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Collaborate like never before – Product Platform Rulebook

Posted: 30th June 2022

Product platforms require ongoing collaboration between traditional competitors and are about much more than technical solutions. The construction sector needs to significantly shift its thinking and actions to unleash the benefits outlined in the Product Platform Rulebook. These are some of the key messages from a podcast recently released by the Construction Innovation Hub.

The Hub has just released a beta version of the Rulebook. The first edition will be published formally in September this year. Platform construction uses product platforms as standard, repeatable assets with interoperable components. Their use can reduce cost, waste, and carbon and help industry better deliver the future pipeline of projects and programmes.

The Rulebook is an open-access guide to support industry – clients, consultants, contractors, manufacturers and product suppliers – in building capability and capacity to develop and deploy product platforms to meet demand. In the podcast, the Hub’s Impact Director Trudi Sully is talking with two of the technical authors: Ron Lang, technical director – DfMA at Atkins, and Ben Carlisle, global practice leader for DfMA at Mott MacDonald. Ben was a lead partner for the Hub’s Product Platform Programme for several years.

Ron Lang says it is too easy to talk about product platforms as simply technical solutions. “The shift towards product platforms requires fundamental changes in the way that assets are operated. Most importantly, it requires a shift away from a reactive project mindset towards a proactive product mindset. This means we’re asking clients to ask for things in a more rational, predictable manner.”

He adds that sector-wide improvement in sharing data and learning from others’ experiences will also become increasingly important. “We will be required to look very carefully at the way assets are operated as a whole.”

Ben Carlisle says the construction sector already demonstrates collaboration in many instances, especially on large-scale infrastructure projects. “The Rulebook is about broadening the scope so collaboration can also take place outside of the project environment. It is also about developing more repeatable solutions that will be available to everyone.”

He says the Rulebook will help establish common ways of describing things. “It’s very hard to collaborate without this. With it, we can then establish common processes.”

Both emphasised the need for sector-wide collaboration at a scale never seen before, and for an open-minded approach to the structural and cultural changes needed.

Ron Lang says it is important to recognise that every project will likely still have an element of bespoke design. “Hopefully, we’ll find the sweet spot. How many product platforms will be needed in the market? How much competition is needed between them? Importantly, we hope to also see product platform providers sharing their ideas between each other."

To find out more, listen to the full podcast here.