BIM4Housing Manufacturing Working Group Meeting-20220706
will perkins shares a slide on screen, titled DIGITAL PRODUCT CONFIGURATION, with some important information. It’s a simple explanation of what we are doing. We’re taking an example floor plan with a specific application. We’ll approach various manufacturers…as manufacturers what we are trying to do is create a set of questions that we know need to be answered in order for that product to be specified correctly (and to select products). The intention is that these questions can then be integrated into the Templater to form a product configurator which, through the Templater, point the specifier/user etc through to hopefully selecting the product with the essential characteristics to have to track that product throughout its life in the building and thus as a fundamental part of the golden thread - that’s the principle.
Another colleague of Will’s has been working on the same process, but with smoke control dampers. He shares the document he’s referring to onscreen. On the left are statements about the characteristics of the product, questions need to be created to sit above them, so effectively it becomes a tick-list of what has to be achieved in this products specific application. It goes into singular product granular detail.
ALAN BRINSON, questioning this, says he’s not sure that this approach works for a system. We don’t use the word product, we use ‘system’ e.g. sprinkler system. GEORGE responds that the methodology is to work down from components to products and then up to systems. When you’re looking at it from a e.g. sprinkler system perspective that’s made up of a number of different component elements and that provides that 2-way granularity.
DAVID EMORY asks by what means this data is linked to the BIM model. GEORGE replies thy can be available as properties that can be in the BIM model, either as a parameter, or they can be connected via a GUID to a database that holds that information. GEORGE considers that the cooperation of manufacturers to modify their BIM models with these data fields would not necessarily be needed.
PAUL OAKLEY says this is about ‘things’ and it doesn’t matter what the ‘things’ are. You define things and then group them by methodology - products and systems are two examples. You are then defining standardised information against those things which will then be stored in a template. You then group the information requirements into those. There is a difference between information which is dealing with requirements and then responses to them. He advises not to get too caught up in the specifics of ‘this is a product’ therefore it doesn’t meet all the things I’m trying to deal with it. Some things will have to be looked at at an assembly level and some others at a system level.
ALAN, citing George’s reference to lighting, and considering the large number of possibilities of how to employ lighting, wonders how this takes account of the desire for flexibility?…
WILL PERKINS points out that the intent isn’t for this to be a design tool at all. From a manufacturers point of view if we are making products and products together are classified as a system, the approach is these are the questions that need to be asked to make sure the selected product information is correct. Providing this digital information means that in ten times time a building operator does not have to look through multiple PDFs for this critical information. GEORGE says if products are swapped out at a later date this means there is something objective to use ion a technical submittal, rather than just an opinion.
GEORGE says that an installed product may in fact be part of several different systems as they are used for a number of different purposes ‘so therefore we need to be able to group that one to many’.
JIM CREAK states that lighting is a system so looking at individual performance criteria as a function of output isn’t helpful to the maintenance guy as one light doesn’t provide all the lux levels you need. He doesn’t know at the moment how BIM handles systems because systems are designed by the experts.
CHRIS HALL says to be careful that there is a bit of mission creep here - we need to go back to where we are at. He thinks many of these questions, though valid, should be dealt with in the future, not now.
WILL PERKINS shares on screen the layout used at DCW. GEORGE explains the scenario: a fire breaks out the kitchen at a student accommodation which generates smoke. We’re looking at asset types that were there as part of the protection. What information do we need to ensure that people can get out safely?
CHRIS HALL of Siderise put forward his product EWCB30 which is a simple cavity barrier designed to give basic performance in an SFS or a block wall with a masonry outer. It’s a standard product that he sells quite a lot of. They fit within the cavity barriers: one is vertical and the other is horizontal compartmentation. Cavity Barriers are designed to stop the unseen movements of the products of combustion from one part of the building to another to avoid an unseen void. Most of the focus is on cavity barriers in facades, a la Grenfell, but they are required in lost of other applications as well. The kind of questions you would ask about a cavity barrier would be, to some degree, application specific.
WILL asks CHRIS what is the application of this particular product in the scenario example? CHRIS replies they would be installed in the void, the cavity between the internal and external leaf and would be subdivide the building into one student accommodation to another. They’d also probably be around windows (in student accommodation). It’s a cavity barrier in the external facade (as Will shows on screen). They then start looking at the questions that need to be answered.
Type of facade - what’s the issue of the facade? CHRIS replies the type of facade will dictate what type of cavity barrier you would use, the 2 basic types are ventilated (airflow needed) and unventilated. In this instance it's ‘unventilated’. The width of the cavity determines what sort of cavity barrier you will require. You would come across problems if you haven’t got 3rd party certification for cavity barriers, when you hand the building over you’ll have uncomfortable questions from other stakeholders. WILL considers that, in general, they need to know the minimum as well as the maximum of the cavity - both are vital information.
Manufacturer of products, according to CHRIS, is at this stage not really a requirement so it can be deleted and replaced with the next vital thing he needs to know which is the EI rating (Insulation and Integrity rating). It’ about how long the cavity barrier will function for when tested in accordance with the relevant standards. The minimum these days is 90 minutes integrity and 30 minutes insulation, the maximum is generally 120/120, typically it will be 60/60. they’ll be drawn from either the fire strategy from the building or reference to document B. Chris’ first question when asked for a cavity barrier would be ‘what rating do you want?.
Next, CHRIS adds location of cavity barriers - where do you want them to go? Normally, there would be marked up drawings as part of the fire design which would show where they should be situated. In this particular building they’d probably be around the windows. You may choose to position them in such a way to minimise disruption to the cavity barriers. CHRIS really needs to know what space he will have to play with for the cavity barriers - and there is never enough space, especially for horizontal rather than vertical.
WILL asks Chris what are the questions that sit behind potential clashes so that we can get to a digital yes/no answer? CHRIS thinks it's a difficult question, but his simple answer is ‘Can the cavity barrier be installed in an uninterrupted run (without any clashes or incursions)? Yes/No’. If yes, excellent, if no you go into a subset of questions: what space is available for the cavity barrier to be fitted in? What are the incursions into the cavity barrier? Yes = standard product, No = possible design input or adaptation of an existing product.
Cavity barriers are classed as passive, so in an ideal world they would a) never be called upon to
function and b) you’ll never have to access them because typically to access them in a facade
situation, you’ve gotta either take the the wall down from the inside or the outside, which is never a good idea. CHRIS adds Internal substrate details to the list - we are fixing the cavity barrier to what? Is it to an SFS, masonry construction, or other (timber stud)? This is relevant because it determines the fixings.
He moves on to Insulation. Testing is done with certain insulation flanking the cavity barrier. The type of cavity barrier and your advice and what you can claim in terms of 3rd party certification is dependent upon what type of insulation was used to flank the cavity barrier during testing. We need to know what the type of insulation is so that we can select the appropriate product to suit, with the appropriate certification. ROY BUCKINGHAM guesses a question could be ‘is the cavity barrier compatible with the insulation requirements/type of the building?’ - Chris thinks that’s a very good way of putting it.
At this point Chris feels that all the necessary questions are now there and if someone were to come with all the answers he’d be ready to offer them a product. GEORGE asks if Chris would be confident that the person who is installing it would have the information that they would need. Chris replies that’s part of the next phase, installation. All these questions enable the specification and performance to be created. After sorting out as much as possible during the design phase we can move on to installation knowing what is coming next.
Installation questions. Are there marked-up drawings? Are there non-standard installation requirements? Have non-standard requirements been approved by relevant stakeholders? Has the installer received manufacturers’ installation training? Does the installer carry any 3rd party installation certification? Siderise offers training to anyone that wants to install the company’s products. General training is good, but it's advisable to also have specific manufacturer training. Most tier 1 contractors do insist on manufacturers’ training.
Inspection regime needs to be considered next. Have the cavity barriers been installed in accordance with the manufacturers’ instructions. Typically, who ever is controlling the building control function of the building would be responsible for inspection. Chris would do periodic inspections and there is also an app that allows the installer to take photos of the installation. Chris reviews the downloaded inspection report, reviews it, audits it, and decide if it’s OK or not.
After the inspection all that needs to be done is the wrap-up - a bundle of all the above data, drawings, inspection reports, design issues. The wall is sealed up and that should be the end of the matter. You have to provide appropriate information for the golden thread etc. WILL asks, with all this data being gathered, what other information is needed? JIM CREAK mentions notes on any variations from the original design. Yes, they do need to be captured, says CHRIS, but they are often confirmed by e-mail. Changes from the original design would have to be agreed by both the manufacturer of the cavity barrier and the designer, ti would be recorded in a series of e-mails/marked up drawings. Siderise keeps a digital record of such communications.
DAVE EMORY says what he sees here is a dual use - although it may not be meant as I design tool, actually it has led us through a process to choose the correct products so it is at least an aid to design. Regarding the golden thread, what’s been captured here is the rationale behind those design decisions and he doesn’t think that’s ever been captured in product specifications before, so this is very exciting.
Siderise have signed up for the BSI identify scheme: there is a QR code on the product which is scanned and it’s held in perpetuity, it doesn’t suffer from Error404. The QR code, when scanned in 20 or 30 year time, will take you back to the design/product data and will tell you if that product is still available or you have to seek an alternative product. GEORGE thinks that process is where we need to get to. What’s misunderstood is that no one is currently determining what that data should be because nobody has actually defined it. Chris agrees, and says it’s no substitute for BIM, it’s a quick method for the guy that opens the wall up to identify digitally what’s in front of him.
Finally, the maintenance section. What does the building operator need to know about or do with that product during the life of that building they are responsible for? CHRIS replies ‘do not disturb it and leave it where it is’. It has to be done right initially, then you close the wall up and you never touch it again. To remove/reposition/reinstate the product you would need to seek manufacturers advice. Regarding cavity barriers getting wet, they are largely unaffected by the presence of moisture, though with a flood you may have to reinstate.
For the next meeting, WILL and ROY decide to look at a typical product that isn’t necessarily on a fire door that’s on that floor plan. ROY will think about a specific product…’maybe a closer’ thinks GEORGE.