BIM, COBie Make A Powerful Team
Most facility managers have heard of BIM, the acronym for building information model. That model, according to the Whole Building Design Guide, “is a digital representation of physical and functional characteristics of a facility.” The model is created during the design phase, as architects and engineers plug in data about floor plans and equipment layouts. That model provides a powerful graphical tool to aid collaboration among members of the building team during design and construction. That tool becomes more powerful when COBie is added to the mix.
But there is also a vast amount of information about the products installed in a building that could be collected in an electronic format during the construction process. The vision is to have contractors and commissioning agents collect, in a standardized way, the make, model and serial number for products that are installed, but that is very uncommon today. It would be that data, not the 3D model, that would be of the most value to facility staff. The key is to have contractors and commissioning agents collect that information in a standard format that can be readily imported into facility management software.
Information is what COBie, the construction operations building information exchange, is all about. COBie provides a standardized way to collect the information in BIM. COBie data from BIM can be imported directly into commercial off the shelf facility software, like computerized maintenance and management systems (CMMS), computer aided facility management (CAFM) or integrated workplace management systems (IWMS), provided that the software vendor has properly implemented COBie.