Making the big leap forward: The need for construction industry to embrace innovation

Investment in infrastructure is vital for sustainable economic growth. Despite the growing demands for infrastructure, such as new telecommunications networks, sewers, roads, railways and wind farms, Britain lags other nations in the quality of its infrastructure.

The tendency for much-needed construction to be grossly delayed and run severely overtime and over budget, is coming at the detriment of our infrastructure and economy. Research shows that cancelled and delayed infrastructure projects are costing the UK economy over £48,000 per minute and estimates that during the next five years, the cumulative impact of project delays could see Britain miss out on around £35 billion of investment-related GDP.

Outdated and inefficient construction projects are being pinned on hindering the infrastructure growth the UK desperately needs. The construction industry needs to adapt to technological change, overcome talent shortages and smarten up if the UK is to meet its infrastructure challenges and demands.

Need for collaboration, risk and reward sharing

The outmoded construction habit of a fragmented supply chain needs to be replaced with a more collaborative approach, which sees greater integration between the different services. Objectives need to be aligned from the offset to help the project run more efficiently, to time and on budget and for objectives to be met.

Construction projects need to be set up robustly and managed in a streamlined, transparent manner. Greater transparency needs to occur throughout the project, including a more honest dialogue around risk. Contractors need to be better informed of the risks of their own responsibilities.

The drive to bring greater innovation to construction raises questions of where construction should take place. In the 2017 Autumn Budget, the government announced it is in favour of offsite construction.

“The government will use its purchasing power to drive adoption of modern methods of construction, such as offsite manufacturing,” states the Autumn Budget.

The initiative to create better efficiency with offsite manufacturing and digital design take priority spots on the government’s long-awaitedconstruction sector deal.

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) believes the sector deal will “shift” the industry’s business model. In its push to create greater efficiency and innovation within the construction sector, the £420m deal will focus heavily on research and development (R&D), better procurement systems, as well as promising £34m for training and 25,000 new apprenticeships.

Business secretary Greg Clark summed up the objectives of the sector deal:

“The construction industry is fundamental to growing our economy as we build to invest in our future. Major infrastructure projects like HS2 and the commitment to deliver 1.5M homes by 2022 mean that we need a construction sector that can drive innovation, delivering homes and infrastructure quicker.”

How Bailey Montagu can help

Bailey Montagu is a key partner to the construction industry. We are passionate about driving innovation and diversity and understand the individual subsectors of the industry. By helping companies find outstanding talent, which may often reside outside of the construction industry, Bailey Montagu can help organisations lead the way in creating more efficient infrastructure projects and meeting the government’s aim to bring greater innovation to construction.