In part one of a two-part series on BIM 360 Asset Management, we go through the steps for using the Assets module in BIM 360 to be strategic in viewing and tracking assets and making your workflow easier.
The first thing you’ll want to do is activate Asset Management for your project. Simply navigate to the Project Admin page and click on Services. You should see Assets module. Click the blue Activate button.
From there, you’ll want to add members to the Assets module so they can view and manage your assets down the road. You can also customize how each individual team member, company or role can manage and view the project assets – choose among View, Create, View and Create, and Full Control to optimize how everyone interacts with the project assets.
Categories and Attributes
Once you’ve added your team members to the Assets module, you’ll want to start thinking about what objects you want to track. Maybe you need to track your pipe spools or critical pick steel, or perhaps you’ll want to track your doors or your electrical gear and equipment. In the following example, we’ve decided to track mechanical equipment in this project, more specifically the following items:
- Cabinet Unit Heaters (CUH)
- Fan Coil Units (FCU)
- Variable Air Volume (VAV)
- Air Handlers
- Air Cooled Chillers
- Fire Dampers
- Volume Dampers
While you could track just about anything with the Asset Management module inside of BIM 360, we suggest you track your major assets. You don’t want to track every single piece of ductwork, hanger, light, or receptacle, because that would be overly time-consuming and unmanageable. After all, the goal of BIM 360 is to improve the way you perform out in the field by giving you organized information in the palm of your hand.
Next, think about how you might want to start tracking these items. Is there some important bit of information that you will need to extract while in the field? If so, it’s really easy to create custom attributes for each asset category.
For instance, when you’re testing a VAV or duct assembly for pressure, you may need to know the optimal pressure and/or the actual pressure during the test. This will allow you to compare and confirm that your asset is performing as intended or determine if rework needs to be done.
It’s easy to create a custom attribute. While in the Custom Attributes tab, select the blue “Create new attribute” button at the top right. Give your attribute a name and description and determine what type of data you’re going to want to extract from the field. If you just need to track a number, you can choose numeric. If you are looking for a yes/no, a Boolean switch could work. Or you could even select from a drop-down list, do a multi-select or even pick a date from a calendar. You can customize it however you want in order to fit the data you’re trying to get from the field or see in the field.
Finally, you need to think about how and when you want to track your assets. Are there any specific compelling events on your project that you need to track? How long do you want to track your assets – from design through procurement, from installation to turnover? Are you just looking to manage the commissioning process? Or maybe you just want to track progress during the punch list process.
Consider a few other things: do you have to fill out a checklist prior to installation or after running a test? Do you need to confirm the whereabouts of your assets at any time? Do you have to sign-off on any work? These are perfect examples of times you would want to track specific information about your assets in your project.
In the following example, we’re going to track our mechanical equipment throughout six strategic points in our project:
- Not Ready
- Ready to Fabricate
- Ready to Ship
- Arrived on Site
- Turn Over
- RFI or Issue
In this example, I selected those statuses because those are times a project manager would already be reviewing those specific assets. With the Assets module, you can now more easily manage that progress by leveraging the data and the reporting inside of BIM 360 to track things like job progress, procurement, quality control, and commissioning. Remember, BIM 360 isn’t about creating a new workflow; it’s about simplifying and improving the workflows you already have in place and making it easier to document and access data so you can review and report during the project.
Things to Consider
We’ve seen companies overdo the Assets Management tool. For instance, a hospital system we worked with wanted to manage every single MEP object in the building – mechanical and electrical equipment, lights, receptacles, light switches, thermostats, pumps, valves, and more. They provided a list of over 10,000 items.
This may seem like a reasonable number for some projects, but consider this: every object can be easily viewed by a barcode, and every asset category is managed by a status set. If you have five statuses that you want to track, at minimum you will be scanning each object five times, for a minimum of 50,000 reviews. Also, because each item can be recalled by a barcode, you’ll have to place 10,000 barcode stickers on your items. You can see how the work for tracking assets can quickly get out of hand. The process that was requested by the hospital admin staff would have required at least one full time employee just to manage all 10,000 assets.
Similarly, we’ve had customers that used a 10-15 set of 10-15 statuses for each asset. Again, this is going to cause BIM 360 fatigue (or as I like to call it, “Death by BIM 360”) on the project.
The beauty of the Assets module in BIM 360 is that it allows you to easily view and track things that were previously difficult and cumbersome to track. Our advice is, don’t take a cumbersome workflow and make it even more difficult. Be strategic and purposeful in how you select your assets and how you manage and track them.
If your company isn’t using BIM 360 collaborative workflows yet, but you’d like to streamline your workflows, contact Applied Software today to request a demo. The Applied experts can help you design the right collaborative workflow for your company’s individual needs.