How can SAP applications support the life cycle of a facility?
In this blog you will get an insight into the world of SAP, where the lifecycle of a facility can be supported by SAP applications. First of all, this requires an insight into the life cycle management of facilities.
How is the life cycle of a facility handled from an information technology point of view?
In times of digitalization, the need for IT supported applications to manage data is continuously increasing in the construction industry. During the entire life cycle of a facility, numerous object-specific data (for example building data) are provided from the perspective of information technology. Considering the life cycle periods of a facility, building data (for example structural model) is made available in the manufacturing, utilization and recycling period. As a result, a complete view is needed to manage building data. Furthermore, IT systems need the ability to manage central data sets in a common data environment.
Life cycle of a facility
The life cycle management of a facility is defined as a cross-disciplinary vision in the domain of building management. Basically, the life cycle management of a facility deals with the planning, construction, use, maintenance and recycling (deconstruction) of a facility. Life cycle management is not only the implementation of activities within the framework of building production and use as well as subsequent recycling, it is much more a management discipline where potential for optimization and sustainability are elementary. The use of resources is optimized over all phases to achieve maximum effectiveness and is equal to efficient environmental sustainability. Depending on the life cycle phase, different data are relevant for a facility. In an early phase of the life cycle, such as planning, specific actors (for example structural engineers or architects) use CAD data. A project manager or project controller uses data from a project system in the construction phase. From a construction perspective, the provision and processing of data must be considered comprehensively along the life cycle of a facility.
What is the role of Building Information Modelling (BIM)?
A conventional approach to the representation of data in connection with digitalization in the construction industry is Building Information Modelling (BIM). BIM represents the entire life cycle of a building in a digital model. The focus is on the development and maintenance of digital building models in three-dimensional views. These building models consist of functional and physical properties such as predefined components and spaces. With the help of a cooperative planning process of the responsible actors such as architects and technical planners, the intention is to define geometric data of a building and to link further relevant data and properties (e.g. material, fire protection features, service life, environmental features, etc.) together. The collection of data in terms of information on the relevant rooms and components of a facility serves as a basis in the phases of planning, conception and creation, as well as in the use and maintenance phases. This IT-supported method enables a structured and universal view of the life cycle. On this basis, it is possible to generate data sets and maintain the building models with geometric data. Furthermore, additional aspects of a facility can be represented within the framework of the planning and construction process (e.g. costs and deadlines). A concrete challenge in the context of the BIM methodology is the cooperative and networked communication of different disciplines. Another important requirement is the exchange of relevant data. One aim of BIM is the continuous flow of information across all life cycle phases. The conventional approach in BIM opens up the option for various users from different disciplines to collaborate on a common data model with the help of neutral data exchange formats. In this way, the interdisciplinary flow of information can be ensured.
One application that follows the BIM methodology approach is the SAP Project Intelligence Network application. SAP Project Intelligence Network is a cloud-based collaboration platform and is used for the cooperation of various actors from different disciplines in the planning process. Thus, the SAP Project Intelligence Network enables a central point of contact for the various project participants and integrates actors such as clients, contractors, architects, specialist planners, suppliers as well as necessary authorities (e.g. building department). In connection with life cycle management, this application supports the manufacturing phase in the processes of planning, scheduling and coordination of activities. The coordination of all data relating to the building is important in the context of construction project management.
Additional SAP solutions that support the life cycle of a facility. How do you situate these applications in the right environment?
In addition to the SAP Project Intelligence Network, other software solutions can support the construction process as well as the usage phase of a facility. One SAP application that supports the life cycle of a construction project is the SAP PS (Project System). In addition to SAP PS, the software manufacturer provides other solutions in the life cycle of a facility, such as an application for the maintenance and servicing of facilities and systems in the usage phase. SAP Enterprise Asset Management (EAM) controls the physical assets of a facility (for example the technical building services of a facility) and is thus part of the operator phase in the life cycle. This application is extended with the help of the SAP Asset Intelligence Network (AIN) and allows collaboration with suppliers, service providers and others. In this way, activities and processes from facility management are supported. In addition, SAP provides the SAP Cloud for Real Estate, a cloud-based application to support the processes of marketing and procurement in the usage phase. Furthermore, it can be used to monitor the facilities.
If you delve deeper into this topic, you can see that many solutions support the construction process and the life cycle of a facility in the various phases. At the same time, IT-supported management supports the improvement of use, environmental protection, information optimization as well as the cost efficiency and optimal use of resources of real estate.
In the future, a concrete challenge will be to consider the different perspectives on a facility holistically and to harmonize the processes during the different lifecycle phases of a facility. With the help of collaboration platforms, different disciplines can work collaboratively on a construction project. This approach is an important step toward digital building. In addition, digital twins, such as a building twin, enable digital building structures and pave the way for the digital transformation of the construction industry.