Is It More Than Just A Building?
It's in our DNA to innovate.
Written by Andrew Stolworthy, Director of Product and Market Development in SFS Group Fastening Technology Ltd.
I've said before that SFS is more than just a manufacturer to the construction market, it's in our DNA to innovate, to want to provide a better solution; something that contributes to the wider system which is traditionally the envelope. Our thinking has to be wider than that, buildings are places that people occupy so take on a life of their own, they need to perform to enable the occupiers to perform.
Take a school for example, research shows the benefits fresh air provides to students, we've progressed from opening a window or installing a system that recirculates used air to active or passive systems that draw fresh air in from the outside and expel the used air several times during the day. Here the building breathes to allow the occupier, the students, to breathe fresher air and perform better; there are additional benefits today on exchanging this used air more often to support safe working environments with the COVID pandemic.
So our industry needs to construct a building to provide the right environment for the occupiers to thrive, this is where the Platform Program led by the Construction Innovation Hub1 comes in. 'The Hub' brings together expertise from the Manufacturing Technology Centre (MTC), BRE and the Centre for Digital Built Britain (CDBB) with the aim to transform the UK construction industry. It was awarded £72m from the Government 'Construction Sector Deal2' to deliver this transformation by engaging with industry partners to deliver not only a manufactured technical solution (proof of concept building) of a platform approach to construction but importantly the enabling frameworks to ensure the needs of the market can be met; this includes Value, Assurance and Digital.
This approach provides these 3 key supporting tools. One which focuses decision making on outcomes, ensuring there are metrics and data to inform choices; so the building supports its occupants to thrive - 'Value'. Another to create a process which ensures products and assemblies meet performance and safety criteria and are correctly controlled through the construction process - 'Assurance'. The final sets out what data is required to support the whole process, how it should be structured and shared; this is fundamental to enabling the measurement against the Value and Assurance elements above - 'Digital'.
SFS started its involvement in late 2019 taking a role within 3 of the sub-assemblies, while COVID has impacted the timeline we are now at the conceptual development phase with an understanding of the multiple client's requirements. The aim is to come up with a single platform design that has elements of personalisation, it's not a simple task but one that all partners are certainly up for as it will transform our industry for the better.
It does raise an interesting challenge for us at SFS and I'm sure many manufacturers alike, with standardisation does there become less reliance on individual product performance? And with a platform approach will we find ourselves bidding to supply multiple buildings, increasing the size of the prize but in turn the size of the loss? It all leads back to being involved, taking part in the process to not only deliver a better outcome but understand what the future may hold and of course that involvement sparks more innovation; just what we like……