Green Deal website launch

Denaploy is pleased to launch the new website that we have created for SustainaBuild, offering free support training for construction companies in the South East  that want to become accredited as part of the government’s Green Deal initiative to encourage energy efficient construction practices.

SustainaBuild is part of the Climate Energy group of companies.

The website includes a Content Management System (CMS) that enables staff at SustainaBuild to to maintain all the content on their website, including updating events and tracking of all attendees.

2013 forecasts a further decline in construction industry

The Construction Products Association’s latest forecast for this year is that there will be a further 2% decline in construction industry output on top of the already devastating 9% decline that we saw in 2012.

The decline is expected to be in most sectors.  A 5.7% fall in commercial sector, and an 8% to 10% fall in retail, education and health construction sections.  Only road and new housing starts offer any real prospects for the coming year.

These difficult trading conditions will put strain on all of us working in the construction sector and since that sector represents 9% of the country’s total GDP, it also has a significant impact on the country as a whole.

Here, we focus on providing documentation and IT services to companies in the construction sector and are still growing as more and more companies recognise that the production of high quality H&S manuals and O&M manuals is best subcontracted to specialists.

There is an old saying that a good manager should never waste a crisis as an opportunity to introduce change. I suspect that the industry will come out of this recession very different from how it went in.

O&M manuals in foreign languages

Large corporates have a special problem in managing their O&M manuals. On the one hand they need to have information to hand in order to centrally manage their FM services across all their locations, and on the other hand they need information readily available for the local tradesmen who will need to use the detailed information in the future.

The highly structured way in which we create manuals and deal with sub-contractors via a collaborative website, made it very easy for us to make this work. We supplied basic templates (section headings) that were translated into Italian, obtained the detailed information from the Italian sub contractors, and then translated certain key sections back into English.

This makes it sound easy, but the bit we gloss over is the ‘get information from sub-contractors’. Not all countries have the same legal and cultural expectations as to the level of detail that a good manual should supply, so even if the detail is specified in sub-contractors’ contracts it can be very hard to get it delivered in practice. Sometime it requires the Main Contractor to weald a big stick and a good working relationship over distance is a vital component in making it work!

I am delighted that we got this over the line and we now have a template for best practice that we are happy to implement whenever needed.

Posted in O&M

Construction Sector Slows

The latest quarterly survey by the Office for National Statistics shows a fall of 0.6% since the last quarter and a fall of 1.8% compared with the same quarter last year. (Where the construction industry is defined as: construction and demolition work, civil engineering, new construction work, and repair and maintenance.)

This is a worrying reversal of the slight recovery that we saw immediately after the 2008 banking crisis and reflects the slow down in infrastructure projects and in home starts.

The exceptionally low level of Housing starts (a further fall of 9% from a very low base in March 2011) see details is contributing to the dangerous increase in rental prices that is occurring as a growing population, largely excluded from home ownership by mortgage constraints, now collides with a shortage of supply.

I am optimistic that we will shortly see results from the political pressure to deliver a Keynesian boost to the economy by investment in infrastructure as one of the few acceptable routes for delivering economic growth.

Commercial Property Market 2011

The Bank of England reports that 4 out of 5 loans to property owners and developers are in breach of their loan-to-valuation covenants. A total of £243 billion of commercial property loans exist and hang over the whole market.

The risk is that property valuations have been maintained artificially high in an attempt by everybody to ward off serious re-adjustments.  But is the banks start to become more aggressive in foreclosing, it will precipitate a cycle of valuation falls that will put more companies into breaches of their covenants and force more foreclosures; to everybody’s detriment.

The fact that in the 3 years since the peak of the property boom, indebtedness has only fallen by 3%. 54% of these loan will mature before the end of 2014 and there is no immediate prospect of refinancing becoming available.

Posted in O&M

JP Morgan Bank

Denaploy is very proud to have been appointed as one of only 3 companies in the UK, able to supply O&M manuals for JP Morgan across its entire property portfolio.

Posted in O&M

O and M manuals are digital

It always takes a long time for traditional systems to be replaced, but it is becoming increasingly clear that the default requirement for an O&M manual is that it works as a digital document as well as a paper file.

The advantages of the digital manual are:

  • Convenience:  A complete copy of a digital manual can be put on a simple CD or DVD, on a Flash drive on your key ring, or on a computer network.  This is so much easier to manage than carrying around many thick files of paper.
  • Digital files are always complete: Every FM knows the feeling of going to the manuals and finding that the specific drawing that they want is missing. Probably it was used previously and not refiled correctly, so now it is lost for ever! This cannot happen with the digital record because you are just printing a copy of what you need.
  • Easy to search: We have all used Google search to find information on the Internet and understand how liberating it is to be able to find information just by searching for key words. A properly produced digital manual is just that easy to search either through key words and/or through a consistent navigational structure.

O and M manuals are digital

The disadvantages of a digital manual:

  • There are still some people who are uncomfortable with working from a PC screen and that has been the greatest impediment to making all manuals digital.  This is why mostly the digital manuals has to be printed as well.
  • The digital manual uses the conventions that we have all become familiar with when using the internet ie you to link to files by clicking on specific words eg drawings or certificated or manufacturers literature.  These hyper links all have to be changed to Tab references in order to convert the digital manual to a paper version. But once the conversion is done, you have a pristine manual with a an index and page numbering system that works.
Posted in O&M

Converting paper manuals to digital

A little while ago we were asked by CBRE to convert some paper manuals to a digital format.  They were taking over a building and the outgoing tenant had literally thrown all the manuals (100s of files and drawings) into a big heap in the middle of the floor.

This was a slightly extreme example of a fairly common problem. They needed to be able to examine all the files and a lot of different people needed to have access.  The same issues arise for any purchaser trying to undertake a serious due diligence, or for a FM company wishing to provide a sensible quote on an unfamiliar building.

We have now developed a method of digitising and indexing all the information so it can be presented on a CD or DVD with a structured navigation that makes it easy to find what is there and understand what is missing. The typical cost is under £5k varying according to size and number of drawings.

The process is

  • Sort the paper files and remove duplicates
  • Scan all the paper and drawings building a basic index as you go
  • OCR convert the scans into digital documents
  • Construct a consistent navigation structure of file names and bookmarks
  • Build into a single application that enables the navigation structure to be reviewed easily.

Posted in O&M