Monday, 2 December 2013

Here we go again?

The construction industry has a habit of sticking to what it has always done. 

The term contracting suggests that there is a legal agreement in place and that a relationship falls between the commencement and completion of this agreement. This may be over simplifying things but I believe it is this project and contract approach which is at the root of the lack of innovation across our industry.

As we head toward the end of 2013, those working in London are thinking boom times are here again. This confidence is having a ripple effect and is starting to effect the regions also

While in recession there has been an opportunity for discussion and debate as to how we could do things differently. Building Information Modelling has been the biggest development and discussion over the last 5 years.

BIM started off in the states as the reference term for the federating of 3D geometry. However, and particularly in the UK, it has become a collective movement for the improvement of the construction industry with the focus being on a single language which can be shared openly.

Many small to medium sized companies have invested and developed skills which can take the industry forward. However the laws of the jungle come into force when capital expenditure increases and confidence grows. 

The main contractors now have projects  and cash flowing through their accounts once again. They have projects  which have to be serviced. The quick answer is to recruit skills and talent from the companies who have invested in lean times. The lure of high salaries and company cars from the prelim pot is often overwhelming for the cash starved construction newcomer.

Whilst this is to be expected  and is the law of the jungle, the down side is we become project orientated as an industry once again and don't look beyond the current project or the potential for continual improvement. 

There are exceptions however who give hope for the future. Laing O Rouke are an excellent example of a business who have invested in the future, through the development of  processes and people. Their commitment to a high tech concrete factory and its technology alone has to be admired. They have continually invested in their young people and truly nurture talent.

Unfortunately in the recession margins have been slashed and their precence in the UK has reduced. I hope that clients will look at the long term value that the investment Laing O Rouke make can have on the wider industry and employment.

The only way we will achieve our 2025 vision is to take a long term view and to invest in our young talent. I hope the large contractors will take some of their profits  from an improving market and invest it wisely in the future so we can develop new intelligent methods of working.

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