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17 Oct 2017

LEGO Architecture meets BIM – Part 30: FM Handover


When I had the original idea for the LEGO series one of the main goals was to demonstrate how open standards could be used throughout the project. Many of these processes are well documented and shared amongst the BIM community. However, little is available on how information is exchanged into Facilities Management (FM) software. Part of my aspiration for the blog was that we could use the LEGO model to demonstrate a little of this digital handover process. So the question is: What does that design and construction information from a BIM process actually look like in an FM tool?

It has to be said that using LEGO for this purpose is not ideal, as FM software wasn’t really designed for LEGO models! Yet I still think there is sufficient information to share some of this process. Now typically the exchange at the end of construction would be using COBie files to transfer the data. We would still advocate COBie as a standard method of exchange but interestingly in this post, the data and geometry were transferred using the IFC2x3 model (using COBie 2.4 Model View Definition (MVD)) directly into the Facilities Management software. For this exercise we have used MainManager to demonstrate the FM handover.

It is very important to note that the design data in the IFC and COBie would be the same, but that many aspects of COBie would not be captured in the IFC file. This could include specific data (such as manufacturer specific data or field data) on the Type and Component sheets as well as information captured on the Documents, Jobs, Spares, Resources and Impacts sheets. However the important point here is that both methods are built around open standards. Of course you could use IFC and COBie in tandem for the best of both worlds! The important thing though is the use of standards means the methodology is repeatable across projects of all types and removes the need for bespoke processes to be used.

Of course like BIM authoring tools and other tools used throughout design and construction, there are various Facilities Management software solutions available. MainManager is just one tool to demonstrate how the LEGO model can be used to manage data created in the design and construction process in the operations and maintenance phase of an asset. The interesting part about MainManager for me though is the fact it has a 3D model viewer and that it can import and utilise IFC files (of course it could import COBie as well if needed) in a Facilities Manager’s workflow.

The import of the model into MainManager and images provided for this blog were kindly supplied by Steve Owen who is the Managing Director at FM180 (BIM4FM Consultants). More information on FM180 can be found at the bottom of this blog piece.

A little bit about MainManager (from the MainManager website)

For those unfamiliar with MainManager, it is a Computer Aided Facilities Management (CAFM) tool for operations and maintenance.

MainManager offers tools to do the following:

  • Manage projects and service contracts centrally
  • Breakdown costs between departments to improve cost awareness across the organisation
  • Create an annual budget plan for your portfolio
  • Build and refine your annual budget plan using condition surveys or audits
  • Make work more efficient through resource and budget prioritization
  • Issue work orders for all projects, enabling comprehensive cost monitoring
  • Generate performance benchmarks for each support service
  • Improve internal task handling using electronic work methods and reducing paper use
  • Manage electronic reporting processes for incidents, complaints and work orders
  • Implement budgeting and cost monitoring
  • Create Key Performance Indicators (KPI)
  • Manage annual contracts for internal and external services
  • Manage building fabric maintenance
  • Monitor and manage energy consumption while minimizing your environmental footprint
  • Create annual mandatory and planned preventative maintenance (PPM) schedules
  • and much more

More on MainManager can be found here: http://www.mainmanager.com/product/our-solution/

MainManager for BIM (adapted from the MainManager website)

As soon as the model is ready, key data can be imported to MainManager. After the handover the 3D representation of the model is visible in MainManager. Key data can includes:

  • General information
  • Buildings
  • Floors
  • Rooms
  • Spaces
  • Zones
  • Systems
  • Documents

Information gathered from Building Information Models (BIM) can be used for activities such as:

  • Issuing work orders, tasks and deviations
  • Attaching a 3D picture of part of a building to a work order
  • Viewing the status of a part of a building graphically
  • Helpdesks
  • To register a work order and place it within the property visually

More on BIM in MainManager can be found here: http://www.mainmanager.com/product/our-solution/#tab-4

The LEGO model in MainManager

Steve has kindly supplied a number of screen shots below showing how the LEGO model we created would appear in MainManager.

As noted above the software can import IFC and the tree structure that is visible in the interface mirrors that of our IFC model.

Image: Processing of the IFC model into MainManager (click to enlarge)

As well as viewing the tree we can also view the 3D alongside the model tree view.

Image: IFC tree on the left and in the 3D model on the right (click to enlarge)

Each Floor (Building Storey) is also able to be viewed in the tree and the model.

Image: Floor data in tree on the left and in the 3D model on the right (click to enlarge)

Below Floor level we can also view each Space within the LEGO model. Again this can be seen in the tree and in the 3D view.

Image: Spaces shown in tree format on the left and in the 3D model on the right (click to enlarge)

If we look at each space we start to view data about each space in the MainManager interface.

Image: Spaces data (click to enlarge)

Other information is also available for each Space including our Zone data.

Image: Spaces show in tree format and model with different data associated to the Space (click to enlarge)

You can see below how many pieces of data we originally created into the FM software, including the Space Name and Description. Other IFC data such as GUID are also transferred.

Image: Space data (click to enlarge)

We can also transfer into the system all the properties that were associated with the Spaces in the original authored model. This includes finishes information and other information you would traditionally have expected in Room Data Sheets (RDS).

Image: Space data in a list format (click to enlarge)

Again all the Spatial information can be viewed in the context of the model and more data can be added in the FM software such as work orders and financial data.

Image: Space Information related to Spaces(click to enlarge)

The functionality of viewing IFC models is not just limited to design and construction phases and this kind of model viewing can also be present in Facilities Management software. These tools also allow data such as seeing what maintenance tasks are due, overdue or completed using graphical overrides similar to those discussed in an earlier post in this series.

Image: 3D model cutaways (click to enlarge)

Of course all the data that is transferred can also be viewed in schedule format. This data can be everything we had in our original model including Facility, Floor (Building Storey), Space, Zone, Type/Component and System data.

Image: List of data related to Floors (Building Storey), Elements and Systems (click to enlarge)

As well as the Space data we can also view data about any element of the building that needs to be maintained. In this case the ‘elements’ are our LEGO pieces. Below you will see data for Component 628 which is a Flat Tile 1X6 in White. This also allows you to see which Space this is associated with (note: this is a key requirement of COBie, so structuring our model around COBie makes the transfer of IFC for FM Handover so much simpler).

Image: Data for Component 628 (click to enlarge)

As before with Spaces we can also access all the properties that were created in the authored model. So below you will see properties such as AssetType, AccessibilityPerformance, CodePerformance and Color which are all required by the COBie Type sheet. BarCode and AssetIdentifier are properties that appear in the COBie Component sheet. Other properties such as AppearsIn, BrickName and BIMObjectName are additional design properties which we added for this LEGO project. These would normally appear in the COBie Attribute sheet.

Of course this is not all the data associated to each element but it gives you a flavour of how data from IFC (or COBie) would be transferred and be accessible in a Facilities Management tool.

Image: Data for Component 628 in list format (click to enlarge)

As well as Spaces and Types/Components we can also access System data. Below an example of the Plates System in the LEGO model. We could also drill down into any of the System level data for each of these Systems.

Image: Plate System data (click to enlarge)


The use of the data in Facilities Management software is outside of our current expertise. However, this post isn’t really about demonstrating how the data is used, but more about how the data we created can be viewed and accessed after the construction process has been complete.

Of course we would always look to talk to each client to understand what they want from a BIM process. This would include understanding the tools we need to interface with, as well as understanding and documenting in detail their requirements (using Organisational Information Requirements (OIR), Asset Information Requirements (AIR) and Employer’s Information Requirements (EIR)).

Not all Facilities Managers want models, in fact our experience to date is most are only interested in the data. We also see many who are focussing their data strategies related to models, around a single authoring tool. Yet in this blog piece we wanted to cover something different and demonstrate that professional Facilities Management tools can use open formats, not just for data, but for models as well.

Whilst many of those seeking to use 3D models in Facilities Management look to native models, open formats are an equally valid workflow in my opinion. In the past there was a push to get everyone to use the same authoring tool. Thankfully we have begun to move past that in the UK and the industry is understanding that we all need to be able to use the best tools for our businesses. We now need to do the same for Facilities Management and begin to share ways of using open workflows for both transfer of information in FM software but of course more importantly FM in use.

Rob Jackson, Associate Director, Bond Bryan Digital


More about FM180:

FM180 Ltd is an Applications Service Provider (ASP) which delivers hosted infrastructure services to support the business needs of clients for facilities management, and across the full life cycle, management of their assets.

FM180’s business model is to offer a fully hosted service, operating as an ASP to the real estate and facilities management sectors, utilising MainManager as the core software media.

Get in contact with us so we can discuss your requirements.
Telephone: 0330 6600 180


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