ICE Strategy Sessions: Using technology to eliminate error

Location: Online

Date: Tuesday 26th May 2020

Time: 12:00pm - 1:30pm

Cost: Free

Key international studies suggest that the direct cost of avoidable error is in the order of 5% of project value. Research by the industry-led and ICE-backed Get It Right Initiative has revealed that the true figure is closer to 21% or £21 billion per annum.

Last year ICE vice president Ed McCann suggested special registers of civil engineers deemed competent enough to sign off on designs for construction may be needed to arrest the decline in quality of design information being sent to construction sites.

McCann said that action was needed to address an “intergenerational low” in the quality of design information being passed to contractors from designers.

“People are talking about an intergenerational low in the quality of design information; they are talking about design drawings that are incomplete, incoherent, uncoordinated and they arrive at site and have to be redrawn and reengineered,” he said.

In this session, McCann, who led the ICE’s 2018 review into professional skills and also fronts the Get It Right initiative which is dedicated to eliminating error in the UK construction industry, will reflect on a number of causal factors.

He will reflect on significant changes to the way the industry operates over 25 to 30 years: the abolition of fee scales; the fundamental shift in way work is procured with the shift to design and build; and also the digital revolution in the 1970s when firms started to do computational modelling.

Digital engineering is clearly central to the debate and, used correctly, critical to increasing productivity and reducing error. However very little is known about the barriers that hamper and impede adoption.

In 2018 the Get It Right Initiative (GIRI) published its research report, Harnessing Technology to Minimise Error. This identified technologies that are key to reducing error.

As a follow on to this GIRI commissioned University College London to carry out a literature review into reported evidence of the occurrence of barriers to the adoption of future digital engineering technology. This review was carried during 2019. The review found that while literature has classified and qualified the barriers to implementing digital engineering technologies, few studies have quantified the impact. Furthermore as there is no standard metric to measure the frequency of error it is difficult to determine the impact of digital measures. As a result the issue as to how these technologies have increased productivity and reduced error has remained relatively under-explored.

Early this year GIRI in conjunction with UCL developed a survey which aims to investigate how technology can be harnessed to eliminate error and increase productivity. The survey was issued to the GIRI membership and results have been collated.

GIRI Executive Director Tom Barton will review the survey findings and set out how they be used to inform the GIRI work stream to review potential solutions so that it can provide the industry with advice and guidance to overcome these barriers.

The session will then hear from Tony Gee & Partners’ BIM development manager Ross Stobo, who will provide a technology practitioner perspective. Design consultancy Tony Gee & Partners has, for more than five years, been working with contractors and clients to identify ways to speed up design and delivery while improving efficiency and reliability by rationalising design and automating routine processes through digital engineering.

Its work began by exploring the most common bridge types to see how bridge parts could be standardised for off-site manufacture, configured to each particular design and delivered using advanced computerised manufacturing techniques used in the aero and automotive sectors.

Stobo will set out how the ethos has now been extended to many other sectors including the energy sector, where constructability and reliability issues have been a major issue.

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