Newsletter 26:

Winter 2015 - IFS, High Wycombe

The Winter 2015 Community Day was kindly hosted by IFS and was attended by 44 delegates.

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Kenny Ingram, the Global Industry Director for Construction, Engineering and Infrastructure, welcomed us to IFS and to High Wycombe.

Kenny Ingram of IFS
COMIT Team Changes

We announced a change in our management team. Iain will continue to be involved in helping to run COMIT but our new Chairman for Technology is Tony Shooter from The Hub Group. Tony is a long-term member of COMIT and brings to the team a strong background in communications technology and marketing.

In addition, because of the growing work load involed, Steve Slater from Wates (formerly Shepherd) will now share the role of Chairman for Construction alongside our existing chairman Stephen Smith of Becktel. Steve is also a long-term member of COMIT and a familiar face at our Community Days.  He brings with him a wide-knowlege of the technology challenges being faced by the construction industry.

Tony Shooter, the new COMIT Technology Chairman

Tony Shooter, Hub Group

Chairman for Technology

Steve Slater, new Co-chairman for Construction

Steve Slater, Wates

Co-Chairman for Construction

Chairman's comments

Stephen Smith, COMIT Construction Co-Chairman


Stephen gave his thoughts for the day on the Crossrail innovation initiative Innovate18. He urged companies to get on board the Crossrail train. The challenges still facing Crossrail will be put into a report and shared among COMIT members to see who can help provide solutions.

COMIT has paid for access to Innovate18 on members’ behalf, but as yet no members have taken advatage of it.  If you would like to receive email updates on innovations or indeed submit your own ideas with a view to potentially receiving funding for them, then please contact Gerry. She can provide you with access to the Innvoate18 portal.


Alternatively you can email Stephen directly at using ssmith1.

New science part development in Norfolk

Tony Shooter, COMIT's Technology Chairman


Tony Shooter shared a video of a new science park development in Norfolk. Tony is negotiating with the venture capitalist behind the project to ensure early consideration of comms & technology. 


Tony would like to get COMIT involved in the project, which includes educational facilities as well as industry and leisure. It is a great opportunity for case studies & the application of modern construction practice & technology from concept through to hand-over & operation.


Please send us your ideas for how we can be involved! We will create a form on the website to post your ideas. If you have any questions please direct then to tony.shooter at

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New Members

We welcomed two new members to the COMIT Community - Sellafield Ltd and Wates.  Long-term COMIT member Shepherd was recently taken over by Wates so it is good to see that Wates also recognise the value of COMIT membership!

Sellafield Ltd logo
Wates logo

Wates will continue to be represented by Steve Slater & Martin Wing who previosuly represented Shepherd. Sellafield have only just joined & were unable to attend. They will be formerly introduced at the next Community Day in March.

New COMIT Fellow

In a surprise announcement Philip Jackson was awarded the status of COMIT Fellow in recognition of outstanding service to the COMIT Community. 

Iain Miskimmin presents Phil Jackson with COMIT Fellowship

Phil is a long-standing member of COMIT and a familiar face to COMIT members. He has an unrivalled reputation for being a construction industry expert & has been kind enough to chair or co-chair most of COMIT's conferences. The award was presented by out-going Technology Chairman Iain Miskimmin.


Phil is one of only three people to have been awared a COMIT fellowship, which entitles him to free personal membership for life.


We also welcomed guests from four companies:


  • Roger Teagle, Cedar Bay

  • Abda Rehman & Alistair Campbell-Dick - iCloud

  • Andrew Allen & Geoff Slack, Leica-Geosystems

  • Tom Szwed - Panasonic

Robotic Drilling Machine

George Holder from Costain is an apprentice with Costain working on the C610 “Systemwide” project.  Today (3rd December) is actually National Tunnelling Day - so an appropriate day to talk about tunneling. 

What tunnels are made of

George explained the difficulting in determining suitable drilling points in the walls of the 42 kilometres of tunnel that makes up Crossrail.  


The tunnel is constructed from concrete sections that have a complex geometry & many no-drill areas. Tunnel infrastructure such as overhead line equipment & walk-ways have to be bolted to the tunnel walls in very specific locations.


Calculating these drill-hole locations is a complex task & includes variables such as tunnel curvature & train speed. It involves 3D laser scanning of the tunnels & then processing the data against drilling rules & the infrastructure fixing requirements to identify the preferred hole combinations.

Greg Holder from Costain

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The traditional method of drilling the holes by hand was not practical given the time constraints so Costain developed a semi-automated drilling machine to carry out the process.

This has a number of significant advantages:


Safety Health Environment

  • Elimination of Hand Arm Vibration

  • Minimisation of Working at Height

  • Elimination of 99% of the Dust



  • Pre-planning hole positions & clash elimination

  • Reduction of on-site technical decision making



  • Surpasses tender production rates

  • Reduction in man-hours


For more information, please contact George.Holder at

Cable Avoidance

Andrew Allen from Leica-Geosystems discussed cable avoidance, looking at evolution and innovation in the equipment used to detect subterranean services.

Iain Miskimmin presents Phil Jackson with COMIT Fellowship

Site workers are still all too regularly injured by inadvertently striking electricity cables or gas pipelines. Accurate information about the location of buried utilities has never been more essential and a safe system of work invariably prescribes the use of a locating device before excavation takes place.

As well as safety concerns are the costs and inconvenience associated with inadvertent damage and potential environmental impact. Typical repair and reinstatement costs for a damaged utility might range from £1,000 for a simple pipe or cable up to over £50,000 for a fibre-optic link.


Pre 1970’s paper drawings were the main source of information but these were often inaccurate or incomplete – Victorian age infrastructure was particularly problematic because they rarely produced as-built drawings. Consequently strike rates were high with frequent injuries and fatalities.

Iain Miskimmin presents Phil Jackson with COMIT Fellowship

Between 1980 and 2010 the CAT locator became standard equipment and was being used with increasing sophistication. However, it was not until about 2010 that the hardware really began to improve with data logging, GPS mapping, analysis tools and operator performance monitoring.


Buried utilities are assets to Utility owners so fall within the BIM remit and the asset management agenda. Cloud-based operations monitoring and increased mobile operations continue the evolution.

Iain Miskimmin presents Phil Jackson with COMIT Fellowship

The Leica system connects to SMART devices, laptop and GIS field controllers. LOGiCAT Software generates numerous reports using its unique report facility. It is also BIM compliant.


For more information please contact Andrew.Allen at

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Rapid Site Deployment

Lee Garret from Westbase described the benefits of their cellular-based rapid site deployment solution.

Iain Miskimmin presents Phil Jackson with COMIT Fellowship

Cellular technologies can be deployed in hours or days as opposed to weeks. The Westbase solution is a “site in a box” and addresses many of the issues encountered on site within a single package.


For example it has an uninterruptable power supply as standard to facilitate site generator refuelling – a common issue on many small sites or during the early stages of work.


Benefits of Cellular:


  • Rapid deployment in days not months

  • No dependency on fixed line or Satellite circuit providers

  • Enterprise-grade security

  • Scalable on demand service

  • Can convert to failover circuit, or simply redeployed

  • Simple remote estate management & monitoring


Remote cloud-management is also provided. “Over the Air” management allows for software updates and robust, real-time analytics, which can tune performance and reduce cost.

Iain Miskimmin presents Phil Jackson with COMIT Fellowship

As well as early connectivity, a cellular solution offers an ideal failover service once that fixed line communications have been established.


For more information contact Lee.Garrett at

Iain Miskimmin presents Phil Jackson with COMIT Fellowship

The platform worked well and proved to be an effective way to quickly capture ideas and bring them together with photographs and video into a comprehensive presentation. You can view the results (and perhaps see yourself) at

(best viewed on a mobile phone)


if you want to know more about the platform then please contact Tim at


IFS Showcase

Kenny Ingram and Stephen Jeffs-Watts presented the IFS showcase. Kenny gave an overview of the company and focused on the project-centric part of the business. He showed how their project lifecycle management software could provide solutions to the kind of issues typically arising within the project/asset lifecycle.

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Workshop - City Insights

Tim Gardom from City Insights facilitated this CD’s workshop. It used Insights’ multi-media platform to capture delegate’s reasons for joining COMIT and their opinion about the most significant mobile technologies to watch for in construction.

Stephen then focused on the Internet of Things and how this growing category of devices is changeing the way in which processes are optimised. He showed diverse examples from rail to pest control.


Stephen argued that the IOT has existed for a long time but recent developments in sensors, internet connectivity and pacakged cloud-solutions have lead to its explosive growth. In 2008 there were more things connected to the internet than people.


IFS customers have connected assets in the field, factories, sites and connected goods. The data from these devices can be used at increasing levels of sophistication which Stephen described as:


  1. Discovery

  2. Operationalize

  3. Business Optimisation


An impressive example is scheduling. IFS have a Dynamic Scheduling Engine which can automatically adjust scheduled activities based on various criteria, such as geography, urgency, available resources, service leveal agreements etc. You can find an online demo at


For more information please contact Kenny.Ingram at

Ten Minute Technologies


Tax Breaks from R&D


Iain Miskimmin introduced a presentation by Neil Kirby about Research and Development tax relief. This is a tax relief that has been available for many years but is beleived to be significantly under-claimed because of confusion about what is classed as R&D.

The presentation explained what is defined as R&D, who can claim tax relief on it and what the levels of relief currently are. If you are a company that carries out any work that falls into the broad definition of R&D then the tax savings could be significant.


For example, an SME spending £100k per annum on R&D and paying tax at the SME rate of 20%, could save approximately £26k. For more information please contact Neil.Kirby at


Graduate Feedback


Harrison O’Hara from Costain provided feedback on the Graduate Day that had been  held in August. It was attended by 36 graduates. They were asked  to share applications that had impressed them and to look at the Impact of technology on construction.

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Much of the focus was on the use of new technology to solve old problems. 3D printing, robotics and the Internet of Things were common themes during the day. Three workshops were run during the day:


Workshop 1 - Applying apps to construction

Workshop 2 - Increasing technology adoption

Workshop 3 - New technologies for old problems


For more information contact Harrision.OHara at


Tuxford Trial


Ray Dudding from Atkins discussed Digitally Enabling Electrification on the Tuxford Project.

£3 Billion has been commited by the UK Governement for rail electrification over the next 10 years. This will involve the installation of thousands of track-side structures at a time when resources (such as engineers) are scarce. The aim is to see how digital technology can help.

The project involved an open data exchange schema and BIM compliant workflow. A particular challenge is precise positioning of piles - in practice one out of 10 are out of tolerance.


For more information please contact Ray.Dudding at

Community Days in 2016

Dates for your diary:

Thursday 3 March

Thursday 9 June

Thursday 8 September

Thursday 1 December – IFS, High Wycombe

We are looking for hosts. If you would you like to host a Community Day and have the opportunity to showcase what you do then please contact us.

Last but not least, have a very merry Christmas and see you all again in 2016!

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CPD & Feedback

Members were reminded that 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.