The Future of O&M in Construction

August 14, 2017 Tristam Wallace

While it’s no secret that the construction industry is rife for disruption, you may not be aware that the process of O&M (operations & maintenance) is also being transformed by new construction technology -- and adding a new revenue stream for construction firms to boot.


Technology is disrupting how we operate buildings and infrastructure, and the nature and quantity of those assets.

In fact, construction firms are increasingly being asked by owners to deliver their 3D models at handover. These 3D models contain rich information about how a building was built, and with maintenance software layered on top, is a valuable tool for conducting ongoing O&M within buildings and infrastructure.

We dive into this topic further with an excerpt from a report called Construction with the Power of Digital, by industry thought leader at Autodesk, Dominic Thasarathar.


O&M technology is evolving rapidly

Things are getting smarter and more connected. This includes the proliferation of sensors in buildings that monitor everything from energy consumption to environmental conditions to smart utility networks that help to reduce energy consumption and improve resiliency.

At the same time, the rise of social and mobile computing is changing both living and working
patterns, placing different demands on our built environment – from the nature and occupancy levels of office space to the volume and transit patterns of passenger journeys on our transportation systems, and to the type of telecommunications infrastructure needed.

O&M - Internet of things.jpeg

Change is coming faster. Traditionally, a building might not need refitting or repurposing until a
decade or more after construction. That cycle has not only been sped up, but we will increasingly see the need for concurrent “multi-purposing” of built assets.


Smart Assets Will Deliver Smart Value

As physical components, equipment, and systems become increasingly complex and interconnected with smart sensors, built assets have the potential to become more responsive to the needs of owners and end users. The traditional notion – that the value of buildings and infrastructure assets are static at the time of construction – is changing.

The end-user experience is increasingly going to become personalized, for example, optimizing
workspace environments for temperature, ventilation, and lighting. And as our cities become digitally ‘lit up,’ that experience will be personalized between assets too; for example, transport systems communicating the impact of delays in real-time on passenger journeys, and advising alternative routes.

BIM-AM (asset management) is being used by Hong Kong government department, EMSD. It links BIM with the building management system and CCTV, providing an accurate view of  existing conditions (services and assets), which is linked to supporting information that can be viewed on desktops remotely or in the field via tablet devices.

Wistia video thumbnail - The Future of O&M in Construction - EMSD

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Using BIM-AM, facility managers can view EMSD's MEP equipment in 3D, removing any obstructing objects like ceilings or walls to view the area where the suspected fault location is.


When an incident is reported, users filter to specific equipment to view the necessary O&M information, alongside both historical and real-time performance data linked to the building management system (BMS). This enables facilities managers to more easily determine possible causes and potential resolutions.

The owner experience will change too. Access to unprecedented levels of data, such as occupancy levels, usage patterns, energy performance, water  consumption, and so on will offer increasing benefits. With access to these insights, owners can make better, more informed decisions about a building and its surrounding infrastructure to lower costs and improve existing capacity without compromising end-user experience.

When smart, connected products are combined with the cloud, they allow contractors to capture, analyze, control, and manage previously unseen data from remote products. For instance, energy management software provider Panoramic Power is combining its device-level energy analytics platform with Autodesk’s cloud-based BIM portfolio to enable customers to identify site and equipment inefficiencies, improve asset utilization, and reduce operational costs.


From Construction Services to Assets-as-a-Service

As an increasing proportion of our built environment is ‘lit up’ digitally via the IoT, the data produced could facilitate better forecasting of future demand patterns at a granular level. It could also enable future assets to be better designed to enhance performance, by feeding back usage data into new projects. 

O&M Chicago mobile.jpg

 Contractors can contribute to and use a much richer data set by leveraging the power of IoT in the field.


Access to the rich data contained within IoT assets will offer contractors new business opportunities.

By blending asset information with other large data sets, for example, population demographics, economic growth, and wealth levels, contractors will be able to achieve a deeper level of insight into future demand patterns for built assets. One of the industry’s perennial problems, uncertainty in project pipelines, might, at least in part, be mitigated, enabling firms to focus on specific opportunities and to invest in those opportunities with a greater degree of confidence.

IoT data might support contractors in building new relationships with clients based on outcomes rather than price or even value.

As our built environments become more complex, and levels of risk increase, greater emphasis is going to be placed on how to achieve the end outcome without making a project unbankable or unpalatable. Understanding how a proposed asset will connect with other systems, physical or otherwise, will be essential.

And as technology increasingly closes the gaps of understanding how assets are used, how they perform across their lifecycle, and the total cost associated with that lifecycle, it should open the door for contractors to venture further upstream into areas such as Real-Estate-as-a-Service.


O&M represents a new revenue stream for contractors

An excellent example of technology creating a new revenue stream today is IMCO Corporation, a midsize construction firm which was hired for the massive renovation of a water treatment plant. Using cloud-based construction software as part of their daily quality control, they not only managed to deliver the project a whopping 10 months early, but the owners asked them to run the operations of the plant.

O&M Holden.jpgSome of IMCO's 3D models of the water treatment plant will be used to help IMCO run the plant's O&M.


This may seem like a strange ask for a construction firm now, but this will become much more commonplace down the road. Using the 3D model the team had created through laser scanning and other means during and after completion of the project, IMCO will be able to use the model for a granular understanding of the plant’s operations, and to run operations with that rich data at their fingertips whenever they need it.

The project manager, Brian K. Smith, at IMCO said of the firm’s plans: “We have not begun to use the 3D model to link the asset data -- like maintenance logs -- with the 3D model, but that’s where they want to go.”


Want to find out how IMCO created a new revenue stream running O&M


Find out how they dealt with wildfires, an extremely remote location, a truncated schedule and more!


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