In recent years many papers, both government whitepapers, research document and industry guru’s have voiced concern on the poor productivity within the construction industry.
Comparisons have been made with manufacturing industry where overall productivity has doubled over 20-30 years. So how did that industry achieve such gains and construction didn’t?
At Desktop Engineering, we aim to help our customers find ways of doing design or manufacturing quicker and of higher quality using software technologies. One of the approaches we can use is to use a rule based approach to capture knowledge to allow it to be re-used. Rules are those simple set of instructions, something as simple as a cooking recipe, that one follows that determines an outcome. So it is with engineering. Capture those rules and then reuse them in software and then you have design automation.
Goethe said that “By seeking and blundering we learn “.
Well I am not so sure that I would like to start a career in engineering knowing I was blundering in order to learn. But his point is bluntly put - that what we call knowledge is gained through making mistakes. In other words, engineers push the envelope in design, making things bigger or lighter until they fail and then seeking out what went wrong. In some cases, this leads to fundamental research to capture the laws of nature in formulae. In other cases, it leads to best practice or rules. This is how the aerospace industry has made flying one of the safest modes of transport.
If you think back to your first days in a design office, in a new industry fresh from college, you’ll remember that there was always a designer who’d been there many years. That was the person you sought for help, as they had all the experience of what works and what doesn’t.
It was Oscar Wilde who said “Experience is simply the name we give to our mistakes”, and so why shouldn’t you capture that experience to then avoid making the same mistakes.
I can’t claim originality to this Shakespearean title which has suitable gravity for many companies in the construction industry. It was thought up by Dr Steve Lo of Bath University for a one-day conference I attended organised by the “Future Envelope” community of façade designers and manufacturers.
Drawing from members of the European Façade Networks, the Society of Façade Engineers and Centre for Window Cladding technology, the aim of the conference was to discuss how BIM can help or even hinder the design and construction process of building facades.