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Morell talks innovation and change at NMBS2012

The Chief Construction Adviser to the Government, Paul Morrell, told the NMBS 2012 conference about the problems that the industry is facing when dealing with large clients -especially when those clients are government departments.

“Construction is a low innovation industry,” he said. “In motoring we have windscreens that know when it’s raining. The construction world is still too far separated from where stuff actually happens.”

“We have a target set to take out 15-20% of costs from big construction projects,” he said. However, there has to be a recognition of how this is to be done.

“This isn’t about screwing money out of clients and screwing money out of suppliers.”

The government wants to see new procurement models, Morrell said. “No-one ever asks why are you doing it that way, why does it cost that much? A good client should know what the project costs. If you take a look at how we have been building schools we see that in many cases we spent three times as much on things that weren’t three times as good. Schools building cost an average £2.5k per sq m. Well, there are schools out there that were coming in at £18ksq m and we have a target of £15k.

“We want to see less waste, more use of digital technology,” Morrell continued. “Fundamentally, the changes that are needed are about integration and the need to develop the supply chain. We need to get away from opportunistic tendering.”

Morell said that this kind of change is happening across the government’s building programme. “We are trialling some of these new processes, trust me it is happening right across the programme.”

The future will include new ways of approaching the design and management of a build process, he said. “Building Information Modelling will change your life. Designing things in 3D before you go outside to do it. We are serious about this, it is happening. To make a virtual model of a building is hard work and expensive but it makes sense.

“Shared platforms are the way forward.

Merchants needs to think about how things are changing in their sector, Morrell said.

“Questions such as: What happens when the job gets to site? How do we plan how stuff gets moved around? Who are your customers and which of them will be your future? It’s businesses that will drive change in this arena. There will be a new breed of customer from the Green Deal – the green van man.”

About Fiona Russell-Horne

Group Managing Editor across the BMJ portfolio.

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