Mind the Gap: Connecting AEC And Operations Data   

connecting aec and operations data

Susan Clarke, Building Operations Strategy, Autodesk 
Fred Kraus, VP Product, Eptura  

AEC data in operations: a missed opportunity  

Did you know, firms can reduce maintenance work order processing time by 9% by following a BIM approach? Or service providers can deliver maintenance 20% more efficiently when integrating a BIM model into their maintenance system? Architectural, engineering, and construction (AEC) data have the potential to bring immense value to facilities management. The data can help facility managers unlock better performance across core workflows from asset management to smart space planning.

Despite the potential, the application of AEC data in operations remains in its infancy making it one of the biggest missed opportunities in building management today.

The patchy usage of AEC data amongst facility managers results from long-running industry challenges. Traditionally after handover, building owners receive piecemeal AEC data from contractors through turnover packages across PDFs, CD ROMs, DVDs, and even paper binders. In addition, poor interoperability between AEC software and computerized maintenance management systems (CMMS) impedes the easy flow of data across the building lifecycle. These data siloes contribute to a major industry challenge; 95.5% of data in engineering and construction goes unused.  

Other challenges are poor data quality. When FMI surveyed over 3,900 AEC professionals, they found that 24% of project managers struggle with inaccurate and missing data, with 30% estimating that over half of their data is suboptimal. Data entry inconsistencies and a lack of data standardisation throughout design and construction processes mean asset data is often unstructured and usable for operations. As a result, many building owners manually enter information in their CMMS even after receiving a BIM.

Technology advances help owners tackle industry silos  

Technology advancements are helping to bridge the data gap from AEC to operations. Across the market, software providers are drawing on the advances of the cloud to improve information exchanges across design, construction, and operation disciplines. These integrations enable owners to extract asset data from BIM or host ‘light’ BIM models within their CMMS. This is an important step in helping address industry barriers that have slowed facility management teams from unlocking rich data generated through design and construction.   

To support industry collaboration, Autodesk and workplace technology firm Eptura (formerly iOFFICE+SpaceIQ) have formed a strategic alliance. We share a vision to bring AEC and facilities management workflows together for more efficient, flexible, and responsive operations of buildings. We are jointly investing in enabling the tighter integrations of BIM-based data with operational insights. For example, in September 2022, Eptura launched the BIM Viewer using Autodesk Platform Services (Forge) to render BIMs stored in Autodesk Construction Cloud or Autodesk Build within its operations platform.  

Our joint customers across government, education, business, and manufacturing sectors have long benefited from AEC to operations integrations. For example, UC Health finds that using Revit data within the Eptura facilities management platform can improve maintenance processes and speed up space usage submissions for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. 

The easier integration of AEC and operations software systems is a critical step. But to fully close the gap, changes also need to take place in industry workflows. Building managers must play a bigger role in shaping the AEC data and BIM process to receive structured, standardized, and suitable data after handover. In a future blog, Bring Your Facility Manager to your Next Design-Building Project, we will explore this topic in more depth.   

Start to sow your digital thread  

The bottom line: to avoid playing catch-up after building handover, from Day 1 building owners and operators need to play an active role in defining future operational data requirements and standards. They should also select a software ecosystem that allows for data flow from design through to facilities management. Ultimately, bringing AEC data to operations helps owners to eliminate blind spots, making it easier to explore, locate, interact with, and report on space and asset data.  

Figure 1. Benefits of A Lifecycle Approach to Building Management  

Benefits of A Lifecycle Approach to Building Management

Susan Clarke

Building Operations Strategy, Autodesk