Construction cranes
The construction sector's productivity is weak in comparison to other sectors
Richard Bell

Firms urged to ‘embrace new construction methods’ as report reveals £600bn project pipeline

The Government has set out plans to support a £600bn investment in Britain’s roads, hospitals and schools over the next 10 years.

Its newly published National Infrastructure and Construction Pipeline has shed light on the scale of public and private investment expected by 2028.

The pipeline includes schemes confirmed by Chancellor Philip Hammond in his Autumn Budget, such as the £28bn national roads fund, and other flagship projects like East West Rail, upgrades to make the M6 a smart motorway and the world’s largest offshore wind development, Hornsea Project One.

In a bid to ensure these projects are built to maximum efficiency, the Government is calling for greater use of more modern construction methods.

Top of the list is the manufacturing of components in factories using the latest digital tech before sending them to construction sites for assembly. The Government is committed to increasing use of this method, known as off-site construction, on publicly funded projects and has today (November 26) issued a call for views on the best way to encourage more firms to adopt it.

According to data, the construction sector makes a significant contribution to the UK economy, but its productivity is weak in comparison to other sectors, including manufacturing. The Government believes that applying modern manufacturing approaches on building projects will boost productivity and slash waste by up to 90%.

Robert Jenrick, Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury, said: “We are committed to renewing our infrastructure to drive economic growth in all parts of the United Kingdom. Over the course of this Parliament, investment in economic infrastructure will reach the highest sustained levels in over 40 years.

“And as the pace of technological change accelerates, we are stepping up our commitment to digital infrastructure, use of data to drive greater productivity and embrace new methods of construction.”

He added: “With £600bn of investment over the next decade, including the largest ever investment in our strategic road network, we are taking the long term action required to raise productivity and ensure the economy is fit for the future.”

Tony Meggs, chief exec of the Infrastructure and Projects Authority, commented: “Government is the largest client for infrastructure projects so has an important role in using its purchasing power to drive improved productivity in their delivery.

“We recognise there is significant momentum within the sector to scale up the adoption of more modern and innovative practices and it is the role of the IPA to help coordinate this approach across new infrastructure projects.”

He continued: “We would like to hear from a range of industry experts on government’s proposals for a Platform Approach to Design for Manufacture and Assembly.”

Highways England boss Jim O’Sullivan said: “At Highways England we recognise the productivity and efficiency challenges that the UK construction industry is facing.

“In recent years we have encouraged more computer-led design, automation, and pre-assembly across all of our construction activities. As well as driving productivity and efficiency, it improves worker safety and reduces delays and frustration for road users passing through our works.”

Jim added: “We will adopt ever increasing levels of automation and off-site construction on road improvement schemes and smart motorways in our next five year road investment programme.”

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