With BIM on the rebound, Phil Simon of SB Ballard swears by his GoBOXX mobile workstation
By John Vondrak
“You know what would really be useful is a BOXX notebook, something like an iPad, but interoperable with Autodesk, displaying models and working with 360. It would obviously have less capability, but to do what a field machine does as well as this laptop does. . .that would be something, “ says Phil Simon, as he muses on the ideal “field portable machine.” For the time being, however, he’ll have to settle for that “laptop” he refers to (and greatly admires), his GoBOXX 2725 mobile workstation. Philip K. Simon is the virtual construction manager for SB Ballard, the Virginia-based construction company that provides pre-construction services, general contracting, construction management, design build and concrete contracting services to an impressive list of clients throughout the mid-Atlantic and southeastern United States. From healthcare, government, and education industries to arts, entertainment and sports, SB Ballard has grown to become one of the largest general contractors in Virginia.
A veteran of the United States Army, Simon served as a plans officer, diagramming planning, coordinating relations, and the like. Upon his honorable discharge, Simon labored in the trades as a carpenter, heavy equipment operator, and pipe layer, steadily working his way through the ranks until he became the chief operating officer for a Colorado civil construction company focused on land development. When he relocated to Virginia, he began his career with SB Ballard first as a quality control manger, then as a project manager. After awhile though, he requested a move to project controls, which evolved into BIM. “I don’t really see scheduling and other controls as anything different,” he says. “They’re all part of the same process.”
Twenty-five years ago, Simon took college courses at night “just to keep myself entertained,” he says, and when he saw Autodesk AutoCAD in the university bookstore for only $200, he bought it and taught himself to use it. He’s been using AutoCAD ever since—first as a junior estimator for a subcontractor where he was required to do shop drawings for all projects. In civil construction and land development, he also used LDD (Land Development Desktop) a great deal, as well as AGTEK. So upon his arrival at SB Ballard, Simon already possessed the basics of 3D modeling. “I just didn’t know Revit,” he admits. “But this is a very technology forward company with all the tools, so I took some classes on it and learned. And being interested in project coordination, BIM was a natural for me.” Continue reading