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Digital transformation at the heart of £600bn infrastructure plan

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The government’s Infrastructure and Projects Authority has set out more plans to increase efficiency of the industry in a 43-page document entitled Transforming Infrastructure Performance published today.

The document sets out plans to change the way infrastructure is planned, procured and delivered. It follows a commitment in last month’s Budget and Sector Deal agreement to favour offsite construction on major public projects from 2019.

At the heart of the plan is to use “digital technology and innovation to improve the way we deliver and extract maximum whole-life value from infrastructure, including through supporting effective delivery of the Digital Built Britain programme and building on examples of good practice such as smart motorways”.

The document also sets out how the IPA will join the Infrastructure Industry Innovation Platform (i3P), and continue to engage with other innovation initiatives, to strengthen its role in identifying and championing good practice.

Alongside these papers, the government confirmed a new £600bn pipeline of UK infrastructure projects covering the next 10 years.

The productivity plans include creating a new Infrastructure and Projects Authority benchmarking team to “define cost and performance benchmarks” and a focus on procuring projects based on whole-life cost, rather than capital costs.

The IPA also vowed to help drive the uptake of offsite construction by identifying “obstacles to faster uptake”.

The industry has broadly welcomed the plans. Cast’s Mark Farmer, and author of the Modernise or Die report, said: “This is an important document which if successfully played out by government in partnership with industry will modernise construction in a way we have not seen before. It addresses two major linchpins of change – the physical delivery model and the way we procure

In the foreword to the document Andrew Jones MP, exchequer secretary to the Treasury, said: “Transforming Infrastructure Performance is the government’s long-term plan to change the way infrastructure is planned, procured, delivered and operated so we can make the most out of our increased investment.

“Through interventions including benchmarking projects and accelerating the use of modern methods of construction like offsite manufacturing, our programme will help us to support economic growth and exploit a £15bn productivity opportunity in construction every year.”

The IPA said that the “programme will, over time, change the ways in which infrastructure is planned, procured and delivered. To drive whole-life value from assets, the IPA will look at how whole-life performance of assets can be assessed between sectors.”

“Focusing solely on the upfront capital costs of delivering an asset, and not how to deliver best value over its whole operational lifetime, can lead to missed opportunities to deliver better value for money and benefits to consumers and society.”

“The government is taking immediate steps to support the Sector Deal objectives. Firstly, it will use its substantial pipeline of construction projects to drive innovation and increase the adoption of modern methods of construction.”

Across the Department for Transport, the Department of Health, the Department for Education, the Ministry of Justice, and the Ministry of Defence, this currently represents a potential pipeline for modern methods of construction of around £20bn a year.

Transforming Infrastructure Performance is the government’s long-term plan to change the way infrastructure is planned, procured, delivered and operated so we can make the most out of our increased investment.– Andrew Jones MP, exchequer secretary to the Treasury