Performance Based Spec

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eric9822

Senior Member
Location
Camarillo, CA
Occupation
Electrical and Instrumentation Tech
We write performance based specs all the time. It usually has to do with production rates and reliability of production machinery. What do you mean by "performance based"?
 

charlie b

Moderator
Staff member
Location
Seattle, WA
Occupation
Electrical Engineer
Most often a spec written for a fire alarm system will be performance based, rather than prescriptive. We tell the prospective FA contractor what the system has to be able to do. We don’t tell them what wires to use, or what components, or what system interfaces. We provide performance requirements, and let them create the detailed design.
 

horsegoer

Senior Member
Location
NJ
Most often a spec written for a fire alarm system will be performance based, rather than prescriptive. We tell the prospective FA contractor what the system has to be able to do. We don?t tell them what wires to use, or what components, or what system interfaces. We provide performance requirements, and let them create the detailed design.
Yes,basically what Charlie said but for other systems as well.
 

LarryFine

Master Electrician Electric Contractor Richmond VA
Location
Henrico County, VA
Occupation
Electrical Contractor
Most often a spec written for a fire alarm system will be performance based, rather than prescriptive. We tell the prospective FA contractor what the system has to be able to do. We don?t tell them what wires to use, or what components, or what system interfaces. We provide performance requirements, and let them create the detailed design.
I like specs like that. As one of my customers told me, "I care about the hole, not the drill."
 
I like specs like that. As one of my customers told me, "I care about the hole, not the drill."
Design build stuff gets done like that a lot. "Here is what it needs to be able to do, tell me what it costs to do it" kind of stuff. Fire alarm, security system, a/v systems, a lot of the low volt stuff ends up being written this way quite often. Turns into a bit of a bring me a rock exercise at times though cause of money complaints.
 

Besoeker

Senior Member
Location
UK
Design build stuff gets done like that a lot. "Here is what it needs to be able to do, tell me what it costs to do it" kind of stuff. Fire alarm, security system, a/v systems, a lot of the low volt stuff ends up being written this way quite often. Turns into a bit of a bring me a rock exercise at times though cause of money complaints.
We supply mostly into industry and we see both kinds of specifications. And a whole spectrum. If we're dealing with the end user as the customer, it is almost invariably performance based - this is what we need it to do, how you do it is up to you. It's how I prefer to do things. It allows you to provide the right solution for the job without unnecessary, unreasonable and sometimes downright unreasonable constraints.

Once it moves away from directly dealing with the end user there seem to be escalating opportunities to complicate matters. If you deal with a main contractor or a facilities provider to the customer that's bad enough. I had one project where we were providing power electronic controllers for a customer that we'd previously dealt with directly with for the same kit. Only this time it was via their facilities services provider. Call them FSM. Whole different ball game. A day or so after we got the order, the guy from FSM said he was going to come to me see me and bring the specs. It did cross my mind that he could have just sent them but then, face to face contact with your customer isn't a bad thing.

He brought the specs. Two big boxes of them - around five thousand pages in all. Some of it was reasonably sensible and practical stuff. For witness testing in our works, any temporary links had to be a particular wire colour. Never been asked for that before but, OK, that would make it easier to spot links that needed to be taken out prior to shipping.

However, a whole lot of it was irrelevant and a good portion bordering on the comical. There was a specification on how to write manuals - font type and size, line spacing, margins, paragraph indentation, grammar.....there was even a two page section on the correct use of the comma. It's almost straight out of the (revised in) 1939 copy Nesfield's manual of English grammar that I keep on my bookshelf......

Throw a layer of consultants into the mix and it ratchets up to a whole new level.
I've seen things like this:
"Motors shall be suitably rated for the required duty". Of course, but what's the point of such a clause? If omitted, could offer unsuitably rated motors and actually expect to win the bid? Just spell out the required duty and leave out this kind vacuous crud.

But I think the real gem that sticks in my mind is about packing cases. We got an invitation to tender for a number of fairly large variable speed drives for an overseas installation. The nub of technical requirement, ratings voltages ambient conditions, etc. was covered in just three pages. The specification for the wooden packing cases ran to forty pages. With diagrams of how to nail it together and at what angle the nails needed to driven in....

Yes, I guess this is a bit of a rant. Longer than my usual contributions.
If it gets no replies that's OK.
If it at raises even one smile, it was worth doing.
 
We supply mostly into industry and we see both kinds of specifications. And a whole spectrum. If we're dealing with the end user as the customer, it is almost invariably performance based - this is what we need it to do, how you do it is up to you. It's how I prefer to do things. It allows you to provide the right solution for the job without unnecessary, unreasonable and sometimes downright unreasonable constraints.

Once it moves away from directly dealing with the end user there seem to be escalating opportunities to complicate matters. If you deal with a main contractor or a facilities provider to the customer that's bad enough. I had one project where we were providing power electronic controllers for a customer that we'd previously dealt with directly with for the same kit. Only this time it was via their facilities services provider. Call them FSM. Whole different ball game. A day or so after we got the order, the guy from FSM said he was going to come to me see me and bring the specs. It did cross my mind that he could have just sent them but then, face to face contact with your customer isn't a bad thing.

He brought the specs. Two big boxes of them - around five thousand pages in all. Some of it was reasonably sensible and practical stuff. For witness testing in our works, any temporary links had to be a particular wire colour. Never been asked for that before but, OK, that would make it easier to spot links that needed to be taken out prior to shipping.

However, a whole lot of it was irrelevant and a good portion bordering on the comical. There was a specification on how to write manuals - font type and size, line spacing, margins, paragraph indentation, grammar.....there was even a two page section on the correct use of the comma. It's almost straight out of the (revised in) 1939 copy Nesfield's manual of English grammar that I keep on my bookshelf......

Throw a layer of consultants into the mix and it ratchets up to a whole new level.
I've seen things like this:
"Motors shall be suitably rated for the required duty". Of course, but what's the point of such a clause? If omitted, could offer unsuitably rated motors and actually expect to win the bid? Just spell out the required duty and leave out this kind vacuous crud.

But I think the real gem that sticks in my mind is about packing cases. We got an invitation to tender for a number of fairly large variable speed drives for an overseas installation. The nub of technical requirement, ratings voltages ambient conditions, etc. was covered in just three pages. The specification for the wooden packing cases ran to forty pages. With diagrams of how to nail it together and at what angle the nails needed to driven in....

Yes, I guess this is a bit of a rant. Longer than my usual contributions.
If it gets no replies that's OK.
If it at raises even one smile, it was worth doing.
Oh, indeed it did. I needed that.

One of the Specifying Engineer of a prestigious Engineering House tested me if I actually read the spec's so he inserted a section about acceptance testing with details about the mattress construction in the hotel where my accommodations are to be provided. (It was suggestively bawdy and would not fly nowadays as a joke.) SO one good turn deserves another I 'bleed' all over THAT section while making scant, if any, comments on the rest.
 
One of the Specifying Engineer of a prestigious Engineering House tested me if I actually read the spec's so he inserted a section about acceptance testing with details about the mattress construction in the hotel where my accommodations are to be provided. (It was suggestively bawdy and would not fly nowadays as a joke.) SO one good turn deserves another I 'bleed' all over THAT section while making scant, if any, comments on the rest.
Had an engineer that used to put in "if you read this and call me at xxx, i'll give you 50 bucks" at some random, little read spec section. He never got a call.
 

LarryFine

Master Electrician Electric Contractor Richmond VA
Location
Henrico County, VA
Occupation
Electrical Contractor
Years ago, probably back in electrician night school, an instructor told us a story about an instructor who instructed the class to each sign their name on the test, read through every question, and then start the test.

Reportedly, the last question stated something to the effect of: "If you have only signed your name, turn the test in as it is. You receive a perfect score for being capable of following instructions." (I wouldn't have. :roll:)
 
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