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Leading industry figures to drive infrastructure template

Construction leaders are plotting an industry-led “template for change”, which they say will reform the way UK infrastructure is built and make the sector more attractive to investors.

The industry is preparing to launch an online industry programme, which major contractors, clients and the supply chain can follow, as a way
of meeting government calls for 20 per cent of efficiency savings in infrastructure.

It comes as Crossrail chief executive Andrew Wolstenholme - who has played a central role in previous industry reviews - warned that the industry “must wake up to opportunity for reform” set out in the Government Construction Strategy.

The template for change - devised by Constructing Excellence, Pinsent Masons, KPMG, Turner & Townsend and Manchester Business School - comes a fortnight before the government is expected to update its infrastructure pipeline of projects, first published alongside George Osborne’s autumn statement last year.

The initiative follows directly on from last year’s Infrastructure in the New Era report, which was published by the same group and supported by a ‘who’s who’ of infrastructure contractors, clients and government departments.

While the previous report identified what needs to be done - with a focus on intelligent clients, collaborative working and integrated supply chains - this initiative will concentrate on putting it into action.

Using the water industry as an example of successful collaboration, it will encourage the industry to set up alliances and partnerships that provide a complete service to clients.

The template will also focus on whole-life, end-to-end approaches to infrastructure programmes, rather than a project-by-project approach, which consider the wider infrastructure needs of the UK.

Constructing Excellence chief executive Don Ward said the initiative was as much to do with funding as it is improving the way clients and suppliers approach infrastructure schemes, pointing out that the industry also needs to make itself attractive to investment.

He said that 20 per cent efficiencies do not simply mean cutting costs, and could instead translate as efficiency savings or returns to investors.

”We are very keen that the government is not the only organisation that worries about funding - the industry has got to come up with the ideas as well,” he told Construction News.

Graham Robinson, global business consultant in Pinsent Masons’ construction division, said the template would provide practical help - for example, how clients could contract for a more standardised approach or the most efficient contracting processes.

“This is about affecting all of the metrics around projects and we are talking about a sizeable - ultimately a 20 per cent - reduction in cost in line with government aims.”

He added: “What you don’t do is go in and cut the profit margin of the suppliers.”

There will be a series of roundtables to finalise the template, followed by two meetings with the membership of Constructing Excellence in June and October. The aim is to involve the whole industry, with a launch date for the final template planned for the end of autumn.

The initiative has been welcomed by the industry. Balfour Beatty chief operating officer Andrew McNaughton said: “Infrastructure development is at the heart of the UK government’s drive for growth.

“To deliver this growth and to stimulate the wider economy, our industry must rise to the challenge of becoming more efficient.

“Through our end-to-end knowledge of the infrastructure lifecycle and by using the latest technology, such as building information modelling, we can find innovative solutions to ensure we deliver real value and cost savings to our customers and to UK plc.”

Royal Bam executive board member Martin Rogers - who is also a member of the CBI’s construction council - said he would be “very supportive” of the next steps.

He said the success of alliances, partnerships and joint ventures have been demonstrated on the Olympics and Crossrail, and stressed savings would be made through the delivery process, rather than through material or labour costs.

Mr Rogers said the template would not mean a “one size fits all” model, but that the best approaches should be more easily recognised and practiced more regularly.

 

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