14 July 2017

As chair of the Government backed Digital Built Britain programme (DBB) to embed digital technology into the UK’s built environment, Mark set out details of the plan while addressing the Construction Leadership Council Industry Leaders’ Forum at the Manufacturing Technology Centre in Coventry on 11 July.

The sector deal, Mark explained, taps into the government’s new Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund to build on the successes of the recent BIM Level 2 programme, which has delivered huge efficiencies across the industry. It will bring together the new DBB programme towards BIM Level 3 and 4 with on-going programmes to create smart cities, work to embed manufacturing in the construction process and important progress  on digital security protocols.

“The proposal will create an industry-led transformation based on multi-disciplinary research and business academic collaboration,” explained Mark. “Initial analysis shows whole-life benefits from embracing a whole-life approach to construction delivery could be as much as 6% of GDP according to figures presented by EY’s Patrick Bossert. This programme is about helping the industry to create high performing infrastructure delivery.”

The CLC Leaders Forum was hosted by CLC chair and Crossrail chief executive Andrew Wolstenholme and Construction Minister Lord Prior. The event saw industry leaders gather at the Manufacturing Technology Centre in Coventry, to hear how the proposed plan could transform the sector through investment in digitalisation, smart manufacturing and through-life performance innovation.

The CLC plan for the industry is based around three common strands:

  • Digital: using technology to create better, more certain outcomes in the early phase of a programme; 
  • Manufacturing:  improve productivity in the delivery phase; 
  • Through-life performance:  asset intelligence to optimise performance over the lifecycle.

Mark explained to industry leaders that the initial three-year sector deal bid to create high performing infrastructure delivery was built around investment in a so-called Core Innovation Hub (CIH) which would comprise three major research and innovation centres that reach into and integrate technology and systems from across the whole industry knowledge base:

  • Digital Built Britain Centre (DBB): a centre to pull on capability from across industry to define new digital infrastructure standards and product specifications;
  • Integrated Production Systems for Smart Infrastructure Centre (IPSSIC): based at the MTC campus in Coventry, IPSSIC will be the home of the physical infrastructure delivery and maintenance industries process development programmes; 
  • Infrastructure Product Validation Centre (IPVC): based at BRE in Watford, IPVC will house large scale test equipment to test infrastructure components during development, and provide independent validation of functional performance.

Wolstenholme’s message to industry bosses was simple: success for the construction sector boils down to better, more certain outcomes through the application of digital technologies; improved productivity through a more manufacturing type approach; and developing infrastructure that is much more optimised through life in its performance.

“The challenge is how we can bring the spending departments, the industry stakeholders and the supply chain together around this common theme of digital, manufacturing and through-life performance” he added.  “We are working on the business case for this and we hope that this will be compelling and that large parts of the sector will support us.”

Image: Mark Bew pictured at a previous event with NBS CEO Richard Waterhouse