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UK Construction Week 2019 day one: what we learned



Day one of the UK’s largest built environment event was – naturally – full of expert insights and important conversations from across the sector. It’s a key date in the calendar for a reason; the event seeks to shine a light on the most vital issues and opportunities faced by the industry – from architects and specifiers to housebuilders, contractors and everyone in between.

This year, the theme is innovation and there is certainly a clear focus on the future. In essence, how can we come together to make the construction industry more profitable, more productive and more sustainable in the coming years? And what can we do about it right now?

Digitise or die

One of the first talks of the day addressed this head-on, with architect George Clarke leading a discussion on the solutions that will transform the way we build, increase profitability, deliver projects faster, safer - all without having to compromise on quality.

Entitled: “Are you being left behind? Capitalising on innovation and disruptive change,” the slot saw Clarke being joined by leaders from forward-thinking organisations such as Big Innovation Centre and Construction Blockchain Consortium. All emphasised the rapid speed at which the sector is evolving and how important it will be for every single business within it to keep pace with the change. 

Although not necessarily a new topic, it was great to see how well the audience engaged with the issues raised and showcased why digital transformation is on everybody’s minds.

As Felipe Manzatucci, director of digitalisation at Skanska UK, highlighted later in the day: “Construction is one of the least productive industries in the UK. If you want to stay in the game, digitise.”

Zoning in

And speaking of innovation, the newly-created Innovative Zone provided an inspirational look at the disruptive businesses that are creating genuine change within construction. As organisers highlight, the aim is to show how innovation can create new value in the industry and stop the short-term, purely cost-driven ‘race to the bottom.’

This came across strongly when visiting stands such as JCB Industrial. It’s a business that has been around for decades but has its sights very much on the future of construction, using technology (such as its new “Hydradig” excavator) to improve efficiency and productivity across the board.

A number of other launches were also on show, such as the debut of Platform Design Programme - a project that encourages innovation in offsite construction for a range of projects, including schools, hospitals and prisons.

Offsite

One launch that garnered a good deal of attention was a unique, curved eco-building with a green roof. Exhibited by manufacturer, Green King, it formed just one small “pod” of an entire building structure – a number of which are already in use residentially, commercially and in public buildings such as schools and visitor centres. The structure is manufactured offsite in modular sections and delivered to site virtually complete.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, given that it is often cited as one of the key solutions to the UK housing crisis, offsite was another central talking point of the day. In her talk, Lorraine McMorrow of The McAvoy Group explored about how digital technology is advancing off site construction – speaking at length about the latest digital techniques which radically improve the way we design and produce new buildings. For example, she discussed how BIM, virtual reality, augmented reality and laser scanning is driving offsite construction to the next level. A fascinating insight.

Key takeaways

As the sun sets on Birmingham’s NEC and exhibitors head to the Beer Festival which is kicking off the evening’s festivities, below are just some of the most salient points we have taken on board. Another great day in store tomorrow!

·         Digitise now, or risk being left behind

·         As a priority, organisations much change their mindsets, embrace innovation and attempt to drive disruptive change

·         Offsite will continue to play a vitally important role in future

Tagged with: B2B PR agency Manchester , Built Environment, Construction

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