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Protecting Product Specifications
04.09.2017  |  Joanna Lush
When specifying a product, such as interior glass, it is essential that it is fit for purpose and blends seamlessly with a building’s design.
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When specifying a product, such as interior glass, it is essential that it is fit for purpose and blends seamlessly with a building’s design.

Alongside ensuring this, architects and designers have other areas to contend with when drafting a specification. These include meeting an increasing number of budgetary and green construction requirements, such as BREEAM, ensuring products meet the sustainable BES 6001 standard or comply with the environmental management ISO 14001 standard.

Andy Jobling at Levitt Bernstein suggests within the 2017 NBS Specification Report report that ‘as no individual can be an expert across all fields of the specification, there is a need for access to the accumulated knowledge and experience of the particular practice and the industry as a whole’.

This was further supported by the report finding that 94% of respondents encounter challenges when producing a specification, highlighting the importance of seeking specialist, expert manufacturer advice when creating a specification.  

Added to this, without explicitly naming the product and brand for the specification or by using the terms ‘equivalent or equal to’, the specification can be at risk of alternative products being used at a later stage of the process.

There are a multitude of challenges presented when a named product is swapped for an equivalent product, particularly when it comes to interior glass, as the replacement product may not meet all of the criteria for which it was specified.

One of the main concerns is the potential impact on safety. Choosing a cost-effective alternative may mean the product is not toughened – it may only be safety backed. This can result in it not meeting safety requirements and also increase its vulnerability to surface impact.  

Environmental credentials can also be affected. For example, solvent-based paints are often used in cheaper products, which can de-value what was originally an environmentally conscious decision. The origins of the raw materials within the supply chain can also differ, leading to reduced energy savings as part of the building’s overall sustainability targets and can even effect how a product can be recycled.  

Teal blue glass tea point splashback

A 6mm low iron back painted tea point splashback specified for a high traffic area

In addition, it’s important to consider the physical integrity of the product, as alternative products may be cost saving in the short term, but have a significantly shorter lifespan. This can lead to replacement costs exceeding that of the initially specified product.

We have also seen occasions where the details of the product, such as thickness, have not been defined at design stage and an incorrect thickness has been specified.  This can lead to both cost and safety concerns when manufacturers review the end use of the glass, as if the glass is too thick it can cause weight and handling issues, and if it’s too thin it won’t be fit for purpose and could break.  

We understand it’s very difficult for architects to be authorities in all product areas. However, by collaborating with specialist manufacturers throughout the specification process, architects can work closely with glass experts to select a product that is fit for purpose. This can ensure the project brief is met, with the product adding additional value, such as coatings that reduce the need to clean the glass product.

That’s where Gx Glass comes in, our specification and prototyping service allows customers to work with us to review the intended end use of the product and define the correct glass type, thickness, colour and finish, to meet their particular visual and safety needs. We can then work collaboratively to produce prototype samples until a final version is identified and approved.

In addition BIM objects are available for a number of our products, which can provide all of the relevant lifecycle data required for a specification.

Whilst it’s true that specifying can pose numerous challenges, utilising expert manufacturer prototyping and design services can ensure that a fit for purpose specification is created. These services also allow the integrity of the specification to be managed throughout the design and tender process to protect the added value that a named specified product can provide. 

 

 

Early Engagement Within the Design Process
13.07.2017  |  Joanna Lush
In any architectural design process, early engagement and collaboration between developer, architect, contractor and end-client is essential to ensure the creation of an environment which not only looks good and functions well, but has the right products specified for the right use at the right price.
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In any architectural design process, early engagement and collaboration between developer, architect, contractor and end-client is essential to ensure the creation of an environment which not only looks good and functions well, but has the right products specified for the right use at the right price.

But how easy is it for all parties to communicate effectively and work collaboratively to ensure added value, de-risked installations and defined specifications?

Today, the architect’s role is to accommodate all aspects of design including legal, technical and cultural knowledge. But to strengthen and support their vision, consistent discussion and planning with key decision-makers is essential, as well as adopting the latest standards and technologies.

Building Information Modelling (BIM) has become crucial in ensuring construction projects are completed efficiently. According to an NBS National BIM Report for Manufacturers, more than 71% of the design community respondents require manufacturers to provide BIM models to speed-up the design process. BIM’s embedded 3D information and objects mean construction and design elements can be easily visualised and defined, which creates the end-to-end lifecycle specification of a finished project.

But while BIM is gradually providing a framework for efficient collation of data, according to Ken Sanders, architecture and planning Managing Principal at Gensler, process innovation and timely decision making should be ‘squarely focused on people, partnerships and shared expertise’, for true success in collaboration.

 

ColourX backpainted red glass feature wall

Early engagement with the manufacturer ensures products are specified correctly

Providing an expert consultancy service, Gx Glass offers support for architects through the entire specification stage, providing guidance on feasible project ideas and identifying those which may require adaptation - i.e. safety requirements, practicality, cost-effectiveness and sustainability.

This early engagement means the prototyping service can be utilised. Providing iterative glass samples enables the functional and design requirements including glass type, thickness, colour and finish to be discussed, as well as design boundaries to be explored and developed.

For example, utilising expert guidance can resolve potential specification issues, such as ensuring glass splashbacks for a development will be placed at the correct distance from the hob heat source, and on the correct substrate, and that the correct thickness of glass will be specified - preventing any potential challenges post-installation.

Following the initial specification, once out of the ground, logistics and the installation process can also be de-risked by utilising site visits to evaluate site access for the glass, where panels will join, how they will be fixed and what aftercare is required.

This is of paramount importance for all products and the huge variety of end-use applications, as for example, installation of glass within a changing room will differ from an office environment - including from the fixing methods to the aftercare requirements.

By incorporating key stakeholders during design decision-making processes and having an open and honest dialogue with experienced supply chain professionals ensures unrivalled insight, efficiency, cost and time savings during initial design stages. 

The benefits of early engagement provide tangible benefits in a risk-free, cost-effective, timely and professional installation of high quality products, ensuring the architectural vision becomes a reality.   

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