What an opportunity to, once and for all, deal with the procurement issues in the construction and building industry
Comment by Roy Wakeman, CEO, Performance Timber Products Group
In last week’s budget the Government released the long awaited Construction Strategy paper along with the delivery plan for the UK’s national infrastructure.
In response, many will ask: “How many such papers have I witnessed in my lifetime in this industry?” I share the view with many that whilst they were all relevant at the time most have been forgotten, and the various initiatives have either been lost or viewed as irrelevant.”
So let’s consider what was important about this new paper. In my opinion very little really except to say that we now have the technical tools to help deliver the products in a way that will be efficient and, if adopted by manufacturers and distributors, reduce construction costs together with improved completion times and, most importantly, destroy the disease of confrontation and adversarial approach to contract negotiation.
The paper explains how the Government, as a major client, will embed the digital technologies, such as BIM, in their procurement process. They will also affect new procurement methods which support greater collaboration, greater skills capacity and fair payment. But also, and most importantly, to drive whole life cost analysis and the effect the process or product has on the carbon reduction targets.
What we have witnessed before simply didn’t work, and collectively we all knew it wouldn’t, so as manufacturers and for those who design and specify our products little or no attention to the fine detail was paid.
Getting the detail from the client through the various stages of the supply chain is still problematic and constantly holds up design and production, ultimately driving lateness and the resulting balancing of the final costs through the claims courts.
Just think that if at the start of the process the BIM model has been adopted without question, and there is choice through many BIM enabled product offers, then at the start of our process on receiving the instruction or order to proceed, we will not then spend endless weeks trying to achieve the final manufacturing detail. We will have dealt with this during our proposition time with the client at the time of writing the specification all through the industry standard NBS clauses.
This then converts through common language into cleverly designed CAD objects that can be sent to the supply chain for adoption and within them is the complete and essential detail that is required. In addition, manufacturers and the software industry now enable detail to be sent directly to the machines, plant and equipment in the factory further reducing lead time and overcoming error.
Today we know it is exactly what we have been waiting for, and for what seems to have been a lifetime – and it is here now.
Also of critical importance to us in the timber products arena are the highly recognised merits of our material over all others for sustainability and carbon effect. The Government is leading the way for us to prove, once and for all, that timber is the only answer to our long term sustainability as it is the only material that will never run out.
We have been exposing its carbon effect over 65 years in the timber window industry through good, well founded research undertaken by independent laboratories and universities, such as Heriot-Watt University, to prove a negative effect taking into account timber’s natural ability to store carbon once locked in.
And this time, what we must now do, is not leave it to the client, that is the Government, to wait for the results but for us all to adopt the new methods and force the industry to take this fantastic opportunity to drive the detail to the front end of the process and not to carry on sweeping up behind.