I Was A Mechanical BIM Designer

One experience I have working in teams is at my former employer known as X-nth, The team structure was divided into two separate departments, the Mechanical and the Electrical departments, The Mechanical side was made up of the mechanical engineering manager, the mechanical engineer, the mechanical BIM drafter, (BIM stands for Building Information Modeling) the plumbing engineer, the plumbing BIM drafter, The Electrical side was made up of the Electrical engineering manager, the electrical (power distribution) engineer, the lighting designer, the lighting BIM drafter, and the electrical BIM drafter.

I was the mechanical BIM drafter. The mechanical department and the electrical department together made up the project design team Everyone on the design team had a different job unique to their skills, so there was no two people that had the exact same job.

The goal of the design team was to create official construction documents that builders could build from, showing the design intent for all the engineered building systems, Team communication was always a challenge, Changes to one design could have a ripple effect, causing the need to change to other departments designsi But this was often not communicated in a timely fashion.

For example, typically in modern day design, buildings will have grid ceilings. Architects would provide a reflected ceiling plan showing the grid. A common ceiling grid would be spaced by two feet by two feet all across the ceiling. The lighting team would show where their lighting fixtures would be placed on the grid and the mechanical team would show where their air diffusers would go on the same grid, This would create the need to coordinate each other’s designs so they were not taking up the same space on the grid.

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However, a single coordination event was never sufficient because both designs would continue to change and evolve during the design process. This required constant communication between departments, which in reality, was not always realistic. So at some point, the design would have to pause, and the team would make check prints of the design drawings for cross department coordination. During this cross check, we would almost always find air diffusers taking the same space on the ceiling grid as where lighting fixtures were designed to go. Since I was in the mechanical group, we would tell the lighting designers to move their lights. The lighting designers would immediately come back and say no, you need to move your air diffusers Sometimes looking at the ceiling grid drawings, a simple answer would present itself, but if not, the argument of who needed to change their design would often go (up the flag pole, as we called it) to management for decision Our management came up with the rule that “you can never over communicate” to encourage greater communication amongst workers.

Managers would remind the team of this rule every other week during meeting time, According to Richard Daft “one study shows that companies with highly effective communication had 47 percent higher total returns to shareholders between 2004 and 2009, compared to companies with less effective communication practices” Good communication in the work place is clearly important, Because everyone in the company had a unique job with technical skills, upward communication from the technical side to management was important, If I was the manager I would stress the importance of upward communication. My former employer (X-nth) had other offices. Some projects we worked on had people from other offices working on the same project The managers would have video conferencing meetings with each other, then use email to communicate to our group and the corresponding group from another location, the points of interest from the meetings

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