Baker Electric: How Rapid BIM Adoption and Flexible Training Improved Staff Technical Expertise

Rapid BIM adoption and flexible training options improve staff technical expertise for a growing electrical contractor

Baker Electric is a full service Electric Contractor based in Escondido, CA, providing comprehensive preconstruction services and the planning, coordination, design-build, in-house electrical engineering, and project management of any size project from initial design to follow-up maintenance. The firm has completed multi-million dollar construction and renovation contracts and its client base includes commercial, education, biotech, energy, healthcare, high-tech, hospitality, industrial, manufacturing, military, residential, and retail in both public and private sectors.

Baker Electric serves as both a prime and subcontractor and its solar arm, Baker Electric Solar designs, builds, and installs photovoltaic solar power systems for homes and commercial facilities across Southern California. In 2013, the company celebrated its 75th anniversary.

While Baker Electric focuses on the contracting side, the firm still finds tremendous value in implementing and adopting BIM. Todd Albright, Planning Manager at Baker Electric, explains where Baker Electric sees the most value in BIM adoption: “The ability to see how everything is built allows us to coordinate better with the other trades, find issues early in the project, and address these areas quickly which has allowed our field team to be more productive and efficient.”

Todd, an electrician by trade since 2000, joined Baker Electric in 2012 as the General Foreman, moving from that to Area Superintendent to Planning Manager in 2014.

“When I first came into the office, we were just beginning to move away from simple CAD drawings. I had worked with BIM previously, mostly with Navisworks models and I saw a big benefit in the change [to BIM].”

“The ability to see how everything is built allows us to coordinate better with the other trades, find issues early in the project and address these areas quickly which has allowed our field team to be more productive and efficient.”

THE TRAINING CHALLENGE

In recent years, Baker Electric has been growing its team extensively. The organization partners with U.S. CAD, a California-based BIM services provider and Autodesk Platinum Partner, to conduct technical training in the Revit Electrical software. These trainings include traditional instructor-led classroom instruction, usually over the course of several days.

However, Baker Electric soon realized that the traditional 3-day training program wasn’t enough to help onboard their new staff and increase technical expertise across the board.

“I’ve taken a training class in the past and those lean more towards architecture and engineering,” stated Todd. “I wanted to make sure we could get into construction [topics].” As a result, Baker Electric soon added flexible mentoring days as part of their overall training program.

With mentoring, Todd and his team were provided training and then able to work on actual projects while U.S. CAD’s Electrical and MEP expert looked over their shoulders and helped answer questions. This change has helped to bring all team members to the same technical level and allowed Baker Electric the flexibility of rotating its staff through this dedicated onsite mentoring process.

This process is also valuable for new employees. Todd says. “With new hires, we want to cater the training to them and they benefit from some good one-on-one teaching.”

SUCCESSFUL INTERNAL GROWTH LEADS TO COMMERCIAL SUCCESS

Baker Electric has seen several key successes since its implementation of this flexible training solution. Recently, the company was involved with a multi-family residential project located on Wilshire Blvd. in Los Angeles, California.

“There was a large amount of modeling done for this project,” Todd explains. “We modeled everything from the ground up for the most part, from underground to slab on-deck conduits, including the living units overhead and wall rough-in. Through the modeling process, we were able to create schedules for our fabrication team to build off.”

“We have never done anything to this extent with AutoCAD. For us, the ROI from Revit is the learning opportunity; there is a very similar project coming up where we’re taking lessons learned from the Wilshire project.”