Pieter Hayton, managing director of Advantrus FM Consulting, which recently acquired the distribution rights for OrthoGraph Enterprise in the Middle East and Africa regions, explains how the European PropTech developer’s new ‘Operational BIM’ aims to reduce costs and make FM operations more efficient
Could you tell us about your new BIM product?
OrthoGraph Enterprise is a mobile and web technology focusing on the operation lifecycle of any building.
It uses mobile tools like iPads, laser distance meters, barcode, and radio frequency identification (RFID) readers to capture any existing or newly built building with high speed and accuracy.
The result is an Operational BIM instantly from the site-survey, so there is no need to post-process any data. The technology supports capturing detailed asset inventory (including any kind of asset details, properties, photos, panoramas, or sound notes) with their graphical positions, and controls the data quality with digital tools.
Once the Operational BIM is finally captured, then the data can be used to access it on-site, using mobile technology as part of the everyday operational workflows. Following up changes is simple and accurate by the regular maintenance crew as OrthoGraph is not just a viewer, but an onsite editor of any asset data.
In addition to the onsite workflows, graphical models can be accessed in a simple web browser by anyone having the properly set user rights. Through integration functionality the OrthoGraph Viewer can become a graphical displaying or reporting tool of any facility or maintenance management system, building management, access management or any systems that need up-to-date graphical functionality. OrthoGraph works either as a data source for external systems through its API (Application Programming / Integration Interface) or as an embedded graphical viewer through its SDK.
Simplicity, speed, and accuracy are the three key benefits of the system. Supporting rugged and accurate tools to capture and maintain building data, that you can add to the hands of the maintenance people.
How does BIM help property managers or facility managers?
Both as data source of any existing building to their CAFM systems or embedded tool for supporting workflows. OrthoGraph's instant DXF, IFC or Excel exports can provide data for any decisions right from the system. Reviewing the painting area, cleaning area or rental area for tendering or contracting are easy using the excel output of the system but measuring building performance (productive area/services area of a building) is also an instant calculation, if the data survey has been specified to fulfil such demands.
Let me give you three examples for workflow support:
When you send out a maintenance person to a particular equipment for a repair job, then a simple link can be sent to the given equipment e.g. in an email. By clicking the link OrthoGraph displays the given item selected so navigation to the exact item becomes fast and easy.
Before leaving to the site just simply accessing element details, photos can help collecting all tools and materials needed to finish with the work, so we can prevent making trips back and forth between locations such as site and materials storage.
Once the worker is at the site, scanning the unique identifier (barcode or RFID) assures that the proper equipment is going to be maintained. If there is a manual, maintenance specifications, photo or video attached about how to do the work the site-worker can finish much faster than without.
What data or information is collected by the product?
Floor space, walls, doors and windows with height information, all dimensions in a controlled manner. OrthoGraph ensures that the minimum required measurements are done to create an appropriate BIM.
It also maintains asset inventory through unique identifier for each specified element (barcode, QR Code or RFID), basic dimension details of the elements and unlimited number of properties (including photos, panoramas, sounds) that is recommended to be specified prior to the surveying projects. It also ensures a standardised asset inventory with required fields and fixed value lists. This asset inventory also can contain approximate or highly accurate positions of each individual asset and maintenance points. All this can be captured with simple, low-cost, and rugged tools.
How will it help clients to minimize operational costs?
It will help clients reduce operational costs through accurate reports, excel exports, navigation to maintenance points, giving access to item photos, panoramas even before leaving to the site, navigation and element identification on-site, as well as giving access to the element properties onsite.
By updating all changes when and where they happen will result in storing all building data in a central BIM, completely independent from contractors and sub-contractors. All this in a simple, feasible way using mobile technology with digitally controlled quality.
How will it help in real time asset inventory control?
Anytime if there is a change or update in data or information, it must be captured by the given maintenance or technical crew. Data capturing, following up changes is simple, very fast and the quality is controlled digitally by the system. For this only simple tool are needed, such as:
- iPad Camera for QR codes or barcodes
- or RFID reader if it is used to identify assets
- simple laser distance meter (e.g. Leica DISTO D2 or BOSCH GLM 120C)
- maybe a panoramic camera (e.g. Insta360 One X2) for capturing panoramas, but this later is only required on purpose.
What are the challenges with existing BIM products?
- Slow and expensive to capture reality to BIM. Point Cloud technologies or photogrammetry solutions don't provide accurate and calculated data like rental area, cleaning area, painting area, door/window surface. These might be provided with high amount of post-processing work, typically with less accurate results than with OrthoGraph
- Data is only available read-only onsite (even if available) so following up changes is hard, expensive and often forgotten
- There is no support for detailed asset inventory. Supporting unique identifiers is lacking from all BIM solutions
- Navigation to items is rarely available
- Accessing BIM is not possible, or if it is, then it needs manual preparation and shows only outdated, not real-life data. In the case of OrthoGraph the web functionality always shows the most recent version of the building and its asset data
- Versioning is not part of BIM. OrthoGraph handles any change made on the BIM as a new version of it, it's even possible to comment on such versions.
Following up changes is not supported easily so this activity is forgotten. Typically expensive, slow and difficult workflows, many times sensitive tools are required for that - e.g. laser scanners or special reality capturing tools that are typically not available at the site-workers
- Digitally controlled element properties, required fields, fixed lists are not supported by BIM or point cloud solutions
- Accessing BIM needs special tools like BIM Viewers, CAD systems etc. For operational work it must be as simple as possible, e.g. through direct access to 2D or 3D using a web browser - with handling proper user rights
- Graphical reports, colorizing locations or assets by external systems to display tenancy reports, departments, breakdown relations, building automation settings is not supported by BIM solutions. OrthoGraph does it on the always most-recent version of the building and its assets
How common is data loss risk and how does the new system help with that?
Data loss mainly happens because of forgetting to follow up changes made on buildings or on asset inventories. In addition to that, standardized data capturing, asset property lists are missing from all solutions. OrthoGraph provides data editing onsite where changes happen and contains a very strong graphical and inventory quality control functionality.
Fluctuation is a typical key factor of data loss as most of building data is stored in the heads of the maintenance crew. This can be prevented by using Operational BIM with properly setup workflows.
The data stored in OrthoGraph is continuously updated to OrthoGraph Cloud. The mobile devices store data only temporarily as long as there is internet connection, and the maintenance persons send all changes to the OrthoGraph Cloud (one push of a button from the main screen). OrthoGraph Cloud can be hosted on OrthoGraph's own server, in Microsoft Azure or in case of its required then on-premises, at the end-users own infrastructure.