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Crossrail academy chief explains the importance of 'why' to engineers

People are “the biggest blocker to getting anything done”, Crossrail-Bentley Information Management Academy manager Iain MisKimmin told NCE’s Defining the Digital Railway webinar this week.

“You can have the most fantastic technology in the world, and take it to a construction site, but if a person doesn’t want to use it, he’ll stir his tea with it and your initiative will fail,” he said as part of a panel discussion on creating the digital railway.

MisKimmin said there was a “cultural barrier” to changing the ways people worked into the digital era.

“There was a strong message [on Crossrail] but it was not being passed along to the teams delivering the contracts,” he said. “The guy who bids for the work is not normally the guy who delivers it.

“We are all clever engineers, we never like to do something without knowing why. If we can tell people the big ‘why’ then people are more comfortable with delivering what we want.”

The academy was set up in late 2012 to increase competency in building information modelling (BIM) throughout the Crossrail supply chain. It has so far trained about 900 people at main contractor level, plus about 600 from suppliers and even from the client itself.

“If your own teams don’t understand what your vision is, you might as well pack up and go home,” said MisKimmin. “They need to be telling the people they are interacting with.”

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