Based in the United Kingdom, BAM Construction has worked on construction projects in the UK since 1874. As part of the Royal BAM Group, the company is committed to the strategy of “building the present, creating the future.” The key for BAM is focusing on predictable performance, scalable learning, proactive ownership, and open collaboration. BAM recognized the essential factors to achieve these goals is strong collaboration with clients, business partners, and its own employees.
BAM Construction was working on a £21 million project rebuilding the English Martyrs School (EMS), which also included demolition of existing buildings. The project team is predominantly comprised of seasoned BAM workers who were used to paper-based workflows. To align with BAM’s strategy for “building the present, creating the future,” it was essential to find a way of digitizing workflows and upskilling workers while taking full advantage of skills already present within the team. Using Autodesk® BIM 360® Glue and Field along with a “Reverse Mentoring” initiative, BAM Construction saved significant time during site inspections and reduced its team’s reliance on paper-based workflows.
BAM Construction’s use of digital solutions was gradually increasing over the years, aligning with the company’s commitment to pursuing predictable performance. Up until the EMS project began however, no project had been run on a fully digital basis. The new high school project was ambitious, featuring specialty teaching areas for IT and science, as well as a new main hall, dining hall, sports hall, activity studio, and fitness suite. The outside campus will include new playing pitches, seating areas, and chapel gardens.
The BAM team on the project was a combination of experienced construction workers who were accustomed to paper-based workflows and young new hires excited to test digital solutions on the jobsite. BAM Construction knew it would be essential to merge these two strengths to not only achieve streamlined coordination on this project but adopt ways of working that would optimize time spent on future projects.
As part of an overall digital strategy, BAM selected BIM 360 software as the tool that would help optimize site coordination. The team chose to make EMS the first project that would use BIM 360 Glue and Field across the entire project lifecycle. Operating on a fully digital level meant that issue flagging, checklists, site inspections, and daily updates could all be done through BIM 360. It also meant that many of the workers needed to be successfully upskilled to meet the demands of a fully digital project workflow. For many employees with years of quality experience in the industry, learning to use tablets and BIM 360 on site would be a challenge.
Autodesk provided consultancy to BAM around deployment and data harvesting in BIM 360. To enhance this offering, BAM Construction devised its own program called Reverse Mentoring in which an older generation team member partnered with a younger generation team member, and the two could learn from each other. Through these partnerships, experienced employees who were used to paper-based solutions quickly gained the digital skills needed for the EMS project. Additionally, young employees with minimal experience learned the ins and outs of a jobsite from a practiced professional.
Gary Usher, a Senior Site Manager at BAM with over 40 years of construction experience, remembers years of walking drawings back and forth across the site and calling for change orders on a public telephone. Through the reverse mentoring program, Gary has partnered with Natasha Lister and learned how to use BIM 360 tools to check and monitor progress on site, check progress against digital drawings, share information through tablets, and instantly report defects. Natasha joined BAM as a student and learned from Gary how to navigate and communicate on a construction site. She has since been promoted to Assistant Site Manager.
“I think BIM 360 has benefitted everyone within the site team, from getting records and commercial issues, to proving that we’re doing things as well as proving that we’re not doing certain things. It’s good from a safety side, and we do good safety conforming practices and inspections through BIM 360. Starting out as a trainee and thinking about the orientation of the building, intricate detailing, and making sure everything’s airtight and weather tight—it’s a challenge making those details right. Having the model available to walk through, look at, and being able to easily check a few drawings and find conflict is so beneficial.”
– Natasha Lister, Assistant Site Manager, BAM Construction
By digitizing the entire project with BIM 360 solutions, BAM Construction saw a 50 percent time savings during site inspections. Using paper-based methods, inspections take two out of five working days. Now with BIM 360, inspections only take one day. The team can now utilize the extra time doing on-site coordination instead of administrative tasks. “If we didn’t have this solution, we’d be on site much later every day,” Gary commented.
During the EMS project, the team needed to dig for a gas main but didn’t know its exact location. Digging in search of the main would have taken days, and the risk of damaging a pipe or other key piece of infrastructure was significant. Fortunately, the engineer had taken photographs of the area using a tablet and BIM 360. These photos featured with key measurements that pointed to the exact location of the gas main. This information meant the team only needed to dig once—saving time, money, and effort.
BIM 360 makes it easier to onboard new workers and subcontractors in the middle of a project. Information continually gets recorded and put into the system, instead of requiring the manual addition of data through written reports. With this data readily available, new team members can quickly be brought up to speed with the most accurate information. Project accuracy has significantly improved as a result, with the most up-to-date information being readily available to all team members.
Team collaboration has improved through the easy-to-use Autodesk solution and the reverse mentoring program. Technology use has improved significantly across the site, and employees who were previously averse to the new solutions have readily embraced them. The construction industry currently faces a skills shortage, and upskilling workers at all levels is key to a successful future for BAM.
“When I was younger, I’d have drawings sticking out everywhere from my pockets. Now whatever is drawn, just with a flick of the switch you can actually bring up the data when you’re on site. It saves your legs, running back and forth, and is a massive benefit. It’s just gotten better and better, especially over the last couple of years. It’s rewarding for myself to see young people come through who I know are going to make it and who are going to move the industry forward.”
– Gary Usher, Senior Site Manager, BAM Construction