May 17, 2012
Today, the most important tools in a facility manager’s tool belt aren’t things you can buy at the hardware store. Instead, smart facility managers rely on software “tools” that can be utilized in the design, build, operation, and maintenance of their facilities to help reduce cost, improve performance, and optimize asset life cycle management.
COBie, officially known as Construction Operations Building information exchange, and Building Information Modeling (BIM) are two software tools that help turn raw facility/asset data into valuable decision-making information.
What is COBie?
COBie is a universal, computerized data entry system for the data related to all phases of a commercial construction and/or maintenance project. COBie stands for “Construction Operations Building information exchange.” As a non-proprietary platform, it uses internationally recognized standards and data definition requirements. COBie can be viewed in design, construction, and maintenance software (such as BIM or CMMS), as well as in simple spreadsheets.
COBie was a joint project between The National Aeronautics and Space Administration and the White House Office of Science and Technology in 2005. The COBie project has been spearheaded by the US Army Corp of Engineers, and is fast becoming a “best practice” for facility/ asset management and maintenance worldwide.
Advantages of Using COBie
Having accessible, useable information at your fingertips is a huge time and cost savings for facility management. From equipment manuals to vendor information to critical certifications and safety requirements, facility and asset information that used to take months or even years to gather, sort, and manage can now be standardized and extracted in a matter of minutes through a simple data transfer from COBie into your CMMS.
The cost and value savings over the life of the building can be huge. Not only is there a large labor investment to initially enter the data into your CMMS, making sure that the data is entered properly and completely is also a challenge. Using COBie can also result in savings over time with improved efficiencies for preventive maintenance (PM) tasks and service orders.
According to the United States Association of Value Engineering, “For any organization, facility management should be the most important aspect of value engineering endeavors, as the construction cost typically makes up 2% of the entire building life cycle cost, compared to that of 6% for operation costs, and 92% for the maintenance and staffing cost.”
Using Building Information Modeling (BIM) to Capture COBie Data
BIM (Building Information Modeling) software allows building designers to create a digital 3D “virtual” building model that includes all data and detail related to the design, build, and commissioning phases of a building project.
The BIM software can be used to produce COBie data, including:
- Room names, locations, measurements, and specifications.
- Building systems: electrical, HVAC, plumbing, alarms, and fire protection.
- Relationships and spaces between the systems so facility managers can see what may be impacted by repairs and planned maintenance to various pieces of equipment.
- Equipment lists, with their locations, serial numbers, warranty data, and replacement parts lists.
- Equipment manuals and MSDS sheets.
- Contractor and equipment manufacturer information, including links to websites and other documents.
In addition to the descriptive data such as equipment specs, diagrams, spare parts lists, etc., for new construction or remodeling projects, BIM allows a facility manager to get a 3D preview of how a system and its components will actually “look” and “work” in the facility. Being able to design and plan for a well-functioning building can prevent problems with maintenance and service: Will the maintenance staff be able to easily service the HVAC unit? Will the plumbing access panel be blocked by a wall or pipe? Being able to simulate actual construction results will not only prevent maintenance headaches, but can give facility managers the opportunity to help create an optimal maintenance environment.
The actual COBie content will vary with each phase of the project. The design phase deals with building spaces and zones—the rooms and usage areas of the facility—the different building products that will be used during the construction, and the specified equipment and systems. During construction, the equipment and system documentation is completed. During the commissioning phase, COBie data reflects the “as built” details.
CMMS and COBie Integration
The end result of using BIM software to produce COBie data is a giant COBie spreadsheet—a “goldmine” of building and asset data. The spreadsheet can be extracted and imported into a blank COBie-compliant CMMS database. With a one-time data dump, the CMMS can now be programmed for things like:
- Preventive maintenance (PM) schedules
- Building and occupant safety and disaster plans
- Alarm notifications for equipment failures or other alerts
- Start-up and shut-down procedures
- Emergency plans
- Testing and Certification protocols
- Warranty timeframes
The COBie Challenge
A COBie-compliant CMMS offers a tremendous cost savings over the life cycle of your assets and facility, in addition to improved operational efficiency and performance. In order to qualify as COBie-compliant, CMMS software vendors compete in a “COBie Challenge,” which gives vendors the opportunity to demonstrate that they meet the standards to produce or consume COBie data for facility/asset management and maintenance.
During the most recent COBie Challenge, held March 13, 2012 in Baltimore, MD, Eagle Technology’s Proteus MMX software passed the COBie consumable certification process. Proteus MMX was tested for data quality in the following categories:
1. Spaces and Equipment
2. PM Schedules
3. Safety Procedures
4. Systems and System Procedures
5. Materials, Tools, Training
6. Replacement Parts
COBie is among the growing list of standards being promoted by the United States federal government for greater cost efficiency in the construction, management, and maintenance of its buildings. For more information on Eagle’s COBie-compliant software and how you can benefit from the integration of BIM, COBie and Eagle Technology’s line of Proteus CMMS and EAM platforms, please feel free to contact one of our team members. Call us at +1 (262) 241-3845 or 1-800-388-3268 (Toll Free US and Canada).