Behind the Build: Interview with Deivis Escalante, BIM/VDC Manager at Thunder Electrical Contractors Inc. 

One of the things we often talk about here at Autodesk is the importance of keeping the office and field tightly connected. When these components are in sync, teams improve productivity, reduce errors, and complete projects on time and within budget. 

That's why we're incredibly excited about our latest Behind the Build write-up.  

Meet Deivis Escalante, BIM/VDC Manager at Thunder Electrical Contractors Inc. Deivis masterfully bridged the gap between office and field operations using the right mix of technology and effective communication strategies. 

In our conversation, we discussed his career development and path within the construction sector. Deivis also shares insights into how he established BIM workflows (from scratch) to create seamless communication between office and field teams. 

Take a look at what he had to say.  

Tell me a little bit about Thunder Electric and what you specialize in. 

Thunder Electric has been providing comprehensive electrical contracting solutions since 1993. Our services encompass construction, design, modeling, and coordination for all electrical systems, and we pride ourselves on using cutting-edge technology to ensure optimal performance and efficiency in all projects. 

Our team consists of highly skilled and certified electrical systems professionals with many years of experience in the industry who are committed to delivering exceptional services to our clients. As a BIM manager and a Revit-certified professional with eight years of experience, I possess the knowledge and skills required to provide top-quality design, modeling, and coordination services. 

As an electric contractor, we prioritize safety, quality, and customer satisfaction. We're dedicated to ensuring that all our projects are completed within budget, on time, and to the highest standard. Our commitment to excellence and use of industry best practices have earned us our reputation as a leading electrical service provider. We take pride in our work and are confident that our services will meet and exceed your expectations. 

Walk us through your career and what led you to becoming BIM/VDC Manager. 

I've been fascinated by construction and the art of building from an early age. This interest was sparked by my older brother, who is a civil engineer. I remember watching him work on AutoCAD, especially the R14 version, and I was determined to learn. 

After completing high school, I enrolled in a technical school with a major in civil construction, where I learned the fundamentals of the construction field. I graduated in 2002 and then pursued my Bachelor's Degree in Civil Engineering, which was completed in 2007. This was back in Venezuela, my home country.  

During my seven years as an engineering inspector, I used CAD in different versions as a support tool for preparing construction documents. During this time, I developed a profound interest in the latest systems, such as AutoCAD and Revit, which were gaining popularity in the industry. 

Then, in 2014, I moved to the United States as an international student to study English. I started working as a handyman but soon realized it was not the right fit for me. I started researching what people in my field were doing and discovered that everyone knew about Revit. I knew that I had to take my skills to the next level, so I invested my time and energy into mastering Revit in nine months, focusing on MEP, and eventually became certified in these latest systems. 

In 2016, I was fortunate enough to be sponsored by a company that focused on MEP projects, which allowed me to work legally in the United States.  

I started as a BIM modeler, then worked my way up to becoming a BIM specialist in 2019. During this time, I became a Revit expert in the mechanical, plumbing, and electrical fields. With my extensive knowledge of Revit and industry experience, I oversaw a team of BIM modelers, which led to my next role as a BIM manager. 

I currently work under an electric contractor as a BIM/VDC manager, where I continue to use my skills and expertise in managing construction projects. My experience in the industry taught me that construction isn't just about building a structure; it's also about managing products efficiently and effectively.   

What is your proudest accomplishment in your career at Thunder Electric? Why? 

At Thunder, I achieved a significant and impactful milestone by establishing seamless communication between the office and the field through a BIM platform like Autodesk Construction Cloud. This was a particularly noteworthy achievement as the company did not have a preexisting BIM department.  

I created everything related to BIM from scratch and was ultimately successful in doing so. 

Before this breakthrough, there was no communication between the office and the field, and employees worked independently without any established BIM standard. It was a chaotic situation that required a lot of effort and hard work to rectify. However, after six months of dedicated work, I was able to bring order to the chaos and create a system that was both organized and efficient. 

Although some details still need to be ironed out, I'm confident that we will soon overcome them. Overall, my achievement of establishing a BIM platform at Thunder has brought a significant change to the company, and I'm proud to have been a part of it.  

What are the biggest challenges you face in your role? How does technology help you overcome those challenges? 

One of the biggest challenges we face in our daily work is ensuring everyone is on the same page regarding project goals and objectives.  

This is essential to eliminating bottlenecks that may arise during work. We must collaborate and communicate effectively to complete projects successfully and with minimal errors. I strive for this every day. 

Fortunately, we've been able to overcome this challenge to a great extent with the help of Autodesk Construction Cloud. This technology allowed us to minimize errors and rework on deliveries by an impressive 80%. It's also helped us streamline our operation and improve our productivity.  

Autodesk Construction Cloud has so far given us peace of mind, knowing we have the tools to carry out our work efficiently and effectively. It has also enabled us to stay on top of our game and remain competitive in the industry. Thanks to the platform, we can focus on delivering high-quality work without worrying about errors or delays. 

Are you using Autodesk Construction Cloud on any unique and/or challenging projects? If so, what has been the impact of using it for these projects? 

Our current workload consists of 12 ongoing projects. Each project requires us to model, coordinate, and create construction documents, which we do entirely within the Autodesk Construction Cloud platform. Our team has undergone extensive training on the platform, which has expanded six months to ensure we are well-equipped to deliver on our project goals. 

We have been using the Autodesk Construction Cloud platform for one year now. And for the past six months, we have been working exclusively on it. Our work is complex, and achieving synergy among the superintendents, project managers, and the BIM department is crucial for success. We've found that we can achieve great things when these three elements work together in harmony. However, if one element deviates from the path, the entire project can fail. 

That's why we greatly emphasize good communication to ensure everyone is on the same page. Working with Docs and Build has been vital for our collaborative work. We have a team of BIM Modelers, Project Managers, and Superintendents working together to complete all of our projects. It is not an easy feat, but we've found that Docs and Build provide us with the tools to work collaboratively and deliver high-quality work. 

How has Autodesk Construction Cloud driven more predictability and confidence on your projects? 

The implementation of Autodesk Construction Cloud revolutionized the construction industry, bringing about a complete change of mindset, organization, and cost-saving strategies.  

In our industry, where saving money is most important, Thunder's Autodesk Construction Cloud has proven to be a savior. The implementation of Autodesk Construction Cloud has been based on the foundation of trust, which the platform has earned right from the start.  

As a result, the platform has been able to work on all projects effectively, ensuring the satisfaction of all stakeholders involved in the construction process. 

How has partnering with Autodesk helped make your projects more successful? 

Autodesk has been an incredible, important partner for me and my company for several years now. Thanks to their support, I've been able to work professionally and enhance my skills. I can confidently say that working with Autodesk has been a significant factor in my career success.  

Another thing that has been particularly helpful is having access to all of the necessary tools at home. This has allowed me to implement BIM more efficiently and effectively than ever before. 

But it's not just about the software. The support provided by Autodesk goes beyond the application and tools.  

The community within Autodesk has been invaluable to me. From the forums to the webinars, I've found the resources provided to be incredibly helpful. I have been able to learn from others, get answers to my questions, and find inspiration for my work.  

That's why I'm incredibly grateful for Autodesk's support. It has been an essential part of my professional journey, and I look forward to continuing to work with them in the future. 

When you think about the future, what are your plans to advance innovation and productivity at Thunder Electric? 

We've developed plans to improve our project management and delivery processes both in the present and the future. 

Our short-term goals include adding a cost estimates department to our BIM platform, which will enable us to streamline our automation process and provide more accurate cost projections for our projects.  

We also plan to create an electrical prefabrication system that will allow us to produce electric components in advance and reduce the time required for on-site installation. Right now, the estimation department is separate from the BIM platform, and we want to add that department to the BIM.  

In addition to this plan, we are looking at leveraging new technologies such as AI and VDC to improve our work in the field. We believe AI can help us optimize project planning, scheduling, and resource allocation, leading to better project outcomes and increased efficiency. 

By using AI-powered tools, we hope to minimize errors and improve the accuracy of our work, ultimately resulting in higher-quality deliverables for our clients.  

Our overall goal is to increase productivity and efficiency in all Thunder projects. We believe that by investing in new technologies and optimizing our processes, we can achieve this goal while still maintaining our commitment to quality and safety. 

What advice would you give to the next generation of men and women entering and preparing for the future of the industry? 

An important piece of advice that I can offer is to have faith in the process. It's essential to commit a significant amount of time and effort to prepare for any implementation that you wish to undertake. It will help you to achieve greater efficiency and productivity. 

In my experience, communication with all departments of the company is paramount. It serves as the foundation for identifying areas for improvement both internally and externally. 

I've always believed that our human resources within the company are incredibly valuable. It is imperative that we do not let them go to waste. That's why finding ways to motivate and encourage them is the key to success. By doing so, we can keep our employees engaged and motivated, which will help them perform better. Ultimately, this will lead to a more productive and successful company. 

Kelsee Campbell

As a Senior Customer Advocacy Program Manager at Autodesk, Kelsee has the privilege of working with Autodesk customers to champion their stories on the Digital Builder Blog. Kelsee strives to create an engaging experience that amplifies customer perspectives, fostering a sense of community and connection.