Damien Haultcoeur is Group Leader-BIM Manager at Bouygues Bâtiment Centre Sud-Ouest. Being a BIM Track user since 2016 and having converted 920 employees of the group to the platform, he was kind enough to tell us about his background, daily life, projects, his vision of the future of the sector, and course… BIM Track. Many thanks to him for his time and this fascinating conversation. Discover his exclusive BIM Track testimonial.
Damien Haultcoeur, who are you? Tell us more about your career…
I joined the Bouygues Construction group 18 years ago. I spent 10 years at Bouygues Bâtiment Nord-Est, working in several different jobs: methods engineer, planner for all trades, works manager and, a little over 7 years ago, I felt like “changing the water in the jar” and getting closer to the sun, so I joined Bouygues Bâtiment Centre Sud-Ouest in Bordeaux.My position has evolved because, at the end of 2015, a BIM unit was created and – as I have a CAD/CAM background (I studied construction and design at the University of Calais) – I naturally joined this unit.
Why BIM ?
BIM is, first of all, human. I like to exchange with all the partners of a project and make the project actors interact with each other. It’s not always simple, but in my position as BIM Manager, I like the idea of bringing my stone to the building. The BIM Manager is, in fact, the mediator of the project. I would also say that BIM Track is more than just a BIM coordination platform: it’s an excellent tool to help project management: the conductor’s baton.
What is your position today ?
Today, I’m in charge of BIM in the broadest sense of the term. I create coordination and collaboration around projects. I also keep a watchful eye on BIM innovations, particularly openBIM. Finally, I’m the Open Innovation referent, the link between the local startups we have in the incubator and the group: I pass on information to Paris at a national or even international level
In 2016 we “discovered” BIM Track. A year later, the IT department negotiated a framework agreement with the platform’s publisher to equip Bouygues Construction employees. Today, when I look at the BIM Track HUB, I see that 920 of us are using it!
… And your missions ?
My primary mission is to ensure collaboration and coordination. I make a good distinction between the two: BIM Track, today for me, is a coordination tool, for example. Why this precision? Because to coordinate, you have to collaborate. The principle behind BIM Level 2 :
- I collaborate by sharing my BIM model(s) on an exchange platform to make it (or them) available to all the BIM actors (or not) of the project.
This being said, if I stop there, my work as a BIM Manager loses interest.
- To be complete, I must then coordinate. That’s where BIM Track (generally said the BCF format) comes in: I make sure (with the project manager) that thanks to BIM Track, the project actors talk, exchange, capitalize, structure, correct. This the BIM models of various disciplines are consistent with each other for a “digitally viable” project (Build before you build, by “breaking” digital rather than breaking concrete…).
This coordination via BIM Track is not limited to BIM: one would consider BIM Track as an elitist tool dedicated “only to BIM people,” which is not the case! Our use goes further. Many actors on BIMTrack also use it to fulfill “non-BIM” needs (administrative, contract management, etc.). BIM Track allows us to organize, finance, log, and trace the life of a project to avoid “disruptions” (online losses) during the transitions of the major phases of a project; I mean, above all, the transition from the design phase to the execution phase. With BIM Track, we avoid asking ourselves the same questions at every change in the team and keep track of the topics that may still be pending. Time is money; BIM Track saves us time.
What is your most remarkable BIM project?
It’s a trick question because I’m eternally unsatisfied! This is my 23rd project on BIM Track!
We have some nice large projects with big budgets and big resources, but sometimes they can be frustrating for me while I’ve known small projects with much fewer resources for which the teams get involved and play the BIM game to the fullest.
In particular, I remember a small project of 45 housing units under the PUCABIM label (Urban Planning, Construction, Architecture Plan dedicated to BIM) for which we have committed to the contracting authority to deliver BIM-related elements. I started with a very junior team, and by exchanging a lot, by taking all the good aspects of BIM and having a lot of cohesion, we managed to do a lot. The spirit of the team was, “I don’t win without the other”.
A bigger project (the Co’Met hall in Orleans, a mixed Palais des Congrès/Sports hall program currently underway): we started BIM with BIM Track right from the design phase. In that project, the design manager used BIM Track, – but not only on the BIM part: he used it to create Question and Answer Sheets to structure the dialogues, whether with the contracting authority or the project owner.
I like these two projects because they emulated teams around BIM with the contribution of BIM Track.
Was it easy to get started on BIM Track ?
Very easy. One morning, taking the tool for the Administration part and the User side, I organized a 15-minute training session to show the teams how to create an issue, take the viewer in hand, and manage the reports.
BIM Track is all about coordination: the platform prevents people from arriving at a coordination meeting with scattered topics to discuss, referring to several emails, making the discussion messy and disorganized. Thanks to BIM Track and its report editor, I can ask everybody to print the report of the questions (issues) they answered and of the questions (issues) they opened. At the end of the meetings, I’m sure that everyone has said what is on their mind and that there is no frustration: the information is structured a simple way.
Your BIM Track testimonial: what are the advantages of the platform?
Four things: Open BIM, the accessibility of the tool for employees from different backgrounds, ease of use, and efficient customer service.
In my job as a BIM Manager, I mainly use openBIM tools. When I first tried it in 2016, I immediately liked that the platform’s interface does not depend on a tool (even if there are Archicad or Revit plugins) and that it is, above all, open to collaboration. I work daily with many people from very different worlds: openBIM is a natural choice. With BIM Track, I can interact with a heterogeneous universe of partners on a single platform naturally. For example, operation bosses or project managers working in 2D don’t need to open the model for their customer management or administration tasks on BIM Track.
In terms of accessibility, the working environment of the platform also makes a difference. You can have the best tool in the world; if people don’t want to try it due to a lack of ergonomics, the bet is lost in advance! In the same spirit, another positive point is that the tool has remained true to itself: there have been no major updates or interface changes, which could have disrupted the staff. Moreover, the BIM Track team is very attentive to our needs: its customer service is hyper-efficient. This morning, I got stuck on a project: I asked my question in a dedicated space at the bottom right of the screen, and in 2 hours, I was unblocked; I had my answer.
Last but not least: now that BIM is more common, the key to success is data management, making the most of project information, and avoiding disruptions
How about tomorrow? How do you see the future of construction?
I will rather tell you how I would like it to be: that is my vision – perhaps a little candid -.
First of all, I would like the use of BIM to be natural, that we don’t even ask ourselves the question. BIM is not just about modeling… BIM must be a way of working that builds on what already exists: an environment of collaboration, full coordination, and exchanges around open format models (IFC and BCF).
BIM would be the ideal representation of a project, almost a prototype, and when we move on to construction, we would consider the building constructed as the first in series.
Let me explain: a few months ago, I had my swimming pool built. On delivery, the designer said to me, “That’s good, there’s no leak!”.I wondered if he was making fun of me: it’s still the minimum that there is no leak! Well, we, in construction, it’s the same thing: we tend to say to the project sponsor, “That’s good, we delivered without reservations and on time!”. Again happy, we just did the job! Imagine a dealer delivering your new car to you: “You didn’t see a single scratch, and on top of that, it’s moving”.
Tomorrow, BIM will allow you to “do more than the job”, but it won’t be just BIM: I will bring my client further elements, real digital tools on which he will really rely. For example, almost 3 years ago, we talked with a project owner about the merits of adopting a BIM process for building a college. I said to him: “Thanks to BIM, you can access the building model and see all the equipment modeled with the desired information”. He answered me in a very pragmatic way: “Yes, this is your BIM, your mock-ups. Except that me, the day when I have a gas leak in the college’s boiler room, by the time I open your mock-up, look for the right equipment to find out where it is, how I access it and close the valve… things will have gotten out of hand”. He is so right! And he adds: “You should create an app that means that by typing “gas” or “emergency” in a search engine, I would know exactly where the gas valve is that I have to close”. That’s where, for me, BIM is not the end, but the first stone in making our buildings truly SMART: intelligent, practical, ergonomic, enjoyable, connected, integrated, and environmentally friendly. When we look back in 5 or 10 years from now at what we do in construction today, we’ll say that we were in the prehistory of everything that would happen (a bit like Minitel and the Internet). In a few years, we will discover new construction methods. The explosion of the use of IOTs, the technical management of buildings driven by artificial intelligence, the current use of A.R., V.R., and many other technologies that have not yet seen the light of day!And of course, with the customer, the user at the center of it all (because it’s the use that matters), a little thanks to BIM Track!
Thanks to Damien Haultcoeur for this exclusive BIM Track testimonial.