One day we may see the same level of 3D design, analysis and information that’s commonplace in the auto and aerospace industries applied to our buildings. That vision is still many years in the future, despite the initiatives we are seeing from all over the world with manufacturers starting to create 3D object libraries of their products which can be dropped into BIM models.

Where other industries are modelling down to the last nut and bolt, the AEC sector is still in the early stages of adopting such principles. Even today, it’s far from the norm to see MEP models being used on every BIM project, and when these models are used, it is hardly down to the nuts-and-bolts detail you might expect. Making such comparisons is off course unfair. The auto-industry spends hundreds of millions of Euros in R&D and high-tech manufacturing processes because they have a repeatable product line and millions of customers, whereas the AEC industry has less money, less automation and fewer clients per project. But there are lessons to be learned in how the information produced by these industries is put to work.


I drive a twenty-year-old 1997 BMW 728i with over 100,000 miles on the clock. The E38 model is cherished by many of us, and was replaced long ago with more modern versions. But there are still thousands on the roads and most of them, like mine, are maintained by independent mechanics who charge a lot less than the authorised BMW dealerships.


My bema is serviced by Michael who works out of a local garage in South East London. His knowledge of the brand is legendary as are his skills. Keeping old cars like mine in tip-top condition is possible because he has access to the information about every aspect of the car on his laptop, even twenty years after it was built. He’s able to access detailed information from the manufacturer and parts suppliers right down to the last nut and bolt. And if some components are no longer being produced by BMW, the information knowledge base allows him to source third-party parts and keep the vehicle on the road. How many facilities managers can say the same?


It’s obvious that facility managers and maintenance teams can be more effective and productive when they have the right information to hand. But the AEC industry isn’t producing enough information about FFE, perhaps because our buildings are not designed and delivered with a long-term vision towards operations and maintenance, even though a buildings life-cycle is measured in decades.

These days BIM is being used on most projects in one form or another. We may not be able to model everything in our buildings to the level of detail found in other industries, but we can certainly bridge the information gap by improving on the way room data is defined and enrich our BIMs with better FFE  information. eRDS Cloud & Field is one such solution.