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Was that client supplied document actually part of the contract??!!

“Congratulations <your company here>! We’ve selected you to be the lead engineer for our new silicon chip production facility!” “Well done on your tender…..now you should know that we have a few in-house company standards that we will need you follow……” If you’re lucky, this is the point where you are handed a comprehensively indexed memory stick containing only those […]

Would you let your car mechanic wire your house?

I have a fair amount of faith in my mechanic, and he is pretty good with automotive electronics, but I would still try and find an actual electrician to rewire my home. And yet there are strange occurrences like this in many engineering practices. For instance: Why do electrical engineers specify diesel generators when they are basically […]

Do you update your documentation to reflect a contractor led alternative?

Contractor led alternatives are a boon and a curse. The plus-side is that you often receive ingenious, practical, and frequently cost effective alternatives to the traditional design. The down-side is that your documentation instantly became obsolete and ambiguous. Now you’re faced with the question about what to do with your documentation? Do you stick to your design documents […]

How many times do I need to verify this?

So here is a typical construction engineering verification review process. If you are lucky, your organisation has standard template word documents. Each individual clause within that template document has been read, modified and re-read by some very experienced engineers. They generally sit around a table, or over conference lines, and argue with passion about items that would bore […]

Exactly what did you ask for again?

I once had a client on a mission critical facility ask me, “How can you convince me that everything that you requested in your specification was delivered?” To be fair, that is a very reasonable question. What followed was five days of re-reading the project specifications and cross referencing every clause that contained the words, ‘provide’, ‘deliver’, ‘issue’, […]

“Your document says all water pipework must be made of lead, but that standard was superseded a few years ago. We know you mean copper, so we’ll just go with that. Ok?”

Do you know that the International Organization for Standardization currently has over 19,500 published standards? The British Standards Institute has 37,000 published standards, and published 2,692 standards just last year! If only our specifications were so simple that we could just refer to one or two organisations! Even if we only refer to a fraction of their […]

“Help! I’m lost inside 500 pages of jargon describing something I’ve never seen, using words I can’t pronounce!”

One of the first jobs that we assign graduate engineers is to assemble a specification for a project. Writing your first specification is a daunting and intimidating task. I still remember the first time I opened a standard specification. Each page was packed with words that I had never heard before. Often describing things  that […]

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