Standards allow common language across an industry sector Masterspec

Masterpec and standardisation

Issue 30 – August 2011

Recently we talked to Rolf Huber, Masterspec Chief Executive, about how standardisation and Standards are integral to their business. Masterspec is New Zealand's default design and construction industry standard specification system, owned by the industry, and developed and delivered for the industry.

Huber believes Standards and standardisation have a critical role to play in construction specification systems, and provide a 'common language' for the industry by defining the quality benchmarks that products and building work have to reach.

'For us, Standards clearly show that the end product – usually a building project – will meet minimum standards of health, safety, and performance,' says Huber. 'Standards provide the essential technical backing for the manufacture, design, and use of building materials and components, and key design and construction techniques. Standards are used directly – by manufacturers, designers, and constructors who reference and use Standards as part of their individual design solutions – and indirectly by their citing as part of key Building Code compliance documents.

'Standards are produced by members of the industry and following procedures that are specifically aimed at avoiding bias or self-interest by any one industry sector. This gives the industry a clear, common, and agreed base to work from, be it a quality Standard for a building product, the design of a building, or its construction.'

Huber says the Masterspec specification text references over 200 New Zealand and joint Australian and New Zealand construction Standards. Delivery of the Standards and other references are fully integrated into Masterspec, providing users efficient and direct access through single-click facilities from within the specification documents.

Masterspec employs its own specification experts, in addition to engaging external specialists, to ensure the industry has a well-maintained and up-to-date specification system that is relevant for various building projects, be it a residential alteration or a commercial high-rise building. Over 1100 design organisations share in this resource and benefit from it.

However, Huber says the organisation is aware of, and already responding to, the need to improve how it delivers data and how its subscribers and the wider industry access and use the information and the systems to manipulate it.

'Access to many essential information sources still remain in silos, often with little coordination between them,' says Huber. 'Key documents exist in isolation with no easy way to confirm if they are up to date, or whether other related data may have amended or altered content or meaning. There has to be a better way, especially as the construction industry yearns for efficiency gains and cost reductions. And there is much to be gained. A 10% efficiency/productivity gain in the industry equates to a 0.5% gain in New Zealand GDP.'

The construction sector is at the beginning of an era that brings some fast-paced and technology-based changes, Huber says, and growing digitalisation in design, documentation, planning, and construction has the potential to increase efficiencies and lift performance.

'Underlying this opportunity is the need for a coordinated, standardised framework – allowing for seamless cooperation and information transfer among building project stakeholders,' says Huber. 'Standards New Zealand could well have a critical function to play in providing the framework and the delivery of suitable industry solutions.

'The real challenge is the ability of the industry to grasp the need for change and accept what will effectively be a cultural shift in how we currently operate. There needs to be a willingness by all members of the industry to cooperate in how we present our information, how it is delivered, how we connect our data sources to others, and how it is employed. Standards New Zealand and systems such as Masterspec, along with all other sources of key industry data, have a critical role to play.'

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