Site Work vs Office Work

A civil engineer in the construction field plays various roles. As a construction engineer, he or she can play the role of a field engineer or site engineer. Field Engineer is typically based in the site office while a site engineer spends most of the time supervising the site operations. On a large project and in an EPC (Engineering, Procurement, and Construction) environment you will come across engineers earmarked to play such roles. In the Middle East and western world site engineer also play the role of Construction Superintendent.

When you work on major projects with top multinational companies you come across various departments making up the project team. These departments include but not limited to Field Engineering, Construction, Safety, QA, QC, Contracts, Project Controls, Interface and Field Procurement.

Difference between Field and Site Engineer

Civil Field Engineer plays a role of cushion between site engineer and design engineer or engineering, as such he or she visits the site quite often to interact with the site for inspections, resolving technical issues, material approvals, and interpret drawings and specifications.

On the other hand, a Site Engineer is responsible for safety, execution, supervision, progress including handling of equipment, labor and materials.

Having provided a glimpse of the construction sector in my earlier article, the focus of this article is on important tasks that you will be asked to undertake as a Civil Field Engineer.

How pile cages are stored by Civil Engineers

(Picture showing how pile cages are stored off the ground to avoid contamination)

List of Roles and Responsibilities:

  • Answers technical queries originating from the site. These may be in the form of Request For Information or providing in-puts to Field Change Requests (FCR) and Field Change Notices (FCN). As a civil field engineer, you have to make a decision as to which Field Change becomes FCR and which one becomes FCN. The one that requires engineering department review becomes FCR.
  • Provides resolutions to Non-Conformance Reports (NCR) or Deficiency Reports (DR). Prepares corrective action reports (CAR) in case of repetitive deficient work.
  • Review of documents submitted by sub-contractors. It could be material submittals, Inspection and test plans and method statements.
  • At the beginning of the project assists Field Engineering Manager (FEM) in preparation project-specific procedures.
  • Assists review of tenders, Attends kick-off meetings on behalf of FEM.
  • Attend site progress meetings.
  • Keeps record on important activities in chronological order or write daily reports.
  • Becomes part of safety and quality tours or Walkdowns.
  • Be part of the internal and external audits conducted by the Quality Assurance team.
  • Provides technical assistance to the Site Engineer, Superintendent, Managers and keeps them informed on matters relating to civil, architectural and interfacing works with other trades.
  • Works as a medium of communication between engineering and construction to resolve problems faced by the site team.
  • Does quantity take-offs from design drawings and provides information to project controls.
  • Reviews the project schedules and develops weekly work schedules in association with civil superintendent and managers.
  • Performs inspections of ongoing works and provides clearances to concrete pours as per hold points in Inspection and Test Plans.
  • Witnesses test and complete final test acceptance records before client turnover.
  • Assists the Civil Site engineers and Managers in solving construction problems that need no reference to engineering. 
  • Reports installed civil and architectural quantities weekly.
  • Writes FMR’s i.e. Field Material Requisitions making appropriate references to specifications. (Materials like embedment’s, bolts, insert plates, etc.)
  • Prepares field material requisitions for testing equipment and temporary construction materials required for the job.
  • Performs designs of temporary facilities.
  • Monitors the status of material deliveries by maintaining constant follow up with expeditors, suppliers, and fabricators.
  • Leads or assists the site team on architectural-related interface problems to obtain sub-contractor information, substitutions, and other detailed engineering-related problems.
  • Inspects incoming civil materials
  • Provides assistance and ensures material storage conditions and proper protections are in place.
  • Prepares reports in case of non-conforming material, absence of test certificates, and damages if any.
  • Maintains as-built information for civil installations as required by the specifications and as-built procedure.  He or She ensures that changes to Issued For Construction ( IFC ) drawings are approved before submitting as-builts.
  • Make decisions of the scope of any installations not shown on the IFC (design) drawings, such as chairs for the main reinforcing bar as supports or type of covers to rebar, etc.
  • Determines, with the engineering or design office, which permanent materials and construction materials will be ordered by the field.
  • Following up and expediting off-site material fabrication and inspection to coordinate the sequential flow of material to the site. Maintains updated fabricator delivery schedules.
  • In the case of structural steel, determines to what extent material can be pre-assembled before delivery to the field.
  • Design temporary facilities for field fabrication and pre-assembly facilities, including preparing a complete building layout and material list.
  • Coordinates site pre-assembly and field erection techniques with site engineer.
  •  Inspects Civil and Architectural material delivered and supervises the construction and approval mockups with client and checks compliance with drawings and specifications.
  • Keeps eye on sub-contractors back charge issues and documents the same. This arises when sub-contractors fail to complete certain activities under his scope.
  • Plans laydowns for structural steel components and selected fill materials.
  • Visits the batching plant checks for compliance to project specifications and conducts audits.
  • Coordinates with the survey department.
  • Coordinates with third-party labs for independent testing.
  • Towards the mechanical completion of the project develops snag or punch lists and work lists of to-go for use in completing and handing over of the facilities to the client.

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