05/01/2018 – Moving Into the Digital Age


By Catriona Lingwood, Chief Executive of Constructing Excellence in the North East

Happy New Year to you all – I hope you’ve all had a lovely Christmas break and are raring to get started. I cannot believe it’s 2018 and another new year is ahead of us, but I’m looking forward to seeing what the next 12 months have in store– I think it’s certainly going to be a busy one! While you can never predict exactly what the year ahead holds, from the trends and announcements made in 2017, there are a few things I expect to see.

In the past, we’ve had a reputation for being slow to adapt to the digital age, but over recent years, the smart building tech industry has grown significantly with more companies accepting technology advances and now we don’t really have a choice, as Mark Farmer said, we must ‘modernise or die’. Digital technology will be rife in the next few months, with 3D printing, apps, robots, drones, to name a few, helping us carry out day to day tasks, there will be no escape!

I also expect we’ll see an increased scrutiny on health and safety in the industry. It’s no secret that the industry is known for the number of accidents and the level of danger jobs pose, but with technology advancements and safety mobile apps, there’s no reason companies can’t ensure a safer work environment for staff.

Throughout last year, modular and prefabrication became one of the most popular methods of construction.  By now we should all be aware of offsite construction, but for those of you that aren’t (where have you been?!), offsite construction is a modern way of building that sees the unit being constructed offsite in a factory-controlled environment. The building is then delivered to the site where the ground works and foundations will have been prepared. Mark Farmer’s ‘modernise or die’ report stated that pre-fab housing is the way forward when it comes to producing more affordable homes to regenerate the property market, and I couldn’t agree more.

Off-site construction has many benefits compared to traditional build; it is safer, more efficient and has the potential to greatly minimise on-site waste. With price of materials expected to stay high in 2018, companies need to be thinking of ways to save money or cut costs, and this could be an effective way of doing so. This year, we’ve introduced a new award at our annual Constructing Excellence awards, ‘offsite project of the year’ and I have a feeling we won’t be short of entries. Application forms for this years CENE awards can be found here

We’ve overcome some tough challenges in the past and that only proves to me that this industry can achieve anything! So, let’s get our heads down and have a good year – I have a feeling this could be our year, change is going to come so bring it on 2018, we’re ready for you!

For more information on Constructing Excellence in the North East, please contact chief executive, Catriona Lingwood, on 0191 500 7880 or email catriona@cene.org.uk.