Photo "Cleaning 12' Gun" courtesy of the U.S. Library of Congress

Texas A&M University study links design and construction-phase data through software to better facilities management and an 8.7% reduction in work order resolution times.

Reducing your building’s average work order resolution time by 8.7% is equal to finding an extra 2 hours in every day, or an entire spare month in the year. Whether or not you agree with Nietzsche’s “time is a flat circle,” the extra cycles on the clock would help with all of the preventive maintenance scheduling left to do.

How are these time efficiencies calculated?

Professor Sarel Lavy and his Master’s student Salil Jawadekar at the Texas A&M University conducted a real world case study integrating Building Information Modeling (BIM) with a Construction Operations Building Information Exchange (COBie) software database to measure the effects of improved, readily available “as-built” and equipment information on work order response times. The study was carried out with the facilities management teams at three University buildings.

BIM captures building data during the construction phase, and over the past 5 years, the new-construction market has started to recognize the value of “as-built” information for facilities managers during occupancy and operations. However, there remain countless, useful insights left on the shop floor during hand-off from the framers to the facilities managers. It’s no surprise that the Texas A&M team lays the blame here on manual data entry process and a zombie-like reliance on paper.

In fact, another academic study found extensive, duplicative efforts from the general contractor, architect, and facility manager as each group recreates its own design, fabrication, and construction data. A U.S. Department of Commerce Technology Administration, National Institute of Science and Technology study found that 85% of the costs incurred by owners and operators of commercial real estate in 2004 occurred during operations and maintenance.

preventive maintenance scheduling costs

The horror of multiple Excel and AutoCAD files runs deep.

Professor Sarel and Mr. Jawadekar decided to use a COBie software tool to better transfer the BIM “as-built” and equipment data from the construction phase through to each building’s facilities management teams. Typically, this data includes equipment lists, warranties, spare part lists, product data sheets, and preventive maintenance scheduling guidelines. The facilities managers in this study’s three buildings found that the COBie software database saved precious time across a selection of phases associated to prosecuting various work orders: finding O&M data, reviewing O&M data, identifying warranty information, visiting equipment, retrieving additional data in the field, and returning to the shop.

At its core, the purpose of wiring up your building’s facilities team–and for equipping it with data from the design and construction phase of the building–is to improve overall operating efficiencies. The Texas team includes such examples as faster and cheaper renovations, more delighted building occupants, shorter work order resolution times, and a more energy efficient building. For further reading, consider this JLL study finding preventive maintenance is worth $0.33/SF.

About Millen Paschich

Millen began his career at Cambridge Associates, trained in finance at SMU, and has an MBA from UCLA. Talk to him about bicycling, business, and green chile burritos.

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