Contractual Workstream Session 6-20221010
GEORGE Obviously, as you know, I’ve been banging on about standardised data templates and getting data about products in a machine readable form. i still think we ought to do this, but getting people to actually determine what those parameters should be is a huge task, there’s lots of debate around it. I’m suggesting we do something much simpler. For example, initially we get maybe all of the asset management specialists together and say what information you need, is there a standard taxonomy that can be used to describe a smoke damper. There are many in BIM etc so we can bring those together, the problem is there is no consolidated one.
PAUL MCSOLLEY Isn’t that thing i have given you in BIM what you’re looking for? That Excel file which he shares on screen. GEORGE Those are the attributes, they need to be tied back to a common taxonomy for what is a smoke damper. These attributes need to sit under that particular type of product. MARTIN Are you referring to a system like Uniclass? GEORGE We definitely build on Uniclass, that would be the core. Let’s say we make Uniclass as the spine of the whole thing and then any manufacturers product is mapped against Uniclass. The problem with doing that is that in most cases a product may satisfy several Uniclass categories. If for example you have a pump that might be related to several different Uniclass categories.
In the asset management side of things with SFG20 for example (the maintenance side of things) again the pump has slightly different ontologies in use cases of contexts of use. I think it is quite doable that we end up with a standardised library of asset types. What I’m aiming for, on your projects if the workflow said that for a product to be used – you need to make sure you’ve got a record of what your specialist subcontractors have used because you don’t know what’s going to be important. Therefore if there is a workflow that deals with technical submittals but does so from a POV of the product data we collect…
At a basic level manufacturers should be able to provide a data sheet of the product that is going to be used. At the moment the process requires your specialist subcontractor to gather that information together and put together in the O&Ms. They probably don’t have the competency to do that as it’s given to a graduate or admin person. They’ll go on websites and download what is probably the wrong stuff.
PAUL MCSOLLEY i spoke to Howell about this months ago when we did the CPA stuff and said the biggest issue at the moment is the manufacturers don’t know what data they need to give you. That’s why if you look at a DOP it’s not even a means to an end. It might tell you it’s that particular thing but it doesn’t tell you all the rest of it. It doesn’t tell you actually that needs to be definable, even though you can see from the bloody picture. It doesn’t say it’s a single blade etc. All this stuff needs to be in there. It’s an issue in the industry that you can’t pick all that stuff out from a DOP.
GEORGE Yes, so my suggestion is that we look at this from a process flow perspective to say manufacturers should be proving the information, not a specialist subcontractor because the manufacturer has got the knowledge to say this is how my product performs. A specialist subcontractor can say this is what I’ve installed, what I’m planning to install, and project specific information like serial numbers. But the manufacturers’ information, why can’t we have it that it’s collected once and then used many times. Then you’ve got the opportunity to say where all the instances of that particular product are across all our projects.
PETER I’ll be talking about this again on Thursday. What I was proposing to do was to try to get the information into BIM 360 including everything we need for the O&M manuals so it’s already there before we start putting any of the products in and it’s signed off by the designer at minimum and potentially the client. MARTIN We do tend to visit it (partially) at design stage, procurement stage, collection of info for O&M stage – we kind of have 3 goes at it. It should be more seamless.
PAUL MCSOLLEY shares a document on screen with key symbols. This is what this was about. We’re all on the same page here with this, It’s about the risk category of the space and you’ve got to establish it here. Once you’ve set it before you go into gateway 1 you can’t change it but this has go to support it. So this bit is not fully there, but (no disrespect to architects, MEP consultants, structural engineers and the fire engineering community) they can’t do this bit properly either. That’s why you need to get to a place where…I suppose someone like the pacifier (9 mins 48 secs) safety review team that leads it so you can bridge you’re way through it, but you’ve got to get to that point where you know what you are doing is correct otherwise you’re pretty much screwed and your BIM library has got to support it all the way through. The hard bit is how you manage that process – I’m trying to use the words prescriptive and descriptive in the right order because I keep hearing ‘the architect does a performance specification’, against what? Because they don’t know what the descriptive of it was originally.
GEORGE in terms of quality management, Martin. you’ve got identified products that are being proposed and the information about them is then gathered much earlier in the process rather than at the bloody end. it gives you the opportunity to do the quality checks, doesn’t’ it? MARTIN Yeah, but it’s also the 2nd visit. That should have been thought of when the design elements were going through their machinations. We’ve curtailed one out, one of the visits out of the equation by thinking and talking about it, involving the designer and the customer, which is right. having it right at the very beginning, that’s the ultimate aim.
PAUL MCSOLLEY It’s the only way to do it. Reg 8 is about reasonable levels of safety and health and reg 7 is about the appropriate product for the appropriate circumstance and that drives your quality, so you’re QA is you’ve described it you’ve prescribed it, the quality control is put it in as its been prescribed. It’s that simple. MARTIN The focus should be on the installation, not all the stuff that goes with it. We are as an organisation coming to the realisation that we are going to have to change our approach to our internal management system.
A lot of the leaders in the organisation are saying we need to focus – we call it shift to the left, just get it right before we start digging holes and don’t start digging holes until we’ve got it right, which is very hard as we get paid every month, we’re massive turnover beasts with very small margins, so the turnover is super-critical. having the bollocks to say we won’t take this job until it’s right, we won’t start generating income until we’re happy that it’s right, is taking a bit of going through….It’s kind of like the gateways, we are going to mirror those, we’re not going to mobilise a project until everybody’s happy.
GEORGE Peter, I recall you’re doing this on a high security project.
PETER We’ve had to focus and look at things we normally do as a matter for fact. Because we can’t do them that way we’ve had to step back and look at them and that’s seeing some value that we’re missing from the processes, so we’re now trying to put that back in. One of my hopes is that I do all of this but I just don’t want to let it die at the end of my project, I want to try and get some of it fed-back so we learn the lessons and maybe improve our whole system as a result of it. GEORGE In some way you’ll need data libraries for doing this sort of stuff which you’re obviously going to be creating. is there an opportunity for us to do some sort of collaboration on that? It sounds as if you have the same mindset as I do.
PETER yes, I might not have the tools around me to do it in the most efficient way because BIM 360 field is going to be the place I bring everything into and then effectively I can take everything out of there as I need it, but it’s not the best database as a library, it’s just a place holder. GEORGE I’d like to pick up a conversation with you on that because it might be that we could provide something like that. We might be able to provide an API, everything is in BIM 360 but it’s coming from a more structured way. Would that be OK? PETER From my POV yes, the reality is that the security side of things might cause us problems.
PAUL MCSOLLEY George, I do need to get you involved with what we’re doing, at the moment the struggle I’ve got is trying to get the platform to do it because you’ve got the jump to the left, Martin, we’ve got the sit in the castle and build bigger walls at the moment which is not really helping. Business units…want to sell their soul to the highest bidder to win the work. When you’ve got people like me and martin going ‘hold on a minute, the body is too big for the skin’ they don’t wont to hear it. The world we now live in is that if the body is too big for the skin it will never change. That’s why the cladding case is really prevelant because they prescribed and described their own cladding system and at the end of the day with design & build they fell on their own sword because they were in breach of statutory matters as soon as they sat on that contract.
GEORGE We’ve got two Balfour Beatty jobs at the moment, one that is reaching conclusion and another that’s just getting to the end of workstage 4. So there’s some opportunities to explore those as well. MARTIN Where would you start with the library, George? With the classification of the products. PAUL I think we’ve got to do that ourselves, Martin. GEORGE we base them around Uniclass so we’d start with a data library. Basically, it’s Uniclass, some standardised basic asset information requirements and then products that actually satisfy those requirements. MARTIN the fact that some of the products sit over multiple Uniclass codes, is that a problem that can be overcome?
PAUL if you do things like smoke control dampers you kind of need it’s own Uniclass for smoke control, you can’t have it going across multiple things because it’s specific. If you do fire dampers, again it’s got to have its own specific to stop the confusion and mixing them up. When it comes down to things like pumps, if you’ve got a fire pump which is part of a sprinkler system then it’s not as much of a problem because it’s still inherently just a pump. It’s not doing compartmentation, it’s part of an active system.
So the risk of screwing it up isn’t as big and actually the Uniclass is pretty much prevalent to it. The only difference is fire pumps are direct online, they are not inverter driven. That’s the only bit where you could get caught out. It’s those other key ones, the ducts, the dampers, the doors, where you’ve got to have it in such a way where you’ve got to Uniclass it as such that stops the confusion because otherwise if you’ve got something that goes across multiple different systems people are just frivolous with it.
GEORGE the other thing, Martin, is that Uniclass has got 7 or 8 tables – tables for products, systems, entities, different tables according to how that particular element is being used. So that’s something that we are navigating through at the moment with David Miller Architects, we’re trying to give an example of how that goes together. Maybe within out community if we set something up to say let’s look at what the art of the possible is by having a generic product library. It’s not like BIM store or BIM Object where they are actually being paid by manufacturers, it’s something that’s at Bim4housing repository of the standard documentation. Then, that can be used in all different sorts of software applications. We can build connections into e.g BIM 360.
The trouble is what I’m discovering is that everybody talks at a high level. The UK BIM Alliance has been rebranded, they’ve taken BIM out of the title. It’s now NIMA. I understand the logic of taking BIM out of the language, I wonder whether it’s one of these classic situations of rebranding. It’s taken years for us to get people to start thinking about BIM as something useful. I was a bit frustrated when people switched away from BIM level 2 because we’d just got the industry talking about it and suddenly they said ‘don’t use BIM level 2 anymore’.
One of the guys from the UK BIM Alliance said to me ‘should we be changing the name of Bim4housing to NIMAhousing?’. I said I don’t think so because we’ve got quite a good brand now, people understand what Bim4housing is. Why change the name? NIMA is not an acronym, it’s actually Greek for a thread.
RICHARD i wanted to make a comment about what George was saying about the name change, NIMA. Anyone thinking we should be NIMA4housing, NIMA is the name of the UK BIM Alliance, you don’t swap the word BIM (which is something outside of the UK BIM Alliance) for something that is the UK BIM Alliance, they are totally different things. BIM and UK BIM Alliance are not synonymous, BIM is something that the UK BIM Alliance is promoting so to change our name to the UK BIM Alliance’s name is a bit strange. We’re still talking about BIM, but is BIM becoming obsolete, George?
GEORGE i don’t think so, I think we’re educating the market to understand that BIM is more than for 3-D modelling. RICHARD In a way, we have moved on in BIM4housing because we talk about better information management. So we’ve moved it on in terms of what the letters actually mean. MARTIN We tend not to call it BIM, we call it Field 360, by the software that generates it. NIMA I’m intrigued by because that’s perilously close to the Bank that the Irish Government set up in order to stabilise all the developers about 15 years ago. MARTIN next steps then is sketching out the skeleton for using the…you say you’ve already done stuff on this? GEORGE yes, there is stuff being done with the BRE with the Lexicon initiative (the manufacturers’ product data). I’m also talking with GS1 which is that organisation that’s doing classification. There’s BSI, they’ve brought out a rival service to GS1 which is called BSI Identify. To some extent they’ve now accepted they need to include GSI in their BSI identify which then begs the question why do you need BSI Identify. What BSI are trying to do is get product manufacturers to pay them to give them this unique ID but the manufacturers are already paying GS1 to do it because otherwise they won’t have barcodes on things.
So they charge a very small amount for each product. At the moment GSI have told me that BSI agreed to put the GTIM into BSI Identify category, so I think that’s probably going to be the way the legs go. The other thing is as far as all the builders merchants are concerned they use something again that is aligned with GSI called ETIM. That’s probably the most granular set of information. Therefore, if we can tie these things together in a standard data set that then becomes universally useable then it’s more likely to get adopted.
MARTIN I was just wondering whether that all already exists within the ETIM or GTIM database? GEORGE yeah, but they’ve done things from a POV of…ETIM for example, that goes down to really low levels of granular detail because that’s the way merchants work. Whereas the GS1 would be to a product that carries that, the product is probably an assembly of items. that’s why ti needs to come back to the manufacturers, the manufacturers need to say what are the individual components that go to make us this particular door set (for example) which then might carry a GSI identifier. MARTIN the door set will have its own barcode, but the components within the door set will also have them. GEORGE They will, but then from a Uniclass perspective, which is really the language we’ll probably be working at, that would probably be for the assembly. You would have a Uniclass category for a door, you wouldn’t have, in the door, the ironmongery as Uniclass elements. There might be a Uniclass element for a door closer. MARTIN You’d expect anything that impacts on the system working properly as it’s designed to would need to be part and parcel of the same overarching barcode. GEORGE i agree, that’s the level we should be working at. It’s the cross relationship. In Uniclass you might have that door, then that door might be part of a system. Maybe some M&E kit (a better example), that would be treated as a classification, maybe as a fan cool unit, but it’s also part of a ventilation system.
MARTIN it goes back to the very first conversations we had on this call is that you’ve got to llok at it from the people who are trying to operate the fan cool unit or the door who need to replace the handle or widget in the fan cool unit rather that the whole bloody thing. They need to know what it is within that thing that will work just as well, to have the exact information.
GEORGE So, shall I put together some ideas about bringing the asset management, people like Equans (that’s the old Balfour Beatty workplace). Equans, MyT, Skanska, Sodexo – the big site management companies, so we actually get them involved in the process? PAUL I think you should. At the moment we’ve got everything I think we need, we just need to get it in the right order. GEORGE I absolutely agree, that’s my frustration at the moment. We’ve got the answers, what we need to do is have some dedicated effort and resource and some funding that’s going to be needed.
PAUL That’s right. My frustration is I’d have you doing stuff for me tomorrow, just to drive this through. It’s not uncommon that I do testing with lots of different companies. The tests that I do are not for me, it’’s for the benefit of the industry. But I find a project where it’s prevalent where I need to know the problem is going to come up and I need to get it funded. The issue in my organisation is we have heads of digital etc but my view of digital and what we are doing here is not their level of understanding of it. Many in organisations are in comfy chairs and comfy slippers and it’s very hard to get things moving when they’ve got to do something.
GEORGE I’ll put together some ideas on that. Obviously we’ve for the contractual workstream, I think we’ve lost some people along the way with the Tier 1 group and I think we need to reengage with them. People like Waites and Robert McAlpine. PAUL No, Nicola and Paul are very much still involved, I’m doing some stuff with them on this other thing. The issue we have as an industry is that there is not enough of us to go around. MARTIN At the moment everybody is insanely busy and all of the change work is a bolt on to your day job.
PAUL You said the word change there. There is a big job I’ve got involved with on the east side of London. The whole job is chaos because no one has administered anything. You’ve got discrepancy and divergence, that’s one contract clause, you’ve got adequacy and statutory matters which is another. The you’ve got provisional sun clauses in this contract and clauses around design development, you’ve scope gap clauses, client change, tenant change. And what they’ve ended up doing (it’s design and build) is letting the design team get away with murder by issuing drawings, just accept them and getting them X? 41 mins 56 secs trade drawings, but the employer has never approved a damned thing.
It all comes down to this: lots of organisations say we’re not contractual which means, basically, we don’t want to manage change, we want to be lazy. When we look at this whole Grenfell scenario this is all about change management. The industry doesn’t want to do it properly as it is, god knows how you’re going to get on with this. You’re gonna have to do Schedule 1 and JCTD & B properly.
GEORGE i’d just like to ask one final thing on the contractual side of things. Are you seeing anything at the moment in terms of carbon reporting? MARTIN yes, I am – we’re hearing it, a lot of people talking it. Like this journey it’s all about language, 99% of people talking about it 1% saying ‘well, hang on, put your foot on the ball, how are you going to measure this, what do you mean’ by zero carbon because most people don’t know. We live in a country with a power station (Drax) that runs a zero carbon agenda – it’s got nothing to do with zero carbon.
PAUL The problem I have with it at the moment is that operational energy…when you look at the operational use of a building it’s not much different to the fire argument. It’s about how many people you are having in the building, what hours of occupancy you’re having and how to people behave within it, and if you can’t define that at a start of a project you can’t measure it at the end. That’s the bit that clients really aren’t getting, they’re having consultants go away and say ‘here’s an energy strategy’ and you say ‘what’s happened to the building?’ the response ‘can’t tell you that’.
Going back to 2000-2003 it was all about the Government wanted to work out how much money they were spending on measures on jobs, it was a procurement tour which produced £D drawings. No ones every used it for measuring properly because the money is in the measure. So when it comes down to engineering risk with consultancies the risk is in the occupancy of the building and how they determined it and whether it was right, wrong or indifferent – they don’t want to tell you! They want to hide it, put it under that big rug: gone.
GEORGE What you’re talking about there is operational carbon. I was at UK construction week and we (the Zero Group) had a big stand. We’ve got about 600-700 members now, that’s effectively become the sustainability working group within Bim4housing. What they are very focused at is the construction period because that’s the embodied carbon side of things. What we’re doing is trying to standardise the data sets from all the different EPDs. What I didn’t realise is that there are lots of different EPDs but they are all done differently. Even the European Eco platform, which you’d think would be standardised=, every country has done it slightly differently. So the information isn’t machine readable.
PAUL TM65 by Sibsey is a really good document, it gives you EPD and you’ve got 2 other methods of calculating your rough carbon. When you buy a new ARHU 48 mins, it’s a huge piece of kit, it’s got steel, copper (those bits are not too hard to measure because of the weight of the metal). When you start to look at all the cabling and plastics etc it’s a conundrum. You can have parts that come from S Africa, China, USA, they all find their way into a factory to be amalgamated into a component that gets sent out the door. If someone did give you an EPD for that I’d be gobsmacked. The old Volkswagen scandal was all over nitrous oxide and diesel fuel. If you don’t have the proper method to determine what it is you have to be so careful what you say because people hold you to it later on. Manufacturers are petrified, even duct work companies.
MARTIN the chain of custody on a lot of products isn’t mature enough. Take glass, we use a lot of glass in this country: there is no chain of custody for glass in the UK. PAUL At Drax they are cutting down trees that take a hundred years to regrow, burning it and saying it’s carbon neutral. RICHARD The British Government take the can on that one because they cut down trees in Peru which they then replace with a sapling or seed, ship them to the UK then carbon capture after they’ve burnt it so they actually get carbon credits for it.
GEORGE The reason I’m interested in carbon reporting is that at the end of the day, in a simple way, what we’re needing to do is record what products and materials go into buildings. We need to do that for fire safety, quality. if we standardise those processes then we can backfill it afterwards. PAUL have you seen the work on the carbon fire release that’s going on? Not only should you look at the embodied carbon of what you put into it, you also need to look at the fire release potential because basically if a building burns down what’s its carbon release? It’s huge. A lot of these new age materials, the carbon release that comes out of it (plus other noxious gases) is immense.
RICHARD the reality is it doesn’t matter right, wrong or indifferent, common sense, good sense or lunacy if investors and banks are demanding that information to give you better rates of interest on loans to build things, you’ve got to do it.
GEORGE NEC4, they’ve drafter some new clauses to go around so the contractor becomes viable for providing the carbon data. PAUL the problem is the EPD market is not mature enough yet and I don’t’ think in the current situation in the World it will get there any quicker than it really should do.