lifecycle FM solutions

28 Feb, 2003 By: AIA ,H. Edward Goldberg

The purpose of FM (facilities management) is to maintain control over all facets of a building complex once it's designed and built. This includes, but is not limited to, space planning, lease management, personnel location and relocation, infrastructure inventory, maintenance, documentation, corporate financials, CMMS (computerized maintenance management systems), external vendors, and more. With FM software, you can generate, store, and share information about facilities across many corporate departments.

Seeing room for productivity and profit gains, many software developers are focusing on FM solutions. FM solutions generally comprise modules that interrelate information from sources as diverse as personnel lists, as-built drawings, and furnace diagrams. They can be simple or complex, incorporating information from different buildings and company divisions all over the world. Because of typical 40-year building life cycles, the cost of FM often exceeds the cost of the design and construction phases combined. Many excellent FM solutions are available.

Some are integrated systems developed by CAD vendors, some are solutions designed to work with certain CAD systems, and some read information from several different CAD formats or have their own CAD editors. All these solutions integrate with existing databases such as Informix, Oracle, and Microsoft SQL. Because implementation of FM solutions can be complex and expensive, an entire industry of consultants has grown up. All major CAD manufacturers, such as Autodesk, Graphisoft, and Bentley Systems, offer consulting services as well as products. Because of the depth of the industry, here I focus on only a few examples of the solutions available.

-Modular Solution-
ARCHIBUS claims to be the number-one provider of infrastructure and facilities management solutions and services in the world. This 20-year-old company has 100,000 users who manage 1.4 million buildings. ARCHIBUS' flagship product, ARCHIBUS/FM, comprises modules that let you combine applications to best fit your organization's requirements and budget. The program integrates with Autodesk's AutoCAD and Architectural Desktop. Any changes made to Autodesk drawings are simultaneously reflected in the ARCHIBUS/FM database, and any changes to the database are reflected in the drawings.

Figure 1. ARCHIBUS/FM works inside Autodesk’s AutoCAD and Architectural Desktop.

ARCHIBUS/FM also supports well-established database platforms, including native Oracle, Microsoft SQL Server, and Sybase. Its open systems architecture facilitates data exchange with enterprise resource planning systems such as SAP, Peoplesoft, Oracle Financials, J.D. Edwards, and Microsoft Access.

Modules cover Real Property & Lease Management, Furniture & Equipment, Telecommunications & Cable, Building Operations, and Fleet Management Management, and Emergency Preparedness and Hoteling.

ARCHIBUS/FM comes in three editions. Enterprise is a TIFM (total infrastructure and facilities management) solution for organizations that manage anywhere from thousands to millions of square feet. Typical implementation budget is less than $100,000, and software cost per concurrent user is $95-$4,500, depending on modules.

Facil-o-tor provides a complete TIFM solution designed for facilities that measure less than 500,000 square feet. It includes the full suite of ARCHIBUS/FM applications. As your organization expands, it can migrate to the full-scale Enterprise edition. Typical implementation budget for Facil-o-tor is less than $50,000, and software cost per concurrent user is $495-$3,500.

Express is designed for remote or branch offices of large organizations or for facilities that measure less than 100,000 square feet. Administrators and clerical staff can easily use ARCHIBUS/FM Express. Typical implementation budget for this solution is less than $20,000, and software cost per stand-alone user is $995.

-Modular Solution-

Figure 2. Many companies use Autodesk MapGuide for distributing FM information.
Autodesk addresses the FM market somewhat differently from other vendors. As part of its "lifecycle management vision," the company develops solutions that allow industry professionals to create, use, and manage intelligent digital design data throughout the building lifecycle. Three of Autodesk's current offerings address FM needs.

Autodesk Buzzsaw is an online collaboration service that allows customers in the building industry to store, manage, and share project documents from any Internet connection. Autodesk says that this service enhances team productivity and reduces operating costs. The Buzzsaw online work environment integrates a secure project hosting service with CAD-related software, tools, and services. Using Buzzsaw, you can connect with your team anytime, regardless of location, to manage and exchange FM-related data.

To distribute FM information inside a company firewall, many Autodesk customers use Autodesk MapGuide, either on its own or as an add-on to existing FM offerings from companies such as Archibus, FIS, and GeoMap. MapGuide is a Web-based platform for viewing, analysis, and distribution of map and location information. This technology is also well suited to displaying rich floor-plan information (akin to displaying a map of a building) and providing the means to query, analyze, and report on that information.

Autodesk Revit, Autodesk's solution for building design and documentation, treats information about a building as data rather than as graphics. It manages information about the building and records all changes in a database. This building information modeling allows more efficient change management and reuse of data authored during design and throughout the lifecycle of the building.

-Integrated Solution-

Figure 3. Bentley Facilities Planner is a comprehensive facilities management system that you can configure to your needs.
Bentley Systems is the developer of MicroStation CAD software as well as Bentley Facilities Planner, a comprehensive FM system that integrates and visualizes facility space and asset information ($5,450; annual Bentley SELECT fee, $1,090). Facilities Planner provides IFMs (interactive facility maps), where it places text and visual information and links to documents directly on the appropriate spaces and assets. You can generate IFMs for work orders, preventive maintenance, lease administration, security key management, move and relocation management, space planning, and more. You don't have to convert existing data because IFMs are based on DGN/DWG drawings for the facility and connect to existing documents and databases that hold facility and asset information. This slashes efforts and costs for implementation and software maintenance. Document management functions control access to projects and documents and allow easy configuration for read-only or edit access rights.

Bentley Facilities Inquirer is a collaboration server that publishes IFMs over the Web ($10,000; annual Bentley SELECT fee, $2,000). It presents a map of information rather than just textual data. You can generate IFMs for preventive maintenance, lease administration, security key management, move/relocation management, and so on.

Bentley Facilities Reports (viewer $300; annual Bentley SELECT fee, $60) enables the facility manager to create and run Microsoft Access 2000 reports against Bentley Facilities data sources. The full query building and formatting options of Access 2000, along with the Visual BASIC capabilities, make Facilities Reports a powerful tool for creating any ad hoc or recurring report. Bentley Facilities Reports integrates with ProjectWise and Facilities Planner. All report definitions are stored in the document management environment, and you can create reports from within a Facilities Planner session. You can also configure Bentley Facilities data models to apply the Facilities Reports templates to selections made in Facilities Planner.

-Integrated Solution-

Figure 4. Graphisoft's ArchiFM is an integrated facilities management system that includes ArchiCAD.
Graphisoft's ArchiFM is an integrated system built on Graphisoft's ArchiCAD software and distributed by Drawbase Software, a well-respected FM software development company now owned by Graphisoft. ArchiFM automatically synchronizes information among a facilities database, external data sources, and floor plans. Plan objects that represent rooms, people, furniture, and other assets are tied to the database. Any change made on the plans is automatically updated in the database, and vice versa. ArchiFM operates as a desktop version and, with WebServer, as a Web-based application. ArchiFM WebServer lets you distribute facilities information, drawings, and business processes and is scalable from small department use to an enterprise-wide application.

ArchiFM comes with the latest version of ArchiCAD software. Its integrated modules include

  • Space Management quickly maintains an accurate space inventory.
  • Occupancy Management tracks occupancy.
  • Move Management offers a wide range of options for assigning attributes to people, including a cost center, departmental data, voice and telecommunications needs, space standards, and personal requirements. When occupants move from space to space, the module automatically creates and maintains a Move History file and transfers information with the person to the next space.
  • Lease Management tracks leases, tenants, related expenses, invoices, and rent.
  • Asset Management defines any asset type within a tree structure and defines the fields those assets require.
  • Cost Calculation and Chargeback handles chargeback calculations at any level of complexity.
ArchiFM is available on both Oracle and SQL Server database platforms. ArchiFM supports data exchange technology such as ODBC, XML, ADO, RDO, IAI, and IFC. ArchiFM's drawing management supports DXF, DWG, DWF, DGN, HPGL, PLN/IFC, JPEG, TIF, GIF, BMP, WMF, QuickTime VR, Real VR, QuickTime MOV, AVI, and FLI.

The estimated pricing structure for the stand-alone version for one user is $7,000; three users, $18,000; and five users, $25,000. A Web server (read-only) costs an additional $5,000, and a Web Server Editor runs $500 per user up to a maximum of 30 users ($15,000). These prices are only recommendations, and current owners of ArchiCAD are credited for their existing software.

For more information, see FMLink and The International Facility Management Association.

More News and Resources from Cadalyst Partners

For Mold Designers! Cadalyst has an area of our site focused on technologies and resources specific to the mold design professional. Sponsored by Siemens NX.  Visit the Equipped Mold Designer here!

For Architects! Cadalyst has an area of our site focused on technologies and resources specific to the building design professional. Sponsored by HP.  Visit the Equipped Architect here!