In this year’s GeoBusiness held in London, Simon Rawlinson of Arcadis, passionately delivered an argument for improving the efficiency of the construction industry in the UK. He believes that digitalising (and employing BIM and geospatial tools) is important to make the UK construction sector attractive to investors again.
Construction productivity in the UK has no significant improvement at all in the last 25 years. It’s so unproductive that it attracts zero contractors and investors and pulls along the rest of the economy. The following are just some key points that play a role in the transformation of UK’s construction sector.
Project Clients Need to Know Their Role
Project clients or owners underplay their role in disrupting the current UK construction practice. Procurement is one of the practices responsible for the low level of motivation you find in construction productivity. Lowest bid based on CAPEX is not exactly the nest encouragement for innovation. It seems that this procurement policy is in the works for replacement with a different process — some government procurements have been based on lowest OPEX or TOTEX. One example in the bid for providing rolling stock for the Crossrail line, which was based on lowest OPEX that resulted to important innovation: smart sensor-equipped trains.
Another problem in UK construction is the lack of collaboration. Traditionally, construction professionals in the UK only competed and collaboration is an entirely alien idea. This, however, seems to be changing, too. Large project, like the Crossrail, have sparked collaboration in an old system that discourages it.
In order to encourage a more collaborative practice, the UK construction industry needs to adopt working with shared data. Starting with common standards of collaborative project management and delivery, competition based on a common platform will allow innovation to thrive.
We are all aware that a BIM model is the digital representation of a building project and a 3D map of an infrastructure is the digital copy of the actual. In order for everyone to be connected with the real-time model and 3D map of a project, data must be accessible to everyone through a shared platform. Once everyone has access, collaboration is easier and everyone’s role in the project is transparent to everyone.
The entire UK economy is moving towards a data-driven one. Like how it is everywhere, UK’s construction sector is behind in adopting technology as compared to other sectors. With the Construction Leadership Council (CLC), one of the leading UK leadership councils, projecting a goal of lowering construction costs by 33% and improving delivery turnaround by 50%, the new government has to do something to drive the construction industry’s digitalisation. Digital Built Britain and Construction 2025 has already stated their goals. Let’s see how the government and private sectors would approach digitalisation in terms of better data and information management, digital fabrication over on-site development, TOTEX-based procurement, and using regulations.
Obviously, the UK construction industry is ripe for disruption. For a bigger scope of the trends in UK construction, don’t hesitate to read on what’s happening with the UK’s BIM Level 2 mandate and how the UK’s construction industry growth has dipped the lowest this year even with continuous infrastructure investments. If you’re part of the UK construction industry and want to get ahead with the trends, download a free ebook on how to boost your productivity in the construction jobsites.