Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Extending the value of the model - the third dimension.

The JMS mantra of CIA - Create, Innovate, Automate - took yet another step forward last week when Ben, Iain, Deanna and Bhavin went 'back to school' in the classroom with Luke Howells from Cadline.

This was the intensive training process to introduce Autodesk Civil 3D to JMS's armory of design and documentation software.

Ben Norman and Iain Jones (from the Brightwell office) joined  Deanna Ottaviano and Bhavin Parmar in the Midlands office to add that crucial third way - the missing dimension.

For those of you who don't know, Autodesk® AutoCAD® Civil 3D® 2017 is a civil engineering design and documentation software that supports Building Information Modelling (BIM) workflows by extending the value of the model. 

Watch this short introduction for a visual overview:


With a focus on optimising a variety of civil infrastructure project workflows, such as highways and drainage, land development, rail, airports and water, Civil 3D 2017 helps civil infrastructure project teams:
  • improve delivery, 
  • maintain more consistent data and processes, 
  • and respond faster to project changes. 

Civil 3D will further help JMS civil projects by streamlining time-consuming tasks such as conducting an earthworks cut and fill analysis, creating highways profiles.

The software offers a vast range of beneficial tools and features adding power to civil projects. These include: corridor modelling, earthwork calculations, grading, pipes, production drafting, geospacial analysis. point clouds and much much more.

It will help us perform faster design iterations and streamline time-consuming tasks:

...connect design to documentation to help boost productivity and deliver higher quality:

...use visualisation, simulation and water analysis tools integrated with the design process to improve project delivery and decision making:

...and collaboration features are designed to help the engineer to overcome team co-ordination and workflow challenges within civil infrastructure projects:

"One of the frequent 'just smile and carry on' qualities needed in my work is to react to change" Bhav pointed out and went on: " - change in the brief, additional features, avoiding unforeseen geographical objects etc. This used to require a time consuming series of amendments and checks to ensure that design changes and their knock on effects are correctly managed."

"With 3D, changes to drafting and annotation are dynamically reflected throughout the model for quick and efficient visualisation - and these stay in sync with design changes at any stage of the process."

More power to your three dimensional elbow JMS.

We add value to every project we have been,
are, and will be equally proud to support.


Friday, 19 May 2017

Assisted living in a flood plain - a structural nightmare

Assisted living in a flood plain?  
Of course we can. (Part 1).

What do you get if you combine:

  • a purpose build residential assisted living three story property
  • on a plot with a 5 meter drop from front to back
  • with a brief for there to be no stepping (tiers) in the construction
  • all on a site in a flood plain footprint
  • and with the need to demolish a KwikFit unit seemingly 'propping up' two Grade II Listed buildings, one each side.
 ... well, apart from a monumental headache, this remarkable combination of factors were overcome to deliver  the McCarthy & Stone, Abbey Foregate, Assisted Living project in Shrewsbury. Behold the dream:

From Abbey Forecourt (the road from which the development is accessed), there is a 5 meter fall away to the lowest point of the development. This however, is located in an inner city flood plain.

The site is located in Flood Zone 3, as shown on the Environment Agency flood maps. The Flood Risk Assessment identified that the development would result in a net increase in displacement as a result of the new buildings. Consequently a flood compensation scheme was required.

A flood compensation scheme was designed for the site which comprised re-grading the higher elevations to provide reservoir storage for excess flood water in and extreme flooding event. This was undertaken in accordance with the Environment Agency policy for providing 'level by level' compensatory flood storage.

Much of the initial fall was taken by the drive and parking areas. Even this required a massive amount of earthwork to excavate a viable gradient for vehicular decent. Building the retaining structures was a test of flexibility, team management and communication. This was initially to be walled (as instructed) but was then banked and seeded for aesthetic reasons.

As walls became embankments, parking spaces were sacrificed to facilitate the slope. Eventually though, the landscaping worked both structurally and visually.

It is under the car park that a large water storage tank has been installed. This would hold rain water drainage out of the flood plain until it could be released back down and into the brook, running along the foot of the site.

 A hydro-brake after the tank allows water to flow out at a controlled rate, out of the tank, down and away in the brook. The self-activating vortex of the hydro-brake is geared to break the flow as the water level rises, slowing the flow in conjunction with the capacity of the reservoir.

Just what impact did the flood plain have and how was it handled?

In a word - massive !

Because of its location, analysis of the structural geology showed the whole area to be made up of very low grade clay. It was so poor that 20 meter piles had to be sunk before any construction could begin.

This illustration (above) has stripped out all the technical data to make it easier to see the physical impact of the flood plain compensation. The brook flows past the left hand corner of the image. The blue area running up the slope of the lawns is the extent of the worst case flood scenario and risk.

The white fascia elevation to the left of the development clearly shows the second, first and ground floors, with the ground floor running along the horizontal red line. The area within the hypotenuse is an open brick sub structure intended to accept flood waters without impacting on the 'raised' accommodation above.

The net drop (forming the short side of the triangle) is 2.5 meters - 5 meters below Abbey Forecourt.

The overall technical challenge was demanding. Although the actual construction of the accommodation, common rooms, amenities and reception was formulaic to McCarthy & Stone design. But the platform and infrastructure on which it was all to sit most certainly was not.

In part, technical competence plays a considerable part in the success of the project. Underlying that though, JMS' skills structure and project management prowess combined to keep all the agencies and development partners fully briefed on developments, changes, problems, solutions and progress.

Abbey Foregate - another one to be proud of.

Next time we'll look at how you get from this (left)... something more like this (right), without two Grade II listed buildings falling down - the Dun Cow to the right and the Post Office to the left.

Hats off and many thanks to Andy Kenyon and Bhavin Parmar both for undertaking the project and contributing to the blog. Part 2 to follow...

We add value to every project we have been,
are, and will be equally proud to support.


Wednesday, 19 April 2017

To the Polls - or is that to the Poles !

Will a stronger government give us a stronger Brexit ?

The unexpected announcement by Theresa May to call for a general election on 8th June has been welcomed in most quarters. The City particularly reflected a resounding 'hoorah' as the pound's value strengthened in response to the news.

It does add yet another level of uncertainty to the future of Britain as we will effectively be without a government for a month or so as Brexit deals teeter on the brink.

But it suggests a stronger base from which to negotiate after 8th June, given a stronger, commercially astute management board at the helm.

Mr Corbyn has welcomed the news, although like the ugly ducking in the river he'll be paddling like mad below the surface. Sir Vince has rules out any prospect of a Lib / Lab pact.

Nicola Sturgeon has thrown her bagpipes out of the pram saying 'but I wanted an election first - it's so unfair' (seemingly). And Mrs May has stopped any idea of a televised beauty pageant - so we could be dealing with facts not fiction for a change.

Ian Barber - director of communications at the Advertising Association said: "Our big message to government is that our sector is a case study in what our country needs post-Brexit".

His point - as is ours (Daniel Staines), is that core industry sectors (like ours) need the government focused on some tricky negotiations based around access to talent. "It's in no one's interest to come up with an immigration policy that undermines a global success story."

They criticise the U-Turn that led to the Prime Minister's announcement of the snap election. No such criticism here - it's simply tactical skill in a strategy of strength. You can't negotiate if you can't govern; and you can't govern without a majority.

Theresa May is facing MPs as we close this piece. They should vote in support of the election and at 16 points ahead in the polls, it points to a positive majority for the Tories.

Just thinking aloud - Daniel Staines.

We add value to every project we have been,
are, and will be equally proud to support.

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Innovate, Create, Automate - Daniel Staines.

There's been a great deal in the news of late, relating to automation and the advances of AI in current and future technical development. Just this morning, reports from the O2 Arena covered the public testing of a driverless shuttle bus.

Oxbotica, which developed the technology behind the shuttle, said 5,000 members of the public had applied to take part.

"Very few people have experienced an autonomous vehicle, so this is about letting people see one in person," chief executive Graeme Smith told the BBC.

There were big enough fears when they removed the conductor from the bus - and now they propose to get rid of the driver too - has the world gone mad!

That said, automation has a valuable place in the corporate infrastructure, as JMS continue to demonstrate.

The key to JMS high standards is 'quality'. Quality people, working as quality teams, delivering quality service through qualified skills.

But - and in his own words - Daniel Staines is confounded by one fundamental problem: " ... the lack of suitable staff." He continues "Since the recession of 2008, it has been noted that a 20% year-on-year reduction in technical staff coming to the industry and there is no indication of this changing course."

Daniel describes this as  "the first of two asteroids hurtling towards planet JMS".

He goes on to say: "The second chunk of rock heading our way (and everybody else’s too) is the next recession. If we go for a soft Brexit (i.e. productive negotiations), then this will arrive in 2020 – if we go for a hard Brexit (i.e. the UK takes an arrogant stance) then we will start to see Bank Interest rates drifting up in the 3rd Quarter of this year as the Government must address its Balance of Payments with short term lending."

Is this pessimism or realism. 

In fact, you could take it a stage further. One of the many unknowns about post Brexit Britain is how the movement of qualified labour will be affected. If we can't grow our own chartered and civil engineers, will we be able to import them or have we got to return to the educational drawing board.

Skill goes further than credentials. Skill is about innovation and creativity. The innovation to be different, inventive, to approach projects with originality that stands you apart from the competition. Creativity is the ability to then deliver that innovation. Identifying problems, creating solutions and delivering cost-effective benefits for client and company alike.

 The tools are here to support individual and team innovation, whichever office is managing the project and wherever the site may be. JMS' secure cloud technology gives team access to sophisticated structural and civil design as well as project management technologies: 

Masterseries - structural design software, analysis, 3D modelling, drafting for steel, concrete, composite, timber, connections, masonry, pile caps & retaining walls.

Revit - allowing users to design a building and structure and its components in 3D, annotate the model with 2D drafting elements, and access building information from the building model's database.

Scia structural design software, analysis, 3D modelling, drafting for steel, concrete, composite, timber, connections, masonry, pile caps & retaining walls.

Autodesk - Autodesk's architecture, engineering, and construction solutions include AutoCAD design and documentation software.

XP Solutions MicroDrainage - the leading drainage design software for stormwater and foulwater drainage systems.

Wrike - an online project management software that gives you full visibility and control over your tasks.  

10,000 Feet supporting resource management by creating an interactive schedule with a dynamic timeline that visualises the work plan for your entire organisation
Is this automation - nearly but not quite.

It can only be as good as it's operator. The levels of innovation supported by this cloud of powerful resource can't make its user innovative, it only supports innovation that's already there. The creative scope is exponential, but again the engineer needs to be a creative thinker in the first place.

Daniel Staines again: "Although we will now be taking a pro-active approach to sourcing staff, we must accept that this is going to be an uphill struggle and that any new staff will be a bonus – not a given.  It is therefore essential that we ‘sweat’ what we have - we must innovate, create and in particular, we have to automate".

We need to nurture our colleagues and further nurture budding future engineers in schools, colleges and through professional organisations such as IStructE and ICE to build a future for our industry and a commanding position for JMS within it.

We add value to every project we have been,
are, and will be equally proud to support.

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

High rising professionalism with IStructE – inspired by Andy Kenyon Kenyon (right) leads the East Midlands team of JMS and was Chairman of IStructE East Midlands until handing over to Steve Swindale (left) of Swindale Associates at the Chairman’s Installation Dinner on 10th February this year.

In its own words, “the Institution of Structural Engineers (IStructE) is the world’s largest organisation dedicated to the art of science and structural engineering”.

With 27,000 members in 105 countries it is internationally recognised as a source of expertise and information concerning all issues involving structural engineering and public safety. 

It supports and protects professionalism within the industry, upholding professional standards and acting as the global voice for the qualities of structural engineers.

The IStructE President, Ian Firth (above centre), was guest of honour. During the formal part of the evening’s procedures he thanked Andy for his year in office and handed over the ceremonial chain of office to Steve.

Part of the institution’s remit is to nurture and support students from the earlier years of merely considering structural engineering as a career possibility, through the studious and vocational years that build their professional commitment.

Andy and his team chose this as their focus for his year in office, extending the institution’s dedication to professional standards, competence and recognition. Qualification is not just a ‘cash-for-letters’ exchange (that’s just membership!).

Qualification is a lengthy process first to build a portfolio of representative structural engineering projects, then to pass a 7 hour exam (which has a mere 30% pass rate). Both require hard work and guidance.

Mentoring student aspiration is no small task. We know, because it is a major part of the national JMS ethos conceived by Daniel Staines and thankfully shared by the whole JMS team.

Part of a regional chair’s role is to sit on the Council that forms the central body of IStructE. 

Here, Andy was able to represent issues arising from the regional technical meetings and professional review meetings, both of which form the essence of regional office activity.

Young Members Group (Midlands) in action
In his outgoing speech, Andy thanked his committee members for their support, in particular Chris Leese (also of JMS) for his work with young members. This focussed on the development of the regional Young Members Group, which Chris leads. Efforts here delivered a 30% increase in student membership in the year and an 11% increase in membership overall. 

Chris is also on the committee for Young Members in London, showing the efforts IStructE is making to encourage, develop and welcome fresh blood and professional insight into the world of Structural Engineering. 

The future?

Every town and city in every country across the globe is growing and will continue to do so. If we're not building towards to skies, we're sub-structuring towards Professor Lidenbrock's very core (Jules Verne). 

From Lidenbrock's discovery of giant mushrooms, to global desire for giant structures, materials are constantly changing as technology demands more. 

The physical laws and empirical knowledge, which are key to structural engineering theory, must move in time with changing material performances and geometries.  

IStructE ?  High rising professionalism - indeed.  

Many thanks to Andy Kenyon for his valuable contribution to this blog.  
For JMS Midlands, please call 02476 350 505.

We add value to every project we have been,
are, and will be equally proud to support.