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13 minutes of reading time (2566 words)

BIM in Management - Operation - Maintenance: 10 questions and answers with Sébastien COULON

Le-BIM-en-Gestion --- Operation --- Maintenance-10-questions-and-answers-with-Sbastien-COULON

Sébastien Coulon, Managing Director of SpinalCom discusses the advantages of integrating CMMS / GTB with BIM. Integrating BIM into construction information systems seems more and more essential, SpinalCom offers a unified repository and a management tool, the BOS! Breaking down silos, facilitating collaboration, simplifying data management and allowing construction actors to work more efficiently.

1. What are the benefits of integrating the BIM database with CMMS and GTB?

Let's start by laying the foundations for our exchange.

- The BIM model is a precise and mapped asset data graph (design, construction and technical installation data, etc.).

- The CMMS is the information system facilitating the management of maintenance activities carried out on the heritage. It contains a database of tickets, incidents, scheduled interventions ...

- The building management system (or any type of system such as access control, security management, etc.) is the information system responsible for automating the management of a service such as heating, lighting, etc. It contains a database of measurement points, alarms and time series.

The common point between the CMMS and any type of building management system is that their installations require the configuration of a building reference system (building, floor, zone, equipment). However, today, each system offers its own repository with its own naming conventions.

With BIM, a precise reference becomes available in the digital model before the integration of any other system. The objective is to reuse the latter as a common repository shared between the different systems rather than creating a specific repository for each system. The benefits are numerous:

  • reduction in the number of repositories and therefore in integration time
  • facilitation of communication between different teams thanks to common naming conventions
  • interoperability of systems ...

On this last point, the approach generally deployed in the market limits the achievement of objectives and consequently the real benefits for the owner, the operator and the maintainer. Indeed, the objectives are to allow better communication between the different actors, an easy and fast sharing of the precise geolocation of the interventions to be treated and of the technical characteristics (air flow, temperature, model, end of warranty date, etc.) in order to allow the departments concerned to intervene quickly with the right elements; another objective is to move from a preventive / curative logic to predictive maintenance. However, this silo approach (each system remains independent of the other without exchanging data) does not make it possible to achieve the aforementioned objectives.

Digital twin with a real-time updated heat map.
SpinalBIM Building Operation Center product.

2. So your approach differs from your competitors, what does it consist of and what are the benefits?

We offer a radically different approach to silos. This consists in using a middleware allowing to interconnect the systems and to share the data through a single repository. The repository is shared by all the systems, instead of having a specific repository per system.

The middleware - to which we have given the name of Building Operating System (BOS) - becomes the guarantor and manager of the unified quality repository that corresponds to reality. This makes it possible to centralize the updating of the building database with the direct benefits:

  • avoid errors in updating the repositories of each system
  • save time in the integration and update phases
  • facilitate communication between people

The other major category of benefits concerns the exchange of dynamic data between systems, interoperability. Let us take the example of an alarm coming from a building automation system. In an architecture without middleware, it is difficult to connect the measurement point (corresponding to the alarm) with the corresponding equipment in the CMMS, especially when it comes to integrating several systems with the CMMS (GTB, SSI , A / V ...). It is not impossible, but very difficult to set up and costly to maintain. In computing we call it spaghettiware.

Our approach consists in connecting the measuring point to its digital avatar in the Building Operating System (BOS). This data can then be consumed by the CMMS, but also any other system integrated into the BOS. This means that an alarm can automatically generate a ticket in the CMMS associated with the right equipment in the shared repository. If we add to the equation the need to visualize this alarm in the digital twin of the building, we must integrate a BIM viewer (which will reduce the time to locate the equipment and access technical documentation in a few seconds) . With middleware (BOS), the viewer is simply another application that consumes the data on the BOS. Without middleware, we come to the architecture in the form of Spaghetti where the viewer must be connected to each system to offer a consolidated visualization.

In summary, our approach not only breaks silos by connecting systems, it streamlines and simplifies data management between systems by providing a unified repository and a repository management tool, the BOS.

3. Why not simply integrate the BIM database directly into the CMMS or the BMS?

This is indeed the current approach for all existing applications wishing to switch to BIM: "I keep the same tool but with an initialization module which retrieves the data from the BIM model".

This approach is very limited. It does not allow one and the same shared repository to live and guarantee the quality of this shared repository. Very quickly in the life of the building, the different frames of reference living separately will no longer be equivalent to each other. The initial gain will be lost very quickly. In other words, limiting BIM integration to this approach means keeping silos.

This reduces the field of possible scenarios and therefore the benefits for the customer. For example, I cannot create a CMMS ticket from the equipment avatar in the BIM viewer. I will have to open the CMMS, find the equipment and create the ticket. Another example, in the case where my CMMS has a BIM viewer (very little the case today), I can easily locate the equipment related to the ticket. On the other hand, I will have to go to the BMS supervisor to retrieve the measurements generated such as volume, air flow, etc.). I therefore multiply the data sources and consequently the intervention time.

To go further, it will be necessary anyway to connect the systems. The choice between a "spaghettiware" or "middleware" type integration will always be essential and experience in deploying ERP and PLM systems, etc. naturally leads to a preference for a middleware approach.

To summarize, this approach aims, in my opinion, to offer a facade solution that avoids the evolution of software offers and the implementation of open APIs. Which, on the one hand, can turn out to be very costly and which, on the other hand, requires profound strategic and cultural modifications in historically closed publishers.

4. BOS is at the center of your approach, do you think it should be a building asset like GTB?

Yes ! The parallel with GTB is good. We do not ask ourselves whether or not BMS should be a building asset. Another parallel can also be made with the OS of a computer or a smartphone. This is the reason why we named our platform this way.

Ask yourself the same question with your smartphone:

  • "Does Android have to be an asset sold with your phone?"
  • Are we buying or reselling this one without its OS?

The BOS is the asset repository management platform. From this point of view, it is closely linked to heritage and therefore to the building.

I take this opportunity to address another point on the difference between a building OS and a computer OS. The computer is a compact system produced in mass production whereas a building is a "system of systems" produced in a single copy. The integration of the BOS is specific (such as the integration of a BMS, a CMMS, an ERP ...) and the BOS is not easily replaced by that of the neighboring building. Uninstalling the BOS would mean losing all of the integrations made with existing systems and potentially losing some of the data generated during the life of the building. But it is the data that is the black gold of the 21st century!

I could tell you more about this parallel between the transformation of the computer and telephone industry with that of the automated building towards the digital building. However, this should be the subject of a dedicated article, so we suggest that your readers read our column cited at the end of this article "The Smart Building needs its OS".

5. Is the heart of your offer a data management platform? this is where all the richness and power of your solution lies?

Indeed, the value of BIM lies in 3D and in data, the value of BOS lies in its ability to manage complex and heterogeneous data in a bidirectional manner. The platform must be able both to manage the object type data of the model, to automatically transform its static data into a dynamic digital twin which will be updated by the data coming from other building systems, from the CMMS. .

The BOS is a data management platform but also an application development platform (AEP) open to third-party systems. We publish APIs and SDK that allow anyone to develop connectors (with third party systems) and new applications independently of Spinalcom.

For example, the DSIT department of EDF is currently developing a printer / copier management application intended for employees and technical services which will make it possible to locate the appropriate printer (A3 color for example), to find a replacement printer in the event of a problem. of a breakdown, to locate the locker where the consumable is located… They will also soon develop a space management application by offering to visualize the rate of use of spaces in the form of a heat map directly in the digital twin.

To summarize, the BOS is a data management platform, but also a platform for easily developing, deploying and using applications that use or enhance data.

6. Could you remind us of the interest of an SDK and APIs?

An SDK is the acronym for Software Development Kit. It is a set of programming assistance tools offered to application developers. API is an acronym for Applications Programming Interface. An API is a programming interface that makes it possible to “plug in” an application to exchange data.

On this last point, I would like to point out that an exchange of data by file or email is not an API. There is a strong misunderstanding on this point which leads us to have to manage integration problems with applications chosen by our customers and which do not meet the true definition of API. The consequence is that this impacts the range of possibilities for the end customer.

7. Do you offer a SaaS solution? if not why ?

Our platform can be deployed in SaaS mode or in the cloud, but this is not the majority choice of our customers today.

Let's take the analogy with the OS of a computer, is it shared between several PCs? No ! And why ? The building is an industrial asset. The data produced by its occupants and its systems can be numerous, confidential, real time… The applications deployed can be critical or not, need a high level of resilience or not… For all these reasons, and for the building to be itself smart, and not only connected to a smart system, the BOS is most often deployed locally in the building or deployed on a dedicated server and administered by the customer's IT department.

The BOS is a software which responds to a logic of "Fog computing" more than of "Cloud computing".

8. What have you learned from your various client projects?

There is beginning to be an awareness of the potential of BIM GEM (Gestion Exploitation Maintenance) by the various players in building management. Conversely, there is a lack of IT culture in the sector which leads customers to underestimate the workload and the impact of a bad choice of applications or system architectures for the future of the system. building information and its evolution.

Another critical point that we often encounter is the confusion between "smart" and "connected". A connected building that reports measurements in a dashboard is not a smart building, it is only connected. I can thus view the information remotely instead of having to travel. An analytic that does 2 or 3 calculations to present the data in a dashboard does not make it a smart building. What is an intelligent, smart building?

Just like for the smartphone (11 years already!), Intelligence comes mainly from the OS (Android, iOS in particular), i.e. the ability to connect equipment, pool data, structure data and easily evolve by allowing the creation of many applications (analysis, visualization, storage, etc.). It is indeed the OS that has transformed the "phone" into a "smartphone" which can now accommodate hundreds of applications and develop these applications which use the resources / data available via the OS in an ever more intelligent way.

9. Could you give me a few clients where you have deployed your solution?

The year 2018 was a very good year for Spinalcom with more than 10 new contracts won, 2019 promises to be auspicious with subjects such as BIM - CMMS and / or GTB integration, occupancy & inventory, asset management ... more and more in demand. I can cite clients like EDF DSIT, EDF R&D, Spie Batignolles (SNC SBC OPERATIONS), Vinci Energies, GSE, Schneider Electric Norway… For example, at EDF R&D, our solution is used by a laboratory in Les Renardières for the purpose of dynamic management of laboratory test cells. For Spie Batignolles, this concerns the management of an aqualudic center and for Vinci Energies, the co-development of applications facilitating the use of BIM by GTB integrators ...

10. What is Spinalcom's ambition for this year 2019?

We want to consolidate partnerships with our existing customers and expand our collaborations with AMOs, design offices, engineering companies, real estate companies, equipment manufacturers, ESNs and software publishers. Collaboration is a strong axis of our vision. No company today can meet all the needs of a client, we must create an ecosystem where everyone brings their value and expertise. I take this opportunity to invite market players to join our ecosystem. We wish to open discussions with as many people as possible and share our knowledge on the architecture of information systems for buildings, BIM GEM, the digital twin, smart data ... in order to actively participate in the process of digitizing the world. of the building.

Learn more about the BOS


The BOS: The operating system of the digital building - Tribune

The Smart Building, or digital building, is still a concept more than a reality. With this platform, Jeremie bellec co-founder of SpinalCom allows you to define the Smart Building operating system also called BOS (Building Operating System). 

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