Today, 3D modeling is a common practice, and virtual-reality is a standard tool to show buildings current status. Information modeling in the industrial sector and beyond is commonly perceived as a life cycle process based on definitions by a number of industry practitioners, researchers and
institutes. However, this has not automatically implied that it is a solution for every problem encountered through the project life cycle.
This specific divergence of opinions on whether 3D modeling is appropriate for every stage of the project life cycle was perceived when speaking to industry professionals across industrial sub-sectors. In fact, it is noticed that owners tend to be more reluctant than other consultants and contractors to consider 3D modeling appropriate for Facility Management purposes and for strategic planning.
The obstacle remains in the compatibility of the delivered model and the as-built model required to be delivered. Delivered models, even though often contractually required, cannot be used by owners for many reasons including:
• The inappropriate level of detail for facility management need. The contractor model either is more detailed than needed by the owner or lacks modeled areas which are critical for the owner to do efficient strategic decisions.
• The inaccuracy of the model to the delivered building or project. Contractors don’t see the benefit of spending more money on updating the model to the latest version even though they are
contractually required to do so. And in many cases, it seems to be a worthless effort to run behind the contractor to get 3D models suitable for FM purposes.
This being said, there is potential in using the 3D models used by contractors during the construction phase and this could be achieved through contractually requiring minimum modeling requirements to be delivered at the project turnover. These requirements would be communicated early in the project phase, allowing the contractor to account for them proactively.
The 3D model used for construction will have to be delivered not as it has been used by contractors but in a simpler version with a higher level of detail suitable for operations need.
The NIST study (Gallaher et al. 2004) showed that the big losses/inefficiencies of data occur during the transition from plan to build and build to operate. To enable 3D Models for FM, someone has to create the models and integrate them with existing information, and this process is typically not cheap.
Creating dedicated functional departments in a form of information management offices to start working on integration of the delivered drawings and/or 3D models to the facility management and strategic planning systems would be a long term investment worth the price. The use of project information and project data during the operations phase of the facility is inevitable.
Finally, the gap typically noticed between the construction services office and the facility management office is not the only obstacle to a fully integrated information systems. Other challenges include the absence of proper archive infrastructure, the existing very detailed 3D models that require review and restructuring, the lack of trained staff and the dysfunctional contracting strategies not accounting for post occupancy needs.
Advanced Work packaging, in its ability to provide a common framework and protocol for information process flow and share, in addition to its intuitive packaging hierarchy could allow for a basis of conversion of the final list of installed Work Packages into data useful for the operational phase including operations and maintenance activities.
Read more about other aspects of the challenges related to extending design information to operations here