Observe, Investigate, and Lead: The Role of Architecture & Engineering in Facility Management

Owners, facility managers and end users all have a variety of needs to operate a building. To meet the increasingly complex needs of facility users, the project delivery team and facility management must work more closely together to fully understand and investigate the operational requirements of the building from its inception. This is a critical step in keeping clients satisfied and providing facility operators information they can use and trust.

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Abstract:
Charles Zuckerman; Architect, BIM guru, IronMan®, and Technology Visioning Lead for the VueOps™ Consulting team at the San Francisco International Airport discusses how architects can reclaim their role as the conductor of the orchestra in the digital transformation of facility management.

Right now, there is a gap between Architecture/Engineering (A&E) and Facility Management (FM). But there doesn’t have to be.

Owners, facility managers and end users all have a variety of needs to operate a building. To meet the increasingly complex needs of facility users, the project delivery team and facility management must work more closely together to fully understand and investigate the operational requirements of the building from its inception. This is a critical step in keeping clients satisfied and providing facility operators information they can use and trust.

Typically, project delivery is linear, represented as silos of activities starting with A&E sharing their designs with the contractor who then hands it off to subcontractors. It can be an incredible game of telephone where messages get misinterpreted or changed along the way. Often the needs and requirements for operations are poorly understood during design. Furthermore, it is not uncommon for an FM data collection process to simply be added mid project execution, limiting the ability of the project team to build effective means of collection and dissemination of the required data.

Because there are so many layers to a build, designers can take the lead and help drive a more collaborative process. Bringing facility operators and managers to the table from the very beginning will make a greater impact on the lifecycle of the building. While much of the information will not be the domain of architects and engineers, designers are highly qualified to lead the investigation at the inception of a project to understand the requirements.

An architect’s training uniquely positions him to understand how to observe and ask the incisive questions of end users to understand how to design spaces to better suit users. If designers use these same interrogative skills, observing and questioning facilities operators and managers, they can lead the discussion on what is truly required and how to best understand how and when to collect that information.

Once the requirements for what is needed are established, it becomes the responsibility of the entire team to collect the relevant data. Designers often are the source of initial data through specifications and design decisions but are often not the right source for other data. Subcontractors play a critical role in capturing specific data such as parts, warranty information and serial numbers. Commissioning agents are critical for capturing metrics on initial performance and the like. It is incumbent upon the entire team to develop the strategy and process to cleanly collect the data across these several domains.

How has VueOps™ taken a lead in the gap that exists?

We designed VueOps to take on this very specific need. There is a lot of talk about facility management as a technical solution, not a process, standards or culture-driven solution. By utilizing years of building expertise and observing project operators, asking questions and truly understanding how a project will be used throughout its lifecycle, we create a nexus of technical and situational information that is right at your fingertips.

We have been developing the strategies and data sharing methodologies to collect this data from across these domains. We have developed the platform to deliver this information to our clients in a usable format to target many of the common systems used in building management and maintenance. Our data integration platform is an important step toward the goal of digital transformation to maintain and manage smart sustainable buildings.