Forget “BIM”, and Get on Board with BLM – Building / Built Environment Life-cycle Management

BIM is the life-cycle management of the built environment supported by digital technology.  That said, BIM has been preoccupied with 3D visualization to the extent that many/most feel that Revit, Archicad, et al are all that’s needed to implement BIM.

BLM – Building Life-cycle Management requires fundamental process changes within all participating organizations / stakeholders and the associated integration and use of multiple competencies, processes, and technologies.

Here’s a short list of considerations, features,  requirements, and realizations associated with BLM.

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1. A robust ONTOLOGY – While not “sexy”, a clearly defined glossary with robust definitions and associated metrics is the first step. An ontology enables replicable processes, reusable data, information sharing, low cost of decision support, etc. etc. etc.  Enter… OMNICLASS, COBie, MasterFormat, UniFormat …

2. Organizations don’t deal well with change.  Some will succeed, many will fail.

3. Many/most organizations are dealing under an “information scarcity” model, when in reality we are all  in an world of
information abundance.  “Big Data” is here.  Large amounts of data (volume) and it has brought an ever increasing rapid pace of data acquisition, complexity of the data,  structured and unstructured data, multiple data sources.

4. Cloud computing technologies and new storage and indexing strategies are rapidly being developed and deployed to handle volume and velocity of information: Schema mapping, Controlled vocabularies, Knowledge representations, Ontologies and semantic technologies,.

5. Despite the above there remains surprisingly little collaboration within the AECOO sector(s) (Architecture, Engineering, Construction, Operations, Owner).  As as result advancements are slow and productivity gains remain elusive.

6. Traditional techniques, processes, and methods…such as design-bid-built, are ineffective/inadequate and giving way to collaborative construction delivery methods such as Integrated Project Delivery (IPD), and Job Order Contracting (JOC).

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Why BIM Isn’t Working.

The construction delivery method sets the tone, establishes the roles and responsibilities of all parties involved, and impacts ultimate success more so than any technology.

Thus IPD – Integrated Project Delivery for new construction and JOC – Job Order Contracting for renovation, repair, sustainability, and minor new construction, and similar collaborative construction delivery methods should be the primary focus. Technology is certainly a deployment enabler, and sometime also a disruptive catalyst.

Stakeholder collaboration (Owners, AEs, Contractors, Subs, Oversight Groups, Building Product Manufactures…) throughout the life-cycle of a build structure is the fundamental element that ultimately drives productivity and better outcomes. Collaboration is the path to the refinement of associated goals, needs, and activities…. and therefore creates requisite focus.

BIM is being held back by one item…. lack of collaboration, or even the willingness to collaborate.

BIM technology vendors and “standards” organizations are somewhat to “blame” , as they have placed emphasis upon 3D visualization vs. construction delivery methods, a robust ontology, and metrics.