Biosite Systems, a leader in technology-enabled solutions for the construction industry, has joined forces with leading UK technical injection moulder, Counterplas, to reduce its carbon footprint and improve waste management.
The move means the plastic tooling process and manufacture for Biosite’s Wireless Fire Alarm call points has returned to the UK, with the added benefit of establishing a more agile approach to production and stock management.
Counterplas’ state-of-the-art equipment and energy efficient processes particularly appealed to Biosite, including its innovative grinder machine for recycling prototype or defect models, with the resulting plastic pellets reused in other processes.
Greg Reynolds, Research Director at Biosite, explains: “We continuously review the environmental impact of our products and services and felt the time was right to bring our plastic moulding tooling back to the UK, as part of our commitment to our environmental policy. As we manufacture and assemble the rest of our Wireless Fire Alarm system on site to ensure quality and traceability, it made sense to join forces with a local injection moulding expert.
“Counterplas was able to offer a cost-effective solution and their expertise has already been demonstrated, with refinements to the process parameters resulting in an even better product for our customers.
“Not only will this substantially reduce our carbon footprint, but it will significantly reduce waste too, by recycling unusable products. Working with a local supplier also means we have greater control and flexibility over stock levels.”
Paul Isherwood, Managing Director of Counterplas, adds: “The synergy between Biosite and Counterplas is our focus on innovation and continuous improvement. By integrating Biosite’s existing moulding tool into our advanced machining means we can create a quality product efficiently and effectively. There’s also the advantage of producing smaller batches and the facility to store and manage stock levels on site.
“Although waste is limited due to the accuracy of the new tooling system, any defect products are recycled using our grinding facility into reusable plastic pellets; keeping waste to an absolute minimum.”
Biosite was named as one of The Sunday Times Tech Track 100 companies in 2018 and 2019 and provides best practice solutions that help its construction customers optimise health and safety, efficiency and compliance on site. Biosite’s marketing leading Wireless Fire Alarm system is the only fully EN54 certified system available with an automatic integrity check and zoning function, designed and manufactured in the UK.
Find out more about Counterplas or how our Wireless Fire Alarms could work on your site?
The league table ranks Britain’s private tech companies with the fastest-growing sales over the last three years and Biosite’s listing follows an impressive period of growth, as the business focuses on developing innovative technology and software solutions designed to optimise operational efficiency, improve health and safety and ensure compliance on site.
Li Wang, Managing Director at Biosite Systems Ltd, commented: “We’re thrilled to have been recognised in the Sunday Times Hiscox Tech Track league table two years in a row. It is testament to the ongoing vision, dedication and ‘can do’ attitude of the entire team here at Biosite and our drive for continuous improvement.
“We are innovators in technology and software, helping transform the construction industry, whilst giving our customers peace of mind they are in control of their sites. Our customers are an integral part of our success story and I’d like to thank them for their support and belief in the Biosite solution.”
Biosite technology has already been deployed on more than 1,300 projects spanning several high-risk industries, including Hinckley Point C, High Speed Two (HS2), the A14 and Thames Tideway – each representing the largest current project in its field. More than 650,000 workers are now live on the Biosite database, with in excess of five million biometric transactions captured each month.
Underpinned by a unique biometric algorithm, Biosite provides market-leading solutions for workforce management, task management, material management and fire safety & security.
Working on behalf of HS2, the Costain Skanska Joint Venture (CSJV) was responsible for delivering the South section of the £900million* essential enabling works programme.
CSJV quickly recognised the need for a sophisticated workforce management and access control system, to respond to the complexities of the project and ensure total visibility of the almost 3,500 active workforce across 21 sites.
Having utilised Biosite’s Mosaic solution on previous high profile projects including the A14 and London Bridge, CSJV were confident in its suitability and performance capabilities.
*Total budget for Phase One of the HS2 enabling works programme, including Area South, Area North and Area Central
Biosite’s Mosaic competency management system – which has been developed for linear construction projects – was tailored to respond to CSJV’s specific challenges to capture and analyse data that would be valuable at both a site and corporate level.
Using multiple devices to capture data, the system developed for CSJV provides individual traceability around:
Access control (biometric and card access)
Ethnicity, Diversity & Inclusion (EDI) data management
Time and attendance
Safety briefings and toolbox talks
Biosite’s Mosaic solution has been deployed at all sites of the South enabling works programme – spanning 26.8km – by CSJV and has been integrated with existing systems to maximise efficiency and performance, whilst reducing potential conformance issues.
A comprehensive profile and real-time movements of each person – including direct employees and sub-contractors – are easily accessible via site and corporate portals. Inductions can also take place online to save time and to allow checks and measures to be completed in advance.
CSJV is now using the system to capture toolbox talks, briefings and a roll call on a mobile application. At a corporate level, the system is being utilised for comprehensive, real-time reporting to analyse key areas including worker competencies, time and attendance and skills gaps.
“Biosite’s Mosaic solution provided vital clarity around an incredibly complex project, which was critical to optimising performance during the HS2 enabling works.”
Allison Cameron, SHE Administration manager, Costain Skanska Joint Venture
Deployment of Biosite’s Mosaic solution has resulted in an unprecedented 0% non-conformances reported at internal audit.
The success of the solution has been a result of the close collaboration between Biosite and CSJV project lead, Allison Cameron, during the development and deployment stages. Allison’s exceptional management of the system has been recognised with multiple internal awards, including an Industry Fire Environment (IFE) and Work Sight award.
Integration with CSJV’s central enrolment system allows approved operatives to travel between sites, with only site-specific inductions needing to be recorded on a mobile device at each location, which also ensures GDPR compliance.
The system has also captured enhanced EDI data, enabling CSJV to respond to increasing demand for visibility around diversity and inclusion.
Could our Competency Management solution help maximise efficiency and reduce non-conformance on your site?
Biosite has achieved ISO 27001 certification for information security management. The internationally recognised standard outlines best practice for information security management systems (ISMS) and supports GDPR compliance. As Biosite is responsible for capturing and managing large volumes of sensitive information for its customers, including Wates, BAM and Winvic, data security is crucial. Achieving ISO 27001 is recognition of Biosite’s ongoing commitment to ensuring valuable customer data is protected through a systematic and robust risk management process.
Adam Bowen, Head of Software at Biosite, commented: “We’re thrilled to have achieved independent verification of our approach to information management following a rigorous audit process. Our customers trust us to look after their most valuable operative information and this certification provides additional reassurance that their data is in safe hands, whilst GDPR compliance is taken care of.”
“The Asset module has saved Tideway East up to 25% in PPE and small tools costs in comparison to other Tideway projects not using the software.”
Andrew Brown, Tideway East Head of Safety and Wellbeing
Thames Tideway is a 25km tunnel being built under London that will protect the River Thames from further pollution.
The project’s estimated total cost is around £4.2 billion and will involve 24 sites and eight construction companies over an eight year period.
This is the biggest infrastructure project ever undertaken by the UK water industry.
Currently the project has been split into three sub-projects: West, Central and East.
A Costain Vinci Bachy Soletanche (CVB) joint venture was created to deliver Tideway East.
From the start of the project planning, Andrew Brown, Tideway East Head of Safety and Wellbeing wanted CVB to be ‘well organised’ and proactive when it came to managing the site.
A simple system was needed that allowed construction managers to quickly identify if a worker had the necessary training and competence to undertake certain tasks. On a major project such as this, it has always been a challenge.
The other significant challenge was maintaining control of PPE stores, in order to prevent spiralling costs which is an industry-wide problem. Throughout the duration of the Tideway project there will be upwards of eight thousand people working across the sites.
Biosite’s Mosaic system is an industry-leading database which keeps a log of workers’ competencies, providing clear visibility across a workforce as well as assessing skills gaps.
By using all the functions the Mosaic system offers, CVB are able to guarantee only trained and competent people enter high risk areas such as shafts and confined spaces. Functions such as the PDA and Smartphone app allows teams to easily track tunnel workers signing for emergency evacuation equipment such as oxygen Escape Sets.
Biosite’s Mosaic system obtains information on individuals and issues smart cards. It can then track who is taking PPE and small tools from the stores using the Asset module. Any equipment that needs training before use can also be logged and regulated, giving the ability to trace the usage. The Asset module ensures operatives are made responsible for PPE and tools taken from stores.
“Using Mosaic we are able to keep track of all individuals’ training and qualifications on site, at any time.”
Andrew Brown, Tideway East Head of Safety and Wellbeing
Biosite’s Mosaic system manages all company competencies and also flags up when courses and qualifications are due to expire, with reports that are automatically sent with whatever frequency is needed. The reporting is very flexible and saves a vast amount of the valuable time for those doing the laborious task of reporting, allowing them to focus on what they do best!
Ensuring Escape Sets are only given to those qualified has been a big help. The smart card instantly flags up if someone hasn’t had the training – preventing them from going into a dangerous situation under-prepared.
The Asset module has saved Tideway East up to 25% in PPE and small tools cost in comparison to other Tideway projects not using the Asset Module.
The ability to track who has PPE and small tools is highly beneficial. If items aren’t returned, it’s easy to report on it and bill the supply chain.
As a final decision on Brexit looms, UK construction reliance on EU workers could plunge some sectors into a slump.
Biosite teamed-up with Construction Enquirer to quiz the industry about skills and to assess where the impacts might be felt.
Fears are growing that construction delays could soar post-Brexit, as contractors struggle to cope with intensifying skills shortages.
This whitepaper considers a range of risks faced and the opportunities that digital workforce management solutions offer to improve productivity on site.
“If we have no access to EU labour we will not remain in business.”
• See the results that confirm a reliance on EU labour – 71% of companies would struggle to operate
• Suggests a lack of confidence in a new generation of domestic workers filling vacancies
• Over 66% of firms don’t believe the Government understands the impact of its actions on construction
• Hear how some contractors believe the situation will improve in the long-run
• Learn about the workforce management tools that help construction businesses, by providing insights into their workers and supply chains.
Last summer, the second fire to devastate the Glasgow School of Art brought construction site fires into sharp relief.
In October 2018, Joan McAlpine MSP took centre stage at the Scottish Parliament’s Culture, Tourism, Europe and External Affairs Committee looking into the Glasgow School of Art fire.
The fire at the Mackintosh Building on 15 June devastated this architecturally significant and world-famous building. At that time, the building was still undergoing restoration from the severe damage caused by a previous fire in May 2014, which was accidentally sparked by a student project.
At the time of the second fire, the Mackintosh building was therefore a construction site, and Ms McAlpine, the Scottish National Party member for South Scotland, focused some of her questions on the fire safety precautions that were in place. Among other things, she asked about the ducting, fire stopping and fire detection measures.
This hearing should be watched online by anyone in the construction industry who is thinking about how they manage the risk of fire on their sites, because when that risk is realised – for whatever reason – the level of scrutiny can be very public and very damaging to both reputation and the bottom line.
It took 120 firefighters to deal with this huge fire; it not only affected the Mackintosh Building but surrounding buildings as well. Like all fires, determining the cause is critical to understanding how to learn from them and improve future mitigation.
For the Glasgow School of Art, the fire investigation lies with the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service. Assistant Chief Officer David McGown said in a statement shortly after the fire:
“This is a formidable investigation, it is a very complex process…that will take time.”
There is still no sign of the fire investigation report.
The Glasgow School of Art fire is well known. It speaks to the potentially wide ranging and long term impacts a construction site fire can have not only on the contractors and client involved in the construction but also on nearby residents and businesses. Some businesses were only finally able to return to their premises four months after the fire and have racked up considerable losses as a result.
Reinsurer, Munich RE provides a useful reminder about the consequences of fire in its guide to loss prevention due to fire on construction sites.
“Each year, insurance companies pay out millions of pounds in claims following significant fire and smoke damage events to commercial and domestic properties during their refurbishment, extension or new construction. The construction process involves significant fire hazards and risks. Fire can totally destroy not only the newly constructed aspects, but also much or all of the existing structure where refurbishment works are being undertaken.”
The actual numbers of and loss from fires on construction sites is hard to work out as statistics from insurers are shrouded in commercial secrecy. The aggregate statistics from the Association of British Insurers don’t provide enough granularity to get to the level of detail required. A trawl through the HSE statistics reveals next to nothing about fire safety infringements where the HSE is the enforcer under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.
It’s hard to work out the size of the problem of fires on construction sites – if it is improving or getting worse over time – when the data is not easily accessible. Is the Glasgow School of Art fire unusual or part of a trend?
Guides and legislation
One thing’s for sure, the insurance industry cares deeply about fires on construction sites. RISCAuthority, an insurer-funded research scheme administered by the Fire Protection Association lead the project to publish the 9th (2015) edition of the ‘Joint code of practice on the protection from fire of construction sites and buildings undergoing renovation.’
The objective of the Code is the prevention of fires on construction sites and its scope applies in general to projects with an original contract value above £2.5 million. The Code turns up in pretty much every document relating to fire on construction sites. Compliance with the Code can be written into insurance contracts, so it clearly holds considerable sway in the industry.
Along with the Code and the HSE HSG168, Fire Safety in Construction, contractors on large value sites like the Glasgow School of Art renovation are subject to a raft of legislation that has safety and the management of risk at its heart. And yet fires still happen.
Major fires grab the headlines for a news cycle or two and then they are relegated to the provincial press and retain a longer-term interest for a local audience. Not so the tragic fire at Grenfell Tower almost exactly one year before the Glasgow School of Art fire. While it was not a fire on a construction site, its consequences are being felt at all stages in the planning, construction and management of buildings across the UK.
The Grenfell Inquiry chaired by Sir Martin Moore Bick continues to hear evidence from its expert witnesses, from the London Fire Brigade and now from the bereaved, survivors and residents. Fire safety maintains a presence like never before and it’s not just for those living in high rises, but also for anyone who watched the Grenfell Tower fire on 14 June 2017.
As part of the response to the Grenfell Tower fire, Dame Judith Hackitt published her Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety. It is 156 pages long and a complex read that is intended to establish, ‘A new regulatory framework focused, in the first instance, on multi-occupancy higher risk residential buildings that are ten storeys or more in height’.
Dame Judith was previously the Chair of the Health and Safety Executive (2007 – 2016) and the influence of the HSE approach runs throughout her report.
Understanding the Hackitt Report and reacting to its contents is critical to those working in the wider construction industry because while the focus for now is on high-risk residential buildings, the scope of the regulatory framework could eventually extend to other types of risk.
Dame Judith sets out, ‘the overarching principle that responsibility for understanding and managing building safety must rest with those duty holders whose building work create the risk. This is a significant culture change but it has the potential to help underpin a more modern, productive and safe building sector’.
The Hackitt Report recommends a Joint Competent Authority to oversee the golden thread of construction from planning to handover. She is focused on how the building is constructed and how building fire safety is considered at every stage. It is only logical that fire safety on construction sites is also part of that same consideration.
In Dame Judith’s report she uses the word ‘risk’ 292 times. That makes sense and will be of no surprise to anyone working in construction or in any part of the fire sector. The other word that is peppered throughout the report is standards.
Standards and inspection
In England, the Home Office is responsible for the fire and rescue service and it is shining a spotlight on standards with the creation of a new Fire Standards Board. With a new Chair and Vice Chair to be announced during the autumn, it is set to mark a considerable step change for the fire and rescue services in England. It comes shortly after and is complementary to the reintroduction of a formal inspection regime under HMICFRS.
The National Fire Chiefs Council is surveying fire and rescue services to work out how they are all looking at risk in their communities – through their Integrated Risk Management Plans. There are 50 fire and rescue services in the UK and potentially 50 different ways of assessing risk. Getting a standard against which to assess ‘what good looks like’, appears timely and in the right direction of travel.
Allied with a massive investment to update and maintain national operational guidance for fire and rescue services across the UK, the emphasis on consistent approaches and a commitment to improve firefighter safety and public safety is considerable.
All of this creates a fertile environment for making sure standards underpin all aspects of fire safety throughout a building’s life. When looking at the construction phase, EN 54 Fire detection and fire alarm systems applies. No longer do alarm systems need to rely on fixed, hard wiring, as wi-fi technology has allowed firms working in this space to create more flexible solutions.
An example of innovation is the wireless fire alarm provided by Biosite Systems, where the alarms form a meshed system that creates a network of ‘paths’ across a construction site that may be working on multiple levels. Coupled with an integrity check, unique to Biosite Systems, those in charge of fire safety on site have the reassurance that any dropped connections are immediately identified via a base station.
While risk changes as the building develops through its construction phases, the need for managing fire safety remains a constant. Knowing that fire safety products in use on a changing construction site are standards compliant provides considerable assurance in the management of that risk.
The Glasgow School of Art fire is a sobering reminder of the importance of investing in high quality, standards-based fire precautions on construction sites in particular. If any doubt remains, watch the Scottish Parliament committee hearing online. Right now, fire safety has never been so topical and that is unlikely to change for some considerable time.
We’ve created a short video to support the case study described in more detail below
BACKGROUND & CHALLENGE
The traditional signing-in book is an archaic system for knowing who’s on site. There are many opportunities for information to be wrong or missing.
Winvic’s HSEQ Director had previous knowledge of biometric scanners from the Birmingham New Street project, but didn’t have confidence in their accuracy or consistency.
Winvic needed a new solution to improve workforce management and health & safety on site.
Biosite’s Access Control & Workforce Management system has so many useful functions – from performance monitoring and a reduction in paperwork to efficient people, traffic and data management. It’s a reliable audit trail across HSEQ that I have the utmost confidence in.
Ian Goodhead, Winvic HSEQ Director
Biosite’s biometric Access Control and Workforce Management system was identified for its proven accuracy and reliability, using their unique fingerprint scanning technology, developed specifically for the low quality fingerprints in the construction sector.
The Biosite system captures a wide range of data, allowing for individual traceability of:
Health & safety accreditation
Workers’ proximity to site
Winvic trialled the Biosite system on their Primark Warehouse project in Northamptonshire.
Biosite trained Winvic’s HSEQ team initially and they also trained new users on site.
Winvic now uses the system on all sites in four different ways:
At its head office in Northampton a fingerprint scanner is located at either side of the main door for entry in and out
On other sites, between one and four turnstiles and scanners are used
When site entrances have to change locations throughout a project, a tablet with a fingerprint reader or a mobile turnstile is used
On vast sites such as East Midlands Gateway just a tablet is used.
Winvic also uses the fingerprint scanner in conjunction with the site hazard boards, to ensure all information has been read before being allowed on site.
Biosite’s wireless EN54 Fire Alarm and First Aid Call points were implemented, to ensure efficient evacuation of sites, or access for emergency vehicles.
The Biosite system is fully digital and allows data to be created and analysed from a range of sources.
A comprehensive profile and movements of each person are easily accessible online.
Inductions can take place online, before a worker arrives on-site, meaning their first day starts quickly.
The barred and suspended online disciplinary system creates a reliable method of exclusion across all Winvic sites.
The initial trial was so successful, the technology has now been rolled out across all Winvic sites, and they continue to work in partnership with Biosite on future developments.
In the first two years over 25,000 people have used the system within Winvic.
We’re pleased our ‘can-do’ attitude has simplified Winvic’s process of workforce management.
Biosite is delighted to announce as part of its continued expansion that it has acquired Construct Technology, to further strengthen its range of services for the UK construction sector.
Construct Technology have developed a mobile technology that delivers time and costs savings for construction site managers. The Construct mobile app offers project managers specific project management and BIM collaboration tools. The app allows cross-site and multi–location real time information management which means everyone on or off-site is up to date, all of the time. The Construct app also keeps sites compliant, with a paperless audit trail that streamlines process milestones, sign offs and handovers.
“When our range of app-based products are combined with Biosite’s biometric access control system, it becomes one of the most powerful and comprehensive workforce management tools on the market today. Biosite is a perfect company to take our business to the next level and was the ideal choice to exploit our products with. Their own algorithm for fingerprint recognition is one of the best in the world and the fact that they also develop all their software and hardware in-house became a really exciting proposal for us.”
Anthony Erwin at Construct Technology
Since 2010, Biosite has been providing leading access control and workforce management solutions for construction sites. In more recent years, they have extended their product portfolio to give customers a complete integrated solution, to help manage, monitor and maximise safety and security on their sites. This new acquisition is another great asset to their already unrivalled product range.
This comes in the same year that Biosite acquired Mosaic Management Systems and was also identified as one of the fastest growing technology companies in the UK, by being listed on the prestigious Sunday Times Tech Track 100.
“Construct Technology was an obvious partner for our business, as better use of data and reducing paperwork will directly help the productivity of our construction sector customers. This acquisition will allow us to further improve our technology, helping us have a positive impact on safety for those working in the construction industry.”
PLENDI has chosen to use Biosite’s wireless fire alarm system to protect its workforce and assets during a major refurbishment.
PLENDI by Vinci Construction is refurbishing a multi-storey building in an elite area of Paris near the Champs Elysées. The project will convert the site into a brand-new high-end hotel.
As with any construction site, health and safety is of primary concern, so PLENDI by Vinci Construction chose to use Biosite’s products to help maximise safety and security on site. Biosite provides access control and temporary fire alarm solutions specifically designed for construction sites.
The fifteen-storey building is being refurbished over a two year period and so a reliable safety solution was needed that could support the site for the duration of the build.
Biosite’s wireless fire alarm offered numerous benefits, such as:
Automatic fire detection and call points associated to one base station
Call points on trolleys at each staircase
Wireless coverage from underground car parks to the rest of construction site and welfare cabins at the same time
There was the option to zone the building separately if needed
It was all installed and set up in two days
Ability to use PLENDI by Vinci Construction’s own fire extinguishers on Biosite trolleys that are branded with signage provided
A wired solution would have cost up to three times the price due to the different phases of the project. Using this wireless solution means all they had to do is move the fire trolleys where they were needed, as the project develops.