COMIT at High Wycombe

Over 30 people attended our Winter Community Day last Thursday which was kindly hosted by IFS at their offices in High Wycombe. IFS have hosted a number of our Community Days to date and always provide a great venue with exceptionally good food!

Safety Moment

We started the day with a safety moment introduced by Stuart Young which, seasonally enough, was how to walk safely on ice. The technique was ably (and bravely) demonstrated by Tony Shooter (COMIT Chair for Technology) and essentially involves walking like a penguin!

Picture courtesy of Glyn Mathews

New Members & Guests

We welcomed two new members to the community - Script & Go and the British Army. The former are a French based company who are expanding into the UK & are the current owners of the Site Diary product that COMIT helped to develop with Costain as part of the European MobiCloud project a few years ago.

The British Army have become involved (via Iain Miskimmin) because of a strong similarity between the strategic issues they currently face with communications and infrastructure in urban conflicts and the work on BIM and Rapid Site Setup that COMIT has been involved in.

We also had guests from: Bagabuilder, Dalux, PMR Products, SAP, Silver Peak and TopCon.

Project Updates

As this is the last Community Day of 2017 we had a quick review of the projects we have been involved with during the year

Tideway Technology Portal - developed for Tidway by COMIT and Harrison O'Hara on secondment from Costain. This is a designed to share best-practice on how to safely use mobile technology on site across the Tidway project. It is due to be launched by Tidway in the New Year and COMIT members are encouraged to look at the prototype site currently hosted at Members who are interested in contributing should contact us FAO Jason Scott.

Drones - this is lead by Tony Shooter and is on-going. The project is in the process of developing standards and training to remove the barriers to drones being used in construction and to maximise their potential. This involves addressing legal and insurance issues and includes the cooperation of bodies such as the Civil Aviation Authority. Members who are interested in being involved should contact us FAO Tony Shooter.

Wearables - Stuart Young gave an update on this project that is exploring the explosion in wearable technology for use in construction. This includes in-ear devices for monitoring vital signs and location, body cameras and even intelligent artificial nails! Members who are interested in being involved should contact us FAO Stuart Young.

Rapid Site Setup - a problem for many years, this issue has been given new impetus by a project being run by Steve Slater and Tony Shooter. Part of the solution is centralised provisioning, but with the advent of 4G the actual coverage by mobile networks is becoming more of an issue than bandwidth. Steve is looking for other construction members to become involved. Those interested should contact us FAO Steve Slater.


Hiten Kantelia from AssetTagz delivered a presentation on a Health and Safety Hub for Multiple Contract Sites. A case study was described involving 12 active sites for Bryne Bros. including Battersea Power Station, Bloomberg Place and Paddington Crossrail. In 2016 this involved 39,000 assets moving between sites with 3.9 million asset transactions!

The IFS Showcase was delivered by Bas de Vos, who is the director of IFS Labs. He flew in from Utrecht especially to deliver a presentation about digital technology and is remit to look for the opportunities that new new technology can bring.

One of the areas Hiten described was augmented & virtual reality, topical with the recent relaunch of Google Glass. You can read more about it on the IFS blog.

Workshop - Having a Whinge

The workshop for the day was about the often difficult relationship between construction clients, main contractors and technology providers. Iain, Steve and Tony performed a short sketch based on the famous John Cleese and Two Ronnies sketch which was then followed by a frank discussion.

Some of the issues raised/discussed were:

  • The client often has a one-sided view with aspirations rather than a clear set of requirements & fails to distinguish between price and value.

  • Technology providers need to know the output required and what the budget is - need to have access to the right people.

  • Significant scope-creep is the norm rather than the exception (scope rarely creeps but more often gallops as someone pointed out)

  • Client's needs are often not understood & there is a cultural fear of change. Direction from the client is often different from the delivery team.

  • Contractors continue to be hampered by low profit margins (typically 2%)

  • Technology providers fail to understand construction & the cost associated with buggy software is usually borne by the contractor.

  • From a technology viewpoint identifying ROI is difficult on a project basis. RIBA work stages do nothing to help - does not benefit the client as it does not ask the right questions.

  • Ultimately all parties need to be honest about the cost at the start of the project and the risk that might occur - bidding on lowest price does not aid this.

Ten Minute Soap Box

As usual we had a number of short presentations about specific construction related technologies or issues. These were:

Ola Gwozdz from PMR-Products talked about technology adoption in a wearable space and the different levels on which this has to happen.

Mary Bon from Script and Go talked about issues with productivity - modernisation, change & diversity.

Simon Crohen from TopCon shared a presentation about Site Link - a solution to help with the planning of materials scheduling and movement across multiple sites.

Paul Lasance from SAP UK Ltd provided an insight into alternative solutions from other industries - such as cyber-systems, the Internet of Things (IOT) and Cloud Computing. The Industry 4.0 creates what has been called a "smart" factory - intelligently connecting people, things and businesses. He made the point that if you are not using standards you will die... and die quickly!

Community Days 2018

  • Thursday 8 March - Graceschurch Street, London (Bentley's premises)

  • Thursday 28 June - host TBC

  • Thursday 13 September - host TBC

  • Thursday 6 December - host TBC

If you would like to host a Community Day next year please contact us FAO Gerry.


Thursday 24 and Friday 25 May at the Hallam Conference Centre in London. The agenda is still being finalised but online booking is open with discounts for members!

More photographs and presentations from the day can be found on our website.

Finally, to all our members, presenters and Community Day hosts from throughout the year, many thanks and have a very merry Christmas. (As I write this it is already snowing in Shropshire, so who knows, it might even be white!)

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