The announcement of a 9 month delay to the opening of the much anticipated new Crossrail project in London, not only made headlines in July 2018. It also highlighted a major concern in the infrastructure industry: Governments inability to deliver on major flagship infrastructure projects.
With cost over runs in excess of £600m, it’s certainly takes a chunk of funds out of the purse, questioning if the same will happen on other major projects such as the Thames Tideway Tunnel and HS2?
As a result of the Crossrail delay infrastructure output forecasts were revised from a growth rate of 3,2% to 0,8%. As infrastructure remains a primary driver for the UK construction sector as a whole, the decline in output is certainly a cause for concern.
Forget the forecasts, delivery matters
Optimistically, forecasts predict that infrastructure output will accelerate to 8,8% in 2019 to £23bn which is considerably higher than previous years. However, these predictions are based on major projects such as HS2, Hinkley Point C and Thames Tideway Tunnel moving forward unhindered.
To date almost all of these projects have been dogged by controversy and delays, so how contractors hope to achieve this is debatable. Unless contractors are actually able to deliver according to projected outcomes, these optimistic figures don’t mean much.
What does infrastructure need?
Recently an HS2 joint venture announced a saving of almost £2 million on civils works by using BIM technology. It highlights the cost and risk management benefits of integrating technology into more areas of construction. Could there be other technologies and innovations that could help streamline engineering processes and speed up project delivery?
Essentially what it comes down to is contractor’s abilities to more effectively predict and manage risks. It is suggested that a more collaborative approach within the supply chain could support this. Rather than only bringing in subcontractor expertise when the work starts, involving them in the planning and procurement stages can provide greater insights as to possible risks and make it possible to mitigate these.
If infrastructure is to lead the way within the construction industry, it will be up to the major role players to demonstrate how collaboration and digital transformation can make a difference in output. Achieving on-time and on-budget delivery should not be something on a wish-list, it should be a strategic goal that contractors work to achieve.