The Digital Innovation Award, sponsored by Winchester City Council, requires the winner to demonstrate the use of innovative digital technology, with plans to develop and progress going forward.
Winnall based property and construction consultant, Ridge, has developed an innovative process using Building Information Modelling (BIM) to check the compliance of fire-stopping detailing (e.g. for M&E services passing through fire compartments). To our knowledge this is a unique innovation and no one else within the industry is currently doing this. The process significantly reduces risk for the designers, contractors, and building owners/operators in a post Grenfell environment, where fire safety is a primary consideration.
To maintain the designated fire rating of walls and floors, any openings designed for distributing building services through these elements must be fitted with an approved fire-stopping product, of which there can be thousands of instances on larger projects. This is referenced in Part B of the Building Regulations, which calls for “a proprietary system which has been shown by test to maintain the fire resistance of the wall, floor, or cavity barrier”.
As only a limited number of scenarios have formally been tested by fire-stopping product manufacturers; there are a variety of parameters which must be met in order for the detail to be compliant, including dimensions of the opening, cross-sectional area of the penetrating services, as well as dimensions between services and to the edge of the opening. Deviations in any of these parameters results in a non-compliant detail that can lead to expensive re-work, or risk to life.
Through combining digital engineering expertise with detailed knowledge of industry leading laboratory test data from fire-stopping manufacturer Rockwool, Ridge is able to guide project teams through designing compliant openings, services arrangements, and specifying appropriate fire-stopping products. Development of rule-sets and in-model checking software allow the team to quickly analyse BIM models to identify instances of any non-compliance, then report these into collaboration software for the design team to act upon.
The final output of this innovative model is an itemised schedule of fire-stop penetrations, the compliant product to be used, and any instances which need to be escalated to the fire-stopping manufacturer for further review and advice. The fire-stops can be itemised in a COBie dataset, and asset tagged to link the physical asset to its digital data. The result is a digital record, as part of the ‘golden thread of information’ recommended within the post-Grenfell Hackitt Report. This gives heightened confidence in the designed solution, improved cost certainty, reduced potential contractor error or for costly intervention at regulatory sign-off milestones, and improved access to information throughout operation
Ridge is also a finalists in the Large Business Award category, this is awarded to an outstanding business organisation that demonstrates excellence in business growth and achievement, vision for the future, dynamic leadership, an engaged happy and healthy workforce to be demonstrated through low staff turnover and to a business that cares for the community and its customers.
Ridge is a multi-discipline property and construction consultancy, with 12 offices around the UK. Richard Hand first started a south coast office with 3 staff in 2008. Having grown that office organically, in 2014 he was instrumental in the acquisition of Winchester based engineering consultancy Upton McGougan (now fully embedded within Ridge); in 2016 he secured the purchase of PH Warr Ltd and relocated all of their Bournemouth and Southampton staff to within the Ridge office at Winnall; and in 2019 completed the acquisition of another Winchester based consultancy Gysin Warr Ltd. These acquisitions, as well as further strategically planned growth, has resulted in Ridge’s second largest office, employing over 90 staff within 14 teams.
The local management team has a clear business plan, purpose and vision. The objective is for Ridge Winchester to be recognised as the south coast’s consultant of choice, offering high quality and good value services. Under Richard’s direction, the management team is striving for further growth, with an objective to see the office 100 people strong by the end of 2020. Leading by example, Richard demonstrates exceptional attention to detail and a drive to be the best, providing a platform for class leading quality and customer engagement from the whole team. Richard has directly contributed to central Government (through the CLG Select Committee) and acts as a contributor to the local Bank of England agent. In 2019 Ridge were headline sponsors at the Business South event held in the City in June.
The Winchester office delivered a profitable turnover of £7.7m in 2019 and prior to Covid 19 were well on track to increase that by over 10% in 2020. More than 80% of Ridge’s work comes from repeat business and a satisfied customer base (verified through regular customer care interviews as part of an ISO 9001, 14001, 45001 and Investors in People culture).
Mixing ‘work hard’ with ‘play hard’, the office has a rolling programme of charitable support, including raising more than £11k for local charities (such as Trinity and Naomi House) in Ridge’s 70th year and with further donations as an ongoing commitment through regular activities. Ridge also support worthy cause construction projects within the City, such as the Bradbury House extension for Trinity and the new Burrell House hospice.