BIM4Housing Roundtables AOV 20210726 Meeting 2
AUDREY And it's given an ownership and so it it has to be tracked just for the purposes of it being a very controlled and checked environment. And so that's why I got practical knowledge right from the designs style. I think even the feasibility, when we would be looking with the process engineers for the other process philosophy on an oil and gas project that's where it really starts and they’d think, OK, this is the sort of oil or gas that we have and this is how we think it can be done and so once they said that then everyone else starts working too that and and then it it kind of grows with it. So I've done a lot of asset management and that's where the experience of the training came from.
My last project was on the Chardonese Deep Water Project and Chardonese in the Black Sea and Chardonese 2, that was 2017. The next place where there was some asset delivery, but not anywhere near oil and gas was with Heathrow just before the third runway and then covid happened. No industry comes close to oil and gas for the reason why it has to be safe. It's in everybody's interest that it's safe. So, you know. GEORGE i’ve also been investigating oil and gas, I’m a BIM assessor for Lloyds and I did one with a big oil and gas firm in Italy.
GEORGE So the first thing is what what we're trying to do is relate the asset information initially against the risks that those assets are protecting against and one of the things (Nick’s on the the call) what we've tried to do within GTI is to glue that together. I'm responsible within GTI for the asset information, there’s others like Dwayne and Nick that are looking at things from the classification of risk and how is that dealt with and Nick has shared with me some work that he's been doing which is is basically enabling us to classify uh what the different levels of risk are so that we can, I’ll just show you (shares screen).
The point is that we’re not defining risk in a vacuum, it's being done in the context of Uniclass. So this is also being fed back up and whatever risks we identify we can then relate that through to Uniclass. The other risk that we've identified is the risk of an asset being affected by the risk, RICHARD Initially we've been looking at this in terms of the risks that an asset mitigate but what kept being thrown up, which I think not unnaturally, was what were the actual risks to an asset, for example, a fire door having a cat flap cut into it. So we've actually changed or supplemented question 1,so it's question 1A and 1B. So initially we're looking at what the risks are that an AOV mitigates and then we'll be looking at what are the specific risks to an AOV itself in terms of its operation.
We've also added a comments field. We found that we got a lot of answers to questions with a lot of supplemental information, which is very valuable, but wasn't specifically an answer to a question. Das in particular has been giving you some very valuable insights from the design process. It’s not information we want to lose or discard, but it wasn't specific to answer the question, so we put it into a sort of another field on the document. So it's there, invisible and it’s that kind of stuff that will actually inform the introduction to the document and supplementary information throughout. George, do you want to introduce the first question?
GEORGE You’ll see there that what we’ve actually got are the risk of smoke inhalation and potential suffocation, also how could the smoke actually hinder the means of escape. And the other thing that came out of the meeting last week that I've not appreciated is that the AOV is also playing a part in replacing air, not simply exhaust. What we'd like to do is really capture from you over the next five minutes or so any things that you can think of, based on your experience, that you've come across that we've not included for there.
LUKE Harm to residents, reducing heat build-up so you don't end up with other combustion. Reducing smoke damage to the building itself. And then keeping the escape free.
RICHARD OK, question 1b, this is concerning risk to the actual AOV itself. What are the risks to the operation, the performance of that AOV? Is there anything missing from that listing?
LUKE There’s one other thing with actually how the system is set up. There have been instances of buildings where all of the AOVs throughout the whole building opened at the same time so instead of actually getting rid of the smoke, it created a chimney effect and sucked air. It's the cause and effect of the system, but actually making sure that is set up and not just the document, making sure that is actually what's happening. It’s like a test against the cause and effects which in theory should be commissioned but almost you need to go, yes, it was designed this way, and yes it operates the way it was designed.
STEVE I would say other trades not knowing the whole reason why an AOV is fitted and then subsequently fitting things that would hinder its operation. I actually got someone who put a socket over an AOV vent, so it won’t open now, it’s 41.5.
AUDREY I’m going back to Luke’s comment about AOVs being part of a system. When we are putting in the comments we should talk about compartmentalisation. If an AOV is in a compartment then it'll have to be able to act independently of the other AOVs as well. So there's a two stage issue here and I think it needs to be factored in. If the AOV is in a central circulation area what Luke is saying is really crucial, but if it's in a compartmentalised area then it needs to be able to act alone.
LUKE Someone mentioned about other trades doing things. I guess if the AOV is potentially used to access the roof which is sometimes used. We've had instances where contractors have gone on to roofs of buildings, but the access is through the AOV and they've opened that up and then not been able to close it again because they didn't know about that system and we've had to send a contractor in afterwards to reset the AOV system.
GEORGE That was the point we discussed on Wednesday when Will was explaining that the actuator can be set to maybe have a thousand cycles which is probably fine if it’s on a roof light, but if that roof light is also being used for access then it probably needs a higher resilience actuator and maybe ten thousand cycles. In principle the consensus was roof lights which have got actuators on them (in other words AOVs) should not be used for access But there are circumstances where they are used for access and under those circumstances we need to recognise that. So I think that's a risk to this part and it's also part of the asset information, which is the next question.
NICK I’m a bit concerned about describing it as risks to the asset. I think the risks are to it not functioning properly or whatever. If someone saw that we were concerned about risk to an asset, people would think that we’re taking the eye off life safety. RICHARD No, it’s about asset performance, not worrying about it getting scratched. Actually we did have it written in as the performance of the asset, but the title seemed very long so we cut it and made it shorter. Maybe we shouldn't have done it.
NICK That ties back to some bigger thinking about classifying systems by their vulnerability and their criticality which then gives you your priority for monitoring. If we’re saying that AOVs are highly vulnerable and highly critical maybe we should think about electronic mechanisms for monitoring their condition, whereas if they are less vulnerable and less critical we might say a yearly inspection would do fine.
RICHARD Question 2: What information do you need to know about an AOV to ensure it performs as required? This is obviously distinct from Question 1B, although there will be some crossover.
GEORGE So we've got an exercise going on at the moment with BIM for housing associations and HACT to try and produce data templates that are then standardised with the properties and information that's needed for each of the key asset types. One of the challenges that we've got is what information is typically provided at the moment. So we want to get your expert views on that. (Shares screen). The point is that there are lots of different data sets that relate to product information, type information.
This is MBS from the MBS toolkit. So here we've got the properties, many of them COBie properties, but there are some items that are specific to AOVs, aerodynamic free area for example, which are defined. We’ve also got the ones which are defined in IFC so we've got a range of different things here which are also important for us to pick up. We've also got here from the declaration of performance. So this is something that's coming through from the Sense standards and all of this information is coming through from different people wanting different information. And what we're trying to do is to say, well, yes, we've got that information, but what we actually want to do is gather everything that all of these different people want into a single data set. So the purpose of this exercise is to really make sure that we've got the information that you as in your role would want, because some people want to just say it needs to be compliant with the British standard and others will need to know what that actually means in terms of information.
This section here has come from SE controls for us, so this is coming out of what’s in standards. The important thing about this is there's a lot of really good information that helps somebody who is a designer select the appropriate product to make sure that it can perform to the level that’s needed. But from an asset management POV what we actually want to know is whether that particular AOV, what it’s settings were in that context, how was it put together, what are the component elements that go to make that up. Because from an asset management POV we don't want to have to go off and try and interpret a British standard as to what that outcome should be.
So although it's important to have this available to the person that's making the assessment, it might be that they're buying a new actuator for an AOV in five or ten-years-time, or when they’re maintaining it they might need to check to make sure that actuator has been set to work in the way that it needs to work. From what I understand from SE controls, the aerodynamic free area can be unique to each instance and therefore what we need to be doing is recording what that opening should be.
AUDREY I think fi there’s testing that to be done it needs to be done by people who understand that there could be differences in standards. We have the European Standards and sometimes there are some very slight differences between that and the British Standard. So when the testing is being done the tester has to have that appreciation that this might be an actuator or the total set would have been set to a British Standard. Oftentimes for an accident to happen there's a build-up of little little things that have carried on, you know .1 millimetre here, .2 here etc. And because they are testing to either ASTM or this or that and it's not British standard or it's not European norm, you are lucky when they all work the same, but sometimes there are minute tolerances which are acceptable from one standard or the other one.
VARUN One of the things I've put in straight away is are they actually competent enough to be testing, making sure that where we talk about standards do they actually have the right experience and the relevant experience to actually…
GEORGE Where we’re trying to go with this is if we make a big assumption that everybody believes that we should be having competent people undertaking all of the tasks at the appropriate time, but it's not adequate to simply say is that person competent or not. We also need to make sure that they're competent in that particular task and also that they have the right backup information so that we're not entirely reliant on them having been on a course two years ago. So that's that's the critical thing, to ensure that we've got that belt and braces so that we're not simply looking at a process of risk transfer.
LUKE I think you’ve covered everything in that because my notes for this was how was it designed to perform in that specific space, how should it be maintained, so specifically how has the manufacturer specified that should be maintained. What type of system, so is it powered, is it natural, are they window vents, roofs, what kind of actuators, you’ve got that already on there. And does it serve a dual function or multi-function, so quite a lot of our things also serve for ventilation of the building, the newest things being installed are ventilation as well as smoke shafts as a secondary function, a bit like emergency lighting - it’s just lighting until there's a fire until it's used, and then it's emergency lighting.
GEORGE Audrey’s point was interesting. From the limited experience I've had of talking to people that do the certification it does appear that there are a number of different certification bodies who even maybe looking at the British standards, Audrey, but certainly if you're bringing in a product from Europe that is complying with the EN standards then that could introduce an inconsistency there. I know work is going on to try and standardise a lot of these inspections and testing, but it's a very interesting as to whether that is being done in a consistent way.
AUDREY Yes it is. That’s why I say that the tester should feel emboldened, and I think it should be part of their training because it does cause big problems if they don’t feel bold enough to say it and we are being forced because of the competitive advantage that exists within the global supply chain, we are being driven to go for the cheapest or the most economical. So therefore if you if you are an asset provider and you are held to the very last minute on your programme you will be forced down one route and it might just not comply. You’re forced to take it and then problems begin.
GEORGE Yeah, just on that, that's an interesting point, one of the things that has come out of the various different round table sessions is that most of these assets that we're talking about here, and AOV is is a good example. It's not a single product, it's an assembly of products. In many cases in the case of AOVs it might just be a window that looks exactly the same as all the other windows, but that particular one has got some additional engineering behind it to enable it to operate.
And therefore what we really need to do is to make sure that we're getting all of the information about what the constituent parts are and what their replacements are as well. Because although obviously it's better if we went back to SE controls in four-years-time to have an AOV replaced if it was damaged, that’s not always going to be the case. And therefore what we need to be doing is making sure that the information about the asset includes all of the constituent elements as well because we don't know what is going to happen in the future, so therefore that that's something that should be required.
AUDREY I’m going to add to the chat too that should that happen I think the AOV, the surrounding within the compartmental wall that it’s in, needs to be checked for air tightness and gas tightness and I think that would that would go some way in helping. Just in case if you went back to the original asset provider they've got to go to another factory provider and they may have slightly different tolerances. So if the setting of the AOV is not checked for gas tightness or air tightness, then of course we've lost it. It’s not an AOV anymore.
NICK The commissioning, maintenance and inspection has to be of the system: you can’t inspect an AOV because all you can do is look at it. What you have to do is check that the system operates by setting up a signal or whatever. If there are certified inspectors of AOVs I want to ask how come? Because surely they also need to inspect the control panel and the communications and the fire alarm system. So I think we have to be careful that we don't get into a system like was just mentioned where we check the AOV, but we don't check that it's airtight when it's meant to be or that it's built into a wall that is in some other way defective. So it's the system that needs to be commissioned and it's the system that needs to be checked.
GEORGE Well, it’s both, Nick. Where you've got individual components that need to be oiled and checked to make sure that they're performing properly, then that needs to be done. But you're quite right that the overall system needs to be checked as well. It's not an either or you need to do both.
AUDREY And the surroundings because the system from what I know it will not pick up unless you have a seasoned tester, it will not pick up if the wall if the surrounding wall or the roof that is sitting in has lost its flashing or some filters has come of, it will not pick that up. But these are the things that let smoke through. You do not always have people who've got a lot of experience behind them who are bold enough to say that look, this is crossing away from the the element itself to the surrounding element.
RICHARD Question 3, which is the tasks and method statements procedures required to ensure the asset is installed, commissioned, inspected and maintained properly. Here again there will be a bit of a crossover into question 4, but if we can try and keep it as focused as possible and keep competence and training etc down into question 4 and just focus on the rest of the question right now.
GEORGE What we've learned is that there's industry training, the Smoke Association that trains people on how to work generically on asset types, in this case AOVs or smoke vents or whatever the terminology is. But it's also the case that you need to take account of the manufacturer's own specific information. In the case of AOVs I’m told that all of the people that are members of the Industry Association, of which SESI 40mins 13secs controls a part, a couple of years ago, they agreed that all of that training would be provided at no cost. And in the case of some of the other products like cavity barriers and fire doors, some manufacturers won't provide that information or don't provide that information other than through a paid training session. So the suggestion that we're making is that that information, f it's available, should be provided by the manufacturer along with the product because we do need the information about that manufacturer specific set of instructions.
RICHARD Yeah, we've got situations where manufacturers are loathe to give out too much information because they consider it part of their IP which obviously opens a whole new can of worms Regarding question 3, is there anything anyone could see that is glaringly missing?
GEORGE shares his screen. This is something that I've been directed through from British standard. This is talking about the work instructions or what work should be done, but it's not desperately detailed, t’s just saying that we should make sure that the ventilators operate correctly, smoke dampers close etc. This is from SFG 20 which is largely mechanical service, M&E services standard for maintenance. So this is a weekly check which responds to what’s in the British Standard and that’s great that there’s consistency there. And this is what the standard is at 24 months, so you’ll see here we’ve got a step-by-step stage that should be carried out.
This should complement the fact that we've got a specialist competent person that has been trained to undertake that work. But what this is doing, it's enabling them to have a proper checklist which should be able to help the process. So what we'd like to do is see if we can mirror this type of checklist for all the asset types that we're working with.
AUDREY Yes, George, but one of the first things I picked up (it may not have anything to do with AOVs but it might) because where it says smoke dampers open and close or whatever, it says open and close in certain areas. If we ask question 4, where it says open in some systems it might be helpful when we get there to explain which systems because if it’s above the ceiling then it should be open and the ceiling should be fire resistant and it should be open to allow the smoke to go through the compartmentalised areas from one compartment to the other it would open to allow the smoke to go through and not come into the room and the duct there would be a fire resistant duct.
So if we’re doing the same for this particular element then I think we need to be able to explain in which circumstance it should perform in one way and in another circumstance it should perform in another way. And it goes back to what I was saying about what you're doing within a compartment and when it's a shared space, because within a compartment you won't give the people in there the chance to escape. So they should be protected from the other people, from the other compartment and vice versa. But if it’s through a shared area then the performance is different. So for the BS9999 13.5 123 smoke dampers close or open in some systems. Where it relates to AOVs then we should be able to say in which circumstances do we need it to perform A or B.
GEORGE I absolutely fundamentally agree with you. This is one of my concerns, this is what people point to because it's the British standard and therefore there is an assumption that that should be adequate and some people will say it's a competent person to interpret that. But I agree with you completely, but what we should be doing is making sure that that competent person is given that clear set vision about that particular instance of that particular element.
LUKE The BS standards generally are quite loose and I think that smoke dampeners close or open that would be covered by the cause and effect documentation because in theory (this doesn't happen very often) but in theory we should be supplying any contractor we asked to maintain something the cause and effect documentation for that specific building. So when they go to AOV 2 on the 2nd floor or whatever they know from that cause and effect, ah, this should open when there is a fire in this compartment or this area. In theory they should be testing that that cause and effect is correct and is functioning the way it should.
GEORGE And it is that method of working by giving them the cause and effect matrix or documentation?
LUKE The cause and effect stuff, actually getting hold of that is very difficult, it needs to be in some kind of digital format. The way I could envision that is rather than giving them a PDF and saying take it along with every service visit and read through the whole thing when you’re doing it, you almost need it to be on an app or something, they go round to the fire alarm and pull up the SFG20 task list for the fire alarm or the AOV panel. But then there might be additional stuff that the manufacturer requires you to do or the cause and effect requires specific to that one instance.
SFG20 covers a generalisation of this is how you inspect it, but then you almost need a when I go to AOV 2 I expect this to close when there's a fire here, so I need to check that that works. But you need that, i do my standard SFG, does it open, is it oiled whatever that is and then I go OK cause and effect says that this should open if there is a fire there but not if there is a fire there. it’s generally the case the person won’t have access to the cause and effect. One, it’s difficult to get hold of these in the first place…sometimes they don’t exist. For example, we may have, a lot of building owners, most of the most of the housing stock is old at the moment. Most of our housing stock in the whole of the UK is ageing stock and records for this…they were in a box that was just dumped in a corner somewhere years and years ago, filed away.
No one ever looked at them because they just did what they normally do and now we're getting to the point where we're like actually we needed to know about that and we need to know about that now and we're having to go back out to these buildings and get someone to inspect them and tell us how they are meant to operate because we never had that documentation (well we did maybe 30 years ago and someone just filed it). And it's not a fault of the people 30 years ago because I'm sure in 30-years-time people will be saying the same about what we're doing here and going: “ohh they did that wrong… they should have done this and reported this”.
AUDREY But if you send someone on to site to do an inspection, whether he has the cause and effect diagram and he sees the asset and he doesn't know that or he doesn't pick up or he doesn't flag thaT this particular asset is above the ceiling. However in this area where I'm at they've changed a light fitting and so they may have compromised the properties of the ceiling and just note it. So it goes into another work area, it goes from the testers who may be with the fire team then it goes to the building people to come and look to see whether they've changed the light fitting, who put in a new luminaire, there are gaps now around where the thing was sealed. If the person just goes on society looks only at his element without looking at what the surrounding is, then the element could be OK but it's not really working as it ought to be and that is a fundamental problem.
There are systems which are set above the ceiling and above the ceiling to that particular system, that particular element there has to be an access panel. That's the number one thing, because you need to be able to access that element to go and test it immediately to flag up to an experienced tester. If he goes there, there's no access, am I going to test this thing? That's a big issue. If the access has been compromised or the surrounding has been compromised again he can just flag it up. It may not be in his control to fix it but he's flagged that in flat B or room C they've had some fittings done. They've changed this or that or the other, so somebody come and check and t might just save a life, you know, that's what I'm saying. That the testers should have a little bit of confidence and some experience to pick up.
LUKE The issue you've got with there is if you start asking your AOV contractor to inspect the lights, the fire alarm…I feel like that is almost a task and I do believe training for fire risk assessors needs to be more comprehensive than it is currently. That falls very much under the fire risk assessment part and going what has changed since the last fire risk assessment and does it affect it. we’d would struggle from a cost point of view if we started saying to all our contractors can you just check everything around this room to make sure everything that could impact…AUDREY Well, that’s not what I'm saying, Luke, but I get what your point, I get it clearly from a cost POV, but I’m not asking them to do that. I’m saying every now and again you could pick up something very critical that could help.
LUKE regarding if there is anything to add as a response to this question. Other than recording, this comes to Golden Thread and BIM, recording a history of what the design was and how it went through construction to make sure there weren't changes carried out while it was being constructed. Because yes, you might get O&Ms at the end, but the O&M might be based on what was designed.
NICK When we wrote part six, we devoted a whole section to the role of commissioning in capturing information, that was basically about risk information and so on. And so I think that sounds like the missing link in the sense that the commissioning people will want to know the design information and they'll then see if it does what it’s meant to do. But that then needs to flow on to the users because they're meant to be maintaining that stage and so on. I think there's a negation of the commissioning stage as a key information channel and I’d just like to see it added in. All the information that we're talking about here is actually should be captured at that point, never mind what the designer did.
GEORGE We’re actually talking with a couple of commissioners to do exactly that. And what we're trying to do is to get to a situation where we can standardise the way they undertake the commissioning, just like you can standardise the way maintenance is done. We're exploring whether that could be standardised as well. We can't really see why it shouldn't be.
NICK No, and it should be documented so that then all the settings at rest and all the settings in action or whatever will be recorded.
GEORGE Exactly, rather than it now being a commissioning sheet, that's just a paper document. I noticed when we were producing this yesterday that in ADB it states that an AV needs to be as high as practically possible and positioned so the top edge is at least as high as the top door of the stair. So what interested me about that is the relationship between a different asset which is the door and how that AOV performs. Now, obviously when it's first designed we need to be able to understand that as a value, that should be an attribute of the…if that's a key criteria, we need to be recording what that is. It’s actual location, not just whether you can see it in a 3D model. If that's a key parameter, that's something that should be recorded. And also make sure that when we come on to Question 5, which is change management, if that door at the top of the stairs gets replaced they need to understand the impact of that - I suppose that would be in the cause and effect record, but maybe not?
NICK Remember that hospitals and schools don’t comply with ADB, they comply with BB100 and something else. I was writing a report this morning saying that this kind of spawning of guidance documents should be stopped because it stops the industry learning and building up experience. GEORGE I think you’re right. An AOV in one setting should be the same as in another really, shouldn't it? If that guidance is inadequate in some way then it needs to be bolstered up, doesn't it?
RICHARD OK, moving down to question 4, what is the competence and training that should be in place?
GEORGE So the point that's been made is that obviously we want people to have been trained, but we don't want to be completely reliant on them just having that badge because the point was made again last week that somebody can go on a NEBOSH course for four days and be given a certificate to say that they are competent, but in practise they still don't have the practical knowledge to cover some of the things that it's taken probably somebody 10 years to learn. So it needs to be both. And the the other aspect of that is that there’s a number of different levels. There’s competency of the organisation and there's also competency of the supervisor and competency of the person that's actually doing the work and all of those have got their own levels of requirement.
AUDREY Following on from what George was saying, I’m not sure how one can write it into this document…RICHARD It’s about experience, so how would you do this? is it feasible you’d have an apprentice or a trainee who’s got the qualification, but they’re not fully qualified until they’ve done two years with a more senior person, would that be a route? AUDREY I don’t know if that should be enough. The experience is there in the industry, people are getting older but they’re there, they can tell an apprentice or young person this is important. RICHARD Does it need some sort of formal structure?
AUDREY I think that would work with an experienced person. There are so many young architects who are very good at the computer but they’ve never been on site. When I was training you had to go on site, you had to know the clerk of works. We took a lot of experience from the older senior builders and I'm wondering how to capture it because if we don't capture that information and they are no more there it’s going to be lost. So I don't know how you're going to put it in this document and say go back to the building services engineers, go back to the senior M&E engineers who used to work on the site.
LUKE I agree. I don’t know how to capture that experience. I've noted this in the operational teams that I'm in at the moment where, for example we lost, he was what's called a contract coordinator so he dealt with a lot of the day-to-day administration of the contracts under a contract manager, but he had a tonne of knowledge and it was sort of like this. You would go and ask him anything about a system and he'd been out on site to it and he would have more knowledge than quite often a lot of our engineers and actually our newer engineers coming in, he would know more about a system than they would. But he was 67 and he's retired now and that information is lost. And it actually came up recently speaking to one of the contract managers. He asked me a question about something. I said I’ll tell you would know, it would be it be him who's just left and he's like, oh, well, I might have to give him a call and ask him. But I don't know how you capture experience. I don't think experience is everything because I think you can gain experience over a very short period, I think it's very dependent on the person.
Someone who's willing to learn…you can quite often find someone who's been in a job one or two years and they may be better and more knowledgeable than someone who's been in it thirty years because actually there's almost a peak, you almost sort of do in most jobs learning all the knowledge you can and then a lot of people go, I know enough and then they just…and the industry keeps moving. So I honestly don’t know how you would capture it, other than doing regular competency checks through a period, so almost like yearly testing.
RICHARD What about what I said about the qualification in and of itself isn’t enough, that gets them a stage 1 qualification and that they actually have to have another couple of years experience on the job for them to get full qualification, something like that so that it actually becomes part of the process.
LUKE Some roles do that, for example architects, you can’t just do a BA Hons, you have to then do a Masters and there's three stages to it as such. There’s other industries that have that. Maybe these should have stages where you have your level 1 competency and you can work. Then you go, I work in the industry for a year, then I come back and do a level 2, then I come back and do a Level 3, whatever it might be. RICHARD Which puts the mindset that it's ongoing training as opposed to I've done it now.
LUKE A lot of people fall back on CPD, they forget about CPD, they just carry on as they are and that's fine. If you want to go in and do that at level one and just work at level one for however long, fine. People who are procuring these engineers and surveyors, it gives them, ah, we are going to do a more detailed survey here, we’ll look for a level 3 surveyor and because we’re looking for a level 3 surveyor we know we’re going to get more detailed information, they’ve progressed, but we also know the payment will be higher.
GEORGE One of the things I’ve tried to break it down into is you’ve got information, you’ve then got experience, experience and information can help you gain knowledge and knowledge you can then turn that into wisdom. It’s an incremental thing and I think that a way of doing this is to use scenarios and stories because we're all very responsive to examples and things. Something that Richard and I are looking at the moment is to follow the principle of black box thinking. A fire engineer recommended that I should read this book called Black Box Thinking by Matthew Syed, and it's fascinating, but it's the way the airline industry (that’s where the black box comes from) has made it.
And part of that is to report problems and then what the solutions to those problems are. So that's one of the things that we're trying to do within Bim4housing, to get people to try and share with us the experience that they've got a particular scenario. So for example in the event in the session we had last week, one of the fire engineers or fire risk assessors said he went into a building and he saw that there was a sofa in the corridor under the AOV and nobody had made the connection between if that actually caught fire it would completely overwhelm the AOV. Now, he probably knew that because he'd come across it at some stage.
Another example was somebody was telling me about the recent fire in Canary Wharf that the AOV had been forced open slightly because somebody was having a smoke in the corridor. By opening it of course it breaks the actuator. So if you’ve got examples like that, if we could bottle those we can turn those into scenarios that people can learn from.
LUKE if you think about it like the levels thing, I suspect that a young or a beginning fire risk assessor would go out and say, ohh, there's a sofa in the corridor, combustible materials in the escape area, it needs to be removed. And then someone with experience would say on top of that actually it's in a significant high risk position underneath the AOV. So it's almost you get the same thing, but then the experience or the better training would give you more detail. Or like ah, the AOVs been damaged, but that's what you get. And then they someone might look around and go, oh, there's a cigarette butt there, it seems as though people are smoking in the building. It’s levels of observation.
NICK There is mention in the Hackitt report of compulsory incident reporting, but of course the industry could adopt a system of the airlines which is near miss reporting which is much more important of course because there are many more near misses than there are incidents. And then that becomes the basis of training and testing material. If there were 200 pictures of effective and defective AOVs you could test people much more often having to go out on site with them or whatever. The collection of scenarios, t’s going to be so important because a lot of junior experiences are going to be automated away, if the AOV reports that it's damaged automatically through the Internet of Things, then that's another fire safety inspector who hasn't learned the lesson because the machines done it for him. So we're going to have to find other ways of training people other than junior apprenticeships and so on.
RICHARD Absolutely. The thing about the airline industry, the methodology they use is if they make a mistake, if you admit it they’ll be no sanction. If you report it within 10 days it’ll be used as a learning experience and you won’t get into any trouble for it. So it’s become the automatic culture that if a mistakes made, and everybody makes mistakes, rather than just automatically we must cover it up the culture is be open about it and then people can learn.
NICK That’s the big danger of the whole Grenfell response is we’re creating a a culture where you can't admit things aren't perfect. Now we're trying to make them perfect. And there's lots of good things there and it's difficult to find the right words but we need to find the way of managing the imperfections otherwise we’re going to have 18,000 accountable persons deliberately lying every time they publish their fire safety case.
VARUN Just going back to what Nick was saying, part of the bill, the part of the role of the safety regulator is going to be to establish that mandatory appearance reporting system. And the whole point behind that is to encourage duty holders and accountable people to actually report any structural and fire safety events and occurrences that aren’t classified as being detrimental but could actually help the industry learn. So I think that's one of the things we need to look at and almost think about what needs to go into that mandatory reporting system in terms of guidance and what actually needs to be established as part of it.
Is it a case of when it's something that's gonna cause a huge implication and problem or is it going to be something that actually, as you were saying this black box theory, is it a case of to use that principle of well it got captured within 10 days and reported and therefore this is a list of all the information that's gone out to the industry to say this is what you can prevent.
GEORGE yeah, it’s a big culture change to rather than look at how can we transfer risk, the question is how can we manage the risk by people being more open and collaborative. VARUN Completely, it comes back to what we were discussing last week when I told you about the sprinklers that had been turned off and it's just about being able to make people understand and educate them throughout every single working day. I mean, you sit on the call with Nick, you'll learn something new every single time. And it's the same principle. Nick does a lot what I do, I learn a lot from him. In the same way we should be having these forums where people will actually learn from each other.
RICHARD Within the next 6 weeks we’ll be launching Bim4housing Black Box which will be a forum which enables people to actually post real experiences that they've had, anonymously if they wish. And we're hoping that we'll get a possibly a higher level of transparency from people and that it will snowball because I think it's the first time it's been done and I think it will answer a lot of the things that we're raising right now.
VARUN That that sounds brilliant. I think the only thing we need to think about is how we market it because we don't want people just to think that it's something BIM related because…I understand the information management side will have huge implication anyway when it comes to this, so that's great, but people get thrown off by the term BIM because they don't understand it. GEORGE Yeah, that's why we’re trying to make it better information management, isn't it really.
LEONA Can I just pick up one point that Audrey made about the competency of individuals. It might be worth having a look at BSI Flex 8670 and this also an extension to what we discussed last time in terms of the SDI19 is only a certification at organisation level whereas BSI Flex 8670 provides a framework of organisations providing individual specific records of training and assessment in terms of their skills, knowledge and experience. And I think that's very much in line with what Audrey was saying about an individual's experience. So to comply with BSI Flex 8670 an organisation needs to be able to determine the specific level of knowledge and experience one must possess to carry out their specific role.
RICHARD This has been touched on virtually every question I think, and that’s about change management. How changes from one product to another are recorded.
GEORGE One of the things that we're looking at here is both in terms of new build and existing buildings. In new build we’ve got the technical submittal process which in theory is supposed to manage when something gets exchanged for something else. In recent years designers have become less inclined to actually specify products for commercial reasons, and I think also from conversations I've had on the liability perspective, but I think that’s changing. And I don't think you also need to say it's a specified item. I think you can say that it's an item that will perform the requirement that we're putting into the specification.
It's important though to identify that there is a manufactured product that is at stage three or maybe even stage four, so that when something gets value engineered or it gets replaced, we've got something tangible to compare it with. So therefore that's something that we're planning to promote back into the GTI that that is something that we need to do. I'd like to just get anybody's thoughts on that and just before we move on to that to say the same thing is true of existing buildings. So where we've got something being changed during the operational life of the building there's no reason why we shouldn't use the same methodology of a technical submittal. It’s a rigorous way of saying that we're changing that particular door closer for an alternative because in five-years-time it needs replacing. The same methodology can work.
LUKE For operational teams you might need a slightly cut down one because the difference for when you're building something you're collating all the information and you're going from nothing a piece of land to a full building filled with systems and then and commissioning certs. When you're replacing something you're generally only replacing the one system within the building. So I do think there should be a…something like COBie and actually I’ve been looking at things like doing surveys. We should be doing surveys and requesting survey data in a COBie format so it’s all consistent.
I believe there are some bits that could be cut out to make it simpler for the operational teams so you’re not ending up going, well, if you want to work in development you need X and Y qualifications, but then if you want to work in operations you need X, Y and Z qualifications and experience. So it’s like you’re putting operations as a much more experienced role because you need to know everything you do in development and operations on top of that, and like project management, that sort of thing.
GEORGE I agree with you entirely and certainly the COBie format for exchanging information, I can’t agree more. I think what's important is to identify what the essential characteristics are of a particular asset type and if they're the essential characteristics that you need from a procurement and a performance perspective it would be good to try and achieve that with the thing that you're taking out as well, so that you can do an effective comparison between what you're replacing and what you’re replacing it with. Now obviously that’s not going to be easy because you’re lucky if you even know what the model number is. If we’ve got at least a way of saying how do we compare between what was installed and what is replacing it that’s a formal sort of structured process.
LUKE If you were doing it for existing buildings the way I could see that working in operational teams, you could say right, you have your project managers etc that are running a project. But then you almost look at having a centralised team that overseas and requests information the same way we have handover teams, you almost need a handover team that runs alongside the project, only a small number of people that go OK, you're installing an AOV, you’re gonna need all of this information based on what we have on record about it, and if there isn't anything on record, a standard set of characteristics or following something from a risk assessment, that sort of thing.
AUDREY Yeah, and also reading again that the O&Ms often contain what was designed and not what was installed. With commissioning, you should really be commissioning against the as built package. Oftentimes if the people do not know that there could be a difference between their design and what was built that would be a problem. So there needs to be an understanding of what design is and the commissioning is against the as built package and the as built package is what should be referred to. So to go back within any contracts, if it's a housing association or so one, you need to really request the as built package. That's what you want. That's where the changes would have been captured. And if it hasn’t been given then it ought to be.
GEORGE Absolutely. The interesting thing with that is most of the O&M information that I look at the information in there is largely the specification because it's easy to get because architects are quite well organised from that perspective. So that's what gets put into the O&M. Whereas actually we don't know what was actually installed. I guess it just reinforces what we said earlier and that is that we need to record the information about the actual item that was installed and how that actual item was commissioned so that we’ve actually got that performance information.
LUKE But also if you do get that as built information, that it matches what was designed, or if it doesn’t it tells you why. I know there have been instances where something was designed a certain way, but then when it came to installation, when it was built, someone installed it with something else, a slightly different product and it failed because of that. I think it was something to do with a heating system and it was just a pipe and the issue was it was designed a certain way to cope with a certain amount of temperature and then when it was installed it didn't and it ended up splitting and the pipe burst.
AUDREY That's right it would do. And these are things which I'm saying…if you track any product or any element that will be their design there will be changes, the changes that have been captured. The process by which an element was allowed to be changed would be in the technical deviations section. So that will be captured and within the technical deviations section if the technical deviation has actually gone through the process, there would be the acceptance why it was done.
So that's where you find that information that should be pulled back and it is in the system. It's just knowing that I have to get the design. There will be a system where the specified item was allowed to be deviated. Maybe it was only a performance spec. Then you have you have the mandate to go and seek whatever you think is acceptable, but all of that will be captured within the information. You will be able trace it.
GEORGE Would the technical submittal process as you know it address…? AUDREY It should. I’m not saying it’s always that because management of buildings has been taken a certain way to cut costs to make it more accessible, but within any designer’s own area he would have a system, he would have kept track of what he proposed, what was actually installed and why it came to that. If the information is not there then at least you can flag it up. For the next project that I have there must be a repository that holds all the technical deviations because when the deviation has been accepted then it re-baselines. So they’ve done the work, it’s only the error of submitting it.
LUKE That’s the issue. I know when it comes to design and construction the I.T. systems and the structure in place is very comprehensive. When it then goes to operations…so basically you get that all this very detailed bit of work sometimes following BIM already and then it gets to handover and you go, here's a 700 page PDF document O&M and that's how bad handovers end up. You end up with just a big folder filled with files that have no index.
They have no way of going i need to reference the change design and all of these and without knowledge of exactly how that file structure was put together or understanding the construction and design process as well as the operational, so lots of experience across the whole rep, it just falls apart. And that’s where it falls apart in operations is the handover bit because I know design and construction do it correctly, but I know operations don’t. But it’s not through fault of their own necessarily, it’s through this gap in between.
GEORGE In terms of educational knowledge transfer, if anybody can think of any examples of things that were swapped out that led to an issue that would be very useful to use as a learning exercise.
NICK Just going back a bit, that part of the design of COBie and the intention of COBie was to support submittal approvals processes. And in the US that was separated out into being a process called SPIES (specifies properties information exchange) and it was reviewed in a project called Life Cycle Information Exchange and so on. And I think the US is a lot more rigorous about the checking of substitutions. It is every item has to be signed off before it can be used in the construction. I have this suspicion that it's not done that well in the UK because I've never heard much discussion about substitutions or approvals. Certainly we need it to be better, but it seems to be one of the gaping holes that everyone takes for granted. No one really checks.
PETER A recent example is where we’ve had somebody try to change an opening window into an AOV. It was a completely different size of window so it was cut into cavity barriers and all sorts. But there was already a smoke system in that in that area so actually that that kind of affected it. From a change management process, we’re still looking at it, we couldn’t find where that request came from. It didn’t come from a fire risk assessor or from our fire safety team so it was just somebody decided to put an AOV into an area which already had kind of smoke control which was a bit bizarre.
GEORGE It’s interesting Nick on SPIE, I’ve explored it a few times and years ago I spoke to Bill East about it and he said that it was just an experiment that failed. But it is the way we ought to be capturing manufacturers information.
NICK And not only manufacturing. I think the problem in the US was that they couldn't get the trade, the trade associations didn't even understand the problem, let alone the solution. I think we're a bit further ahead here, but it's not only the manufacturer's information, it's got to be third party information, BBA certificates etc. It's all got to be checkable so that you can say is this product substitution acceptable or not. GEORGE Is there anything in SPIE that isn't in COBie? NICK No, the COBie stays the same, you just use it slightly differently which is a lesson that other people in the UK should learn.
LUKE adding to question 5. This process should also run through life cycle, so not just when it's being built, but also when it's being replaced after 15 years, it should follow the same structure as when it's being built, but with a reduced…
GEORGE it’s interesting in the PFI world at the end of the concession period (maybe 25 years) there's a contractual expectation that the building will be delivered back to the owner in the same condition that it was when it was handed over in the first place.
NICK Yeah, but I know the teams that are working on that and that requirement has been forgotten and so both the buyers and the sellers in that situation are in a deep mess. That clause is almost equivalent to saying that there ought to be a Golden Thread because they could have recorded what condition it was in and what the systems were etc. There’s just no way of doing it, it wasn’t done, there was not statement of record at the time. GEORGE there’s plenty of projects that are going through at the moment with the same requirements, brand new ones. NICK Well, unless it's backed up by a contractual requirement for information then it’s not worth the paper it’s written on.
GEORGE Can I just raise one thing that we we've been talking about. From the sessions people have said that they found this process that we're following here very useful because what we're doing is sharing experience and we're sort of organising this and structuring it. I hope you've felt the same. I think you probably have because most of you coming on it for the second or maybe even the third time. But what we’d like to be able to do, Clarion asked last week whether we can extend it beyond the three asset types that we've covered, to include sprinklers or other asset types that we might go through this same process on.
So we’d like get your feedback as to which asset types you would like us to figure into this because overall, within the housing Association data group, within identified about 20 asset types that we need better information on eg lifts. We may not do the same rigour we’ve done with this but we're planning to continue with that. So if you could maybe suggest…do you agree with that as a process would you like to see us do more of this?
LUKE yeah, this is worthwhile. This is going to feed into Bim4housing and the GTI as well, isn’t it?
GEORGE re Luke’s comment in chat. That’s a question I’ve got, whether fire blankets are actually in some residential.
LUKE Fire blankets are in some of our communal spaces, in some cases where there’s shared kitchens and stuff like that. Fire and smoke curtains are much rarer, and they're usually used in place of a fire rated roller shutter, except where they want to save space because they take up less space than that does. We’ve had a few recently that have come in in our buildings. For example, when you go down to the basement level and it’s the car park there’s fire smoke curtains that block the fire-fighting area from the car park, or something like that.
They are less common, and fire extinguishers we’re generally flat out removing those from all residential properties because you run the risk of people who don’t know how to use a fire extinguisher picking it up and using it and either making it worse or not putting it out and not escaping the building. But blankets, again they’re not common, they’re only for putting out a cooker fire (you just throw it on) or wrapping it around yourself. You don’t need training to know to throw a fire blanket over a fire.
GEORGE So, the closers you’d have that just as a dedicated focus?
LUKE I put that down but i kind of think it fits within door sets, fire doors as a general, but they’re not maintained as part of a fire door, they’re maintained separately. So closers and door retainers are often maintained or recorded separately to a fire door and that’s because your closer or retainer is an M&E piece of equipment and your door is a structural piece of equipment. So it’s almost they’ll separate it into different teams, you’ve got your mechanical and electrical part and then you’ve got your physical part of the building, your barrier as it were.
GEORGE That really helps my understanding because i must admit when I learned that door closers are important, James Carpenter made the point how important the door closer is. When I’ve then dug into O&Ms I've found that the information on what the door closer was very poor. And in fact most of the documentation, even from the manufacturers, it tells you what the performance of that door, what type of door that might be and what the door closer that should have been selected for that should be and what its guidance is etc but not which door closer was actually picked.
AUDREY Yes, because the door closer is not specified by the M&E person. He wouldn't even be interested in it, even though it’s part of his assets. The architect or the architectural team specify that all the door ironmongery including the door closer. The interesting thing is that the discipline in charge of the keying the key of the door, master key and so on, is the electrical group. So when you're in operations you need to know that the door…electrical is in charge of stating which doors have the master key and all of that.
So now then the operations team would have to know to go to that document and then know that, maybe the M&E is in charge of the door closer, but he is not the one who has specified it. The person who has specified it is within the architectural group. So if the operation's man doesn't know that he he would be, he would be just confused, These are things which would come up…but it needs to be told.
LUKE And also retainers are quite often fitted after the fact because the purpose of a room or a space could be changed and it could be: “ohh, we now need to put a retainer on that to keep that door open and retainers usually work through audio of the alarm, so a sounder sets it off and it releases it and it closes the door”. But it might be that you have a commonly traversed door for wheelchair users or something like that, so they put a retainer in there and leave it open. It’s still a fire door because if the sounder releases and it closes the door it works the same way. It’s still a fire door, it has a closer at the top, it just has a retainer to release it to allow the door to close when there's a fire.
GEORGE Audrey, although you say that the M&E person wouldn't be interested in the specification but they need to know if they need to replace it in five-years-time or three-years-time.
AUDREY Yeah, that's when they probably first meets the door closer, to be to be honest. Because at the time one was being specified and being picked by the architectural or the building team, they wouldn't be interested in it at all. It just doesn't come within their frame, their busy looking at other big things and the only time they'd get to meet this door closer or think about it is when they have to replace it. And so if at that time they haven't bought into their process, imagine now going to an M&E person and saying you've got to help me to pick out a door closer, he probably wouldn’t.
GEORGE Absolutely. What you said there about the keys is fascinating.
AUDREY Electrical discipline, they are the ones that own that document, the master key strategy. And they would have to of course go to work with the responsible disciplines and they may just be the ones who sign off. But for purposes of accepting that document really it’s done by the lead electrical engineer, he’s the one who signs off and he would get all the information. Because they’re also taking charge of, we use the word discrimination in building, everybody can go through room A and door A but only certain people can go through door B and door C, they’ve got to do all of that security. So if it’s a sizeable infrastructure project all the master key strategy is signed off by the electrical engineer.
GEORGE is that only in buildings with doors that are electrically powered or is it in normal?…
AUDREY No, not necessarily, when we’ve written it, and I must admit it’s an oil and gas thing, but we’re looking at buildings not only on the rig. It’s for all doors because that strategy for door security access etc access information using a swipe card what the ironmongery should do. So it’s not only for certain kinds of doors, it’s for all doors on that particular installation. If the lead electrical engineer delegates it to the architectural team or the M&E team or the IT people or building systems people to handle it, yes he can, But if there were to be an incident the proper thing to do, the correct discipline in charge is lead electrical.
GEORGE One other question, Audrey, you talked about technical deviation, that’s not a term I’ve used before. It makes a lot of sense. Is it a commonly used term?
AUDREY it is a commonly used term in large infrastructure projects and it should be used in buildings as well and for housing associations because of the fact that there's a supply chain. So oftentimes different contractors and different subcontractors are given a set of specifications to build to. And if they can't meet whatever has been specified, they need to submit a technical deviation request as to why they are changing. They can't meet their specification for door A but they can give you a similar one and it does A,B,C and D. So then it will go to the main contractors team to assess that technical deviation. it could be a concession, you may give him a concession.
Or you could say no, go back and get what I really specified because what you've said to me doesn't meet all my requirements, it doesn't meet the performance. And all of that is captured in their documentation. At the end of the process when it has been assessed by the relevant disciplines and his deviation request has been accepted. Then of course, look at the costing and the time and all of that comes into it, how it would impact the building process, the procurement process, but all of that is captured.
At the end of which a technical bulletin is written that we've accepted the deviation and it has zero time impact. The cost is reduced or so on, but the technical part of it is important and all of that goes into the change control repository and then that becomes part of the as built information. Because, for example, if they've changed their door, if I specified I wanted marine plywood and they’ve said, well, I can’t give you marine plywood, I can give you hardwood or softwood, you need to assess it because it might cause a problem later on.
There could be a storm in half a century or so on and then suddenly all the things that were specified and which were not accepted were built now have an issue. So technical deviation is a very critical part of the building procurement process and it should be really used. I'm sure that they have a term that they use in everyday building, it’s either deviation request. It's a little bit more nuanced than a change request, but it's captured as part of that process.