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The Launch Of a Construction Technology Accelerator Programme

Colmore Tang Construction is linking up with Virgin StartUp to launch a construction technology accelerator programme

The Birmingham-based contractor has created the £10m ConstrucTech innovation fund for new companies who can improve construction’s productivity, sustainability and skills issues.

Andy Robinson, Group CEO of Colmore Tang, said: “The debate around technology in construction needs to move forward quickly.

“Other industries are much better at seeing the potential in technology and grasping opportunities to boost productivity and commercial gain.

“Construction is falling behind and it’s having a negative impact on the sector, growing the divide between the traditional, ageing workforce and the young, technologically-advanced workforce that is choosing other industries over ours.

“ConstrucTech will help us discover exciting and innovative start-ups, whose products and services could deliver those technologies and innovations that will be the key to the future success of our business and that of the whole sector.”

Colmore Tang has partnered with not-for-profit company Virgin StartUp to deliver ConstrucTech, which is now open to applications from start-ups and entrepreneurs around the world.

Businesses can apply to the ConstrucTech programme to address the following problems:

  • People: improving analysis of performance, sharing best practice across building projects, measurement of quality and also implementation of health and safety.
  • Data: using data to pre-empt potential delays, more efficient material ordering, more effective use of labour along with use of performance data to improve cost, timescales and estimates of new projects for future clients.
  • Smart Materials: design and implementation of materials to improve sustainability; improve safety and finding materials which are digitally connected.
JCB Chairman Lord Bamford who has spearheaded the company's development of its first ever electric digger.

JCB launches electric mini digger

JCB is claiming an industry breakthrough after developing its first ever excavator that runs entirely on electricity.

The firm said it had produced the battery powered digger to meet customer demands for a zero emissions machine that can work indoors, underground and close to people in urban areas.

The 1.9 tonne electric mini excavator can be charged by simply plugging it into a standard 230 volt domestic electricity supply.

1.9t electric excavator’s advanced lithium-ion battery packs deliver a full energy capacity of 15kWh for a day.

Once fully charged, it is ready to put in a full normal working day on the building site – digging with the same speed and power as its diesel counterpart.  Super-fast charging will also be available at launch, slashing the charging time in half.

The innovative19C-1 E-Tec will go on sale at the end of year after being developed in secret at the company’s Staffordshire HQ.

Its development has been spearheaded by chairman Lord Bamford who today heralded its arrival as a “real breakthrough” for construction.

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New Health & Safety Passport Launched by Highways England

Highways England has launched a new Health and Safety Passport scheme for 50,000 workers across its supply chain.

Workers will carry a personalised smart card proving their “competency, qualification and fitness to work across Highways England’s construction workforce.”

Operations Regional Director at Highways England, Simon Jones said: “We hope that within 12 months all the suppliers we work with will be using the system.”

Induction courses to qualify for the card will be delivered by Lantra and the scheme will be run by Mitie.

Jones said: “Safety is at the heart of everything we do at Highways England.

“Our Health and Safety Passport scheme sets a common safety standard for colleagues across our supply chain.

“It will make it simpler for staff to transfer between sites and for companies to verify that the people who work for them have the training, qualifications and competencies to work on any site.”

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Lack of White Collar Workers

The latest RICS UK Construction and Infrastructure Market Survey revealed huge problems in recruiting for white collar roles.

The survey found that during the third quarter of this year 64% of firms are still seeing a lack of quantity surveyors as well as 52% for other professionals.

The situation is not much better on site with 44% reporting a shortage of workers within specific trades.

Andrew Bridson of Skanska said: “We have recently secured some of the initial tranches for HS2.

“This will inevitably put a significant strain on our own current Professional resources with regards to Infrastructure / Rail Engineers, QSs and Construction Managers.”

Richard Diamond of Diamond Resolution Consultants Ltd said: “Too much talk of skills shortages pushes incompetent people up the salary bracket by constantly moving companies.

“New apprentices don’t come equipped with basic computer knowledge making their industry training slow.”

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Office Move for Willmot Dixon

Construction firm Willmott Dixon are in the process of moving offices to a new site in Cardiff Bay.

The move comes as the company continue to grow and take on more projects and staff.

Neal Stephens, managing director for Willmott Dixon in South Wales said: “As a growing business, we are proud that our construction work provides significant benefits to the South Wales economy in terms of sustaining jobs and employing local companies.

“Locating to the Celtic Gateway Business Park is an exciting new chapter for us that supports our expansion and we will ensure as we continue to grow that local companies in South Wales also prosper as a direct result.”

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Lack of Skilled Workforce

A major delay in infrastructure projects is expected due to a shortage of Project Managers. The East of England is reported to be worse off  with the area facing a project management skills deficit with five times as many roles available than there are skilled labour.

These figures reported do not make good reading at a time when the industry needs to double output to meet current and future infrastructure plans.

Greg Bradley, Head of UK Business Advisory at Arcadis, said: “With some of the most complex and technically challenging projects now underway, the industry is under more pressure and facing more competition to deliver than ever before.

“We have a massive opportunity here to upgrade our much needed infrastructure networks, and to do things differently.

“From new roads, railways, power plants and utility networks to new technologies and Smart Cities, there has never been a more exciting opportunity to transform how we plan and deliver projects.

“The need to double construction output on infrastructure is no small task, and it will force us to do things differently.

“The industry needs to look at innovating on a massive scale to achieve the step-change required, including upscaling digital solutions, offsite manufacture and offshore design, investment in skills and training, sharing of resources and better alignment with regional development agendas.

“We also need to continue to collaborate across sectors and the supply chain to help speed up the pace of delivery.”

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HS2 London Construction Teams Wanted

As work gets fully underway on the HS2, the hunt has already begun to recruit the construction teams ready to transform the London stations.  Work has already begun at Euston and Old Oak Common stations which will transform the sites ready for the exciting arrival of HS2.

The capitals vast project is expected to help unlock 79,000 jobs and 29,000 homes around the stations, attracting businesses and housing developers to what will be some of the best connected locations anywhere in the UK.