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Contractor bodies back construction strategy

Industry organisations representing specialist engineering contractors have pledged their support for the government’s newly-published Construction Strategy.

The Specialist Engineering Contractors’ (SEC) Group - representing the largest industry sector by value - has praised the government for sticking to the key tenets of the previous strategy, which the Cabinet Office introduced in May 2011.

The overall thrust of the updated strategy, which covers the period from 2016 to 2020, turns greater focus on collaborative working to reduce wasteful activity in construction procurement and delivery.

The Building Engineering Services Association (the BESA) believes that wider use of digital systems would be crucial to the government’s aims to create a more efficient and productive industry.

Building information modelling (BIM), which becomes mandatory on public sector projects next month, should be the “technical cornerstone” of the strategy as it can dramatically speed up the design process and make it more accurate, according to the association.

“BIM provides an opportunity to join up the supply chain, improve productivity and deliver significant cost savings,” said the BESA’s legal and commercial director Rob Driscoll. “It is also a gateway to greater use of offsite fabrication and other modern methods of construction.”

Wider digitisation of the sector would also improve payment and other business practices, according to Mr Driscoll.

“An integrated payment system that is digitally transparent, more efficient and allows everyone to work in an environment of greater trust and certainty is absolutely in line with the government’s plans,” he said.

“A centralised online procurement portal to enable public sector clients to manage the supply chain at project and strategic level through analysis of ‘big data’ would also support the strategy.”

SEC Group chief executive Professor Rudi Klein said he was extremely pleased that the Infrastructure and Projects Authority - the new custodians of the strategy - would continue to pursue the roll-out of BIM across public sector procurement, as well as piloting model procurement options aimed at early involvement of the supply chain in the design and planning processes.

He added that greater emphasis should now be placed on implementation to ensure that BIM is “truly collaborative, with data being shared by all members of the team on a common platform”.

Professor Klein went on to call for a doubling in the use of project bank accounts “to ensure regular and to secure cash flow for firms in construction supply chains”, and he confirmed that the SEC Group would work with the Infrastructure and Projects Authority to achieve these aims.

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