An Operations and Maintenance Manual, or O&M Manual, compiles all the information on the operation, maintenance, decommission and demolition of a building.
The O&M manual is basically a building user guide, like what you would get with a car. The requirement to provide an O&M manual is usually written within the project’s contractual documents and the specific contents may be listed, but can vary depending on the sector, client, contractor, operator, type of building and more. However, typical contents of an O&M manual may include:
O&M isn’t mandatory by law, but is more often than not required by clients or their representatives to be compiled and handed over prior to practical completion.
Whilst the O&M isn’t mandatory by law, the health and safety file, or H&S file, is a document legally required under the Construction (Design & Management) Regulations (also known as CDM).
The H&S file is focused on providing the client with the information needed for future use, maintenance, cleaning of the building, and any future projects, with a specific and sole focus on health and safety. It should confirm what is safe, and what hazards could not be designed out, that owners, operators and occupiers should be aware of. These two documents should serve two different purposes:
Typical contents of the health and safety file include:
Construction projects usually involve a number of designers, consultants, contractors, suppliers and manufacturers. Each team member usually has some input into what, where, when, why and how buildings, materials and their assets are designed, specified, constructed, tested and handed over.
As such, O&M information is usually provided by most of the team, particularly on larger schemes, therefore, it is anyone that has been specifically requested within their appointment contracts to provide information that are responsible.
The party ultimately responsible for requesting, coordinating, auditing and providing the O&M manual is (if an O&M is indeed required) usually named in the project contractual documents. This party is usually named as the principal contractor (also referred to as the main contractor). However, the Principal (or Lead) Designer or even the client’s Project Manager may even be nominated.
In either case, the principal contractual wording will normally be spent down the supply chain with the responsibility to provide the information required by the relevant parties, such as external door information provided by the external door subcontractor.
Its good practice to begin collating and validating O&M information as soon as a project commences. Historically, O&M’s are often left until the last minute, meaning information is pulled together in a rush with little time left to audit accuracy. Therefore, arguably, the best quality O&M manuals are those that are curated from the start and have been clearly defined by the client and their asset managers, facilities management teams, operators and if required, tenants.
Where do we begin!?
Let’s break it down into sections;
Construction Operations Building Information Exchange (COBie) is an international standard relating to managed asset information including space and equipment. It is closely associated with building information modeling (BIM) approaches to design, construction, and management of built assets.
COBie is captured and recorded in digital format, normally by way of Excel spreadsheets, but could also take form in STEP-Part 21 (also called IFC file format), and ifcXML. COBie is important project data at the point of origin, including equipment lists, product data sheets, warranties, spare parts lists, and preventive maintenance schedules. This information is essential to support operations, maintenance and asset management once the built asset is in service.
However, COBie is about building equipment only and therefore is seen as a supplement to O&M information rather than an O&M replacement as O&M information also requires copies of separate documentation such as guarentees, warranties and certificates as well as designs, project directories and much more. Whilst this is technically possible to provide, by way of hyperlinks within non-graphical COBie datasheets to separate filing systems, or, within 3D graphical BIM models, the process is unwieldy to create and can easily result in broken hyperlinks as documents are edited, moved or deleted. Whatsmore, the process of accessing, searching, editing, updating and utilising the information can be extremely complicated in the eyes if every day building owners, operatives and occupiers.
The ‘golden thread‘ is the information that allows you to understand a building and the steps needed to keep both the building and people safe, now and in the future. Responsibility for the golden thread of information during its early development and handover falls to the nominated ‘Dutyholder’ prior to handover. The responsibility for the continued development and maintenance of the information converts to the ‘Accountable Person’ during the Occupation phase right up to until its final demolition.
Information relates specifically to those responsible for the building that are required to identify, understand, manage and mitigate building safety risks in order to prevent or reduce the severity of the consequences of fire spread, or structural collapse throughout the lifecycle of the building. It is therefore building, structural and fire safety-related information, whereas O&M is more specific to the operations and maintenance of facilities.
Like COBie and the health and safety file, there are inevitably areas of duplication and overlap and as such highlights the need for a central, open-format building information platform like Operance to define, curate, audit and maintain all building information in one central place, and using smart raw data tagging techniques, will enable information to be provided once and segregate information into separate O&M, H&S and Fire and Emergency File formats.
Here’s the full definition of the golden thread as provided by the Building Regulations Advisory Committee (BRAC):