31st March 2016 Newsletter

To view this weeks newsletter including articles about Identity Consult’s 10th Birthday and Story Homes 5 Star Customer Satisfaction rating along with information of our forthcoming events please click here.

25th March Journal Column

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

The government are always promising us that they’ll improve the on-going problems in the industry, and it’s all fair and well promising to do something, but I’ve realised that when it comes to the government, not everything they say can be taken as gospel.
However, this week the Treasury updated its national infrastructure delivery plan, which sets out plans for 2016-2021, and these plans are actually set in stone.

The plan announced that the government has committed to saving £1.7bn from the cost of public projects, and hiring 20,000 construction apprentices, by 2020.

If you think back to this time last year, we were crying out for more homes, progress in terms of education and employment and new technology – and it seems like they were actually listening!
The new construction strategy published this week revealed that they’ve also pledged to roll out BIM level 3 and improve client procurement skills. It’s a fast movement for the industry, given that the BIM level 2 mandate deadline isn’t until next week, but you won’t hear any complaints from me, further improvements in technology can only benefit us, take the industry further and help us achieve further cost savings.
The previous construction strategy has been praised for the massive digital leap forward the industry has made over the past few years – it’s because of plans published in that report that we’re in the position that we’re now in in terms of BIM level 2.
The government’s commitment to improving technology and rolling out BIM was shown in the budget announced by George Osborne last week. The process for rolling out BIM level 3 has been given £15m, which tops the budget for BIM in the last parliament.
The plan also includes the latest version of the national infrastructure pipeline, which explains £425bn worth of planned investment will in injected into over 600 projects across the country. It’s so in depth that it describes exactly what will be built and how they plan to prioritise investment and work with the industry to improve delivery, so we can see exactly how the investment is being spent.
For the first time, the new strategy mentions house-building. The government has committed to releasing public sector land which will provide us with enough space to build 160,000 homes, more than 50 per cent than we were given last parliament – more improvements that are only a good thing!
The strategy plans to directly commission the construction of 13,000 new homes, and not only in London as they often are, with the first wave of homes starting outside of London, which is good news for the regions that have been desperate for new homes for some time now.
From both a personal and business point of view the new plans excite me. They’re providing the industry with what it needs to progress, and for me they have solutions to help apprentices, news homes and technology – things you’ll often hear me complaining about. The government is doing a good job of keeping me happy in 2016 so far … let’s hope it continues.

24th March 2016 Newsletter

To view this weeks newsletter with updates on forthcoming events please click here.

18th March Journal Column

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

2016 seemed a long way off when the Level 2 BIM mandate was announced back in 2011, but here we are only 2 weeks away from the target date. We’ve had plenty of warning about the looming deadline, so are we all ready?
From 4 April 2016, the collaborative use of BIM Level 2 in all government procured buildings will become mandatory, with all asset information relating to a project becoming electronically shareable in a common environment – which basically means that projects using Level 2 BIM, at a minimum, are using 3D CAD models that have been developed by each design team and then these models must be shared in a common file format.
Since the government revealed this as part of its BIM Strategy, businesses within the industry have been scrambling to optimise their BIM capabilities since it’s something that is going to impact the whole supply chain.

However, following survey results in October 2015, which showed that many firms were nowhere near ready, I fear that many companies are going to get left behind.
As with anything, you only get out of the process what you put in and, as with any project, performance and dedication is critical for success. I’m not saying some companies haven’t tried, but those that have made the effort to bring their company, along with the industry, into the digital age, are those that will benefit in the long-term.
Let’s not forget that BIM is only a means to an end – the end being more effective communication on a project through collaborative working, which in turn should help reduce waste, cost and result in better project outcomes.
Fear not! – Help is still out there for those companies that are still struggling. The British Standards Institution is launching a new website on 4 April, which will become the official home of Level 2 BIM. The site will act as the source for all standards and official guidance associated with the new mandate.
Construction News has also carried out a survey to get a sense of where the industry is on its BIM journey. The results will be published at the end of April; and will show what people actually think and how many people in our industry can actually say they meet the new requirement.
There are some great examples of organisations using BIM well and in the North East, there are numerous SMEs using the technology to their full advantage, so let’s hope other companies have followed suit on a much wider scale. The North East should be able to use this mandate to their full advantage.
We’re holding an event with Generation4Change North East on Tuesday 22 March about BIM within business, BIM case studies and advice on how to support organisations.
To register please contact Leanne on 0191 5007880 or leanne@cene.org.uk

17th March 2016 Newsletter

To view this weeks newsletter with information of our forthcoming events and an article about Cundall’s success at North East Business Awards please click here.

11th March Journal Column

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

Towards the end of last year a new north east body was formed to champion the interests of SME companies within the construction sector, with the aim of stemming the tide of public sector contracts leaving the region to national firms.
Construction Alliance North East (CAN) comprises of the Northern Counties Builders Federation (NCBF), Federation of Master Builders (FMB), National Federation of Builders (NFB) and the Civil Engineering Contractors Association (CECA) and, after five months of being in operation, is beginning to make significant progress.

Northern Powerhouse Minister, James Wharton MP marked the official launch of CAN, at the Ramside Hall Hotel, Durham this morning, with the event being attended by key decision makers from over 50 construction contracting companies and small, privately owned construction-related businesses, regional local authorities and other public sector bodies.

The impact of lean times faced by local companies during the recession is still evident across the industry – most notably with the on-going skills shortage. When companies are not confident about their future, or unclear about where their next contract is coming from, it doesn’t give them the confidence required to take on the additional cost of training apprentices or investing in training for existing staff, which is one of the things needed to make skills shortages a thing of the past.

Let’s hope that the Northern Powerhouse will provide a platform for demonstrating the benefits of using a regional workforce, we have many highly skilled and experienced industry workers within the region and it is time they were given the chance to demonstrate their talents once again.
Based on data provided by CAN, they represent 100,000 people employed by the four member organisations. With the backing of such big organisations, including Constructing Excellence in the North East, CAN has the opportunity and support to improve performance and shift perceptions to form a powerful voice for change.

CAN chair, Jeff Alexander is passionate about promoting the benefits of local supply chain and seeks to demonstrate to central government the talent and appetite for success that lies at the heart of our region’s industry. He says that CAN aren’t asking to have work handed to members on a plate – they merely want the chance to compete for regional contracts.
CAN aims to be a power for good in reforming procurement methods within the north east construction industry, let’s hope that this is the start of a new era for the industry and CAN’s message to central government is transmitted loud and clear.

10th March 2016 Newsletter

To view this weeks newsletter which showcases an article about entering in the APS Awards and our forthcoming events please click here.

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

A recent Constructing Excellence survey, Unlocking Productivity, confirms that a majority of people in the construction industry believe productivity to be only 60 per cent of what it should be. A couple of weeks ago I talked about UK productivity in this column and how, although we’re still struggling with it, there is plenty being done to improve it. I know that we are capable of much more, however, culture and behaviours often interfere.
The majority of those who responded to the survey said they wanted more work collaborations with a need to develop culture and behaviour. Based on results from another industry project, a radical approach has now been proposed to do just that.

Teams from across the supply chain discussed improvement concepts, and although they didn’t come up with a ‘big idea’, they suggested a number of micro-ideas something I believe could actually work.

Over 200 organisations, from small to large, took part in workshops part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). The workshops were to increase knowledge of industry opportunities such as; bid preparation, BIM implementation and better safety and health – all areas I think we should all be clued up in.
Micro-ideas only became apparent as the programme progressed, but they’ve always been there, what’s different this time is finding them in depth and recognising their accumulated value.

Collaborative working helps you build and benefit from partnerships by sharing resources, as well as improving opportunities.
By collaborating in teams, organisations in the supply chain significantly help one another, for example, sharing information in a different sequence can be very beneficial.

Collaborative working aims to reduce barriers between those in the construction or project team, improves communications, reduces conflict and as a result improves outcomes – which is what we all want!

Micro-ideas tend to come from brief discussions between organisations about what they do, which leads to another organisation suggesting different, more efficient, methods, technology or equipment.

For most people, once explained, micro-ideas are no-brainers really. Management comments commonly include “why has that not already been done?” Which is why it’s a good idea to have your say and speak out- you never know, one of your ideas may improve the speed, cost or outcome of a project.

Micro-ideas are low risk; improvements are small, and therefore quickly implemented, and they can easily be reversed if problems occur – they provide the best of both worlds in my opinion. The effort is minimal, maybe a conversation here or there, but there is potential for maximum output in terms of improving productivity and changing culture and behaviour, it all looks very encouraging to me.

3rd March 2016 Newsletter

To view this weeks newsletter which includes an article about Newcastle College’s new AM2 Testing Centre and forthcoming events please click here.