CECA was delighted to launch its new member-led group Infrastructure Futures at the Interchange Conference in Birmingham this week.
This group will focus on the adoption of technology and digital systems by civil engineering contractors, and most importantly, understand barriers to take up.
Our inaugural session was well attended by CECA members, policy makers, lawyers and tech providers and the room was full of energy.
Attendees were asked to give an overview of what they saw as the biggest opportunity and challenge for civil engineering contractors utilising technology and digital systems.
A number of key themes emerged:
Procurement The process for those working in the public sector has not caught up with emerging solutions and offers little directional consistency across sectors and clients. This makes it challenging for contractors to develop and roll out innovation.
At the same time, clients are not maximising innovative opportunities via effective utilisation of Early Supplier Involvement, so we tend to rely on tried and tested delivery.
We continue to operate in a financially restricted environment, with an uneven balance of risk between client and the supply chain, meaning investment in the innovative solutions we need is difficult.
Policy environment The Transforming Infrastructure Performance Roadmap to 2030 will change how Government and industry decide to intervene in the built environment, to drive a step change in infrastructure performance by using modern digital approaches and technologies, alongside improved delivery models to achieve them. As CECA, we need to help our members engage with this approach and continue to work with Government and clients to meet this aim.
Interoperability The group understood the benefits of being able to save and use information independently of the technologies used to gather and deliver it. Attendees also spoke of the challenges of managing the volume and the ownership of data gathered.
Commonality We noted that there were many great tools to drive innovative project delivery such as the Construction and Digital Playbooks and Project 13, but we also recognised the importance of maintaining consistency and commonality in their use by clients.
Skills and talent In the session we talked about the general skills challenges surrounding our sector. In relation to tech and digital, this is exacerbated by a shortage of providers to deliver the fast paced and continually evolving training industry needs.
Market access for SMEs Representatives from smaller businesses spoke of the innovative solutions they had developed, but of the barriers they faced in rolling them out across the wider market place.
Our next steps will be to formally establish the member led group and elect a Chair, who will be from a CECA member company. After which we will publish the group’s Terms of Refence which will include open invitations to speakers to address our meetings.
If you are a CECA member and would like to join the group, or be considered for Chair, or if you are a tech provider or policy maker and would like to update us on your work and understand further how we can join together, please contact CECA Director of Operations Marie-Claude Hemming.