Cambridge ready for BIM

As the Building Information Modelling (BIM) deadline looms, Majenta helps the University of Cambridge’s Estate Management team prepare

From April 2016, all government building and infrastructure projects in the UK will require the implementation of Level 2 Building Information Modelling (BIM). It’s a challenging deadline and many organisations are struggling to meet it. 

Not so the University of Cambridge whose Estate Management office is today well-coordinated and Building Information Modelling (BIM)-enabled. In fact it’s now so on top of managing BIM projects that recently one of the leading large global contractors praised it and wants to use its documentation templates as an example of best practice. However, this has not always been the case.

According to Wickett, a while ago operational processes were, “in a fairly haphazard state”.  Managing around 50,000 CAD drawings was getting the better of the team. Their data management system at the time was too unwieldy, and nobody liked using it. In fact, when work needed to be done on a building, rather than waste time using an outdated drawing, staff would get a completely new survey done. 

The fast-approaching government mandate on BIM focused minds. The Estate Management team put out a tender for a CAD vendor who could also provide training and other support. However, it soon became clear that a more radical transformation was needed. “Of all the CAD specialists we spoke to, Majenta had the skills to help us turn things around,” says Wickett.

Majenta BIM Project Manager, James Smith continues: “We all felt that it would be more effective to start completely from scratch – so our first task was to do a complete design process review, assess processes and talk to key AutoCAD users. From this it became clear that the first priority was to find a better way to store, manage and update the ‘as built’ drawings.”

Majenta worked with the team to implement Autodesk Vault data management system to become a centralised single source of the drawings. This was configured to make data easily searchable and viewable, while still controlled by security parameters. The drawing data itself was restructured, renamed to reduce complexity and current documents reviewed to bring them completely up-to-date.

We all felt that it would be more effective to start completely from scratch – so our first task was to do a complete design process review, assess processes and talk to key AutoCAD users

Majenta and the Estate Management team then moved on to look at managing all project documents in a similar way so that the team could work more collaboratively in a controlled environment. The team are now using Autodesk Buzzsaw to store and manage all project information and documents. Again Majenta has been at the forefront, hosting kick-off meetings, developing handbooks and ensuring files are shared and coordinated correctly.

Having put robust data and document management infrastructure in place, the Estate Management team was now ready to tackle BIM. They asked Majenta to help re-focus and revitalise their effects, recognising that urgent practical progress was now needed.

Chris Hinton, senior technical specialist (IT) at the University of Cambridge, takes up the story: “Majenta and I worked closely on this, pooling our knowledge and research to define standards and user guides. We’ve really appreciated Majenta’s consultancy – they’ve been liaising with some of the large contractors who are now relatively advanced in BIM for help and feedback on what we’ve done and their response has been very positive.” 

As part of these projects Majenta has helped the team identify a small, dedicated CAD team whose role it is to keep totally up-to-date with their CAD skills and act as ‘champions’ for the new approach. Their first task was to bring their AutoCAD skills up to date, but there are now plans to invest in Autodesk Navisworks and Autodesk Revit as their knowledge use of BIM develops. 

“We are currently managing two huge BIM projects and now we believe we are well-equipped to do so, thanks to Majenta’s help,” says Hinton. “Majenta is now helping us look beyond the design of buildings to their management during their entire lifecycle using BIM. We believe that this is where the real ongoing value will lie for the university.” 

It’s clear that the university’s Estate Management team is now ready to take advantage of the ongoing benefits of BIM. “Majenta has helped us completely turn around our work processes,” says Hinton.