£650bn Infrastructure Pipeline – Big Promises, Big Challenges
The UK Government’s recent announcement that £650bn investment has been earmarked for infrastructure development in the next ten years, hasn’t exactly been met with a great amount of enthusiasm. Those are big numbers, for sure, especially with £31bn available for spending in the next financial year. And there’s no debate that the infrastructure is needed for both social and economic projects. But while output might be up and the project pipeline looking healthy, the storm clouds are still rolling in.
Throughout the construction industry the effects of Brexit and Covid are being felt. There are few solutions to the current materials and skills shortages, and progress in terms of digital transformation and efficiency are still not where they need to be. How is the UK to build back better and build more, given these constraints?
With the severe skills shortage, companies will need specialists that can make an impact and generate significant value. Knowledge of emerging technologies, circular economy principles, and the ability to apply these to commercial or operational scenarios is what will help construction companies become more efficient.
Nobody likes the idea of machines taking over from humans, but the reality is that there are many tasks that are simply more efficient and cost effective when automated. It’s not just the labour that impacted, but all the additional factors with having people on site, such as additional H&S measures, limits on working hours or shifts, or infrastructure closures to allow work to take place safely. Further investment in automation can help construction make the most of these pipeline opportunities by achieving operational efficiencies.
Adoption of technology has been gaining momentum, but it’s still not standard in the industry. An incentive of new pipelines is the requirement for technologies such as BIM to be implemented but there’s still a huge opportunity to expand on the benefits of digital assets and technologies. The reality is that construction struggles with efficiency. Digital scanning and monitoring can go a long way to making sites safer and building more efficient if implemented properly.
The growing trend for joint ventures on major projects is a positive one as it enables each company to focus on their core areas of expertise. It would be great to see this expand to other complementary sectors and include sharing of best practices, innovation and technologies that can benefit the construction industry as a whole.