The latest version of Production information: A code of procedure for the construction industry is growing in acceptance and will feature as part of the Avanti research project into improvements in information use within construction projects. Richard Waterhouse, CEO of RIBA Enterprises Ltd, examines the code’s scope and guidance offered.

CPI code

The introduction to the CPI code provides the historical context to problems with information co-ordination and use and shows that, through the years, the same problems continue to appear. As a result, the new code has been written to update rather than supersede the original documents.

In a move that reinforces the close relationship between the drawings and specification, the code combines the original drawing and specification documents into a single guide. This has been extended to cover use of CAD and to take into account the use of schedules of work. It provides pragmatic guidance on use of drawings, specifications and schedules of work and the methods used to co-ordinate the information contained within. Key themes that appear in the code are standardisation, information re-use and information management.

The starting point for the guidance in the code is the creation of standards. From project inception, all parties should agree the methods and protocols of exchanging information. This includes not just CAD and specification, but also spreadsheets and word processing documents. Standardisation will remove any barriers to exchange and should improve the communication process (for another standardisation initiative, see www.pixprotocol.org.uk externallink).

Improvements to the use of CAD

The code does not attempt to go over the ground covered in the 1987 document on drawing types, layout and content. Any documenters wishing to understand the basics of drawing management should continue to refer to the original drawings publication.

There is a cautionary note on drawings produced on computer – they are not necessarily correct! Another problem is that the level of accuracy possible with drawing at full size may result in drawing tolerances that are simply unbuildable.

The new code is focused on the production of drawings using CAD. It identifies ‘five steps to effective use of CAD’. Guidance is provided on the use of layering and naming conventions. The code advocates the simple principle of ‘draw once, use many times’ and promotes the use of common origin and orientation along with rigorous adherence to dimensional accuracy.

Examples are given of problems arising when different parties to the project redraw information, such as errors in layout and duplication of effort. The potential for avoiding costly mistakes is obvious – cost estimates are given of the potential benefits of adopting the methodologies described. Designers should find that, as an addition to the1987 drawings guidance, this is an invaluable tool in getting the basics of CAD production right.

Guidance is also provided on methods of publishing drawings to others, including the use of project extranets.

Specifications

The basics of the specification guide have been updated to take into account the development of software-based specification systems, such as NBS Building. However, this is no software instruction manual. Clear guidance on the dos and don’ts of specification practice are provided, as is guidance on the need for supporting information products, e.g. by providing access to regulatory and standards information.

The specification section covers the co-ordination of drawings and specifications and the relationship with the bill of quantities or other pricing documents. The different types of specification are covered in detail and example specifications are provided.

Schedules of work

This is a new area for CPI and extends the scope of the information structure beyond the Common Arrangement of Work Sections (CAWS). There is a recognition that, for the smaller project, the pricing document is likely to be the schedule of works. There is also a recognition that this should be structured either in an elemental layout (for new work) or by location (for refurbishment projects).

The guide seeks to help specifiers by promoting the savings in time and reduction in risk that can be made by standardising the structure of the schedules and by intelligent re-use of the content. The inherent risk of including irrelevant information means that this can only be achieved through good management of the system. The NBS Scheduler product embodies the recommendations of the code.

Summary

Whilst the guide promotes the use of best practice methods, there is an acceptance that even small steps to improvements in production information can make a big difference. This edition is not a radical change to the original documents but an evolution of them, to provide help in information use and exchange in today’s internet-enabled world. The code is available on-line at www.productioninformation.org/final/contents.asp externallink and is available to buy from RIBA Bookshops externallink.