Saturday 23 October 2010

More about Visualising Bike Sharing from Oliver O'Brien

Paul Morrell, Government Chief Construction Advisor - Major Strategic Priorities and Opportunities for Construction

Buildoffsite Stakeholder event (29 September 2010).,%20Buildoffsite.pdf

Offsite Production overview - Buildoffsite (industry wide campaign organisation prompting greater uptake of offsite technique in UK construction)

Richard Ogden, Buildoffsite Chairman and 'the man who built a McDonald's in two days', gave a seminar on 'how the construction industry can capitalise on offsite efficiencies' (October 19 BEST Residential Hub, NEC Birmingham).

Key question he suggested we ask : Why make a project out of a product?
Examples of some of the many advantages of offsite construction are:
  • risk reduction; fewer people on site (manufacturing has significantly fewer accidents), controlled environment (quality control, wind and weather protection)
  • lower costs in some areas; prelims, car parking
  • speed of construction; GSK has reduced construction time for some mobile/temporary manufacturing units from 36 months to 3 months
  • areas of buildings with complex services (e.g. science labs and washrooms in schools) have greatest advantages 
He noted that there were three main types of offsite construction
  • 2-D; panels
  • 3-D; corridor modules for BAA reducing requirement to work airside
  • Hybrid; houses
Other points picked up

  • Retrofit in domestic housing  is more difficult but there are opportunities that ought to be explored but require a change in perception; e.g. replace complete roofs built offsite
  • Japan is world leader in offsite manufacturing - people aspire to live in highly engineered offsite manufactured housing units
  • In the UK Laing O'Rourke (LOR) has invested heavily in their Design for Manufacture and Assembly' (DfMA) apporach and their Explore Industrial Park in Steetley. LOR claim this to be 'the most advanced facility of its type in Europe'. Others in the UK such as Carillion have said that the amount they do offsite is increasing every year.
  • Offsite Powerpoint on Teachnet


Offsite Production in the UK – prepared by HSE - June 2009

A Brief Overview
Report Prepared by Stephen Taylor: Construction Engineering Specialist Team: HSE
This paper discusses the historical and current application of modern methods of construction using off-site production techniques. The paper gives an overview of the various types of off-site construction; specific case studies illustrating current practice; and, the primary benefits to health and safety on construction sites through its implementation.

Keeping abreast of the winds of change | New Civil Engineer | DECC UK Electricity Generation Costs update (June 2010)

An interesting viewpoint from EC Harris published on 14 November, Keeping abreast of the winds of change | Features | New Civil Engineer, which provide an overview of how life cycle costs can be minimised whilst maintaining and sustaining assets' integrity.
EC Harris has also published an expert article entitled 'An Holistic view of value drivers will improve the return on investment for offshore wind farms'.
'The cost of delivering offshore wind projects is rapidly reaching £3.8 million per megawatt; at a time when investors are looking for costs of £2 million per megawatt to allow a viable return on investment. It will be a huge task to reduce costs by almost 50% when there is significant cost pressure due to market immaturity and supply chain inefficiencies.'
In this article they note, from their cross sector experience, that reducing costs is not the only way to improve the return on investment although it is still a very important one.
'The three main levers that can be pulled are the optimisation of generation, the impact of the prevailing tariff system and timely and efficient connection. All of these factors need to be addressed if the industry is to be successful in providing a viable return on investment.'
DECC UK Electricity Generation Costs update 
On Tuesday this week I attending a seminar by Dr Guy Doyle (Chief Economist, Energy and Carbon at Mott McDonald) who was presenting the findings contained within the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC)'s June 2010 update on the UK's Electricity Generation Costs. This was an interesting presentation on levelised costs, the lifetime discounted cost of an asset expressed in cost per unit energy produced, for a range of main technologies. This report is one that has been regularly updated and records and forecasts the levelised costs for projects started in 2009, 2013, 2017, 2023. 
The forecasts take into consideration a range of factors such as a DECC view of the accelerating higher forward costs of carbon (central projection assumed to rise to £200/tonne in 2050 vs £30/tonne by others - today it is circa £12/tonne) and a Mott McDonald view on the technology progress and First of a Kind (FOAK) premiums. 
'For most mature technologies the main drivers of costs are market conditions and commodity prices, with some discounting for installations with multiple units.  For these technologies, the main scope for technical progress is in the application of best practice construction management.  Even though the UK has yet to build an advanced supercritical coal plant, there is likely to be comparatively little difference (less than 10%) between the first of a kind (FOAK) and the nth of a kind (NOAK) plant.  CCGT (Combined Cycle Gas Turbine) technology is already at the NOAK level, as is onshore wind.  Offshore wind still has some significant learning, especially in the area on cost effective foundations/anchoring and in reducing maintenance and servicing costs.  Moving to deeper water and further offshore means wind faces a moving target as this tends to require new untried technical solutions. 
Third generation nuclear plants and especially CCS are at an earlier stage, although for the former there are probably easier wins to be had in terms of improved project management than in technology changes.'  
The resultant projections are interesting when taken in the context of the two EC Harris articles,  the anticipated investment in Crown Estate and Scottish wind programmes and the Energy Technology Institute's 2010 Marine Energy Technology Road MapI have included 2009, 2013 and 2023 start dates in order to note the trends the report identifies. 
DECC report: Levelised costs of main technologies for projects started in 2009 - mix of FOAK and NOAK (£/MWh)
Round 3 Wind FOAK (c. £180/MWh) is not only over twice cost of Gas CCGT (c. £80/MWh) started in 2009 but is also significantly higher than the average cost of energy in generation today at £45/MWh! Even with 2 no ROC (Renewable Obligation Certificates) it must struggle to be viable as FOAK technology and will need a real focus on cost reduction, optimisation of generation, the impact of the prevailing tariff system and timely and efficient connection (see EC Harris notes above).

Thursday 21 October 2010

TfL - Interchange Best Practice Guidelines

A seminar at The Infrastructure Show, NEC 19 October 2010, considered how value for money can be achieved in interchange upgrades over the long term. John McNulty - Head of Interchange, also described methods in use in London by Transport for London (TfL) to ensure costs are kept low where possible, knowledge shared and the whole range of options considered to maximise the opportunity to ensure public transport, walking and cycling are as attractive as they can be.
Best Practice guidelines have been published and updated as knowledge and case studies have been recorded. These are based around four design themes Efficiency, Usability, Understanding and Quality.
Interchanges have been defined and graded into a number of types from strategic, inter-regional to local. TfL have classified a total 645 material interchanges, where people can change between one mode of transport to another. The Legible London totem signs are an example of the effort to made to provide simple information to people in a consistent way; at the same time it provides a great opportunity to 'de-cluster' streets of vast numbers of signage etc. and integrate relevant information in one place.
This itself is not a simple job as there are many views that could have been considered; this article in the Londonist attests.
The use of a common relevant transport model across all the different stakeholders, for recent major and complex interchanges such as King's Cross/St Pancras, have provided an invaluable tool to ensure demand and design requirements are fully understood, considered and implemented.
It would be useful to see some simple key metrics for the potential capacity (local and regional), intended design/ functionality, and actual use of the interchanges in each category types. This would enable people to see the tangible benefits of better and optimal interchange design, the value of investing in the detail of the scheme for long-term gains in performance and behavioural change.

Example of two pages within the TfL Quick Reference Guide

Friday 15 October 2010

TfL Cycle Hire Scheme (Boris Bikes) and Other Scheme Visualisations - Oliver G O'Brien

Weather at UCL
London Profiler (on Google Map interface)
Oliver O'Brien is a research associate with CASA (Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis),  University College London.
1-19 Torrington Place - London - WC1E 7HB.

Monday 11 October 2010

Think, Play, Do Group Limited - Case Study..

'In a world where disruptive technologies and new business models can change the entire game and new competitors emerge from across the globe, the challenge facing organisations is to intensify their capacity for innovation... and capture the rewards rather than cede them to competition. The Think, Play, Do Group was set up in 2005 to provide commercial access to expertise of the Innovation Studies Centres at Imperial College London and the University of Queensland, Brisbane.'
Video - Professor David Gann, Head of Innovation and Entrepreneurship Group Imperial College Business School, on the Laing O'Rourke Case Study