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How Does the BBA drive Innovation Within Construction

by Peter Chesters

We want to give you a deeper understanding of what goes on behind the scenes at Barbour ABI, as well as connecting with major figures within the industry to learn what makes them thrive. This month we spoke to Peter Webbon, Sales & Marketing Director at the British Board of Agrément (BBA). Peter delves into how the BBA drive innovation within construction, as well as helping product manufacturers manage their day-to-day responsibilities alongside larger matters, such as Brexit.

Hi Peter, what is your role at the BBA and can you give an overview of the service that the BBA provides?

I joined the British Board of Agrément (BBA) as Sales and Marketing Director in 2020, at a very exciting time for the business. 2020 brought new challenges to all of us in the industry, but the organisation took the opportunity accelerate transformation which led to significant change over the past 12 months; specifically to position the organisation to become client-focused with best-in-class communications. Heading up the Sales and Marketing strategies, my remit at the organisation is to ensure that we deliver a consistent customer experience which is engaging and value-driven, leading to long-term relationship-building with our clients, working collaboratively across the industry and driving growth within the business, so that we can continue to deliver and innovate for our clients.

For over 50 years, the BBA has been helping the construction and manufacturing industries build confidence in the solutions created, designed and implemented throughout the entire supply chain. Our primary services include Product Approval & Certification, Audit & inspection and third-party testing.

The BBA is one of the UK’s largest certification bodies regulated by UKAS (The National Accreditation Body for the United Kingdom), and is a key trusted partner providing impartial research, auditing, inspection, testing and certification services that help our clients mitigate their risk through enhancing opportunities and reducing threats; ultimately making our industry safer.

How does the work that the BBA provides help drive innovation and modernisation within construction?

The world of construction is forever innovating and expanding. The BBA believes that the only way to drive change, is through working together with the entire supply chain and construction community to truly deliver results – that’s why this partnership is so important to us. Joining forces with like-minded organisations who are focussed on improving, innovating and leading from the inside means that as a unit, we are much stronger.

The increased need for product performance and safety is why third part testing is integral, which is why our service offerings have been tailored to enable clients to obtain true value, while staying confident in the knowledge that their products and systems have been tested, audited and certified by an impartial 3rd party that focusses on credibility and quality.

Because of that, BBA certification has, for over 50 years, been synonymous with product quality, meaning that our clients can launch brand new products with a stamp of credibility that enables them to differentiate themselves in the marketplace, enter new territories previously unknown to them, demonstrate true product performance especially in the development of new technology and innovation, while all at the same time, complying to building regulations and legislation. Consider it innovation – but with added peace-of-mind.

Because the industry changes constantly, so too must the way that we work, test, and certify. That’s why the BBA’s dedicated workforce is the best in their field, with in-house expertise second-to-none. Some have been with the business for over 30 years, while others join us at the start of the careers and bring new value, thought process and decision-making habits to the business to help us all evolve and serve our customers better.

How has Brexit affected the BBA and what would you say is vital for product manufacturers to keep in mind at this time?

Brexit has affected the entire industry in different ways. And we’ve certainly felt our own share of those challenges too. Because the new legislation has just come into play, our positioning has been to work closely with the Government and professional bodies such as the CPA, so that we can help all our clients understand the latest updates and what it means for them; and help them adjust to new legislation and processes as efficiently as possible.

Brexit has certainly been a huge focus for us and although our Agrément Certification is unaffected, it is still important as with any legislation that can affect the construction industry, that we keep on top of any legislative changes, so that we can provide the best service to keep our clients and the supply chain moving.

For product manufacturers specifically, it’s important to consider the transitioning period from CE Marking to UKCA Marking. This has huge implications to imports, exports and selling goods within the UK, which can be complex depending on your position and where you trade goods.

The BBA is here to help and can guide many businesses throughout the whole process.

And what about contractors and installers? What would you say is vital for them to keep in mind?

The BBA have key partners in the EU that facilitate services that the BBA cannot provide, such as CE Marking – this is due us being situated in the United Kingdom. This relationship is important as our clients can still rely on the BBA to facilitate the requirements from a legal perspective, with little or no disruption to exporting, importing or sales within the EU and the UK.

However, both contractors and installers must understand the relevance of the changes Brexit is having on the construction industry, using the right products that conform to new industry standards, tests and regulations is as important as ever during time of change.

The big thing to remember here is that we’re here to help. Manufacturers, Contractors and Installers don’t need to feel isolated or alone. With Brexit, we take this complex information, interpret and simplify it for our clients. That’s what the BBA do…

What are you excited about achieving in your partnership with Barbour Product Search?

The strategic partnership between the BBA and Barbour Product Search will further help to connect the supply chain, driving businesses within the construction industry to move forward and beyond.

Delivering a world class service for our clients is our primary focus, be it through data or insight, this collaboration allows us to build on our own knowledge for the good of the industry.

We understand the BBA must maintains its relevance with specifiers and manufactures and this partnership supports our objectives.

The BBA is going through a period of positive transformation and growth and maintaining partnerships such as this, will keep the BBA well-balanced and at the forefront the construction industry, so that we can lead, and learn, at the same time.

The BBA may be traditionally associated with manufacturers, but what wider role does the BBA play in ensuring that the Construction Playbook is adhered to by contractors, installers and all other factors throughout the supply chain?

It’s important that the construction supply chain is fully-aligned, as this provides efficiency for everyone involved. Driving change cannot be an isolated activity; we can be so much more effective if we’re all joined up. And I’m proud to say that the BBA has already been doing a lot of this already through things like co-hosted webinars, and partnerships and more. But we’re just getting started – and we’re always on the lookout for opportunities to support other efforts who share the same focus.

We help mitigate risks and provide impartial testing and reassurance that the products we test and certify, are fit for the purpose the BBA have tested them for, keeping our clients on course to bring new, innovative products and designs through to market. This also helps make their Research and Development process more efficient.

In providing the services we do, working with internal and external experts, partnering with associations & organisations across the industry and maintaining strong ties within government, the BBA is helping to make the UK construction industry world class, with a strong focus on innovation and modernisation for the benefit of everyone.

With increased governance for standardised design, components interfaces, combined with a drive for innovation and modern methods of construction and collaboration at an early product specification stage, the BBA is well placed to support the playbook.

Alex Chisholm, COO for Civil Service and Permanent Secretary for the Cabinet Office states “This vision will only be achieved by working together and setting out clear requirements to reform the industry.”

We are excited about this next phase in the BBA’s growth and transformation plan, and we look forward to working even closer with industry to be able to deliver better for our clients.

Find out more about our webinar alongside the British Board of Agrément (BBA) technical director, Bill Hewlett

About the author

Peter Chesters

Peter Chesters

Head of Demand Generation at Barbour ABI

Peter has worked for Barbour ABI since March 2019. Beginning in the Barbour Product Search editorial team, he then moved into the Barbour ABI Marketing team in late 2019, mainly focusing on writing and content creation. In 2021 Peter began to head up the Barbour Product Search editorial team.

As Head of Demand Generation, Peter now works across Barbour ABI, Barbour Product Search and AMA Research, focusing on new business marketing strategy and content creation across the Barbour ABI Group.

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