BIM-ing His Way Through


Like any Trainee in AcePLP, Jia Ban was full of anticipation on how his Traineeship journey would turn out upon completing the initial in-house training. He knew there were various client projects that could propel him in vastly different career directions. What he did not expect was to be quickly launched into assignments involving Building Information Modelling (BIM).  

 “ You get to see how the whole building process is in the virtual sense.” – By Jia Ban

Jia Ban’s first close contact with BIM came on his second assignment, when AcePLP assigned him to a project with Sembawang Engineering and Construction (SE&C). He had to make a fast transition to Revit commands, transferring the knowledge he had acquired in the classroom a few months back to a real-life project, as this was after his first assignment working on a 4-month AutoCAD Downtown Line 2 project.

Jia Ban has since moved on from his SE&C project, and is currently working simultaneously on Revit BIM and AutoCAD, with yet another client, Gammon.

Tell us about your first BIM experience at SE&C.

Fun! But it was quite tough at first. The learning curve was steep in terms of picking up the usage of Autodesk Revit Software, which was split into Architecture, Structure and MEP prior to the 2013 version.

I also had to learn the piping concept (technical knowledge about piping systems such as chemical systems) as my focus was mainly on the mechanical and electrical (MEP) portion of the project. There are various factors to consider such as the sizes and materials of pipes to use, and the connection factors that will affect capability of transmission of substance. We (all the drafters) had to read a lot of P&ID drawings to understand the existing connections within and without the buildings so that we could consider how to work around them for the project.

What was the BIM Project about?

The project was a PUB project to build a wastewater treatment plant for the aerospace-based industry at Seletar. There had to be pipes built to link 2 buildings underground. BIM was employed because the client wanted to see if the underground planning of the pipe systems could work out in an area of the site. It was also their pilot BIM project to see if BIM could perform up to expectations.

Sounds challenging! How did you cope with all that?

Learning to handle a project with less familiar software is challenging and requires a lot of patience in trial and error.

I also ask Durai for guidance. As a tip to a fresh trainee, it is always handy to have the contact details (telephone number and email) of our trainers and IT support on hand because you might need some crucial advice at times! There was once I had to urgently ask for help on how to operate something on the BIM software, so that the team could see what BIM could achieve before kickstarting the whole project.

Besides, I was working with 3 other fellow drafters from our company and they helped me pick up both technical and ‘soft’ skills faster.

I also did some self-learning after working hours, by checking out Youtube videos to figure out how to use the software faster.

So where’s the fun part of working on BIM?

Although tough, it was really fun because BIM has its exhilarating aspects too. You get to see how the whole building process is in the virtual sense. For the SE&C project, they used BIM to simulate the step-by-step situations. It being their pilot BIM project, they were also trying to find out how BIM could be fully utilized at the construction sites.

You are now at Gammon, doing both 2D MEP drawings and Revit MEP models. How does your BIM experience at SE&C help with your current assignment?

My experience at Sembawang helped to ensure that I have a basic understanding of the Revit working mechanism in terms of saving the model, working with family files and using the workset.

The interaction I had with BIM Modellers onsite also helped me to know the inadequacy of my knowledge in the MEP field which is relatively challenging in comparison to the Architectural and Structural field.

While the SE&C assignment had assisted in introducing me to BIM, Gammon is also opening my eyes wider to the neverending BIM possibilities.

You have been with us for around 1 year 3 months. Have you started making future plans?

At the moment, I do intend to stay in this industry and grow with it, learning as much as I can. I am currently also studying IP Law in a part-time one year course, learning about patency of drawings. It helps me as a designer and drafter, because this means I will better understand the protection accorded to our drawings and 3D creations by the Copyright Law in Singapore and Registered Design Law.

As for BIM, I had a good experience with 3D Modelling at SE&C and I found that Revit is more convenient than AutoCAD3D, which makes it worth picking up. I am still absorbing as much as possible about BIM because I have discovered that there is so much more I have to learn!

What are your final thoughts of BIM in the industry?

Mastering BIM really needs continuous learning.
For example, from my personal observation, a professional with 2 years of experience would still be constantly trying to improve his proficiency in the BIM software.

In addition, BIM software is still developing now. For example Gammon Hong Kong has a BIM department, to help develop tools for BIM modeling. I think, to be able to develop a BIM platform for a successful project, it would be a plus point if the users have a basic understanding of software coding, which may help in communicating the user requirements to the software coders.

Because of that, picking up BIM professionally does feel daunting. But I think, with all its conveniences and effectiveness, it is here to stay and progress in the Building and Construction Industry.

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