Some of the changes made by the building services sector to cope with the current COVID-19 pandemic will become permanent, according to two business leaders.
Swegon UK&I managing director Robin Vollert and the CEO of the Building Engineering Services Association (BESA) took part in a special crisis webinar to discuss the way ahead for the industry. They both identified future opportunities through the growth in digital methods and increased focus on the quality of the indoor environment to maintain health and wellbeing.
However, Mr Frise said it would take a long time for project teams to get back to working normally after the crisis and insisted that all parts of the supply chain would need to modify contracts in order to ensure losses were shared equally.
“Site operating procedures (SOPs) will have to remain in place so that the industry can go back to work safely,” he said. “This will mean we cannot be as productive as before and must make sure that pain is borne across the supply chain – not just by sub-contractors.”
SOPs will restrict the numbers of people working on sites in order to maintain social distancing and Mr Frise said it was vital that the industry was not rushed back to work too quickly.
“The government is very keen on ‘shovel ready’ projects i.e. it just wants us to get going, but people have to be able to work safely.”
Planning and design
He said planning and preparation would be crucial – and that the sector needed to get away from the model of build & design where projects are only partially designed before work begins. This often leads to serious problems further down the line that can seriously impact project costs and reduce the occupant satisfaction in the building.
Mr Vollert added that there could be some fundamental changes to the way supply chains operate as a result of lessons learned during the pandemic.
“This is a wake-up call for everyone about not relying on far away, fragile supply chains,” he told the webinar, which was chaired by Swegon’s Josh Emerson. “It is all well and good getting something cheaper, but where do you go for support when things go wrong? People will take fewer risks in the future.”
He said the ability of digital systems to provide remote monitoring of building systems was proving its value during the lockdown particularly where physical access has been difficult. He had also detected greater appetite for improving collaboration as firms attempt to work their way out of the lockdown.
Both speakers said there would be huge societal benefits in focussing on wellbeing in buildings following the crisis with a move to create indoor environments that deliver improved occupant health and productivity.
The Swegon webinar runs every Thursday afternoon at 3pm. For details of future topics and to gain access to previous recordings go to: www.swegon.com/uk/