BIM + CAFM – the future flow of data


One of my readers asked me to take a closer look at the flow of data between BIM and CAFM. Actually, the question arises as we used to deal with the challenge today and tomorrow and deal with it in the future.

Conventional data flow: CAFM = Databases + Objects + Processes

At the beginning, the Facility Managers‘ desire was to map and document ever-recurring processes in the area of maintenance by means of a database, and to recall the individual tasks continuously. It requires a structure for a variety of properties, buildings and technical installations. With a database, we can map these different structures using linked tables and objects. The majority of the software producers have therefore created a flexible vision based on the properties, buildings, floors and rooms, as well as a flexible view of the objects based on the systems, assemblies, components and components. Because the majority of users are struggling to set up a CAFM structure, software manufacturers have often created the plant structure on the basis of DIN and the VDMA. Each user can set the viewing depth himself.

Conventional data flow: CAFM = (databases + objects + processes) + 2D graphics

A graphical representation is always helpful especially with a large number of properties, buildings and technical installations. This is why many software developers have added graphics to the CAFM software products. The emphasis here is on „supplemented“. The structures of the databases have been expanded and the graphic has mostly been attached to the flexible spatial and system-specific object views: Floor = CAD Drawing / Room = Polyline from the CAD drawing / Door = Door symbol from the CAD drawing. This strategy fails at a technical facility, which can not be depicted on a single floor and in a room. Usually, a 2D symbol is placed centrally in a room. Not ideal, a data processing workaround, but a lived solution.

Data flow Desirable thinking conventional: CAFM = (databases + objects + processes + 2D graphics) + BIM model

This approach, now to add a BIM model just like the 2D graphics next, would be the logical consequence of the history. At this point, I will add no further information and comments. The order no longer fits. We need a new approach.

Data flow future: CAFM = BIM model + databases + objects + processes

What now results from the reversal of the sequence. The BIM model has a hierarchical structure and has an object structure, which we have previously built up manually in our CAFM solutions. The manual effort can now be omitted. We can now derive the spatial and plant engineering structures from the BIM model. All technical objects have an automatic room cover. All previous CAFM processes can then be placed as usual, where we would like it as a user. One or the other disrupts the fact that the technical systems will be available in a much greater depth in the database than they are used to. However, no one is required to apply the processes to the smallest component. One thing is absolutely certain. The complex manual effort to create a CAFM solution is no longer necessary. The spatial reference of the technical objects is available and the retrieval of objects on the property is also easier with the graphical support. There are no randomly placed graphic symbols as placeholders.

In the case of a conversion or sale of the building, the opposite data flow from CAFM to BIM or from the construction maintenance to the planners would then also be feasible.

What do we do with the inventory data in our existing applications?

If a company decides to use BIM + CAFM for future work, there will necessarily be a time of transition and perhaps a new partner for a CAFM software. The old solutions and the structures must necessarily be migrated into new solutions with new structures.

BIM will go its way in Germany. CAFM will follow. Gradually, users will switch from the old CAFM solutions to new CAFM solutions. Not every CAFM software producer will have the financial power to create something new. As soon as users start jumping off, a financial downward spiral is created. Up to now, it was easy for software developers to add additional topics to their solutions at the request of the users. This is no longer possible.

With the BIM models, we also get extended possibilities that we do not have with a 2D graphics. Energy consumption, sun, light, shadow, wind, sustainability, supply, disposal, infrastructures, simulations, alternative model considerations, future reallocation of buildings, recycling of components.

If you want to make a strategic decision for your application in your company and if you are not sure whether it is the right way, please let me know. I do not represent a software producer. I’m neutral. If you are a software producer and are looking for a strategic path for BIM + CAFM, you are welcome to contact me.


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