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 | Updated 06 September 2022
 

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

What is Backfill BIM?

BIM-led projects are becoming more commonplace, but what about buildings that aren’t BIM-enabled? Backfill BIM could be a potential solution. Matt Samways,...

 Read Full Article
Actuate UK Stresses Importance of Making Building Safety Act a “Practical Piece of Legislation”

Actuate UK, who represents professional bodies such as BESA and CIBSE, says that new requirements through the Building Safety Act will need to be enforced...

 Read Full Article
BESA Calls for Compromise in Safety Insurance Row

Contractors and insurers must work together to ensure the rising cost of professional indemnity insurance does not undermine efforts to improve building safety, according...

 Read Full Article
Building In Safety - What's Next In Fire Reform

Building a Safer Future: Proposals for Reform of the Building Safety Regulatory System is the title of a paper and consultation that closed in July that will inform...

 Read Full Article
Adam Taylor Named as New BESA Indoor Air Quality Chair

The new chair of the Indoor Air Quality group of the Building Engineering Services Association has been elected. Adam Taylor, CEO of ARM Environments will...

 Read Full Article
Building Control Officer Competence Deadline Extended by HSE

Building control professionals in England have received a 13-week extension to allow them more time to complete competence assessments. The Director of Building Safety...

 Read Full Article
Building Safety Act – Implications for FMs as Construction Clients

The 6 April 2024 deadline is approaching, marking the end of the transitional period for building control applications and a new regime which has implications for those...

 Read Full Article
AI Research Project to Shape Construction Cost Planning

A new research project won by Birmingham City University, Leeds Beckett University and London South Bank University will explore generative AI in...

 Read Full Article
Sewing up the Digital Golden Thread

Daniel Foryszewski from MRI Software explores how residential building operators can leverage data and technology to comply with safety standards and adopt new...

 Read Full Article
BESA Urges Building Services Employers to Reset Their Approach to Recruitment

BESA’s Director of Training and Skills believes more companies need to “step up and walk the walk by committing to take on more apprentices.” Helen...

 Read Full Article