Facility Records: The hub of facilities information

January 2019

Facility Records employee looking through records in their library area.

Western Michigan University consists of 170 buildings, which are maintained by our Facilities Management department. Most of these buildings came with an initial set of documents, comprised of owner's manuals, drawings, etc., that are pertinent to the function and operation of FM. On top of those initial documents, additional project documents accumulate over the years as spaces and equipment are updated or changed. Storing and keeping track of these documents is not a simple task, which is why FM created a central hub to receive, store, and distribute them, called Facility Records.

Facility Records is more than a typical document room; it is a physical and digital library of all campus facilities and spaces. The library occupies 18,000 cubic feet of space for the physical documents and employee work space. On top of the physical space, it occupies over a terabyte of digital files on the host network. These documents are requested and used by operations staff, consultants, campus departments, students, and even the general public. Due to the large quantity of information and number of requests, it takes a group of employees to maintain, organize, and ensure that the documents and files are received and accessible to their users. In total, Facility Records is run by two full time employees and a group of student employees. The students generally have a background in engineering and are able to gain valuable work experience in their field.

Student employees working in the office.

As a division of FM, Facility Records completes a full review process for all documents they receive. The review process helps ensure that all required information is received and the naming guidelines for digital files are followed. At the end of a building’s life, once it has been demolished, Facility Records keeps site and utility information that is still important. The other documents are sent to Zhang Legacy Collections Center to review for historical significance. Zhang will keep some of these in their archives for the history of WMU. Jani Hart, the Facility Records Coordinator, states "[the] team also explores, builds, trains and supports alternative systems for delivering this information to our FM staff." Technology is significantly changing and shaping how they operate; keeping up with the growing campus and new software is key.

A section of the Facility Records library.

In line with the new technology, most buildings on campus now have BIM (Building Information Models), which are virtual 3D models of the building. These models provide the ability to locate concealed wires, pipes, or equipment, and give links to manuals and construction documents. Buildings on campus built within the last five years had BIM provided in the turnover process, while the other BIM were created post construction by student employees. These models are an additional resource to help our skilled trades personnel troubleshoot and complete their jobs efficiently and effectively.

Hart believes Facility Records, "is a place that serves the entire campus community, providing them information required for efficient facility navigation, maintenance and operations, and planning and development needs." The work being done now will contribute and assist in the future of WMU facilities.

Facility Records’ office is located in the Physical Plant building on East Campus of Western Michigan University.