There are several routes to market for construction product manufacturers, but with today’s modern technology, legislative changes and outside factors impacting how we work, specification has become essential. In this article, we look at five factors that re-enforce why getting specified is crucial for a manufacturers’ business model, and key to being a player in today’s construction industry.
1. Building Safety Regulations
State Governments around Australia are establishing stricter protocols for the design and construction of safer buildings. In NSW, the recently introduced Design and Building Practitioners Act (DBPA) is a key part of that State's response to the Shergold Weir Building Confidence report. The DBPA is designed to ensure that buildings are safer, that public trust in high-rise apartments is regained, and that better data is captured throughout the building lifecycle. Under these changes, designs, compliance declarations and other documents must be lodged at key stages throughout the construction process. Without satisfactory approval, construction projects cannot commence. The specification and associated design must meet the new higher levels of safety requirements. For manufacturers, specification will no doubt become the key factor in their route to procurement as the availability of product data and compliance declarations becomes even more important to architects and contractors.
2. Sustainability in Construction
As the milestones for safety become reality, and with the pandemic situation improving, sustainability is once more at the forefront of the sector’s focus. Many organisations - such as the Australian Institute of Architects with their Climate Action and Sustainability Taskforce - are working to provide a pathway for a positive future. With the built environment accounting for around 40 per cent of all carbon emissions globally, architects, builders and manufacturers must take a leadership role in the race to net zero. To be seen as leaders in sustainability, the ways in which buildings are designed, built and (importantly) retrofitted are increasingly scrutinized. Again, specification plays an important part in this. Manufacturers must ensure that 'green credentials' are easy to access. This includes product performance, how they are made and how the company conducts sustainable business. For projects to be designed as sustainably as possible, key aspects must be met, and product/system selection is crucial. The designer must document what is going into the building and back up the decisions made. The obvious process for doing this is via the specification. NBS Source can help manufacturers to communicate this information in a transparent manner.
Linking to the traceability themes set out in points 1 and 2, digital technology is an enabler for all these elements to work. Through technology, all project stakeholders can work more efficiently, whilst designing and building more safely and sustainably. Collaboration is a key benefit enabled by technology that is modernising the specification process. Our specification software, NBS Chorus, allows specifiers to create a project specification in the cloud, enabling team work regardless of where colleagues may be. Powered by the same tech and seamlessly integrated with NBS Source, those specifiers can select from thousands of manufacturers products and systems at the point of specification.
4. Blended working
The COVID pandemic is seeing an unprecedented shift in the way we work. What seems obvious is that the ‘old world’ (where we all commute to an office or the sales team travels to attend meetings with architects) may well be a thing of the past. Despite notable product shortages and supply chain disruptions, the construction sector has avoided widespread shutdowns. On the administrative side of businesses, meetings have been held via the web with great outcomes. This demonstrated that we can become more efficient, more sustainable and improve our work/life balance whilst continuing with business as usual. Since the end of 2019, global Chorus usage has increased by over 900% and the number of specs created has risen 600%. Being a cloud-based platform means that specifiers can visit a web browser and log into their projects anywhere, anytime. The important thing to remember is that specifiers want access to your product information at a time and location that suits them, often on the fly. So having all this information available to them within NBS Source is crucial to getting specified more often.
5. Modern Methods of Construction (MMC)
Pre-fab, Design for Manufacture and Assembly (DFMA), MMC – however you label it, it is here to stay and it's growing. Bringing lean manufacturing techniques, plus the potential for improved safety testing and reduced waste, can surely only be a benefit. For any manufactured product or system, be that a car or a house, specified products and systems that make up the finished product are imperative. Whilst there may be set designs, configuration of products allows the end client to still have choices. In providing this customization or even set base designs, MMC companies will require specifications to be created. For construction product manufacturers, being in the spec is even more important in offsite construction than it is in traditional procurement routes. After-all, the offsite companies are the designer and contractor in one.