Enabling Careys Civil Engineering to optimise the use of their design software with a strategic and tailored training programme
Acquiring greater software 'know-how'
Role-critical skills for the modern engineer
Simon explains the background to the company's training strategy for engineers: "The Carey Way is to strive every day to be better at what we do. We're all dedicated to learning; taking on new skills and practices to maintain our quality of outcomes at the highest level.
With modern engineering, at least 50% of the work involved is software related. A person's ability to manipulate digital information, working confidently with integrated Building Information Modelling (BIM) tools, AutoCAD, Civil 3D, Revit and suchlike is core to the engineer's role and an important ingredient in an individual's career progression".
Ensuring team consistency and supply chain efficiency
On top of the value of modern construction software skills to the individual is the consideration of the whole company picture. Simon stresses the importance of:
- Enabling the team to work seamlessly as a consistent entity
- Employing standards and templates uniformly
- Assimilating and sharing information confidently
- Eliminating the risk of wasted time through unfamiliarity with software or personal interpretation (and misinterpretation) of functionalities within software.
Internal calibration for external collaboration
"How we relate to, communicate and collaborate with other organisations on projects puts a sharp focus on our ability to work as a cohesive unit. Sharing information with others in the project environment, and beyond, has never been as important as it is today".
It has also never been as easy as it is today once individuals and teams understand the mechanisms and software that make sharing not just possible, but smarter and intuitive; connecting the entire supply chain, from manufacturers, to architects, contractors and sub-contractors, through to clients.
The best practice principle
"Areas of focus are to give our Engineers the ability to produce their own as-built drawings, and verify the quality of their workmanship by working more efficiently with AutoCAD, embracing Civil 3D for civil engineering design and construction documentation, and gaining second-nature confidence with BIM-enabling tools such as Navisworks, drive the need for consistency in our practices and across the team," Simon explains. "Accepting the growing importance of software and technology in the engineering function, we made it a top priority to use it efficiently and smartly, and we'll take positive steps to follow that principle of being better at what we do every day."
Identifying the end result and the steps to achieve it
The story of mixed skills levels, knowledge acquisition through seeking personal advice from others, and putting the job before the process, is a common one in construction companies. The intuitive use of software often enables people to create their own solutions or templates, which may not be in line with how others do it.
The foundation of a consistent approach is essential, to know where and how a better one should be built. Simon brought together a cross-discipline working group including engineers, BIM specialists, and Symetri trainers, to identify:
- Why? What are the use cases for software across the company and among engineers?
- What? What software tools are being used?
- How? How is a cohesive strategy and training plan created from the current way of doing things, to create a better way?
Building a tailored training programme
When the need for upskilling is specific, the training must be precise
The group looked at essential everyday tasks such as setting out, as-built surveying, quality assurance and quality control, and material call-offs and procurement. It also took into account opening, interpreting, working with, and contributing to BIM models.
"The process was exhaustive," says Simon, "We created a target list of priority tasks, from the fundamentals to the more advanced. It covered areas we jointly identified as compelling candidates for immediate improvement, and particularly areas where we could enhance the quality of our outputs and involvement in the construction supply chain. This 'snapshot in time' of our collective requirements became the brief to Symetri. OK
Symetri’s team is made up of industry-experienced, Autodesk Certified, skilled application specialists and trainers. They bring literally hundreds of combined years’ of experience, working with construction professionals of every discipline on an ongoing basis and offer around 100 off-the-shelf and private training courses. For Careys Civil Engineering, the requirement was to design tailored courses directly addressing the identified priority areas; not in line with standardised modules but in line with the Careys Civil Engineering requirements.
Never seen anything like this before
For five months the Symetri team created the course content for each of three priority areas, including supporting content and associated videos. The courses deliver a detailed grounding in the essential software packages and tools that any modern engineer counts as core competences. They cover CAD basics and getting started with Navisworks and AutoCAD Civil 3D, through to editing AutoCAD drawings, working with layers, annotating drawings, basic dimensioning and printing and plotting.
In response to Simon's identified need for consistency across the engineering function, Symetri standardised the company's templating and built a tool pallet to make authoring far easier than many had previously found it.
Simon reports that a comment that came back from one of his more experienced engineers summed up Careys Civil Engineering reaction to the finished training course product: "There are shortcuts and efficient ways of using CAD I've never seen before." The comment has been picked up by others, who have all reacted with enthusiasm.
Piloting each course and ready for roll-out
"Our engineers were unanimous in their favourable reactions to this initiative," says Simon. "They wanted the training. The more experienced team members stated a need to formalise the skills they had acquired in an informal manner – 'on the job' or through learning from others. The newer staff wanted to gain new skills in a fact-tracked and detailed manner."
"The reason we requested Symetri’s assistance on this project, which is likely to run for a number of years, comes down to two main factors; reputation and experience. Their trainers come from industry backgrounds, construction and related industries, not academic hideaways. They speak the language of engineering. They know how to engage with our people, they pitch each topic and course at the right level, and design content and supporting materials that cover relevant, practical detail just how our engineers want and need them to".