Construction industry must innovate to survive and prosper

The construction industry is on the edge of a revolution, and it’s either innovate and succeed, or stagnate and disappear. So says expert Richard Threlfall, head of Infrastructure at KPMG.

Threlfall’s view is that UK construction is at the crossroads. There is an inexorable need for “breakthroughs”, and that is exactly what the Specialist Contractor’s support network were pushing for at their recent conference.

Appropriately named, “Breakthrough Construction 2014”, their second annual conference was hosted by last month (June) in Nottingham.

The event saw over 100 Specialist Contractor delegates from the UK construction industry in attendance. Speakers, included the keynote speaker and London Underground Head of Commercial – Infrastructure, Geoff Gilbert. Gilbert spoke of the current supply chain delivery model being outdated and ill-equipped to carry us forward in this new, post recession economy.

“The current construction supply chain approach is unsustainable” he said, and went on to mention that UK infrastructure is actually 20% more expensive overall than its European counterparts, largely down to the current out-dated approach.

Gilbert also mentioned the London Underground (LUL)’s new approach, which involves working direct with Tier 3 and 4 Specialist Contractors in order to sustain quality and productivity but reduce costs and potentially improve time scales of works.

Other notable themes from the conference included the increasing use of technology to bring specialist contractors together with both clients and industry peers. Growing construction businesses through adding value was another hot topic.

Various speakers highlighted ways in which payment issues and other problems that commonly arise can be identified and avoided, and how they can be solved.

“The positive atmosphere that resonated throughout the day showed that the specialist contractors in the industry are ready for positive change, and welcome innovation with open arms,” said Streetwisesubbie MD Barry Ashmore. “We must all innovate to survive. But the underlying message still remains, that unless everyone buys into it, a full scale innovative age for UK construction may never dawn.”

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