Doka UK 08 March 2019.- Uncertainty can be overcome with planning. For this reason, the UK Infrastructure Plan is a very interesting topic within the construction sector. New modern construction methods, new processes adapted to the digital transformation and new public plans to develop skills are all subjects discussed within the National Infrastructure and Construction Pipeline 2018 report. We highlight these subjects with reference to articles produced by Planning & Building Control Today, New Civil Engineer and Infrastructure Intelligence magazine, amongst others.
We will begin by looking at an article produced by Planning & Building Control Today, which bases its analyses around the National Infrastructure and Construction Pipeline, published in the final quarter of 2018.
“Using modern methods of construction can provide a significant opportunity to reshape the peaks and troughs of demand for labour and establish a sustainable, skilled workforce that is not limited by location or the type of construction. It could also assist in managing overheated areas of the country where labour is in high demand, which can be a contributory factor to increased risk, cost, time and lower quality.
Digital has become synonymous with productivity within all walks of life, including construction, where it was catalysed by the UK Government Construction Strategy mandate for Building Information Modelling Level 2, which has led to an explosion in digital technologies in the sector.
Enabling stakeholders to determine what is value for money for them without limiting their ambition. To do this, we need to reduce the choice available for a small number of aspects and allow innovation and continuous improvement to thrive. Helping to contribute to this, the UK government has set out plans to invest £600 billion in infrastructure development over the next decade.
Infrastructure Intelligence magazine have highlighted the following assessment on the UK Infrastructure Plan
Central to the success of the £600bn pipeline is a renewed focus of implementing more modern approaches to construction as the government calls for expertise to advise on greater use of cutting-edge techniques.
As the sector continues to fall behind it rivals in terms of productivity, policy makers are keen to apply more manufacturing approaches in the hope of boosting levels and reducing waste by as much as 90%.
The mass investment programme within the government’s national infrastructure and construction pipeline include the £28 billion national roads fund, as well as other flagship projects like East West Rail, upgrading the M6 to a smart motorway and Hornsea Project One – the largest offshore wind farm in the world.
Commenting on the pipeline, Chief Executive of the Infrastructure and Projects Authority, Tony Meggs, reaffirmed how important government was in driving productivity as the largest client for infrastructure projects. “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 added. “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.”
The exchequer secretary to the Treasury, Robert Jenrick added: “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.”
Industry has broadly welcomed the publication of the updated National Infrastructure and Construction Pipeline with some believing it could play a critical role in driving economic growth across the UK. However, others said that there wasn’t enough detail of future investment plans in the pipeline.
Hannah Vickers, Chief Executive of the Association for Consultancy and Engineering, said: “The pipeline is a useful planning tool for industry and provides a long-term view on the investment plans of government, councils and the private sector. However, the 2018 publication does not demonstrate how we are going to meet the country’s needs in the longer term, as outlined in the National Infrastructure Assessment published earlier this year, and is therefore of limited use.”
Hannah continued,“As it currently stands, we are reaching the end of the spending review and AMP settlements which bring their own levels of uncertainty in the medium term. Furthermore, the pipeline excludes detail on most regional transport spending. All of this means SMEs, and those who work on smaller projects, have fewer opportunities to plan and engage. The industry wants the pipeline to deliver the right blend of short-term certainty and a longer-term direction of travel. This will ensure we have the confidence to robustly prepare for delivery and the opportunity to proactively respond to the challenges of delivering the pipeline in its entirety. There is an opportunity in next year’s iteration and on conclusion of the spending review and AMP settlements, to provide a comprehensive and sound view of future investment plans.“
CECA (Civil Engineering Contractors Association) Director of external affairs, Marie-Claude Hemming said: “We especially welcome record investment for our road network, improving journeys for all and helping to make the UK an attractive place to live and work. Delivery of such substantial investment to drive economic growth, goes hand in hand with driving greater efficiencies and exploring opportunities for transformative innovations where possible. To this end, we look forward to working with government and the wider industry to ensure this pipeline is delivered effectively, drawing where we can upon the new technologies available.”
WSP director Adrian Hames said: “Our society is changing, and so are our businesses, and the need to build modern and most importantly flexible infrastructure that makes use of the latest technology has never been greater. As we gear up towards Brexit, we need to find new ways to attract private investment so we get construction underway and start delivering on these transformational infrastructure if we’re to truly maintain our edge as a global leader.”
Assessments from Strategic Consultants, including KPMG
The magazine ‘Infrastructure Intelligence’ has also reported assessments of the Infrastructure plan with reference to Strategic Consultants such as KPMG:
One of the UK’s big four auditors has said the UK government’s National Infrastructure and Construction Pipeline is meeting National Infrastructure Commission’s spending recommendations but more needs to be done to drive private investment.
The analysis shows that energy remains the biggest sector by spend, with £189bn in committed investment, although 73 per cent is allocated post-FY22. Transport is second with £123bn, followed by utilities at £47bn, with funds in these areas being allocated up to FY22. Other key sectors are housing and regeneration (£14.4bn), education (£14bn) and communications (£6.8bn).
The average infrastructure spend per capita is £907 across the UK. Based on a regional breakdown, this is highest in the South West (£26.6bn), North West (£21.4bn) and London (£19.8bn), and the lowest in the West Midlands (£5.3bn).
Commenting on the data, Jonathan White, KPMG’s UK head of infrastructure, building and construction, said: “The current National Infrastructure and Construction Pipeline stands at £413bn. With the forecast public pipeline currently accounting for 1.5% of GDP, it’s encouraging that this is greater than the 1.2% recommended by the National Infrastructure Committee, so let’s keep it up. However, total public and private spend combined currently stands at 3.0% and is, therefore, still below the 3.7% of GDP recommended by the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. More investment is needed to help bridge this gap.”
However, a word of warning has been issued on the amount of money allocated to nuclear power stations, with specific reference to the development of Hinkley Point C and the decommission of four nuclear power stations in the north west.
KPMG’s infrastructure expert, Jonathan believes levels of spending in this sector “will be disappointing” for many while there remains a “pressing need for investment in transport and digital infrastructure”.“Clearly, we’re seeing high levels of spend in energy, which is taking a sizeable share of the overall pot, although investment is largely earmarked for a longer time frame beyond 2022,” White added. “We know that the market will be looking to see how much of this investment will go towards greener ways of generating power to help meet carbon reduction targets.”
A final concern raised by KPMG is the fact how the current pipeline has one fewer year in it than the previous period analysed in 2017, and therefore fewer allocated funds. The company believes this format leads to value “falling out” as the five-year cycles of government departments and regulated utilities elapse and therefore makes the pipeline less valuable as a way of forecasting future spend for the construction industry.
Doka’s contribution to UK infrastructure projects, focusing on bridges
The construction industry, like everything else has evolved over the past ten years, for example the introduction of the first Balanced Cantilever Bridge Formwork Solution from Doka. There have been a number of other changes in the industry, including improvements in health and safety and new innovations, such as the introduction of Concremote to help understand Concrete Maturity more effectively, which have all had an effect on the demands of the construction industry. With the £600bn planned construction pipeline, take a look at the civil engineering industry offerings from Doka to see how they can support customers needing to pour wet concrete in this specialist area.
Visit https://www.doka.com/uk/projects/bridges/bridges to find out more about the bridge offerings,
or https://www.doka.com/uk/projects/tunnels/tunnel-sector to see the companies tunnel expertise.
The demand for bespoke projects, fair faced concrete finishes and supporting services have also increased over the past ten years and the same can be said for the formwork solution. Doka offers made-to-measure custom formwork designed and pre-assembled by its unique team of experts here in the UK. The utilisation of pre-assembly not only enables local onsite teams to focus on key deliverables and critical path projects, but also helps projects run simultaneous builds to optimise demand and planning efficiencies.