How does construction embrace innovation? Members Forum 10/06/2015

Don Ward started the day by paying tribute to David Bucknall OBE who had sadly died over the weekend. David had been a driving force for collaboration in the industry both through his own company Bucknall Austin/Rider Levett Bucknall and his involvement in Constructing Excellence as Chair of our Midlands branch and will be hugely missed. News article here

Don introduced the subject of the day, innovation in construction, by saying that while we don’t necessarily always talk about it, innovation is at the heart of what Constructing Excellence is all about. Don then handed over to our Chairman Murray Rowden who explained that to achieve the targets in the 2025 strategy we can’t just do what we are doing now better, we need genuine innovation. He then talked about how Constructing Excelence’s vision for 2025 would help achieve that. our vision

Don and Murray’s presentation

Simon Hart from Innovate UK, then spoke about their role to stimulate economic growth through innovation, and the part the construction sector had to play. Despite their being a perception that the construction industry is backwards when it comes to innovation there are encouraging signs of graduates creating start-ups in construction inspired by success stories such as Crossrail and the Olympics. There are four tests IUK applies when deciding to award funding:

1) is there a big enough market?

2) can the innovation be world leading?

3) is it at the right stage of development?

4) why does it need public money? – this is normally down to risk

Simon’s presentation

Julia Lydall from G4C then talked about their collaboration with BRE around big/open data in construction. She put forward the opinion that rather than guarding your data you should be as open with it as possible as it then becomes more useful. All the data from the IUK projects is open to access for all for example. You can read more about G4C’s open date project here

Julia’s presentation

Graham Clarkson of the Clarkson Alliance gave the final presentation of the day around their IUK funded project looking at using BIM on a social housing project. Graham’s presentation Points Graham took away from the project include:

  • BIM derisks the project process so where does that leave him as a project manager?
  • Importance of the Employer Information Requirement. Traditionally contractor responsible for defects in building, not defects in the information. What does the client want the data collected and used for?
  • Still need to change the dynamics and behaviours.
  • He gave the example of Waitrose moving away from D&B as it was used to transfer risk whereas with BIM the risk is reduced
  • Volume housebuilders are not adopting BIM because only location matters
  • BIM can revolutionise the industry. The technology is there and the software can be rented so it is down to people changing

After lunch the audience divided into four groups answering the following questions:

What is innovation?

  • Something that’s never been used before. Buildings that are faster better, cheaper than before. Problem is defining what the problem is
  • Problems
  • Waste – time, money, materials
  • Lack of connection between different parts of the supply chain and the end user
  • Adaptability
  • Lots of work for CE!

What is the value of innovation and how do we measure it?

  • What is the value of innovation
  • Time and money
  • Social element
  • How do we measure that?
  • Change – need to create a baseline
  • Change isn’t always good for the individual. Kodak example – they invented the digital camera but didn’t benefit. Law of unintended consequences
  • “The head of better” W1A
  • Two way street – sometimes we find the problem then the solution, sometimes the other way around

How and who will deliver innovation?

  • Everybody needs to be involved in the process of change
  • Driven by clients and developers – people who fund construction, but they can bring everyone with them
  • How? Through collaborative working. Research. Ideas from outside industry. Tap into academic research

What are the barriers and how can these be overcome?

  • Lack of leadership because innovation is a risk.
  • Economic case. Deskilling to use resource in higher value environment
  • Fun. Empowering the workforce

What are you/your company doing to encourage innovation?

  • Start with the end in mind
  • Include all stakeholders to develop the ideas that might be useful . Inclusive approach
  • Right resources. Time out to develop ideas.
  • Diversity of thinking. Having the right creative minds in the room
  • IQ Innovation Quotient – find the people will a high IQ in company and exploit them

Don also invited everyone to answer the innovation survey.