Get access right, from the start

Here is our guide to the top five mistakes made in access specifications

Get access right, from the start.
It is common to receive architectural specification for building cleaning, maintenance and glass replacement strategies that can often be complicated, incorrectly specified or simply not possible. Here is our guide to the top five mistakes made in access specifications.

1 - Experts not consulted.
The specifications are often put together by someone not part of the access industry and not familiar with the different product types that can be used to achieve the required cleaning and maintenance.
This means that often systems are specified in a way that the product is not meant to be used; monorail track being placed in the wrong orientation, clashing with corners and overcomplicated line based fall protection systems are all common sights.
If an access specialist were consulted from the initial phases of the building project there would be significant cost and time savings throughout the project and the life of the building.

2 - Whole of life cost.
To be able to specify the correct system form the beginning as discussed above, the overall life cost of the system should be understood, as well as what the likely support from the facilities management will be.
A great solution can be found for the project, but if the maintenance costs exceed the Facilities Management budget for the building then the system will not be used.

Things to take into account for this are:
  • Equipment inspections (In line with LOLER Regs).
  • Equipment services.
  • Initial cost.
  • Cost of use (Facilities Management (FM) capabilities and costs).
  • Life span of system verses life span on building.

With a known budget the best system can be specified for the project from the outset.

3 - Comfort Zone
A frequent occurrence is for a specification to specify use of traditional methods that the architect or contractor is familiar with and is “the way we've always done it”, without knowing of the alternatives that may be more suitable to the current project.
This can often lead to over engineered machines/systems being used for a job that can be completed with the use of industrial rope access techniques. This affects not only the initial cost, but also the maintenance and service costs, as discussed in point 2.
Again this is another reason to speak to the knowledgeable and experienced people within the industry from the start so that all safe options can be explored within the current standards and regulations, not just choosing traditional methods of access systems.

4 - Mix and Match Solutions
With a lack of knowledge of the products on offer it is easy for someone to see things in a basic fashion and select one system to do the entire job.
Although this, in some cases, may be the best option, it is not always the case. Having a deep working knowledge of all access system types give the opportunity to select the right system for the right areas, this can mean using more than one type of system on a single building.

5 - Replacement Strategies
It is common for a buildings cleaning and maintenance to be put under scrutiny whilst the replacement of glass and façade panels/cladding to be left forgotten.
Replacement strategies are often an afterthought once the building is part or sometimes fully complete. This inevitably ends up problematic because no provision was included for from the start of the project. These systems should be considered at the same time as the maintenance system and incorporated into the access equipment on site. Systems that integrate all needs are much more effective and simpler to not only install but also to service and inspect.

The earlier all these points are considered the more chance of the most appropriate and cost effective system being selected for the project; considering not only the initial cost, but also the cost for the whole life of the building.