Construction priorities Ellis Fox Blog

Shifting priorities in UK Construction

Once again UK Construction leaders are facing difficult decisions while various role players debate what factors should be the top priority. Economic activity, relief funding, project progress and staff safety are all are important, does it really have to be a choice between one or another?

On the positive side for the industry, the construction of HS2 has been reconfirmed and main contractors involved in the project are forging ahead to ensure that the project gets underway as soon as possible.  But it’s the technicalities of what’s possible at present that’s adding to the decision making dilemmas. Supply chains have been affected as well as workers and the task of getting materials machinery, and supplies to site have become more complex.

Before the pandemic, main contractors were focusing on getting new orders, output and profits up and the year even started to show signs of growth. Now with many sites closed and others questioning whether it’s wise to remain open or re-open, the question has shifted from what resources can be allocated to projects to how can projects make progress amid restrictions and limited capacity? Here are three possibilities:

Automation:

There is often harsh criticism when innovators introduce the idea of automation or robotics because people make the assumption that employing these technologies will result in job losses. However, in the current circumstances where social distancing is essential, automation and robotics technology could well be the tools that keep projects progressing.

Learning new technology:

One of the stumbling blocks to introducing new technology is the learning curve. With many employees already working under huge workloads, finding the time and mental capacity to get up to speed on new technology is often difficult. If employees are currently furloughed or aren’t able to work on site. Now may be the ideal time to provide them with the opportunity to learn and get familiar with new technology tools so that when they can return full time to work they will do so being better equipped to operate more efficiently and possibly make up for lost time.

Detailed Planning:

While planning is an essential element for all projects, often it is fast-tracked because contractors want to get things happening on the ground. As a result many aspects are sometimes overlooked or inaccurately budgeted for. What if this time could be used to conduct more detailed research, modelling and estimations so that when the projects go ahead in the future, it will be with fewer problems or disruptions?