The Leading News & Information Service For The Facilities, Workplace & Built Environment Community

Building Services Industry Must Stop Ignoring Digital Tools, Says BESA

Building Services Industry Must Stop Ignoring Digital Tools, Says BESA
19 November 2020
 

Companies will be compelled to use digital tools to register and record details of their work under new building legislation, according to safety reformer Dame Judith Hackitt.

She told last week’s BESA National Conference that it would “no longer be allowed” for firms to deliberately avoid recording project information using widely available digital technology under the regulations, which are due to come into force in 2023.

She said it was crucial that the industry “started doing things differently” including switching to digital “as fast as possible as that will help get it right and also gather the data you need…and get away from all the paper trails”.

Hackitt has called for all projects to have a “golden thread” of information to preserve and record the original design intent throughout a building’s operational life.

“The technology exists to record everything you do and trace actions back, but the decision is often made not to record that information. That will no longer be allowed,” she told the BESA Conference; adding: “It doesn’t have to be BIM, but that will certainly be part of it.”

Delegates and speakers at the conference welcomed the increased emphasis on digital as an opportunity for improvement.  However, several suggested it was not a ‘silver bullet’ for the sector’s current problems with information and communication.

A panel of engineers and FM experts, chaired by BESA’s Head of Business Development Steve Tomkins, warned that digital tools could also lead to information “dumping”.

 

Information Dumping

 

“There is a danger with improving technologies that we need to ask, ‘Are they fit for purpose?’, for each project that we work on. We must not overlook practicalities in the excitement over technology,” said Christine Gausden from the UKBIM Alliance.

Former CIBSE President George Adams added that BIM was not affordable for all clients and might not be suitable on many retrofit projects.

“The worst outcome would be that each company on a project offers a ‘packet’ of digital information at the end of a job. That would not be a good outcome. It is the digital equivalent of handing over an O&M manual and walking away,” said Martin Trentham, Head of National Design at Interserve.

The BESA Conference also heard from the Centre for Digital Built Britain on the benefits of using digital twins and modern methods of construction. The industry was also urged to learn lessons from other sectors, during a presentation by the centre’s Dr Didem Gurdur-Broo.

“We consider our own organisations, our inner world including how we react with our suppliers, customers, and all of our partners.  And this is one way to look at it, but don’t forget there is also another influence from the wider world,” she explained.

Gordon Pringle, Managing Director of Heating Appliances and Spares (HASL), said there was already a great deal of useful technology capable of making building services systems more efficient.

“We can apply technology to help alleviate problems in water systems, which suffer component failure or poor performance due to inadequate commissioning, for example. This will also ensure that they are operating optimally, and not wasting energy.”

 

SFG20 Standards

 

BESA added that greater use of digital tools was a key part of its widely used SFG20 industry standard for building maintenance. It said this was helping to realise Hackitt’s ambition for a ‘golden thread’ of information by enabling the inclusion of building operational information at an earlier stage of the design and construction process. 

Providing building engineers with additional digital skills is a key aim of its new online training Academy and they also form part of the revised Competence Assessment Standard used in its membership application process, the Association said. 

Picture: a photograph of a close-up of a keyboard

Article written by Ella Tansley | Published 19 November 2020

Share



Related Articles

Building Engineers are the “Physicians of the Future”

The work of building services specialists is increasingly being measured in terms of human health, according to a range of experts speaking at last week’s BESA...

 Read Full Article
Microsoft and Bentley to Develop Digital Twins for City Planning

Bentley Systems and Microsoft are to collaborate to accelerate smart city urban planning and smart construction. This alliance will combine Microsoft’s Azure IoT...

 Read Full Article
Dame Hackitt Will Reinforce Safety Message at BESA Conference

Building safety reformer Dame Judith Hackitt is one of the keynote speakers at this year’s BESA National Conference, which is being held online on November...

 Read Full Article
BESA Launches Associate Membership Scheme

BESA has launched a new membership category catering for individuals with a particular interest in the building services industry. This is a significant development...

 Read Full Article
Clean Air Day 2020 – BESA Calls for Greater Focus on Indoor Air Quality

Clean Air Day is the UK's largest air pollution campaign, engaging thousands of people at hundreds of events, and reaching millions more through the media. The...

 Read Full Article
New Digital BESA Academy Praised by Youth Leader

Jack Parsons, CEO of The Youth Group and known as the UK’s Chief Youth Officer, has welcomed the launch of a new online training academy for the building services...

 Read Full Article
BESA Launches Online Training Academy

The Building Engineering Services Association has opened its new online academy delivering a comprehensive programme of training courses, assessments and CPD for...

 Read Full Article
COVID Crisis is No Excuse for Corner-Cutting, says BESA

BESA has urged construction companies to resist the temptation to use the COVID-19 crisis as an excuse to return to “a culture of corner-cutting”. The...

 Read Full Article
No Budget For Adequate Indoor Air Quality Precautions in Schools

When schools re-open fully in September, only very basic indoor air quality precautions will be taken due to tight budget constraints, according to BESA.  This is...

 Read Full Article
Digital Twin Technology and FM

Digital twins have been described as being able to provide “previously unthinkable” levels of operational control, asset performance management and...

 Read Full Article