What is a BIM Manager, and how does this relate to civil engineering?
A BIM Manager is a civil engineer who is responsible for the implementation of Building Information Modelling (BIM) and the Digital Construction procedures at the design, construction and handover stages of a project. A BIM Manager’s role and responsibilities may vary depending on whether the individual is working for the client, contractor or designer.
What is enjoyable about the role?
A BIM Manager has a unique opportunity to have a wide and varied exposure to all elements of the construction process. On a day to day basis a BIM Manager may work with Quantity Surveyors, Designers, Planners and Engineers to assist in the manipulation and extraction of information from data-rich models. There is a common misconception about the simplicity of BIM, some people believe it’s just 3D models and “Hollywood Style” visualisations. In actual fact BIM is a process-driven discipline which results in “Better Information Management”, achieving a more effective and collaborative workplace.
Two sides to BIM: Digital Construction and Information Management
BIM can be thought of as two separate workflows, Digital Construction and Information Management. Digital Construction is often seen as the more exciting side of BIM; it is where we can improve project efficiency and trial potential solutions through simulations and analysis. Digital Construction activities might include the creation o:
- macro and micro 4D (3D models with time) simulations for live projects and tenders, to assist project planners.
- model quantity take-offs to assist quantity surveyors, estimators and planners.
- 3D logistics plans for access and egress routes on sites
- detailed 3D concept imagery of Temporary Works ideas to help engineers progress their designs
- Visual Method Statements to highlight potential risks and prove the construction sequences and then using it to brief site operatives and
- the processing of point cloud information to assist and prove construction sequences and the extraction of exact dimensions.
The Information Management workflow is more of a clerical function and is how we ensure that the all project members understand how BIM will be utilised on the project. Information Management activities might includ:
- The creation of Employers Information Requirements (EIRs). The EIR document explains the client’s preferred systems, processes and required outputs from their supply chain.
- The creation BIM Execution Plans (BEPs). A BEP is created in response to an EIR and explains how the Supplier intends to meet the client’s information requirements
- The monitoring of supply chain performance and where necessary implementing appropriate training and upskilling to ensure effective information delivery
- The capture and integration of asset data within the BIM environment including linked data
- The set up and maintenance of the Common Data Environment including the alignment of workflows with the project BIM protocols.
In summary, the role of BIM manager gives a civil engineer the ability to combine innovative technology, evolving construction practice and better collaborative processes in one unique position.
What has changed in the sector in recent years?
BIM is a new concept, albeit using and reiterating common sense and good practice and collaboration, just like good engineering always used to use. The Government is enforcing the use of BIM Level 2 on all Government procured projects as of 6 April 2016. To win these tenders, companies must be BIM compliant. A BIM toolkit will be published in 2015. For more information, see the Building Information Modelling (BIM) Protocol.
How do I become a BIM Manager?
While there is not currently a recognised route to the BIM Manager job role there are certain minimum requirements expressed by a large number of employers.
Qualifications and experience
A BIM Manager is often expected to have academic qualifications of HNC/HND (or higher) in a construction-based subject such as civil engineering, additionally they should have at least 5 years’ experience in an architectural, engineering or construction-based role. It is common for individuals with CAD, Document Control or engineering backgrounds to make the transition into a BIM-based role.
While a BIM manager will not have any design responsibilities, they should have a basic understanding of the modelling process. BIM Managers are expected to have above average IT skills and the ability to use multiple software disciplines as they will be expected to “drive” the model during meetings. Good written and verbal communication skills are a must as BIM Managers are expected to work collaboratively with all members of the supply chain. A sound knowledge of quality and document management processes is extremely useful as BIM Managers may be expected to assist with the creation and maintenance of Common Data Environments (CDE’s).
How do I return to Civil Engineering as a BIM Manager
There is currently no formal industry recognised qualifications for BIM so as such any individual with a civil engineering background and a passion for BIM can make the transition. Paths into the profession and job role requirements will differ between companies.
In practicality, this will mean learning to use the software used by the company involved in the project, and then conversations about how to create and use this data. This could mean the planning software to determine how to build a factory, the quantity surveying software used to determine its costs, the asset management software to lower costs during the factory’s operational stage, or the public facing user interface that mines all these for information.
How can I learn more about the discipline of BIM?
To help you discover more about about the role that civil engineers play in this discipline, we've collated a series of resources including recorded lectures and case studies.
Case studies and resources
ICE offers training on ICE BIM for Infrastructure, from experienced practitioners such as Philip Jackson, BSc (Hons), CEng, FICE, FRSA, Richard Lane FLPI, MBCS and Anne Kemp, Chair, Association for Geographic Information, BIM4Infrastructure UK and ICE BIM Action Group. This is the UK's leading BIM training programme. The two day syllabus embeds the Government's Learning Outcomes Framework and takes the delegate through each aspect of BIM in detail: data, application, contractual and insurance. This is highly relevant for those hoping to become BIM managers.
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