BIM delivers insight into the future of FM at Flinders University

by Ben Creagh
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It has been a year since Flinders University opened its Tonsley Building in Adelaide, and the development continues to deliver benefits from a facility management perspective, according to Flinders project director Steve Woodrow.

The six-storey, 16,000 square metre building, which significantly expanded the University’s reach beyond its primary Bedford Park campus, set out with a goal to bring together education, innovation, business and commercial start-up business ventures into the new precinct.

Around 80 start-up businesses have already connected with the precinct through the New Venture Institute, 16 of which are now being accommodated for in the building.

Steve-Woodrow-Flinders-University

Flinders University’s Steve Woodrow

The implementation of building information modelling (BIM) throughout the development life cycle of the building has enabled Flinders University to establish a precinct capable of delivering this, Woodrow says.

He adds that the success of the building in its first year also offers an insight into the future of not only FM at Flinders University, but potentially the broader education sector in Australia as well.

“We made a decision to fully document the whole building in the Revit 3D software package, knowing that we can use that in the FM phase,” Woodrow, who will present on the project as part of the seminars program at Total Facilities 2016 , tells FM.

“Having early consultant, contractor and sub contractor involvement allowed us to bring them on that journey as well. Instead of having them just for the build time we have now employed those same companies for the FM side as well.”

According to Woodrow, it was a priority for Flinders University to use the Tonsley Building development as an opportunity to implement innovative ways to better design, construct, manage and operate its facilities by implementing BIM throughout the project life-cycle.

Software company Zuuse was chosen to deliver a robust and scalable platform designed to be a single point of truth to facilitate better operational, tactical and strategic decisions throughout the entire asset life cycle – especially in FM.

“As this is a standalone building away from our main campus we were able to use it as a bit of a guinea pig to test new ideas,” Woodrow explains.

“For instance we don’t have traditional lecture theatres and tutorial rooms for our teaching spaces – we have collaborative teaching spaces where we can run lectures and tutorials at the same time. It was also then about having students bring their own device – we haven’t got computers rooms everywhere.”

From a teaching perspective, Woodrow says these initiatives have been effective and that the university now plans to take them to its main campus.

“Our challenge now in FM is how we transition that across to our other 58 buildings,” he says.

The $120 million development, which was the centrepiece of the revitalisation of the former Mitsubishi Motors manufacturing site, was the first major construction project in Australia to successfully implement 3D BIM across the full asset lifecycle and into FM.

And if Zuuse project director Malcolm Foort’s comments are any guide it will not be the last, particularly in the education sector.

“From our perspective there is a tremendous amount of interest from universities in how this technology can be used and rolled across into future FM,” says Foort.

“Flinders had an opportunity to look at this development in a different way and BIM has given them a great anchor that exists across the whole life-cycle of the building.”

Find out more about the project in this case study by Zuuse CEO Jason Lilienstain.

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