Its time to engage (with the CCPI)
Author: Ian Exall CIMCIG
One of the few benefits of being old, and having a long career in the construction industry, is that you can often say that you’ve been there, done that, …. You know the rest. And in respect of the draft Code for Construction Product Information (CCPI), many of the recommendations are not new but best practice and in operation in some businesses today. The sad thing is, that it is terrible that we need the CCPI in the first place. I have always looked to the big brands in our industry as role models in what they do and how they do it. The ongoing inquiry into the Grenfell disaster is showing us that some of the worlds biggest construction brands have not been living up to that role model.
So the CPA have launched the draft code and a consultation alongside it. As a veteran of the construction industry and many years of product sales and marketing, I thought that I’d give my thoughts on the whole issue.
Having read quite a bit of material on social media and attended a number of webinars, I think that the first thing that we need to recognise is what the CCPI is not.
- It is not a mechanism to set a new model for product information to be published in a standardised way by all suppliers to the construction industry. Clearly there are advantages to making all product manufacturers produce information in a standard template and that is what would be a key facilitator to establishing the “Golden Thread”, but as an industry I suggest that we are a long way from that being possible for the whole industry.
- It is not a tool to make sure that products meet certain standards of performance or safety either. However, we do need to note that there is to be a new National Construction Products Regulator (and associated office) which I think is a good move.
What the CCPI is….
- It is aiming to be a framework for construction product manufacturers to give their customers correct and up to date information about their products. For me, the key thing that the CCPI does is to set a framework that should ensure that best practice operated by the few becomes normal practice for all of us.
- A draft. It will not be launched until the summer and after feedback has been considered.
I have seen and heard comments suggesting that the CPA is springing this on the industry and that it has come out of nowhere. I don’t think so…
- The issue of product information was identified as a problem in the Hackett report back in 2018. It was clear that something needed to change.
- The CPA were given the task to tackle this issue (and Product Competence) so a Marketing Integrity Group was created and made up of mostly people who do this stuff as their day job (not trade body employees).
- CPA members were largely kept aware of the groups existence and the workstream they were following throughout 2018, 2019 and last year (typically through weekly notes).
- There was a call for evidence survey in 2019. According to the subsequent report there were “…. 524 responses to the Call for Evidence from a range of providers and users of construction product information.”
- The CPA MIG has continued its work involving practitioners across the industry to get to this point.
Clearly it is awful that the stimulus to get to this stage resulted in so much horror and heartache. Indeed, following the CCPI alone wont prevent future disasters by itself. However, I genuinely think that an industry that provides feedback into the constultaion and then follows the resulting code will be doing its bit to work alongside the other Hackett Report measures to achieve that goal of delivering both a safer built environment but also one that the whole society would be proud of.
We should remember that the code is not asking manufacturers to meet standards and codes but to be transparent about what the product is, does and how it is proven to do that. When all players in the sector properly publish their product information it will be easier to compare products. Woolly language etc will disappear and a straight like for like comparison should then be possible. So, to get an advantage, the manufacturer will need to adapt existing products / offering or develop new. The code is simply the tool that sets the minimum standards to how you publish the data on your product when its ready for launch and promotion. I see it as a leveller where there are like for like products.
My main query with the draft CCPI is to do with the (CPIL). We don’t know much about costs and process so its difficult to form a view as to its value. From my reading of the CCPI, I can do all that it requires without registering with the CPIL. I will only do so if its affordable and most other product manufacturers do so as well. I have seen several schemes that have similarly tried to establish credibility in similar ways and they have failed because the whole target audience failed to engage (quite probably as the schemes were extremely expensive).
One other consideration…. Report, Setting the bar – a new Competence regime for building a safer future published in October of last year, included Working Group 12 – Construction Products Competence. It is my understanding that this piece of work will attempt to set out a framework whereby a business will need to establish levels of product competence for individuals that impart product information. The CCPI clause 11 overlaps with this … “Have in place a robust training programme (for new and existing personnel) to ensure that anyone conveying ‘Product Information’ is competent to the level of knowledge required for their role.”
I would like to see the detail of WG 12 as I think addressing the CCPI goes hand in hand with training of people to a defined standard.
Will the CCPI make a difference? I certainly hope so. We have a lot, perhaps not enough, marketing professionals within our industry. Many are CIM members which is great. The fact that we have the CCPI says that things are not perfect. I think that we all need to take on board what the CCPI requires us to do and, as Adam Turk said, we should do this. The code gives a framework but its down to the people in the industry to make sure that it happens and the mistakes of the past are avoided.
- This is a draft code. It is expected to be a final report / code in the summer.
- We are at consultation stage. The CPA need our views and opinions.
Be involved. Have your say. https://buildingsafely.co.uk/the-code/
Ian Exall is a CIMCIG Committee member and Commercial Director of insulation converter A I M Limited, part of the Performance Technology Group of companies.