Strategy – Q3: What do we need to achieve and what direction must we give to the PM?
Throughout all of this process it is vitally important that the project management team from client, contractor and supply chain is kept aware of the implications of delivering the digital asset and what impact that might have on their day to day working. This isn’t just a one-way street and their reaction to this must be taken into account when we create a strategy to define how the Information Management team will support them.
If you don’t already have a tasks-list for your physical or digital asset, you may want to look at the European procurement CPV codes as a starting point.
In question 2 we looked at tasks and now we need to drill down into the information required for each. Whether that is graphical, non-graphical or documentation. Each piece of information will need to be assessed, so that it is clearly understood, when it needs to be delivered, where it needs to be managed and subsequently submitted to. How it will be authorised as it moves up from Work In Progress, through Shared and into a Published state. There may be specific libraries or standards that need to be followed or flagged up, so that the information can be trusted.
When it comes to 3D modelling, this is an ideal opportunity to look at the volume strategy and make sure each discipline and member of the supply chain understands spatially where they can work.
The gap analysis developed question 2 will have created a list of training requirements either in technology or methodology.
To deliver the strategy it is suggested that the Information Management team uses a 3-column deduction “so what” method will allow them to formulate an IM support statement. This will in turn allow them to deliver briefings to all the project participants. These briefings are there to mitigate the cultural risks to both the digital and physical delivery. It was proven very effective by Crossrail, bringing on-board the project participants and explaining to them what the bigger picture was, how each person fitted into that bigger picture, what was the benefits to them and finally coaching them through the changes they would need to make to their day to day working.
The deliverables from question 3 are the first draft of the Task Information Delivery Plan and an update to the BIM Execution Plan.
Computer Aided Design
The transition from 2D to 3D CAD is the starting point for many on their digital transformation journey. The impact this change has had on the way we deliver projects and the efficiencies gained should not be underestimated. However, it should not be overstated as being the central part of BIM or a Digital Twin!
Whilst working with the academies over the last 10 years, I’ve looked at the statistics of major projects working towards a digital delivery and on average the files that are defined as CAD make up about 17% of the deliverable and this figure is dropping!
The worst thing a delivery partner can do is to put all their information into the CAD file! This severely restricts it utilisation by the rest of the delivery team and also devalues it by restricting access and taking it out of the CDE, so the provenance is lost. This activity can also hamper the security of your information, giving it away to people who just need the volumes, spaces or geometry but shouldn’t have other more critical data. Finally, the amount of information crammed into that one CAD file can heavily impact on your capability to handle the file, transfer it or simply open and navigate it.
The solution to this to use the Asset Tag Label ID discussed in the next chapter to place a link on the object to a database that can be accessed by many, secured centrally and ensure value through quality control.
The rule of thumb is that if the information is about geometry keep it in the model, if it’s about anything else a database is the best solution.
There are plenty of excellent CAD solutions out there that will help you manage systems and objects, but I’d like to throw in a few pieces of advice from the academy experience:
Work out the systems (PFU’s & FU’s) beforehand and use these as a way of splitting out models to the various designers. Bringing them together in a federated master model for coordination and interfacing.
As soon as you can create a volume strategy to assist with keeping designers out of each other’s way, reduce the need for clash resolution and increase security.
Make sure each system and object have a common classification such as the Uniclass system
The 3D model is your single source of CAD truth. When something changes or needs tweaking don’t do it in a 2D extract drawing, do it in the 3D model and extract again with a new revision.
Follow the processes, conventions, naming conventions in ISO 19650 and your national annex.
Use the 3D model for as many things as you can to maximise its value;
Use it to brief the construction crew on their task
Use it to visualise the deliverable for the client
Use it for Health and Safety toolbox talks
Use it as the basis for planning through linking to the plan/ schedule (4D) and cost control database (5D)
Stripped down it can be used for facilities management with 6D
Allow the Insurance brokers to view it to assess risk
If you do amazing 3D CAD work be proud of what you do and call it that.
Information management support statement
How are you going to support the project manager during digital delivery? This short and concise document will provide a clear set of expectations to ensure that the both the digital delivery and the physical deliver are mutually supporting.
It can include statements on how the information management team will do the following:
Resource the project
Technically support the project
Support the supply chain
Commission the digital asset
React to RFIs
React to information related incidents
This should be included in or at least influence the relationship management plan (RMP) put together to aid project collaboration.
Master and Task Information Delivery Plan (MIDP and TIDP)
The MIDP is the primary plan used for what information (document, drawing, model or metadata) is to be prepared, when it needs to be prepared by, who needs to prepare, authorise and own it, and what procedures, protocols and standards need to be used for every task in the project.
The starting place is to identify the tasks involved in delivering the project and the information required for each of them. Most of the things that need to be taken into consideration are included in the 7 Questions methodology above. Each task team manager owns their TIDP
It’s important to not get carried away with detail that will not deliver value to the project or the digital asset in the end. Just because you can, doesn’t always mean you should!
Once all the tasks and their information are identified in individual TIDPs, then these should be crafted into a MIDP. It is important to ensure they are synched with the physical delivery and this is done using a synch matrix.
Function and Duty
Why do we build things? We should be building things to service a need or Outcome that our society requires. This is of course defined quite well in the Government Soft Landings document from almost a decade ago. This Outcome is achieved by understanding the function or functions required to carry it out. At every level from the top Complex, all the way down to the individual Elements each one has a function that will support the overall Outcome.
Back in the 1800’s Augustus Pugin started to break the architectural mould by defining the various functions required by the owner and placing them in the best possible configuration understanding their interaction and impact on each other and the end user. Once done he built the building around that. Rather than building a box and struggling to fit things into it.
In this manner, he took the outcomes required by the end user, defined the functions required to achieve them, configured the Primary Functional Units and Functional Units in complimentary way and delivered a design that was fit for purpose. One of the other revolutionary things he did was to create a library of things, from whole rooms, to carved woodwork that was selected from a catalogue, manufactured as much as possible offsite and then assembled at the point of need.
Defining this function early in the project will also help when we commission to ensure that the procured Products achieve asset requirements, which in turn achieve the function and finally the outcome demanded by the end user.
Asset Tagging strategy
A methodology that had been identified early in the Crossrail project was something called an Asset Tagging Strategy. This isn’t about how we label things but is a set of information gathered at various early stages of the project that will help define the function and duty of the asset, before anyone has even thought about the physical thing that will fulfil it. The Asset Tag helps to define the need and reserves the space with a unique identifier in both virtual and physical worlds.
This asset tag is not a physical label, or randomly assigned number in a CAD system, this is a basic set of intelligent data that helps us to make those good decisions.
Classification - I need to know what type of thing I am because:
It creates a common understanding as to what I am.
It helps to categorise me with like-minded things.
I can be quickly identified, and critical information associated with me.
My performance can be assessed against all the others of my type.
Use the Uniclass 2015 classification system here.
Function - I need to know what functionality I have because:
It ensures that I meet the specific requirements at every stage of my lifecycle, even when nobody knows which piece of equipment or material will fulfil this.
It helps to set my performance criteria for continued monitoring.
Functional Grouping - I need to know what functionality grouping I belong to because:
It associates me with those things that I interact with and work together to perform a joint functionality.
It identifies other things that may be affected if I stop working.
It helps to ensure I can be isolated, and the impact of my existence is understood.
If this is an Element level asset tag this identifies the Functional Unit or the Primary Functional Unit, and so on up the asset breakdown structure.
Statutory Information – In legal terms what information is needed throughout the asset’s lifecycle?
This ensures I comply with any legal requirements
This information will help in cases of disaster
Location - I need to know my location because:
When I am being designed and constructed it is known where I will be placed.
If something happens to things in the same location as me, the impact, even if not part of the same functional grouping can be assessed.
It's the first question anyone asks, “Where is it?”
ID/ Label - I need to how I will be identified because:
When I am identified on any media (drawing, document, model, database etc) I need to be unique.
When someone notices a problem in the physical world, I need to know they have correctly identified me.
When the physical equipment that fulfils my function is replaced, it helps to ensure that we are talking about the same thing
This is the identifier that will link all information relevant to me no matter what its source, location or format.
This information is built up over time throughout the lifecycle of the asset. The higher up the asset breakdown structure the earlier it can be collected.
When we are thinking about the overall strategy, we will need to generate information on a facility level to ensure what we are creating provides the social, environmental and economical outcomes desired. In infrastructure, these tags will typically be for hubs or connectors.
During the concept phase, we may just know that a structure is required in a specific location, but we have no idea of its makeup or design. Thus, it is essential that we start tracking the fact that there is a need for a structure here and pursue the questions that need to be answered. By acknowledging this, we can/should assign an asset tag at Primary Functional Unit/ Functional Unit level.
When we get to the design phases, we will know much more about the makeup of the structure and be able to tag an asset down to Element level, thus providing that unique ID for each individual asset down to the maintainable level. (i.e. a window rather than the glass, sealant, hinges, locks etc.)
All the tags starting from Facility, through PFU/FU and down to Element should be related in a hierarchy to show how assets are associated with each other and their breakdown structure.
When we arrive at construction, we will have built up a set of performance requirements (the duty of the asset) and we can use this information to go and purchase a product to fulfil that role.
Operations and Maintenance
During operations and maintenance, the tag information helps to deliver information on criticality, impact, performance and function.
All of which help us to ensure that the correct level of importance and finances are assigned. It also means that we can constantly monitor the market for new innovative products that will help fulfil this requirement rather than replacing like for like
The questions below are ones that need to be asked when defining the risks, we take with our asset portfolio and are responding mitigation strategy.
How Critical is this asset to my business outcomes?
How much should I invest in both the physical product that fulfils it and the digital information about it?
How vulnerable is this physical asset to damage and sabotage, and how much should I spend on protecting it?
How much Time, Money and Effort should be invested in the asset to ensure it delivers the operational function and therefore the business outcome that it is designed to?
Some assets are more critical to the business function of an organisation than others. Consider the two bridges below, both are on the highways network, if the one on the M25 had to be taken out of use for emergency maintenance then it would have a higher impact on the highway network than the one on the A272. The cost to repair would be roughly the same, but the cost to local and national economy would be very different!
There is some good advice out there for a really detailed analysis on how critical an asset is, but much of it concentrates on the maintenance information given to you by the manufacturer of a product. I’m not saying that this information is incorrect, but we need to start thinking about how critical an asset is way before we even consider buying something.
In fact, that criticality factor should influence how we specify and purchase an asset. How critical an asset is, should be identified as early as possible and will dictate how we design, construct, procure, operate and maintain. By constantly monitoring the performance and condition of the asset, we can ensure that our business function is protected.
When we set out the Asset Tagging Strategy to help define the Duty of our assets and its Breakdown Structure, we actually create an ideal way of helping us establish a simplistic but effective method for setting this criticality.
The three headings help us make a simple calculation:
The Function is really important, this enables us to understand how important this asset is, and whether there is any redundancy built in.
The combination of Function and Functional grouping help us understand the nature of the relationship both up stream and down, and whether the parent will still be functional after this asset is taken out of the loop or whether a greater number of children rely on it being operational.
Finally, the Location of the asset within our infrastructure network will highlight where the economic, environmental and social impact of our asset will be, if it doesn’t perform its function.
A combination of these three factors help us work out the critical nature of an asset when compared to others of the same classification in our network.
This then allows us to prioritise funding throughout the asset’s lifecycle and provides us with an insight into the criticality of the decisions we make when choosing products that fulfil a specific function.
This Criticality is expressed in 4 levels.
Very High – High – Low – Very Low
When offering someone the option in rating criticality, don’t allow them to use moderate, as this is the lazy “go to” if they can’t make a decision and you will find a disproportionate amount of your assets rated as such.
Assets can stop functioning correctly and delivering business value due to a weakness that can be triggered through Accident, Criminal and Terrorist Intent.
This weakness or vulnerability needs to be recognised and assessed as early as possible. It will also need to be updated after the product, material, equipment etc. has been selected and installed.
To work out somethings vulnerability we need to look firstly at what it might be. Whether it is an Entity (system) or an Element (single thing), what it is will tell us a lot about how vulnerable it is.
An asset that has no moving parts, isn’t powered and delivers no structural function such as a signpost has a low potential for weakness, whereas a complex asset that has mechanical/ electrical parts may be potentially vulnerable through its complexity. So, from the Classification of the asset, we can start to identify how vulnerable it may be.
Depending on where that asset might be performing its function might compound that. If it is in a public space, it is more vulnerable than if it is locked away in an authorised access only location. The environment in that location also has an impact if the asset will be exposed to the weather, chemicals, seawater, UV light or humidity. All these will magnify a weakness and make the asset vulnerable.
Finally, there will be information telling what has been done to mitigate these weaknesses and also identifying tasks that this asset will be involved in.
The combination of what is it, where is it carrying out its function and additional details acquired through critical questions will help us to assess what its vulnerability might be.
Once again express this in one of the 4 levels.
We’ll come back to the effect labelling has on these factors shortly.
This is a combination of Accessibility, Vulnerability and Recognisability, incorporating statistical historical information, location, value and classification will help to determine the likelihood of this asset being damaged, stolen or targeted.
For example, in classification, if this asset is identified as a concrete slab it is less delicate and easy to damage or steal than a piece of electronic equipment. Or historically, what is being stolen by criminal gangs in the area, such as copper wiring or ironworks?
Is it easily recognisable as an item of high value or as a priority target for terrorist action?
Is it in a public area where damage, intentional or otherwise can be done?
Once again express this in one of the 4 levels.
If this asset no long functions what will be the effect? This is, of course a massive question and the effect can be traced across multiple owners and sectors.
If nothing else is affected, then the rating is very low. If it effects other assets across multiple sectors and will either impact on your or other organisations strategic business outcomes, then this will be seen as very high. If you let another business down, what is the likelihood of them taking legal action which could either cost your business or in a worst-case scenario your freedom!
Once all these have been rated and weighed up then an assessment of the risk level of this asset can be conducted and how to mitigate it.
This risk factor informs us what priority we need to set against this asset in physically protecting it, monitoring its condition and reaction times if one of those weaknesses is triggered by accidental, criminal or terrorist intent.
It will also help us to carry out the security triage in ISO 19650 or PAS 1192 part 5 with some consistency.
In the virtual world giving our assets an ID or label will allow us to track and trace our them across multiple databases, throughout the entire lifecycle, as well as being the code that allows the instance of information relevant to that asset (and the systems its belongs to and impacts on) to be linked to other instances in other databases. (see back to the Information Requirements Section, OIR, FIR and AIR)
As soon as there is a functional need identified, then an Asset Tag ID should be created, so that this function can be identified and traced throughout the lifecycle. As more detail is defined then more Tags will be created, and more IDs added to the asset register.
Every instance of this asset whether it is a drawing, 3D object, document, form, physical thing or related piece of information in a maintenance, HR, engineering, finance or asset register database will list this ID. So, when a search is done on something in the Digital Twin then all relevant pieces of information are taken into account.
The ID number can be whatever you want it to be, as long as it is unique to this asset tag. There are two polarised views on how we deal with this.
Firstly, that the tag should contain useful information about the asset and secondly that it should just be a unique ID that means nothing, because all the information is kept in the asset register/ database.
If you wish to put meaning into the ID, then I recommend the following:
Location– Functional grouping code – Classification – Unique numerical number.
This will allow you to understand how assets relate to each other and the function they play without needing to delve into the asset register/ database. It would be especially useful when physically labelling items in the set down area during construction and helping maintainers identify what they are looking at during operations.
However, there are security concerns here if they are used in public spaces, that could potentially allow criminal or terrorists to identify systems and vulnerabilities more easily.
Labelling during the lifecycle
As an example, we will look at the lifecycle of a major road scheme. The high-level outcome will have an ID number associated with the Critical Success Factors needed to measure it. That ID will be linked down to the Project Information Requirements.
The Outcome in this case is: A road between A and B to reduce congestion by 55% in the town centre.
On looking at the geospatial information, it is clear that 1 dual-carriageway, 1 major junction, 4 bridges, 6 earthworks and 2 drainage systems are required. Each of these are Primary Functional Units making up the road Facility. Each one will have an Asset Tag created which will include an ID number.
In the CAD models, the documents, drawings and other databases this ID number is attached, so all instances of information relevant to this function are linked.
An asset register database should be started that will list these primary functional units alongside the basic asset tag information.
As we firm up that conceptual design, we can start adding functional units to the asset register building up a family tree of systems.
When the design becomes more detailed, each PFU and FU will be broken down into individual elements, each will be listed in the asset register under their parent and labelled in the virtual world wherever they appear.
As this structure is built up, information that will help to define the function and performance of the physical equipment, materials, product or service that will be procured when we get to construction.
During construction not everything will have a physical label, as it would not be cost effective to do this, so an analysis must be made as to what will have a label and what will not.
Having a physical label on the asset whilst commissioning, testing and handing over is a positive bonus in keeping track of what has been designed, procured, tested and is now going into operation.
This would support the “Golden Thread” principles set out in the Building a Safer Future report by Dame Judith Hackitt.
The asset tags at various levels have appeared in all the documents, drawings and models during this build up, but the most important place for them to be is in the asset register.
This register of assets needs to be accessible from every information creating, gathering and consuming system used in the PIM (Project Information Model), ensuring the “things” mentioned in all these sources of information are linked back to the relevant asset tag, this enables us to have all the information required to answer our critical questions throughout the lifecycle.
This asset register will not only contain information about the duty of an asset, but eventually it will include information on similar products which can fulfil that need, along with all the information about the physical thing.
My advice here is to never lock this register away in a CAD package and restrict its access to a small percentage of your team. Data is for databases so that it can be analysed, reported and linked rather than duplicated.
We need to treat our temporary works the same way we treat our permanent assets. I’m not suggesting that we tag every piece of scaffolding, but we are recommending that it is broken down into “supporting service” level, where each temporary works element supports a maintainable asset.
We should record these the same way in every drawing, document or model and ensure that they appear in the asset register to help answer any critical questions. Bear in mind that if they are abandoned in place, they will need to be handed over just like any other permanent asset.
Digital Impact on Safety
If we can reduce the amount of time exposed to a risk (by doing as much as is practicable) then we reduce the potential for harm. You will see why this statement is important later.
Why in the construction or in the operations and maintenance of a project scheme or facility is worker safety so important?
Firstly, it is UK law. The Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 (also referred to as HSWA, the HSW Act, the 1974 Act or HASAWA) is the primary piece of legislation covering occupational health and safety in Great Britain. The Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 (CDM 2015) came into force on 6 April 2015, replacing CDM 2007. This publication provides guidance on the legal requirements for CDM 2015 and is available to help anyone with duties under the Regulations. It describes: the law that applies to the whole construction process on all construction projects, from concept to completion; and what each duty holder must or should do to comply with the law to ensure projects are carried out in a way that secures health and safety.
We are all (each one of us) responsible for safety. Each person involved in a construction / FM project has a duty of care to do all they can to protect each other from harm and of the property that we are working at. A Site Manager may have more responsibilities than say a semi-skilled worker, but just the same, no one can ignore that each time we set out to work we must have planned the intended sequence of work to ensure it’s a safe operation through to completion. Be under no illusion, it can involve hundreds or thousands of briefings, meetings, inductions, assessments, and planned sequences or it may involve just one. This of course depends on the complexities and scale of the project
If you pay little regard to safety of the workforce and others then you will have entered to the potential for harming people either involved with the project or not, i.e. members of the public. In addition to this, you can forget about hitting your planned targets. Several days may be lost due to this in aftermath, and the project site is closed by order until investigated by authorities. In addition to this, you are highly likely to miss schedules times and budgets.
If something goes wrong and it is discovered that you as a responsible individual have made little or no attempt to provide for a safe working environment, you may be lucky and avoid any issues. Be warned, chances are that an accident would likely occur, and you / the organisation are very likely to suffer major penalties which could be financial or other and have a knock-on effect that could seriously hamper the current project outturn or any future work prospects.
If you want any evidence of issues arising from unplanned work sequences, just look at the A&E department at your nearest hospital, at the weekend, during the summer months. It is full of mainly DIY related injuries caused by over accomplished enthusiasts who choose not plan work properly and consider safety is someone else’s business and not theirs!
I mentioned the prospect of risk above, but risk needs some further explanation. Risk is defined as a situation involving exposure to a danger. It includes words such as possibility, chance, probability, likelihood, danger threat, fear, and prospect. The longer we spend on an activity the greater the risk. Therefore, if we can foreshorten timescales by planning it better and finding quicker more effective ways of performing the task (in a safe way) then we can improve the chances of reducing or even eliminating the risk. It’s not rocket science, but it can be elusive to some.
So, we have established that the industry is full of hazardous situations and can be very dangerous at times. It is often a constantly evolving or changing environment. What may have been in place just a few minutes earlier (e.g. walkway) and something we became familiar with, is now quite different and has potentially created a new awareness for us to consider. It is no surprise that slips, trips, and falls account for 31% of all issues at site. Statistics show that 3% of all construction workers in the UK sustain a work-related injury and that around 4% are suffering at any one time from a work-related illness
According to the Health and Safety Executive in the UK, there are 80,000 construction workers who suffer from work-related bad health each year and 64,000 who suffer non-fatal injuries. In the 2016/2017 reporting year alone, there were 30 construction-related deaths.
The most common health and safety risks are:
Slips, Trips, & Falls
With such a diverse of activities it is hardly surprising slips, trips, and falls happen on an almost daily basis. Most construction sites are a mishmash of holes in the ground, in various stages of completion, with scaffolding, materials and equipment in abundance, you really do need eyes in the back of your head!
On average, 3 construction industry workers are electrocuted each year during refurbishment work on commercial and domestic building
Hazards are inherent to the construction industry, and only increase as a construction project progresses. Construction sites can get quite hectic what with the sheer volume of constantly moving vehicles and people craneage, lifting, shifting, loading, supply vehicles, dumper trucks, all manoeuvring around on an uneven terrain.
Working at Height
In 2014, falls from height were the most common cause of construction site fatalities, accounting for nearly three in ten fatal injuries to workers.
Noise is a major hazard. Repetitive, excessive noise causes long-term hearing problems and can be a dangerous distraction, causing countless accidents.
Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome
Hand arm vibration syndrome, or ‘vibration white finger’ as it is …. industrial disease of the blood vessels, nerves and joints, triggered by prolonged use of vibratory power tools and ground working equipment. This industrial disease is frequently cited in compensation claim cases opened by ex-construction workers who worked for years with little or no protection, using inappropriate and poorly maintained equipment. This is a serious issue and becomes a RIDDOR the moment you are aware of it.
Material & Manual Handling
Adequate training must be carried out. Where lifting equipment is used, the competency of the employee must be tested before they can use the equipment. Records of training must be maintained for verification.
Not exactly a hazard, more a risk – an accident in waiting. Every year excavations and trenches collapse, bury and seriously injure people working in them – precautions need to be planned before the work starts.
There are an estimated 500,000 public buildings in the UK that contain this stuff: often hidden away, forgotten, and by and large, harmless – in its undisturbed state. Workers need to know where it is and what to do if they come across suspicious materials that might contain asbestos.
Airborne Fibres & Materials
Respiratory Diseases. Dust Construction sites are a throng of activity and kick up a lot of dust giving us a toxic mixture of hazardous materials and fibres that can damage the lungs, leading to diseases such as chronic obstructive pulmonary, asthma and silicosis.
So how can Digital Technology improve safety in these areas?
To ensure that everyone understands what they are going to do during a task, the army teaches you to build a 3D model of the ground and talk your team through how they will execute the mission ahead. Making them aware of the hazards, where they are and what to do about them. With the 3D model provided as a part of the BIM deliverable, the ability to brief a team in detail about the construction site, which changes on a daily basis, is a key step forward in safety.
There are many tools that can automate safety aspects, checking for the correct spacing on scaffolding, angles on ladders, sides of temporary excavations which are loaded, and simulations that will show what happens if procedures are not followed.
Good quality information associated with this 3D visualisation can give detail to the methods used in their construction, allowing those tasked with delivery to procure, supply, and enforce the correct personal protective equipment. (PPE) This information will also give weights, materials, and data on the structural integrity of what surrounds the task.
Having some information associated with a 3D model on its own will not give you a zero-harm environment, but it will assist in making that target easier to attain.
Another example is in the use of 4D modelling for all critical activities which have the potential to impact project timescales to enhance understanding of the works sequence prior to starting on site, reduce waste and inefficiencies, avoid operational and logistics clashes and mitigate health and safety risk. The programme of works can often throw up key interfaces between trades. From this you can get a good overview of the complexity of the scheme, highlighted the short amount of time available in which to complete works.
This was used to prevent clashes in work schedules, whereby some parts of the construction are preventing others from taking place (e.g. a team needing to wait for another team’s concrete to dry before starting their part of the work). This served to decrease risk to workers, as well as preventing the wastage of resources and reduce the programme term again by reducing time at site we reduce exposure to risk.
There are many more examples of how technology can help eliminate risk and transform construction projects into very much more safe and efficient workplaces. We have already said that a Construction site can be a very dangerous place to operate and when you consider that many items of plant on the bigger projects can weigh in excess of 70 tonnes and with lots of items running in every direction simultaneously it can create extra headaches for the site team to try and manage them.
It the past and in order to avoid issues you really needed the “A Team” with you and for them to be on their “A game” at all times. That is not always possible, so with the help of technology enter a solution that is gradually gaining a firm foothold in most if not all projects.
One area of major improvement in my humble opinion, is with machine control and guidance for plant and equipment. The transformational effect that this has had on what was once a very high movement and risky area with lots of safety issues and continually error strewn, is phenomenal.
It is fair to say that it is now one area which can boast that it virtually eliminates risk by having far fewer / no boots on the ground, which in turn reduces fuel usage, reduced wear and tear of equipment and therefore less maintenance of plant, introduces an always right first time (RFT) aspect. The effect on schedule time reductions and budget certainty is worthy of note. Certainly true, when you factor in the limited cost of initial investment to include the technology to your regular armoury of essential equipment.
Furthermore, it also contributes solid reliable info for as built project handover information. This is always accurate and requires only minor amounts of interrogation to the data.
PAS 1192 -6
In my opinion this standard is the odd one out of the 1192 series and wasn’t really required. Health and Safety information has been mandatory for our built environment, at whatever stage in the lifecycle, for quite a while. Since 1974 there have been good laws in place to advise and enforce safe practice and adding this information into a CDE like any other piece of information should be part of a normal safe working practice.
Its aim to automate the generation of the Health and Safety file as part of the digital delivery is a noble one, but I feel we would be better of enforcing the current H&S standards rather than creating another layer.
Advanced Work Packaging
Today we are in a position where very few mega projects reach their original business objectives and virtually none finish within 10% of their cost and schedule targets.
Work-study outputs from several decades back indicate that the average worker whilst they appear to be busy, they contribute approx. 4.5 hours out of every 10 hours of actual productive work. The reason for this is complex and varied, but if we focused our efforts as managers to just a few areas such as materials, trade coordination and information, the outcomes would be much better. Of course, we should pay some attention to the other aspects such as labour shortages, client requested variations, design issues, plant and equipment, poor planning, and emergencies to name but a few.
The advancement of new technologies is helping to improve matters (although it can never completely replace logical workflow). It has created powerful tools for producing designs in integrated 3D models with information modelling, scheduling capabilities, and other advanced features. Additionally, construction project sites are adding extra technology in “Real Time” with great capabilities in the use of field computers, foreman kiosks/electronic white boards, mobile IT applications, field tablets and other technology such as drones.
These advancements that provide an opportunity to deliver better outcomes from the design deliverables. In addition to this, fieldwork processes are changing with implementation of automated mobility systems, advanced work packaging, and automated materials management is becoming possible with track & trace systems. In addition, the use digital photogrammetry and other technology advancements that can also leverage design deliverables.
These changes in design practice workflows and deliverables are not capitalising on the true potential of the tools or providing the forecasted and expected productivity increases.
Enter Advanced Work Packaging (AWP). This presents a model for improved practice that, when implemented consistently, improves field productivity and the predictability of schedule and cost. Added to this; improved site safety and efficiency, better quality, improved team working, together with several additional benefits e.g. reduced waste and better morale.
Is it possible to deliver major reductions in construction schedule & cost?
Simple answer is yes you can.
Recent case studies and experience in practice of others (e.g., members of the Construction Owner’s Association of Alberta, Canada) all show that, with consistent implementation of AWP processes, benefits can be notable and worthy. Some project schemes have indicated up to a 25-percent reduction in schedule time and see reductions of up to ten percent in total installed cost (TIC).
AWP is the overall process flow of all the work packages (CWP’s, EWP’s, and IWP’s) It is a planned, executable process that encompasses the work on an engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) project, beginning with the initial planning continuing through detailed design and construction execution. AWP provides the framework for productive and progressive construction; it presumes the existence of a construction execution plan. If this is done correctly, it can add significant value and an improvement in productivity outputs.
The Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) is a hierarchical representation of a complete project or program. The components of a WBS can be set out in ever-increasing detail, as is appropriate for any given project.
Workface planning (WFP) is the process of organising and delivering all the elements necessary for an installation work package, ideally before commencement of works. This proactive process enables trades people and subcontractors to perform their work safely, effectively, and efficiently. This is accomplished by breaking construction work down (by trade) into manageable installation work packages that completely describe/cover the scope of work for a given project. This process promotes the efficient use of available resources and importantly, permits the actual tracking of progress.
Construction Work Package (CWP) defines a logical and manageable division of work within
the construction scope. CWPs are aligned with the project execution plan (which includes the construction plan) and the WBS. The division of work is defined such that CWPs do not overlap within a discipline. CWPs are to be measurable and in alignment with project controls. CWPs are the basis for the development of detailed IWPs. Also, they can contain more than one EWP. A CWP is typically aligned with a bid package. A typical CWP includes the following: safety, at least one EWP, programme, budget (labour hours/cost/productivity), environmental needs, quality requirements, other resources.
A CWP may be divided by area, system, or as otherwise determined by the project (construction) execution plan. In general, it is recommended that CWPs are developed per discipline.
Engineering Work Package (EWP) is an engineering and procurement deliverable that is used to create CWPs. The EWP should be aligned with the construction sequence and priorities. A typical EWP for a CWP includes the following: scope of work with document list, drawings and specification, materials specification, vendor data (e.g., equipment O&M manuals), bills of quantities, other supporting documentation such as permits and project hierarchy information.
Installation Work Package (IWP) is the deliverable that enables a construction work crew to
perform work in a safe, predictable, measurable, and efficient manner. An IWP is scoped to be manageable and progressable; it is typically of limited size such that a crew can complete the work in about a defined period of say 1 week.
Functional Information Design methodology
Augustus Welby Northmore Pugin was born on the 1st March 1812. He was a prolific architect, designer and artist who delivered some of the most iconic buildings in the UK including the Palace of Westminster which houses the UK Parliament.
What he is less known for is his revolutionary thinking in the way things should be designed and built. The best example of this is his own house called the Grange set on some high cliffs in Ramsgate. His vision is that any building should be as functional as a factory or, in Le Corbusier's famous phrase, "a machine for living in". He built the Grange, he said, "with not an untrue bolt or joint from foundation to flagpole".
Many modern buildings are simply a box with rooms crammed in with little thought to what function those rooms might carry out, only how much money the property developers can squeeze out of them! His idea was that you chose a set of functions understanding what systems and objects were needed to deliver that function, arrange them in a way that each function supports and flows ergonomically into the other and then wrap a building around the outside. Giving the best possible outcome to the people that lived or worked inside it.
Fast forward a hundred years and in 1908 Sears, Roebuck and Co started to deliver mail order homes. The process starting with the delivery of a catalogue on your doorstep, you chose the design, what rooms, functions and features required. It was manufactured as a kit of parts and then built by your local builder on your plot of land.
Now leap forward again another century and with the help of artificial intelligence, data rich libraries of functions and their components, parametric design tools and some very clever people!
For want of a better or non-copywritten name, I will call it Functional Information Design.
So, imagine a whole library of functions, each understands what spaces, systems, subsystems and elements are needed to carry it out. They also understand what their impact is on the other functions around them and how they will achieve the Outcome Statements and Critical Success Factors. Couple this with artificial intelligence and parametric design tools that will deliver you the best set of functions, in the best layout that will achieve what you need.
Because this library is populated with all the assets and asset information requirements the information model for the project alongside a bill of quantities and manufacturing/ construction drawings can be automatically produced and could feed into an offsite manufacturing process to minimise the exposure of construction workers and also reduce the amount of material wastage.
This is an interesting concept that is being delivered already by some very forward-thinking organisations.
Unless you have been ignoring construction publications for the last 10 years, you will know how much more widespread it is to manufacture functional units off site, fabricating, wiring, plumbing, preparing in a safe, dry, warm environment where quality can be better controlled and repeated before it is shipped to site and fitted together. The factory style environment can be better controlled and social distancing enforced whilst the productivity and quality increased. When looking at home building, this becomes a very attractive proposition, where the customer can choose the functions required in their new house and the building is just a wrapper around it. With the increase in remote working, perhaps a popular option would be a home office function?
Pre-fabrication and Modular construction (on or offsite manufacturing) are both enjoying a period of renaissance as the industry seeks better ways of dealing with the requirements to deliver improved productivity, reduced costs, improved quality, reduce schedule time together with a drive to improve safety performance and deal with acute skilled trade and unskilled labour shortages.
Although each can be considered as part of a larger category of offsite construction, there are subtle differences which I will explain here.
Modular is described as a design and construct process performed in a near perfect manufacturing facility producing components and or modules formed to be transported to site for use in a permanent situation. A very well-known example is the not so humble these days temporary site accommodation. There are some very much more bespoke items such as living quarter pods for oil and gas exploration platforms and this forms a good example of having all the other trades built in. They are made to an exacting standard in a controlled environment and can be easily moved around as required.
Prefabrication on the other hand refers to single trade assemblies as in my example below detailing concrete components. Although there is a slight twist in the example below with concrete bridge beams as it will need formwork and reinforcing steel inclusions.
The use of on / off site manufacturing is not a new concept, it has been around for quite a long time and indeed the Egan report in the 1990’s had referred to the concept. It has been said that the Stonehenge (The great Stone Circle) was itself formed from stone hewn from huge blocks to predetermined size, involving one trade and transported to site and erected, but that’s a whole different discussion and best left to Historians and Archaeologists.
The Egan report cited the potential advantages to offsite manufacture that included: speed of overall construction, lower cost, reduced waste, reduced need for skilled labour and achievement of zero defects. Some owners (including a well-known fast food chain) who became aware of the potential benefits, went down this route by adopting the principles, developing their own internal processes, and then implemented it with great success. It prevails to today and it demonstrated an ability to construct a fully functioning restaurant on site in 24 hours, using a very high degree of prefabrication and modularisation. The design allows expansion or even relocation of the system.
My own experience was from a position of necessity and this was made clear when all other options where explored but considered unviable for one or all of the following: location, object size and delivery routing, installation, safety, cost and schedule. e.g. Bridge beams (precast concrete design). These are often manufactured elsewhere (mostly off site at purpose-built facilities but occasionally onsite at the larger schemes).
For this example, I will identify bridge beams, they will be procured early on in project to be delivered just in time to arrive at site and be installed immediately / the same day or subsequent days. One point of note here, I have found benefit that major markers in a programme of works. It can be used as a great milestone marker to aid progress and identifies key stages to target and meet. For the bridge beams example, the high quality often required for such large precise elements is very often an excessively big ask to repeat at site, and to have a dedicated and highly skilled workforce is not something that general civils contractors usually carry in its skill set.
A further example of prefabrication (and one where the suited the scale of the project and included the right resource) was an oil refinery in the North West of England where the main contractor had set up its own casting yard facility. This yard could cater for the construction of many concrete elements throughout a project term and beyond. Restricting factors including continual disruption to local towns and villages logistics meant that bringing items from outside were avoided.
The Main Contractor with its casting facility was able to adapt original client led designs and fabricate multiple concrete units to be used in the project. Developing a project this way can also give you greater control and autonomy and the flexibility to bring things forward if a programme can be accelerated.
The widespread use of prefabrication and modular is somewhat held back as Contractors state that Engineers and Architects do not create enablement in their design solutions. In addition, design teams state that a shortage of prefab facilities is in short supply or not readily available to project sites. One thing for certain is that owners who are engaged with prefabrication and or modular are continuing to sing its praises, but as with most initiatives in construction, they, the Owners must be the drivers to enablement and take up.
Planning and scheduling
“What are you guys digging here?”
“No idea, but they told us to dig, so we’re diggin’”
“But those guys are covering up what you’ve just dug up!”
“They’re followin’ construction schedule!”
Google for construction site jokes or memes. They are both funny and true.
Without a sense of humour construction people couldn’t stand the level of absurd and stress they face every day. The “I don’t care”, “I am doing what I was told” or “I am making it look like I’ve done what I was told” mentality is a way to survive.
Construction management is not much different, maybe less loose, more stressed. First to cover their backs (paper will accept everything), second - construct faster, third - cheaper.
The one who has the mysterious knowledge what’s going on is the construction planner who has created the Gantt chart, work breakdown structure, calculated critical path. The planner might know every task in the schedule, but the schedule and the construction start to disintegrate at the very beginning.
What about BIM? We have 3D models full of information, proven workflows, ISO 19650 etc…
Indeed, the technology of 4D model-based planning and scheduling is ready to use.
There are some great examples in many of the current major projects. Take Crossrail’s Farringdon station, where the investment of £120k to develop a detailed 3D model linked to the delivery programme to create the 4D interface simulation of tunnel boring machines and portals allowed them to save £8 million from the risk contingency.
Even more famous is the Crossrail “threading the eye of the needle” tunnel drive. Where the tunnel boring machine needed to pass through a very congested space that narrowed down to space framed 30cm above with a live escalator shaft and 85cm below the active Northern line. A very impressive piece of engineering!
With 4D the construction is being simulated before it starts, and as many stakeholders as possible (including those who execute the works!) engaged as soon as possible.
During construction the 4D model is being maintained, updated and compared with actual state – it becomes a Digital Twin representing specific point of time.
The aims are:
to predict risks,
find opportunities to improve the schedule
make everyone up to date
fully understanding what is going on.
The prerequisite is a 3D model, with metadata assigned to the 3D objects, following an agreed standard. Standardisation is necessary for extracting quantities, materials, location from the model, automation of planning and further data analysis. To get this kind of models from designers, 4D BIM use case it’s requirements should be included in BEP and project standard. Many designers have no experience in construction which leads to re-designing during construction phase and, as consequence, additional costs. Developing of 3D & 4D models simultaneously and constant validation by someone with deep construction experience will shift the re-designing back to the phase it belongs. The result is a construction Digital Twin.
Implementing 4D requires additional costs – software, 4D planners, training. This cost will pay back with elimination of injures, reduction in labour cost, increase in field labour productivity and reduction in schedule time.
Visitors to the academy report some very impressive returns for their 4D efforts: Duke Energy reported complete elimination of injuries on their sites, MWH quoted a 50% reduction in labour costs, Petrobras a 75% increase in field labour productivity and Ryan managed to reduce their schedule time by around 15%!
Insurance companies have already noticed that adopting 4D planning dramatically reduces the safety risks on site which allows to decrease the insurance costs.
As BIM is all about people and people dislike changes, it is important to engage all stakeholders in the process. The most important 4D tool are workshops when the designers meet the planners, or 4D planners meet traditional planners, construction managers, specialists, subcontractors. They gather together to analyse the schedule, find the gaps, eliminate time clashes and to improve the schedule. Personal engagement helps to break “I don’t care” mentality and to start feeling the ownership and responsibility for daily tasks. The work is still exciting, but the level of stress is reduced.
But let’s get down to earth. There are still contractors planning their works based on 2D drawings, engineers saying “It has always been that way, it’s not worth to change anything till the machine is working”. But the “machine” has direct impact on whole society, environment, economy. When it crashes, and it crashes frequently, everyone pays with money, jobs, quality of life. Can we really afford not to change? 4D and Digital Twin are meant to make everyone understand the bigger picture. The real risk with 4D adoption is that construction sites may become less of a joke…