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15/11/22

Time to reflect

Time to reflect

When I was asked to provide an article for the Diales anniversary Digest, I was reticent. Mr Battrick, a long-time colleague, and all-round good chap, in his usual encouraging words, advised that this was an opportunity to set out an article that would be read for possibly the next few years on the basis that Driver Trett still receives communications in relation to the last Diales Digest issued back in April 2018, some four years ago.


Author: David Wileman, Diales Delay Expert


However, as a delay expert I am always conscious that it is difficult to write articles about delay and more specifically the analysis of delay, given the fact that we still have many forms of Contract, different methodologies, very different quality levels of planning on Projects (and as-built data) and as a consequence, numerous ways to analyse delay. It is no surprise that the Society of Construction Protocol and the numerous AACE® International Recommended Practices documents provide different ways to analyse delay.

The comment that the Diales Digest may be read for (hopefully at least a few) years to come made me think about “time” in a more prosaic manner. Firstly, where has all the time gone? I started as an apprentice in NEI Parsons – a behemoth of the power industry in the 1970s and 1980s. I then moved to the AMEC Offshore at Wallsend. Again, this was a huge fabrication yard at the forefront of oil rig / FPSO fabrication. From there I went onto McNulty Offshore, working on some of the most complex FPSOs and modules, including the Anasuria and the Banff disputes - which ultimately led me to consultancy.

Whilst working at these companies I had the fortune of becoming a planner, at the start of the computerised planning era. By mid-1980s, the planning office at NEI Parsons took delivery of a state-of-the-art colour plotter. In the late 1980s and 1990s I was neck deep in Artemis programming. I do not know one planner who used Artemis in these decades that does not remember it fondly. Then, by the mid ‘noughties’, I started to work on projects that were planned on Primavera P6, Powerproject and Microsoft Project software packages, to name but a few.

Times change. Software changes. Knowledge changes. However, there is one thing that does not change, and that is change itself. I have witnessed substantial developments in the planning industry over the last 35 years, but I imagine these will pale in comparison to what will be achieved in the next 35 years.


What will the future hold for planners and delay experts in general?

The following are my thoughts as to how planning and delay analysis will progress in the ensuing years:

  1. 4D assessment of delay – as software is becoming increasingly cheap and flexible, the link between Project 3D models and the programme (both in terms of as-planned and as-built) will increase the regularity when this form of assessment is utilised and finds its way into disputes.
  2. Recording ‘as-built’ data through the use of fixed cameras and live stream video – I have had the pleasure of preparing an as-built programme using photographic evidence that was retained to show the construction of the external envelope of the building in question. The quality of the data allowed, by way of example, every lift of each section of the shuttering to be easily determined.
  3. Artificial Intelligence - development of planned programmes, based on data from past projects, should provide a much higher degree of confidence in the forecast programmes.
  4. Interactive reports - capable of being prepared to allow the reader to control certain aspects of the report to, by way of example, allow the reader through animation to instantly see the effect of an event on the programme.
  5. Programmes - will be prepared by project managers on handheld tablets, and the hand drawn programme will then be capable of being incorporated into the planning software.
  6. Increased use of drones - to undertake reviews of works not readily accessible and wholesale assessments of site progress.
  7. Status snapshots / progress updates - of rooms taken using 3D imaging techniques.
  8. The revision of productivity norms by using exo-skeletons.
  9. The use of autonomous robots to walk through sites, continuously capturing progress status and 3D imagery; and, 10. The impact of 3D printing replacing procured materials.

All of these technological developments are here already, or will be with us before long. What do they all have in common? Technology, and the ability to develop these systems in a reliable manner, including the need to be able to handle large amounts of electronic data.

The speed of introduction of this kind of technology into project and company systems will be determined by the enthusiasm of the sub-contractors, contractors and employers reflecting the perceived benefits from each Party’s standpoint. If deemed to be cost effective, or considered to give a company a competitive edge, the speed of the introduction of such systems could be rapid, given the speed at which new software is currently introduced.

However, the speed of introducing this kind of technology into expert reports may run at an entirely different pace. In simple terms, CPR Part 35.3(1) sets out that the overriding duty of the expert is to help the court on matters within their expertise. For a short sentence, there is more than one part to focus on, but key in the consideration of the material to be included in a report, is the word, ‘help’.

Unlike project planners, who have flexibility in deciding how and when planning systems are developed, the expert and the expert’s report are slightly more restricted when considering how and when to use data from new technologies, owing to the determiner that their report must always ‘help’.

The expert report must be readily understood by all Parties and the data underpinning the analysis must be capable of being effectively scrutinised.

Unless and until the data provided by these new technologies can be presented in a manner in which it can be disseminated and understood will render the report of little use. An expert report is not prepared as an attempt to prove that the expert is the cleverest person in the room and any report that does not set out the opinions of the expert in the manner that can easily be understood by the client, legal team, Counsel, Judges and opposing experts will be of little use.

In summary, as planners, we may have new inventions and systems to look forward to playing with, that will rapidly affect the manner in which a project is planned, and the as-built status recorded. However, as delay experts, we need to ensure that the data which these systems provide is as robust and subject to interrogation as the systems we have in place now. Failure to do this will result in significant wasted costs and delay experts on the wrong end of a decision having to explain to its client why! The answer, ‘but I used cutting edge technology’ in my report, will not suffice!


Originally written as part of the Driver Trett Digest, issue 24. To view the publication, please visit: www.driver-group.com/digest-compendium


 

Articles  /  Digest  /  Europe  /  Global

Articles  /  Digest  /  Europe  /  Global

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