Chair’s Letter: The Digital Twin: Why, What and How

Blog Author: Richard Saxon, CBE The built environment is officially regarded as an enabler of the economy and of our quality of life. By the ‘built environment’ I mean the complex of economic sectors which plan, regulate, develop, design and build, operate and maintain the physical fabric of our civilisation, its buildings and infrastructure. These sectors total between 15 and 20% of the total economy and the current government view is that the success of built environment investments should be measured by the outcomes they…

Chairman’s Letter: Australia Sweeps Test Series

Blog Author: Richard Saxon CBE No, this isn’t about cricket. It’s about learning from Australia how to deliver buildings that perform as specified. In October 2017 I wrote about the ‘Soft Landings’ concept as a way for designers and builders to incorporate facility management needs into their process and ensure that buildings perform properly. This tool is part of the Government’s version of BIM Level 2, but not widely understood or used beyond that. We remain a country with published aspirations to achieve high physical…

Chairman’s Letter: “The Question of Quality”

Blog Author: Richard Saxon CBE When a construction client signs a contract to deliver a project, they usually have three targets in mind: to deliver the required facility on budget, on time and to required quality. Cost and Time have proved relatively manageable, with objective evidence and increasingly clever tools with which to manage. Quality has never been so simple. There is a perceived degree of subjectivity about it and it is quite hard to monitor the progress of work to ensure that all standards…

Professional Futures

Blog Author: Richard Saxon CBE, JCT Chairman Every part of the construction industry is challenged by rapidly evolving threats: stagnant productivity, falling human resources, failing business models, climate change, globalisation, advancing computer power, to name some of them. Most attention is paid to the plight of contractors and specialists, but the world of consultancy also faces these same issues. Professionals additionally face falling credibility and authority as respect for expertise declines. Their professional institutions seem powerless to communicate the value of the professional contribution to…

Lucky 13?

Blog Author: Richard Saxon CBE, JCT Chairman Construction is many industries within one classification. It stretches from the mammoth to the minute, from infrastructure work like HS2 to household repair tasks. Any critique of construction therefore needs to recognise the part of the industry to which it refers. The statistical classification of the industry also fails to include its clients and consultants, essential parts of the cultural and economic system of the built environment. All that having been said, new initiatives at one end of…

‘Re-integration’

  Blog Author: Richard Saxon CBE, JCT Chairman The collapse of Carillion is probably another nail in the coffin of the current UK model of main  contracting where virtually all the trade work is subcontracted. Over fifty years in the industry, I have seen the change from traditional contractors with their main trades in-house to the current, insustainable pattern. The vertically integrated contractor was brought down by recurrent business cycles which punish employers. Once the idea spread that trade specialists could be hired in just…

The Sector Deal

Blog author: Richard Saxon CBE, JCT Chairman The Construction Leadership Council is an innovation set up by Government in 2016 to provide a successor to the concept of the Chief Construction Adviser and to provide an expert body to guide government in its approach to the industry. The concept was to select a group of chief executives or chairmen from leading firms across the supplier landscape, co-chaired by the construction minister and a major client, Andrew Wolstenholme of Crossrail. Government disdains the bodies set up…

‘Going Soft’

We need to be harder on ourselves as an industry and admit that most of our new buildings reach the end of their defects liability period without ever delivering the performance that they promised. BREEAM ratings at design stage do not predict carbon emissions commensurate with the grading. Sometimes, the certificated building burns several times the expected energy consumption. And typically, we don’t go back to analyse the performance, nor the workability of the design for the purpose intended. We move on to the next…

Is there a blockchain in our future?

The digital transformation of construction rolls onwards, adding yet more ideas. After BIM, GIS, IoT and 3D Printing comes Blockchain. This financial technology (fintech) concept is the power behind Bitcoin, the shadowy cryptocurrency that currently oils the wheels of nefarious businesses across the world. So, why would this be a relevant idea for our industry? I’m not going to attempt to explain how blockchain works, but it essentially allows all parties to a trade to access an incorruptible record of transactions. It allows trust in…

Is offsite the answer?

The construction industry is heading for the buffers. Capacity is draining out as skilled tradesmen retire and few enter as apprentices. The go-to supply of EU migrant tradesmen is likely to be restricted soon and is already less interested as the pound falls. Construction quality is poor in the housebuilding world. Mark Farmer’s message: Modernise or Die, which I quoted in my last newsletter, is clear that a major move to offsite construction is needed to keep the industry from decline. The proponents of offsite…