What should Construction be famous for?

CLC launched its focus themes at a Leaders’ Briefing last week when Co-Chair Andrew Wolstenholme called out for the industry to collaborate as well as compete.

Setting out our ambition to be a leading Industry Council, Andrew called out the CLC’s focus on three key areas where the industry can secure a significant acceleration through competitive collaboration:

• DIGITAL – Delivering better, more certain outcomes by using digital techniques to lock in design early

• MANUFACTURING – Improving productivity, quality and safety by increasing the use of off-site manufacture, logistics and other lean techniques

• WHOLE-LIFE PERFORMANCE – Getting more out of new and existing assets through the use of smart technologies to deliver better whole life performance.

To take the example of the UK’s world-leading aeronautical Industry, these are our ‘wings and engines’, the areas where intense collaboration will create genuine competitive advantage for the industry as a whole. Given construction’s pivotal role in supporting investment in the UK’s productivity growth, it is vital that we are match-fit and ready to step up to the challenge.

Digital, Manufacturing and Whole-life Performance are all well-known solutions to well-established challenges in our industry, so what is it about the CLC’s approach that will enable us to make a difference through focus?

Our belief at the CLC is that there are a small number of things that the CLC can do well and we will concentrate our efforts on these.

The first is that we recognise that we can learn from other leadership councils. Dick Elsy, CEO of the High-Value Manufacturing Catapult emphasised that the lessons learned through collaboration in the automotive industry can readily be transferred to construction – there simply need to be enough organisations involved to create a critical mass focused on a particular industry challenge.

Second, we have recognised that the CLC needs to provide direction for change in targeted areas, so we have chosen to focus our efforts on six work-streams:

• Business models and supply chains
• Skills
• Sustainability
• Innovation in buildings
• Smart technology
• Exports.

Our work-stream leads will be reaching out to the industry to secure support to develop and drive their agendas in a collaborative way, identifying areas for example where skills and supply chain need to work together to eliminate a blocker to progress.

Finally, we recognise that we have a role in leading the industry, and in particular in creating the critical mass and collaborative spirit that will be needed to unlock funding and support for innovation that will be an essential part of our response to the industrial strategy.

Last week we took a small but decisive step in sharing the work of the CLC with a group of industry leaders. In the room we all believe that we are part of a great industry but that we can do so much better. We need to do things differently and that is our collective challenge. The next steps in our journey will be to work with volunteers from industry to implement our work-stream plans.

In six months’ time we will hold another briefing. However, it will be held in an innovation centre rather than a conference centre. It will feel different because we will be acting differently. We will be cohesive and we will be collaborative and our efforts will focused on digital, manufacturing and whole-life performance.

That is what construction must be famous for.

Simon Rawlinson
Arcadis and Head of Strategy and Communication, CLC

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