Bimsense look to the future of building information with the release of their Operance Digital O+M

Bimsense look to the future of building information with their Operance Digital O&M


COO Scott Pilgrim shares the company’s ambition to ‘humanise’ BIM information with their new mobile app, helping clients achieve a greater long-term return on their BIM investment.


By Alison Rolfe

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With ambitions to contribute towards the digital transformation of the industry, Scott and Ian founded Bimsense in August 2016. They began by working closely with a variety of clients including universities, colleges, modular builders, and major contractors in order to help them make sense of BIM. They were uniquely positioned to understand more about their client’s organisational frustrations, wants and needs. In essence, they were able to look for a problem they could potentially solve by fusing BIM with software, to create a new digital solution.

Whilst developing information-rich models, they were seeing the same problems in collating consistent and quality BIM data along with the inability to search or make use of information, as the industry has done for decades with traditional O&M manuals.

Bimsense envisioned a future of accurate, up-to-date O&M data direct from the BIM environment, available in your pocket, anytime, anywhere.

They began developing a mobile-first application, designed to provide all your as-built information direct from the BIM model, with ambitions to maximise the benefits of BIM data for owners, estate management teams and even end-users, helping to ultimately reduce operational expenditure.

In this article, Scott Pilgrim introduces the Operance Digital O&M.

What are the origins of your Digital O&M vision?

I personally had lots of experience in assembling O&M folders early in my career with traditional contractors, which involved lots of supply chain chasing, paper printing and reprinting. I also got involved in various elements of Business Development which entailed visiting projects beyond completion to see how end-users were finding the facilities in use.

My impression was that very few people were actually using O&M manuals, which was frustrating given that anywhere between 3-30 folders of information was developed and provided on each project, at a cost of around £20k (cost of contractor and supply chain effort) to compile large and numerous folders of either paper or pdf formats of inconsistent, incorrect and quickly outdated asset information that simply isn’t used.

Then there’s the cost of callouts to completed facilities due to a lack of knowledge and training in respect of assets, such as how to operate bio-mass boilers.

Given Ian’s particular focus on the value of quality data, we began looking at how the BIM process of defining structured and standardised data along with a strict audit and validating process, could be expanded to provide reliable O&M information.


What’s the problem with O&M manuals?

The problem with traditional O&M manuals (whether they be paper or pdf) is that the majority of information is incorrect and outdated before it’s even handed over, never mind after, so there’s no wonder they’re rarely referred to for useful information. There are many reasons for this, one being the push for information late in the programme and use of retention fees as a bargaining chip; resulting in the submission of rushed, false and unverified information.

In order to reduce the amount of my own time spent on printing and re-printing information, I actually experimented with ways in which to ‘digitise’ O&M information way back in the noughties. Whilst creating a standardised pdf and filing system on CD’s undoubtedly helped save a few trees; it was still difficult to navigate and search for information. Also, just because it was ‘digital’, it didn’t mean that the information was actually correct!

My pdf solution was flawed in many respects, not least because caretakers, for instance, didn’t want to be sat behind PC’s searching for information, they wanted it at-hand, whilst on the move and ideally, be easy to update.

The problems in collating quality data, reducing waste, providing simple access and enabling information to be kept up to date beyond handover, is as much a problem with modern BIM as it is with traditional O&M manuals.


What’s the solution Operance provides?

The aim is to help facility and asset management teams better operate, maintain and enhance their facilities with accurate, easily accessible and understandable, up-to-date information. Operance simplifies BIM data, helping the user search for data intuitively.

We’re already seeing users upload legacy models into Operance simply to view what information they do not have, in order to better inform the development of future EIR’s, with more detailed O&M information now high on their agenda.

In addition to this, Operance simplifies BIM information, making it more understandable and useful to the user by autonomously translating complicated BIM language, naming and classifications into plain language. This means users need not have any knowledge of BIM whatsoever or need to invest in complicated 3D model navigational tools; a common barrier to adopting or using BIM data.


How does Operance work?

That’s the secret sauce and not something we can divulge! But, in summary, you download the app, upload a BIM model and we provide you with every bit of information with a classification, no matter of format.


Who can download the app?

Anyone! It’s available on both the App Store and Google Play. We welcome BIM consultants, contractors, designers, modular builders, estate management teams, anyone interested in BIM or working with a BIM model, to upload the app and have a play with it.

BIM consultants, in particular, are beginning to download the app as they see it as adding value to their service and enabling them to help their clients visualise how they can search and utilise the data beyond handover which is great!


Is it available to download now?

Yes, we currently have various mixed sector organisations and government departments testing the app that have already invested in BIM but were not seeing any benefits beyond handover.

The feedback received to date is very promising, users are seeing their information for the first time and feel like they are achieving a greater return on their BIM investment because of it. They can also see further opportunities in respect of what to do with the data available, evidenced by the numerous new feature requests we are receiving from beta testers to help develop a platform suitable to their own organisational needs.

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