Dynamic delivery through standardisation | ISG

Dynamic delivery through standardisation

ISG’s Department for Education (DfE) Framework Manager, Paul Watkins, explains how we have been working with the DfE and delivery partners to develop a standardised model for efficient school delivery which utilises the latest technology. When combined with social value initiatives, we can demonstrate a new way of delivering the vital infrastructure to support the aspirations of our communities.

For a construction services company that has built a reputation for the delivery of innovative, creative spaces, championing standardisation could seem like a juxtaposition to our vision:

To become the world’s most dynamic construction services company, delivering places that help people and businesses thrive.

However, the development of a standardised model for school design and delivery is in fact proving to be pivotal in helping the DfE and the schools themselves to adapt and thrive in an industry under significant pressure to maximise the value of public funds whilst focusing not only on the current needs of the sector but future proofing for long term growth.

Early engagement is an important feature of public sector framework procurement, key to fostering a collaborative working environment from the outset. As a wider delivery team, we work closely to understand our customer’s challenges, bringing together the team’s specialisms to devise innovative solutions, which benefit our customers and the wider sector.

Finding a solution

The challenge faced was to find a better way to deliver identical spaces that would save time and money by increasing efficiency and effectiveness. Working with our partners we developed a standardised approach to component design, providing a repeatable, cost-effective process, with robust benchmarking performance data. It also helps to be working with a customer well versed in driving innovation via modern methods of construction. The DfE has now also started the hunt for firms to deliver its next-generation offsite schools framework using Design for Manufacture and Assembly.

Of course, some businesses may be reticent to adopt an approach that at first appears more prescriptive, but our evidence suggests that there is an understanding from the supply chain that this is the direction our industry is heading in, and there are multiple opportunities to add real value in other areas of the build.

This approach also provides us with the opportunity to more effectively measure efficiency savings, health and safety outcomes and build quality. When we combine this with measurable social value impact initiatives and focus on collaborative planning, we can demonstrate a new way of delivering the vital infrastructure we need to support the aspirations of our communities.

Our standard component design classroom selects the best performing components based on a series of criteria, with cost being just one single element.

Standardisation - measures of success

We have now successfully implemented the standardised approach across a number of DfE school projects. This has driven efficiencies throughout the design, implementation and build process without downgrading creativity and innovation, ultimately delivering a school that will meet the needs of the local community for the foreseeable future.

The use of the modular design has also resulted in cost savings for the DfE as it has resulted to eliminate wasteful repetition; redesigning standard spaces is not an efficient or effective use of time or skills and these bespoke solutions create problems during operation and maintenance.

Standard component design unlocks the potential for the industry to bring far greater rigour to delivery performance. With more repetition, clients, contractors and suppliers there is greater clarity on performance benchmarking data, so that we can drive improved sector efficiency.

Measurement encompasses the whole project lifecycle and must include post-occupancy data to demonstrate the long-term efficacy of the approach. Measuring efficiency focuses on the reduction in delivery times for components, cost savings, improved health and safety outcomes, social value metrics, programme reduction and build quality measures.

Revolutionary change in the sector

In 2017, the UK government announced that it would adopt a preference for off-site construction and manufacturing on new build projects. As a result, the Infrastructure and Projects Authority announced a consultation on a new approach to building.

Named the ‘platform approach to design for manufacture and assembly’ (P-DfMA), it looks to define how government departments can take a consistent approach to construction by using standardised and interoperable components from a wide base of suppliers across a range of different buildings.

Driving revolutionary change lies at the heart of our business, and for 18 months prior to this industry consultation, we were working with our project partners to find ways to address this issue through the development of a standardised component design database for a classroom.

Our approach is entirely complementary with the areas the government consultation sets out to explore – to eliminate the repeated costs, time and resource inefficiencies associated with the constant redesign of the same spaces and specification of costly, bespoke designs.

In early 2019 we responded to the UK government’s consultation, showcasing our model approach to classroom design for the DfE, encompassing 1,300 individual components and a fully populated online library with rich BIM (Building Information Modelling) asset data. To assist the decision-making process, we offered advice and guidance on the adoption and implementation of such an approach, the mitigating circumstances for adopting businesses, and the core benefits and risks of rolling this system out, locally and nationally.

What’s next for ISG

The model and encompassing build processes allow for constant streamlining and improvement as well as the flexibility needed for future-proofing.

Regular workshops have taken place with our design teams to pass on lessons learnt from project to project – leading to efficient solutions on crucial aspects of school design such as ventilation and daylighting. The use of visualisation tools throughout the design process has also supported this success, enabling the end user to ‘see’ their new school allowing them to provide real world feedback to influence the design process.

We will continue to maximise the benefits across current and future schemes and provide further support to the government as part of the consultation process. We are certainly a vocal champion of the further advancement of modern methods of construction, and ensuring that we utilise the latest technology advancements, for the wider benefit of the sector and its sustainable future.

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