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Brunton’s Blog – The Changing Specifier Role
Some may argue that the role of the specifier has diminished over the last two decades or more. The specifier, being defined in this context, as anyone with a leading influence in the selection (specification) of construction products or systems. There are perhaps many reasons, all seemingly plausible, regarding why this may have been the case. Some of these are gathered around the undoubted emergence of ‘Design and Build’ as a chosen client procurement pathway, maybe to ensure single source responsibility for cost and delivery.
The selection of products and systems to achieve particular performance criteria perhaps also compounded the issue, as this may have suggested that all products are equal in terms of technical performance and on other, non-technical issues.
In a roofing context this is often not the case, as manufacturers go to enormous lengths to differentiate their products on technical and non-technical grounds, spending extensive capital sums on research and development in the process. This is surely a benefit to the construction industry in general and allows specific project related technicalities to be addressed. In other words, there are nuances of product development that allow manufacturers to differentiate their products and fill technical gaps through R&D.
It is critical of course that all products meet certain standards and are certified as having done so. These ‘performance’ standards are often the only criteria that are used to select construction products at design and specification stage, especially for a D&B project. If the time is taken to properly select a product or system understanding it’s attributes apart from merely achieving a certified performance level, then this could perhaps engender a higher quality level in design and construction output. This would put greater emphasis on the product selection process and develop better understanding of the product performance capabilities and suitability for any given project. In the process the specifier surely would become better ‘informed’.
The role of the specifier and designer may be about to edge back towards a product selection process that addresses the imbalance of the last twenty years or so. This would result in manufacturers being more involved in supporting and advising the designer or specifier during the specification phase, hopefully resulting in clearer, more specific project designs and clarity concerning who is competent to carry out the subsequent product or system installation. The driver for such specification engagement change may be fuelled by the striving for competence that the industry needs to demonstrate, at all levels, going forward. This must surely be welcomed as it can only improve our industry output and reputation and furthermore encourage further investment in R&D by manufacturers, that underpins product development.
Installing contractors, some often specialists in the manufacturers’ system, can only benefit should such a change in specification and procurement as described above, take place. Contractors who continue to invest in training and developing of their onsite/offsite workforce capabilities are ensuring they develop corporate competency also. ‘Competency’ could well be the industry currency of the future. At the moment there is extensive activity at the highest of government and industry levels, to focus on ensuring competent people are operating throughout the supply chain and delivery streams. Training and greater technical awareness in part develops competence. As eluded to in an earlier ‘Blog’, we will hear significantly more on this issue next year and beyond with a wider debate on methods of competence implementation. The potential changing role of specifiers may also be a consequence of this debate that could benefit all.
As always members feedback is very welcomed.
Dr Ronan Brunton B.Sc MBA GMICE
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