007). Systems integration and collaboration in the architecture, engineering and construction (AEC)/FM industry are the keys to improving efficiency. Due to the fragmented nature of the industry, a web-based system could help by being a single central repository to store all design information. As evidence of improvements in efficiency, case studies and pilot implementations are needed to validate and showcase these emerging technologies (Shen et al., 2010). BIM is in the early years of application in the facility management industry, and its business value has not been measured and/or quantified yet. Claimed benefits of using BIM are intangible (for example, improved product quality, better decision making capabilities, etc.). Industry participants feel that using BIM must be beneficial, but there has not been an active effort to quantify or measure these benefits (Becerik-Gerber and Rice, 2010).

Need for establishing strategic goals and methods A report prepared by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Engineer Research and Development Center (ERDC) (2006) created a roadmap for the implementation of BIM in civil projects within the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. This report detailed the steps needed for BIM implementation in all phases of a facility life cycle, and highlighted the importance of process improvement in the adoption of BIM by identifying and tracking data for the O&M process. BIM- and COBie-based FM is a relatively new approach, and it is necessary to formulate short-term and long-term strategic goals for BIM implementation within an organization. Additionally, it is important for facility owners to determine the method/s of measuring the impact of BIM before the beginning of a project.

Research Objective, Hypothesis, Assumptions, and Limitations The main objective of this study is to determine the effect of using BIM and COBie data for facility management by comparing work order processing times. This study analyzes the differences in time spent on processing maintenance work orders by using BIM and COBie data vs. a traditional drawing-based approach for facility management at Texas A&M University’s Health Science Center facilities. In this research, separate analyses were performed for the time spent on processing work orders for the maintenance of mechanical, electrical, plumbing (MEP) systems, and architectural components. Statistical analysis of the time spent on processing work orders were conducted with the null hypothesis being that the mean time spent in processing a maintenance work order is equal for both BIM user and non-BIM user buildings. In order to be able to conduct

the statistical analysis in a fair manner, the researchers assumed the following:

1. The information entered by workers about the actual number of hours worked on a job is truthful and accurate.

2. Since data collected by the TAMHSC does not provide details about the time spent during each step of the work order process, the researchers assumed that the actual number of hours spent on a work order is a sum total of the time spent during each step of the process.

This process includes collecting information about the location of a system within a building and specific system information such as manufacturer's instructions for maintenance, warranty, details about past maintenance, etc.

3. Different workforce carries out maintenance activities in the various campus buildings. It is assumed that all employees perform at the same level of quality and efficiency.

Limitations The study was limited to Texas A&M University Health Science Center buildings located in the State of Texas, U.S.A.

Research Methods Data Collection The data for conducting this research was obtained from TAMHSC with the assistance of Broaddus & Associates. The data was exported by the facility manager of TAMHSC from the CMMS used by the Texas A&M University System. This data provides details about all maintenance work orders performed in TAMHSC facilities since 2011.

Work Order Process The maintenance work orders for all TAMHSC campuses except the Houston and Dallas campuses are examined and sorted by the facility manager of TAMHSC. These work orders are issued/requested by building users through the CMMS. Any user of a building (e.g., staff, faculty, maintenance technician, etc.), may place a work order request. Once a work order has been requested, it gets in the queue waiting to be processed. This queue of work orders is then examined by the facility manager of the Bryan campus who sorts and assigns the work order to the campus in which the maintenance task is required. Once the work order has been assigned to a particular campus, all maintenance activities related to the work order are carried out at the campus level.

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