Reducing the “Blind Spot” when Operating a New Facility

Costs incurred by facility managers screenshot

Reducing the “Blind Spot” when Operating a New Facility

The cost of looking

Costs incurred by facilities managers after the post-construction handover of a facility are significant, as highlighted by a quantitative study into the ROI from BIM in facilities management that was presented by George Broadbent of Microdesk at the recent AEC-NEXT conference in Anaheim on June 2018 (and discussed by Geoff Zeiss[1]). A National Institute of Standards and Technology study by the US government estimated that the cost of locating accurate information for what has been installed in a new facility can cost US$0.23/sq. ft. annually.

Costs incurred by facility managers screenshot

Figure 1: Costs associated with accessing information for facilities management1

The “blind spot”

Broadbent described wasted time in the context of a blind-spot period that occurs immediately following when the facility is handed over to the facility manager, and lasting until the contractor eventually hands all information pertaining to the operation and construction of the facility to that manager. It can be months before this information is handed over, and Broadbent commented that it can also take up to a year before the facility’s manager knows how to best search through this information.

Most institutional builds in North America now require that photographs be taken at intervals through the construction process. Reasons for doing so include validation that installations in the build were completed or to comply with various local bylaws, such as fire safety. These photographs are collected in a variety of ways, ranging from using smartphones, to professional digital camera imagery, to using building documentation services.

Photographs may be captured throughout a project by site personnel whenever they see an issue or installation that they would like to refer to, or at pre-defined intervals such as when foundations and footings have been dug, at pre- and post- rough-ins and finishing, and on final handover.

What has been installed between the walls?

One of the most useful pieces of information that these photographs provide is a record of what has been installed behind finished walls, floors, and ceilings. This includes details such as that seen in the rough-in stage of construction, when the location of electrical and plumbing installations can be seen (as in Figure 2). Full 360-degree photography also means that interfaces between walls and ceilings, especially on corners, are not missed.

Screenshot of Photodocufy construction photo documentation app showing rough in

Figure 2: Images organized by construction phase within Photodocufy web application

When there can be many thousands of photographs taken onsite, how can facilities managers best locate the photograph that they require, and how can they guarantee that the installation they want to examine has been photographed at all? Here are some guidelines:

Structured photography practices and photo documentation management

It is the view of the Photodocufy team that to introduce cost savings for the facility manager, construction photography must meet the following requirements:

  • The fewest number of photographs should be taken.
  • Photographs need to be easily searchable in relation to the floor plan of the facility (such as in Figure 3).
  • The resolution of every photograph must show the smallest element that will be identified by the facility manager (e.g., labels in Figure 4).
  • The location of each camera position should be consistent between each construction phase.
  • Photographs must be accessible in a network-based IT environment across multiple teams and stakeholders.

Meeting these requirements will provide the facility manager with the best opportunity to understand the as-built state at handover of the build. The Photodocufy construction documentation services fulfill these requirements through employing personnel with professional skills in photography, field data collection, and recording. The service uses professional-grade, high-resolution 360-degree cameras (where one frame provides the same coverage as 6-8 regular photographs), and associates each photograph with a mapped position on the facility’s floor plan that is viewed via a web browser.

Screenshot of Photodocufy application showing photograph of rough in

Figure 3: Images organized by camera position (camera position stays consistent between building phases)

Interactive panoramic photo in Photodocufy web application showing a label and serial number of a machine part

Figure 4: Imagery needs to be of a high enough resolution to read labels

This process provides the facility manager with a master-set of as-built information for their facility that they can work with straight way. Using the Photodocufy service, managers can identify not only the location of their assets, but also types and serial numbers before any remaining paperwork is provided by the construction firm, and so significantly reduce their post-handover “blind spot.”



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