Newsletter 28:

Summer 2016 - JCB World Headquarters, Rocester

The Summer 2016 Community Day was kindly hosted by JCB and was attended by 50 delegates.

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Paul Williams, General Manager of National Accounts at JCB, welcomed us to the fantastic facilities at their World Headquarters in Staffordshire. After an introduction to the company in a state-of-the-art cinema suite we moved on to a conference room for the rest of the day. 

Kenny Ingram of IFS
Chairmen's Thoughts

Tony Shooter (Chair for Technology) and Steve Slater (Chair for Construction) provided their thoughts for the day. These focused on two events that COMIT held earlier in the year – a Construction day on 27th April in London and a subsequent Technology day on May 4th.

Steve and Tony highlighted the 10 most important issues that arose from these days:

  1. Communication and collaboration

  2. Site connectivity

  3. Asset Incident reporting, Dash cam?

  4. BIM on site

  5. Paperless forms and delivery notes

  6. Interoperability

  7. Real time programme updates

  8. Safety incident reporting

  9. Remote asset sensing 

  10. Internet of things

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The overall issue that came out of this exercise is that COMIT needs more projects.  So Steve and Tony have undertaken to take each of these 10 issues in turn, one per quarter and find suitable partners for a relevant project. These will then be reported on at each subsequent Community Day. This initiative is being called Building Bridges.

The first Building Bridges project is with Costain, Bentley, Clicks & Links and Crossrail. This will use an automated drone to capture 3D images across a construction site that can then be integrated into the build model for various purposes - such as snagging and progress monitoring.

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Anyone with ideas for other projects that address the top-10 issues highlighted are encouraged to contact Steve or Tony (via the COMIT website).

New Members

We welcomed three new members to the COMIT Community - Kier Infrastructure & Overseas Ltd, Local Supply Chain & Wrench Solutions.

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We also welcomed guests from four companies:

  • Rafael Delimata - The Association of Polish Engineers in Great Britain

  • Tristan Lesaffre - Final Cad

  • Paul Johnson - Highways England

  • Marie Morley & Simon Wright - Vodaphone

Highways England’s Innovation Strategy

Paul Johnson of Highways England described their innovation strategy within the context of the Governments Road Investment Strategy. The presentation revolved around the assertion that

“Innovation has the potential to revolutionise how we build and use our roads”

Greg Holder from Costain

Paul outlined eight key performance indicators which are each an innovation focus:

  1. Making the Network safer

  2. Improving user satisfaction

  3. Supporting the smooth flow of traffic

  4. Delivering better environmental outcomes

  5. Encouraging economic growth

  6. Keeping the Network in a good condition

  7. Helping cyclists, walkers and other vulnerable users of the Network

  8. Achieving real efficiency.

Paul concluded with Highways England’s ideas as to how Mobile IT can help.

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COMIT technology members were challenged to approach Highways England about how they might engage in their innovation requirements:

  • Traffic Management and control

  • Better traffic information

  • Connected and autonomous vehicles

  • Smart infrastructure

  • Others?

To contact Paul with any ideas on how to help then email him at

EU Referendum
Is construction better off in or out ?

Iain Miskimmin facilitated a debate about the upcomming EU Referendum. Views were openly exchanged but kept strictly within the room. 

Of most concern was the construction workforce. With large numbers of  both skilled and unskilled labour for projects such as Crossrail comming EU countries outside of the UK, it was not clear what changes an Out vote might make.

There were strong opinions on both sides of the debate and in general a clear difference between contractors and manufacturers. However many people had simply not yet decided either way.

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Workshop - Engaging the Supply Chain

COMIT has a number of innovate and engaged Tier 1 contractor members - but how can we increase the engagement of contractors and the supply chain at Tiers 2 and 3?  

We split into 5 groups and each were charged with producing a plan on how to engage at:

  • a technology level

  • a construction level

  • from an owners perspective

  • from an academic perspective

As usual the workshop generated a lot of informed discussion and led to a number of suggestions. One of which is that COMIT create a dedicated task group to look specificaly at the supply chain issue. Among other suggestions/comments were:

  • Improve communication with subcontractors

  • Hold a "bring a subby" event

  • Hold "supply chain" forums

  • Promote awareness of COMIT within the supply chain

  • Encourage suppliers to visit construction sites

  • Overcome perception that sharing information diminishes competitiveness

  • There was perceived limited technical capability within the supply chain (training?)

  • Ageing worksforce is a challenge

  • Need for contractual incentives

  • Use high-tech projects to promote mobile technology - e.g. Bloodhound

  • Engage the youth - extend graduate days to include undergraduates

  • Can exposure to constructino technology in schools be encouraged?

  • COMIT approved presentations to give to Colleges and Universities

  • Recognition if contractors being their supply chain to a COMIT event

  • Case Studies to infrom the other tiers

  • Could Tier 1 contractors sponsor supply chain to attend COMIT events?

  • Could firms fund or part-fund academic partners to attend?

  • Could we stream Community Days to students who can't travel to attend?

There was strong support from members for delivering an approved COMIT presentation to schools or colleges.

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3D Printing: What can it actually give us?

Rafael Delimata from the Association of Polish Engineers in Great Britain discussed the uptake and intricacies of 3D printing in construction.

Greg Holder from Costain

There are a number of materials that can be used for 3D printing, such as rubber, reinforced fibre, glass and stainless steel powder. The last could be particularly useful in construction as one can do instant printing on site.

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We were shown a video of 3D modelling of a steel bridge in Amsterdam. 3d printing is gaining momentum - interestingly, Dubai is seeking to (almost certainly unrealistically!) to 3D print 25% of its buildings by 2030,

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JCB Factory Tour

The fantastic facilities at JCB extended to the site canteen and after lunch we split into groups and were treated to a tour of the factory.

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The tour with personal guides covered the "Story of JCB Exhibition" (a fascinating musium in its own right) followed by the factory assembly line for the world-famous Backhoe Loader.

It was a fascinating tour and we are very grateful to JCB for their overwehlmingly friendly hospitality and such a great opportunity to see leading-edge manufacturing practice in action.

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VR Demo

Vin from Clicks and Links set up demonstration of the the HTC Vive VR headset. This is similar to the Oculus in that it follows head movements.

In this case Vince had mapped the physical space in the room to the virtual space so that as you moved around the real world you also moved around in the virtual world. 

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There were two demonstration models, one was a map of buildings in Manchester from a project that Vin was involved in and the other was of a Speedy lighting tower. For more information you can email Vin at

Conference Update

Iain gave an update on the planning for the COMIT autumn conference. This will be on the 28th and 29th September to avoid the peak of the conference season and is being hosted by CH2M in Hammersmith. 

The agenda is already quite full with some great speakers confirmed – such as a keynote from David Wood of the London Futurists and Alexander König from VW talking about digital factories. Further details and the current agenda can be found on the COMIT website.

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Projects Seeking Partners

Stuart reiterated the need for COMIT members to get involved with projects – likening it to gym membership. If you don’t turn up you don’t get fit! We are looking for more case studies to publish on the website. There have been a couple recently from NDL and one from Crossrail that will be finished shortly, but we need more.

In the past COMIT has been involved with some very successful projects that have led to innovative and commercially viable products - such as the MobiCloud site diary and Enable My Team. Members are urged to come forward with new ideas for trials or demonstration projects.

Accede - looking for trial sites

Brett Winstone from Accede outlined their defect management system. This kind of mobile technology was one of the first that made the jump from manufacturing into construction but is still being under-utilised, especially among smaller contracting firms.

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Brett is looking for a £50m to £100m contract in the greater London area to carry out a case study. He will make the system available at no charge and will also provide supervision and training. Typical productivity improvements on suitable sites are between 10% and 15%.

COMIT will write-up the case study and publish it on the website. If you have a suitable site then please contact Brett at Accede.

Total Mobile

Tony Hernandez reported on their attendence at the COMIT technology day in April and said they are interested in a number of the topics and problem areas that were raised. 

Tony is atively looking for partners to explore how TotalMobile can help address these issues. Their platform is designed to support mobile application development, deployment, scheduling and analytics. 

They are looking for a 2 to 3 month project on which to run a Proof of Concept in one of the areas in which they have some experience and where they can offer assistance without the need to involve any third parties. They will provide the necessary resource.

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If you want to take TotalMobile up on this offer then email

Speedy Services - call for BIM help

Neil Craggs from Speedy described how they often have customers ask them for CAD drawings, models, fuel consumption etc. for the many items of they carry. Speedy have therefore created a BIM Store website.

This contains BIM objects with the relevent attibutes - but they need to know more about what information is actually required. At the moment a lot of data is "just banged in". 

The new Speedy catalogue will include an indicator if there is a BIM model for the item and they are asking for help with how to standardise the information. If you can assist with this please email

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2016 Community Days

Thursday September 8th

Will be hosted by Sir Robert McAlpine in Hemmel Hempstead

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December 1st

Will be hosted by IFS in High Wycomb

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CPD & Feedback

Members are reminded COMIT Community Days are CPD accredited - contact Gerry for details. 

We also ask members to provide feedback on the Community Day. This is your opportunity to shape future events. Would you like to hear about a particular project or innovation? Or from a particular speaker or topic?  Are we getting the mix of presentations / workshops correct?

Let us know by returning your feedback form, either on the day or by email afterwards. Feedback forms can be download from the Community Day report section on the website.

Finally a Big Thankyou to JCB for the amazing facilities & for being such fantasic hosts!
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