Purpose and a Vision for the Electronic Operation and Maintenance Manual Initiative
Mr. Eli Katz
Our goal with this project is to take an initial step toward a set of electronic tools to deliver the lowest possible life-cycle costs for buildings. We are going to do this by applying Standard Generalized Markup Language (SGML) tagging to building text information. We are going to demonstrate the concept that an item of building text information need be manually entered into electronic systems only once during the life cycle of the building. After that, the information can be moved electronically from system to system. (Just for clarification, I am talking about text information that is typed and possibly sketches that are included with the tagging. I am not talking about graphic layout tagging.)
SGML tagging is a worldwide standard for invisible marking of the beginning and end of a piece of electronic text information. It works with and across all computing platforms, databases, and languages. (XML, Extensible Markup Language, is the extension of SGML being created to facilitate Internet and electronic commerce activity.)
For building text information, SGML tags can mark the beginning and end of information elements such as all air handlers ahu-24, the motor of ahu-24, the left bearing in the motor, and so on. The information elements include details such as part numbers, description, dimensions, suppliers, and other purchasing information.
Once information is marked in one electronic system, other electronic systems will be able to find it and use it.
In the future, when a CAD operator selects a particular air handler, the “attributes” will have already been populated using tagging resources and will be available for display, modification, printing, and export. Someday, when the designer chooses a brand and model number of an air handling unit, he will select the “apply” tool in the CAD system. The dimensions and design information will then be imported automatically via an Internet link with the manufacturer because of the tagging resources.
The electronic operation and maintenance manual initiative is a milestone. It is intended to demonstrate and pilot the concept plus produce an immediately useful tool, especially in the federal government environment, by creating an SGML electronic tagging standard for the operation and maintenance manuals of buildings, including the associated equipment manuals. The tool is an SGML, Document
Type Definition (DTD). You have probably heard of Hypertext Markup Language (HTML), the DTD that drives the graphics of the Internet. It works and it is powerful.
The content is based on the Naval Facilities Engineering Command's (NAVFAC) Operations and Maintenance Support Information (OMSI) specification. The tagging is SGML, the worldwide standard.
The information and the electronics work together to produce the benefits. The information content is produced by the building professionals —the engineers, the architects, the building managers, and the owners. The information electronics are produced by the electronic data professionals.
Today, we have the infrastructure of computer hardware, the operating systems, the application software, educated and trained users, community culture, and technical standards to implement this initiative. Also, fortunately or unfortunately, we have a business culture that means this is mandatory. As a consequence of “smart-sizing” and outsourcing, institutional memories are housed in databases, not in people. We no longer have employees with 20, 30, 40 years of experience dedicated to the building. With a continually changing workforce, an organization has to have the automation and electronic systems in place to keep its buildings economically viable and business functional.
Automation is a given. We have to do what we can to reduce the cost and effort of implementing that automation. We are talking about minimizing the costs during the life cycle of a building from conceptualization to disposal.
Bodies of reference information and building information (databases) created during a building's life cycle include feasibility studies, design concepts, design standards, construction codes and standards, plans and specifications, construction submittals, punch lists, commissioning documents, equipment manufacturers' manuals, operations and maintenance support manuals, CMMS data, energy and utilities tabulations, supplies inventory data, furnishings inventory data, specialized smart maintenance and service system data, accounting data, salvage data, and disposal data, among others. This information is used over and over. In the building industry today, the same information is repeatedly being manually gathered and entered many times. This is expensive, time consuming, and frustrating work performed by highly paid, electronically enlightened humans.
The greatest single cost in implementing CMMS, facility management systems, inventory, and other building electronic management systems is establishing the database manually. The greatest single reason for failure to implement or, more often, to underimplement building database systems, is the difficulty in creating the initial database. Today's initiative is a step toward gathering and entering the information only once during the life cycle of the building.
Manufacturers and suppliers produce individual manuals and submit data sheets for each of the myriad equipment and component items of each building. They are usually not readily accessible to building operations and maintenance personnel or for reference when building renovations or additions are being designed. Progressive owners attempt to mitigate this problem by commissioning the expensive and time consuming (but cost effective) preparation of building operation and maintenance manuals.
The specific goal of the DTD initiative is to establish a comprehensive electronic tagging scheme whereby the individual manufacturers' and suppliers' manuals and data sheets will be able to be electronically tagged. These electronic tags will be able to be used to populate needed information in the electronically tagged operation and maintenance manual for a building. The other beneficial uses will follow from this initiative.
Think of where that electronic end-user information could be located. First, there might be paper versions locally or remotely printed. There might be a manual in every mechanic's locker or tucked away in machine rooms. Or the manual might be located on a compact disk (CD) and used or copied completely or partially to the full range of today's electronic systems, from standalone personal computers (PCs), hand-held personal devices, local area network servers, wide area network servers, Internet,
and Intranet servers; or they might be incorporated directly into the equipment covered by the manual. In five years, when you buy a new boiler, it might have the microprocessor in it, and the screen and the electronic manual might come in the boiler control panel. Or, the manual might not come with the equipment; it will be accessed on the World Wide Web.
Now, what are we going to do with electronic manuals? First of all, we are going to prepare printed copies and printed extracts for reading. We'll use traditional sequential on-screen viewing, a search engine, and hypertext viewing. When we get to the point where software packages are automatically tagging operational data, it will be a very powerful concept for data reporting and mining. It can be the source of electronic information for manual electronic copying to other electronic systems. Or, we are positioned to have the electronic information automatically copied from one system to another or to have the electronic information automatically directly accessed and used from the electronic manual CD.
The initiative is based on the Navy OMSI standard, which uses the Construction Specifications Institute listing of about 4,000 building elements. As the evolution of the DTD progresses, I envision that experience from the initiative will lead to:
Expansion to the finer granularity of the approximately 80,000 building elements of the R.S. Means estimating data base.
Provision for tagging to accommodate facility geography such as site, building, floor, room, zone, and functional space.
A methodology for ongoing timely expansion of the standing lists of building elements and their components.
Provisions for tagging to be applied to elements and facilities not covered by standard tagging listings.
There is a saying, “Build it, and they will come.” If the building professionals will define the application requirements and listings of building components, the electronic data processing professionals can build the SGML, XML, HTML, or whatever future technology tools are needed to meet our goal. It is that simple.
The DTD you will see today is the initial model of those tools. The NAVFAC's work, built on the Construction Specifications Institute standard, is the content, the building professional's definition of the data. The content model was combined with the SGML worldwide standard to produce the application DTD. The benefits and the paybacks that are to be achieved are electronic tools for the lowest life-cycle cost. How? Information is manually entered only once. It is conveniently and instantly accessed. By bringing down implementation costs, the specific feasibility threshold levels of setting up automation will be lowered. Documentation costs will drop. Setting up automated inventory systems and supply chain management are major costs that will be significantly decreased.
The initiative will enable a rapid increase of several orders of magnitude of the state of the art of automation of building operation and maintenance functions. This will cause significantly increased reliability and performance levels and dramatically lowered operating and ownership costs. This will happen quickly because of the opportunity for major profit that will become available to the highly aggressive and competitive automation suppliers.
It will also enable us to put more “smart” tools into the hands of mechanics. As a mechanic travels through a facility, there will be smart electronic troubleshooting tools as part of his mobile tool kit. Having tagged data available will increase the speed at which smart systems, on-screen prompts, coupled with sensors, are available. This will result in lower training costs for mechanics and reduced time to make them fully productive in a building. The mechanic will be empowered to access and use the information, resulting in lower costs and enhanced reliability.