Contractual Workstream Session 4-20220725_Meeting
GEORGE begins by saying that Active Plan have just recently finished a big project with Laing O’Rourke. They’ve created tools for creating information requirements in machine readable form which can then be mapped against manufactured products. Therefore you can test to make sure that the information that you require for safety/environmental reasons is actually contained in the product data. Then it can be brought together with the modelling tools to create the digital twin.
That’s a new way of working, but if you have a Traditional or design & Build project we come at it from another angle to say what information do we need at the end. We bring together stuff into an asset information model which is made up of BIM data or spread sheets. We then use that to populate various different applications. Our technology also allows us to bring together the 3-D models so that all becomes fully federated. We’re often working in a heavily contractual environment (which is PFIs Hospitals) so where e.g. you have a special purpose vehicle that tries to transfer all of the risk onto the FM Contractor, unless they can provide evidence of the work that they’ve done they will incur significant penalties. We’ve been able to sort out the variation orders and the information so they can eliminate that risk. At the end of the day what we are really doing is recording asset information, so where the doors are/ collected info about those doors/which ones are acting as fired doors. You can then add to that asset information and add embodied carbon.
The major driver is we’ve now got the Building safety Act and one of the challenges is knowing whether a project is being covered. We have a new project: it’s secured planning approval, the design has reached RIBA stage 4 but it’s only at the beginning from an M&E perspective…is it in scope? Will it be exempt from Gateway 2 and 3 reviews? There are differing opinions of lawyers and project managers. The Act says the information is the prescribed information, the government is not telling us what information is needed.
The Golden Thread Initiative group (chaired by George) has been trying to identify what information subject matter experts think is needed. We’ve produced a survey tool to initially pull together, at least for a safety case perspective, what documents and information is needed. Also a 360 visual records and also (critically from a tier 1 perspective) is can we define what information is needed at the end of work stage 4/Gateway 2. The regulator is going to need to sign off that the building will be safe (with an adequate design) otherwise they will be able to stop it. This is already in place for gateway 1 (planning) and 50% of projects that have gone through this process have been held up.
As an industry we need to be able to define what information is needed. That’s what we’ve been doing with Bim4housing which has various different working groups who are producing workstreams on data, fire safety etc. Numerous subject matter experts have been involved. Also, duty holders (accountable persons) have been involved. The key questions we’ve been asking are what risk does that asset mitigate? What do people do to that asset/ e.g. blocking a fire door, What information is needed? What tasks and methods are needed? What levels of competency? How should product changes be recorded?
We are trying to standardise…we have created detailed data for all of these asset types. We are trying to produce a Playbook (guidance) detailing what information is required, what can be provided as documents, what information should be machine readable, which asset types should it be focused on, which systems, how to organise models, what should we expect from manufacturers, and how do we protect the manufacturer’s IP. And then how do we record all of that and how do we manage change.
We’re trying to make it so that as much as the information as possible is machine readable. Also dealing with the fact that the data is coming from lots of different data dictionaries e.g. Bim data, classification information, Sibsey, NRM etc - they all cover different information sets. This complexity of information needs to be simplified. The Bim4housing manufacturers group has been doing this for cavity barriers etc. The Templater software tool allows us to tap into all of these data dictionaries and produce reusable templates. We can then organise information by function/ classification but also to be able to say what information do we need for a particular purpose. We filter out information to cater to the specific needs of asset managers, installers, manufacturers etc and also to provide them with the information they need at specific stages.
The objective is to get to a situation where we can pull together data in a form that we can then standardise. The information that is needed for an asset as properties which we can then add structure to so that we can classify, put units of measure in. We can then bring together people who have got real detailed knowledge of what information you need to know to stop smoke from going through ad door and then make that into a reusable library - that’s our direction of travel.
We used a project of Paul Mcsolley as an example: an in-scope building, a fire breaks out, do we have the right information about the asset types to be confident that the design is going to be able to protect the tenants so they can get out. The HSE has steered us to say look at the risk, look at the treatments, then look at the asset types that go to make up those treatments and what properties do you need about them. We’re trying to protect against the spread of smoke. Compartmentation is one of the treatments/mitigations. Via the roundtable workshops we look at it from the perspective of different sectors to identify what information is needed to protect against a specific risk.
Paul Mcsolley has been working on a document. We’ve been focused on 12 major asset types and looking at the information that is needed for each of those. Paul Mcsolley has gone through and looked at fire damper rating/time period/type of wall etc and we’ve broken these down into individual questions that can therefore have a defined answer against them.
We’ve also looked at what of that information should be in a geometric model, what can be in the asset model, and what of this information could be a document. Then, Paul’s been going through and relating this to the various different interfaces that that fire damper needs to be considered in that context so that we can then start to use this to engage with experts. He’s then put in the detail.
In response to George’s question ‘is that helpful?’ PETER replies it explains what he is trying to do in a general purpose but also he’d like to take some time to catch up on reading about the matter. ‘You are trying to create your threads - for want of a better description’. PETER says we are being left to ourselves having been give no information, which is typical of the government, the way legislation is written. You have to show due diligence in this process.
GEORGE says this group is trying to come up with a reasonable solution to collectively say this is what we think will answer the exam question and then there is a degree of consistency in terms of what everybody is going to be assessed against. The Health & safety legislation is similar to CDM, you actually get caught out when an incident happens. You’ve then got to have adequate records to prove you did carry out all reasonable measures.
The HSE has no real knowledge of building/fire safety and are consequently bringing in new people from oil and gas. Now we have a regulator the construction industry is now a regulated industry and therefore they need people with an expertise of working in a regulated industry (oil and gas). They won’t have experience of how the construction industry actually works.
PETER briefly worked in oil and gas so knows it is a very different industry - the paperwork is immense for a start. We could end up burying ourselves in so much regulation that we become obsolete. MARTIN said that oil and gas industry people are turning down the opportunity to work as building regulators as they are being paid more in their industry. GEORGE says they are also taking over control of building control. Steve Coppin says the HSE does have a lot of challenges in terms of recruiting people. he’s worried that because people responsible for building control and building safety regulations are in different teams so there may not be an alignment.
MARTIN thinks, to be fair, that the structural side of building safety was very well catered for - you don’t hear of buildings falling down, generally speaking. We all know that fire safety wasn’t. It’s a quasi-regulated industry as of the end of April. Playing around with regulating the industry is currently where we are at. GEORGE says what we should be doing is doing it as properly as we sensibly can anyway.
Yes, says MARTIN, that’s assuming you’ve got work - we get approached by customers who are looking for the cheapest possible price and will try everything to get the price down, including the very people who are setting out these regulations. he’s even heard those who set the regulations say we’re exempt form building regulations because of where we are and therefore we don’t necessarily have to apply all the stuff you’re saying we need to do to improve the quality. It’s crown immunity, says George. All you will need is a disaster in one of those buildings…
That’s probably why we do need a really robust change management process and ways of evidencing decisions that were taken so that you can be protected. We’re working with some of the big CDE companies so that we can build in the documentation and simply assign against each of the asset types jut that documents that that particular asset type needs.
GEORGE wants to try and create quality assured reusable data sets which can then be issued to specialist subcontractors. A Tier 1 like Balfour Beatty is incredibly exposed because you are responsible for collecting information but you don't author it (in most cases). Therefore if we can make it more standardised the level of exposure is reduced. Therefore, you can then evidence that back to insurers.
MARTIN would like to drop out of this 5 things that we as a contractual work stream need to set as objectives. He’s fully on board with Mark, a good tier 1, if they are allowed to do it, will be able to do this. It’s just that we get to work with a lot of people who don’t want to pay for that service (he says diplomatically).
GEORGE shares slides made by Paul Mcsolley on screen. This complex graphic illustrates the fact that the statutory requirements oversee everything. The recent case where the courts backed the client against the contractor in terms of the cladding (the contractor is now liable) fell foul of this thing that statutory requirements really do oversee everything. He’s gone through the points of failure as to what can happen e.g wrong procurement route, contractor design portion, what’s needed at different gateways, then looking at things from a fire safety perspective etc.
This is where we are trying to organise things: we set the requirements at the beginning which can then be tested against the manufacturers products so that the products that are actually developed out in design can actually satisfy the information requirements. When the designers then propose products, they may not specify them, but they can pick a product that will actually satisfy the requirements, that then goes into a detailed design perspective and if it gets changed we’ve then got a technical submittal process. We can then record changes that have taken place.
The product that has been agreed then gets procured, and up here we might nave builders merchants as part of that, we then capture the golden thread through the various different stages. This group has been trying to work on is to say how do we move the contractor design portion, which is probably the greatest cause of building failure/fire safety, and refresh it with something where we have products going through that process there. We actually bring that into work stage 4 so the product selection is done earlier.
PETER says we should be engaging with suppliers earlier as well and to include them as part of the technical design because if they are going to install it they usually have a lot more information about that specific product than probably a design team. GEORGE thinks that one of the challenges this group has is how to persuade procurement teams that the risk of…the balance as far as procurement is concerned is that you might be saving money in transferring risk but you are increasing risk on the fire safety side of things.
Regarding embodied carbon, the decisions being made on what products are being used is another aspect that’s coming very much into people’s focus. PETER replies that there is a clause on a project of his which states they have to reduce the amount of carbon used as opposed to his original proposal.
PETER says from a project point of view what he wants to do is keep as much information in as few systems as possible. Of 5 different systems we want to take 2 forward to work as a collaborative partner with our customary, so we’ll all work in the same workspace. It’s a challenge because people are more used to information being more widely spread about. Handover becomes a nightmare because you have to try and bring it all together. By systems, PETER means CDEs (to an extent). They will see into every system and they’ll be monitoring every system and working in every system.
The more locations of storage of information that they have the more complex it becomes and people will put things in the wrong places. He wants to start trying to train some of the internal people as to why he wants to change stuff - people are very set in their ways. GEORGE works on ways of structuring data so it can be more easily accessible then applications can act on that data.
They can be delivered as APIs and incorporated into other software applications. We’re making it possible that the data isn’t being managed in Revit, it’s managed in databases which can be anywhere. If you need those in a secure environment then that’s no issue because the data itself is then delivered and connected via APIs into whatever application is needed.
PETER says another thing is he’s thinking about people’s ways of working at the moment, because one of the problems he’s got is people and approvals and revues and (particularly) traceability. It’s the traceability of the review processes and decision making. Someone had a sit cabin built before construction release documents have been put out. When you go back and talk to people you can find out very valid reasons why that has happened, but to find a piece of paper that explains why it was theoretically ‘out of process’, it doesn’t exist. You need to record the facts at the time you made that decision.
PAUL MCSOLLEY returns to the meeting and shares documents on his screen. The issue is…architects and building services engineers won’t select stuff they don’t understand. When you go back to clients (back to the procurement piece) they want 11th hour contract appointments, they want poorly designed specifications, they don’t want any engagement from the supply chain and they want a contract that prioritises everything at the lowest cost possible because they don’t want anyone selecting anything.
So, in the BIM world you are pretty much hampered from day 1 because product libraries either come up here (which is the death of all contractors). If you get a good client you might get it in spatial coordination - you can bring the libraries back and you’ve got input to select products accordingly. He sent something to George recently about dampers and the key things you have to understand before you select them. He’s put them into ‘category’.
PAUL, responding to Peter’s recap of what he said earlier about making changes to the way people work, says that change is all about education, technical and process. As an industry, despite the intention of not having a race to the bottom, we have just accelerated it. Everyone’s employing more legal people, more commercial staff to manage the fallout at the end. No one wants to educate the beginning part and do it right because you would never win the job.
RICHARD joins and says that MARTIN had stated earlier in the meeting that he wanted to do a reset/refocus…MARTIN proceeds with that. What we want to try and do with this group is come up with a set of requirements we can use to advise our customers about the various gateways and what we can and cannot do at the various gateways, which leads us onto what they need to do at the various gateways.
We can then go into the weeds and say the reasons behind those sort of statements (what we can and can’t do at the gateways). Or we need the information and it needs to be sourced, read, stored, compared, contrasted and proved to work. The consequential knock-ons to that are probably going to take more time and certainly going to cost more money. A useful document that says loudly and clearly that the industry wants the people who procure their services to understand that in order to not break the law and work within the requirements and legislation, life has to be like this.
GEORGE absolutely agrees and thinks the idea of having a simple set of what we can do at each workstage/gateway is exactly what we should be doing. Subject matter experts, when asked what do we need to no about an e.g. fire damper, would reply ‘it depends’. Therefore, prescriptively saying what information we are going to need at a certain point in time is unreasonable because you can’t define what information you are going to need until you know the context in which that is going to be used. We need to be able to say this needs to be done progressively and collaboratively. We shouldn’t be looking at asking for additional information as being automatically a variation. Contractually, people have made their money from change, whereas now we’re in this semi-regulated environment it’s not in anybody’s interest collectively to be delivering something that isn’t right.
Therefore, we need more flexibility to say if we’re asking for commissioning information on certain things to be delivered (and maybe not put that into the original brief as we don’t know what things need commissioning) - because you don’t know that you need commissioning information on certain assets until you know what system it is going to be part of. If we can say we need a level of flexibility in terms of asking for that information it’s a progressive way of doing it. As long as it’s not actually costing anymore money to collect that information that should be a reasonable thing for a Tier 1 to ask from their supply chain.
MARTIN replies that is downstream and he was thinking upstream, in terms of contractual arrangements. Maybe it’s a 2-way thing: what Martin described previously for requirements for procurers but also are requirements for the people we procure. People need to know where we are at in terms of being the principal contractor.
PAUL MCSOLLEY says the issue is ever so simple: you’ve got the up the line bit and the down the line bit and we are kind of straddled in the middle as the principal contractors. The sub-contractors who work for Tier 1s, they just want a builder’s work schedule that works. We just want them to do their job and make it work, when you look at it from the clients point of view, they just want the cheapest price. It’s a toxic combination. You look at it from the consultant’s point of view, they just don’t want to get scorched when it all goes wrong, they’re nervous about selecting anything. You cannot avoid a level of weeds.
The problem is that we all want to be the big ones doing the design & build contracts and thinking we’re taking all this risk on to make loads of money but we don’t want to do anything - we want to throw it all down the line as well so we are just as bad as them. You can say to clients it’s really simple, if you are going to do a generic design someone will sign up to it but you will never deliver what you wanted.
PAUL thinks, having read the website, that building control and the regulator will do a staged approach and you’ll be in just the same shit as you were before because you will never see the nuance of the interface. There’s no way the HSE are going to know how to do any of this. MARTIN thinks the regulator will end up as a facilitator between building control and the construction industry.
MARTIN wants to capture the bullet points in terms of requirements upstream and downstream, some sort of framework around that and then we can start putting some words to it. It will come from that collaborative procurement document and common sense. He wants the group to try and capture what’s needed upstream and downstream…especially downstream to the supply chain, to elaborate on what you think that means. George says he will do that and suggests Martin should do upstream, then they can compare notes.