BIMBeing: The Journey #41
#41 – Timeliness of Asset Data…
Photograph by Juhasz Imre from Pexels.
Some time ago, in post #6, I discussed COBie in a reasonable amount of detail. My point was that the Academics of our industry were busy bleating on about how easy it was to produce whilst having never produced it, and that in spite of COBie being around for a number of years we were still yet to see it being done properly. Several months on and nothing has really changed, apart from the fact that we’re all in isolation, but once again this issue is at the forefront of my mind.
Timeliness – that is the issue of the day. Whether it’s specifically for COBie or just general information for handover, it’s all asset data. The problem we seem to experience time and time again is, where is the data when you need it? Every consultant and sub-contractor I have ever worked with kicks this particular can down the road until the very end of the project; we never seem to get the information we need. We recently experienced this very issue when nearing the end of a project. The client, well within their right to do so, asked us as the main contractor for the manageable asset schedule. They’re going out to the market to look for an FM provider, and they certainly cannot price without knowing what assets they’ll be required to manage. At this point we’re still many months from delivery and, although COBie is a requirement, the consultant and sub-contractor teams are focussing solely on the delivery of information for site. As always, progress on site is seen as the one and only ‘king’ of the project; all else must be pushed aside to make way for physical, demonstrable progress. Whilst I appreciate that, at a fundamental level we are simply builders, it does not mitigate the fact that we have more than bricks and mortar to hand over to the client.
The issue now is that we have a relatively well coordinated model, geometrically speaking, but data-wise we’re looking at nothing short of a mess. I know at least that the quantities of objects are accurate, but the models are simply not ready for scheduling out the assets into something readable for the client. Our COBie process will ensure that, by the time it comes to final handover, we will have this useful information. Unfortunately, with the ongoing pressures and demands of the construction site, none of this information has been populated yet. Working with mixed-ability consultants and sub-contractors (putting it nicely), the schedules extracted from the models contain all manner of errors:
- Family and Type names are completely nonstandard and unformatted. A mixture of user invented names, indecipherable acronyms and manufacturers part numbers (without interpretable descriptions) to name but a few. Nobody could read through this list and understand what components they were actually looking at – not a great start.
- Reference numbers and asset ID’s. These are really important, but still those ‘mixed ability’ authors have not got it right. The tags on the drawings are great, so where is the data? Well, some of it is using the ‘Mark’ parameter – for me this is correct. Some of it then seems to be in ‘Comments’ – not so good, but workable. Then there are multiple user-defined parameters – now it’s getting hard to follow. And finally, some have nothing at all. It turns out many of the ‘tags’ on drawings are simply Text notes – absolutely hopeless.
- Manufacturers names. Many components have them, but we can’t rely on them at all. As many model authors tend to do when they need a certain component, they Google it. Manufacturer A has a wonderful Revit Family for the component required and so it gets placed in the model, attributes and all. We cannot use this information; it is more than likely not what we have purchased and installed.
These are but a few of the problems, I need not go any further. If we can’t see the basics then extracting any additional information, such as object sizes and part numbers, is totally out of the question. So, what do we do? The client expects their information, they need it to procure their FM provider but at the moment we can’t even see if a row in the schedule is a pump or chair. We have no choice but to modify the exports, manually. Thousands of components that need to be renamed, referenced and in general made useful in a schedule. This is a hugely labour-intensive task and presents tonnes of room for error – this is not BIM!
How do we get from this to where we need to be? I’m not expecting consultants to provide the Manufacturers name at RIBA Stage 3, that would be ridiculous, but we must be able to expect a reasonable level of information to be provided from the outset. If components were simply named and referenced correctly we would be able to schedule to our hearts content from the day we received the very first model. This is something that we simply must achieve, we’re not getting one of the most basic benefits from our information models otherwise. How do we ensure that it’s the case? How do we enforce it? How do we make entire project teams realise that data structure has to be equally as important as churning out drawings? How do we stop this being, as always, a last minute exercise?
This far down the path of our industry BIM journey we should not still be faced with these issues, and yet here we are. The basics must be fixed, because we’re continuing to collectively fail. All ideas are welcome, useful or otherwise. Comment below or email firstname.lastname@example.org.