Bew sets out plans for £250m digital deal with government

Professional Construction Strategies Group (PCSG) chairman Mark Bew has set out bold proposals for a new £250m sector deal with the government designed to boost productivity across the built environment through investment in digital and manufacturing technologies and focus on through-life performance.

As chair of the government-backed Digital Built Britain programme to embed digital technology into the UK’s built environment, Bew set out details of the plan at the Construction Leadership Council Industry Leaders’ Forum at the Manufacturing Technology Centre in Coventry earlier this month.

The sector deal, he explained, taps into the government’s new Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund to build on the successes of the recent BIM Level 2 programme, which has delivered huge efficiencies across the industry.

It will bring together the new DBB programme towards BIM Level 3 and 4 with on-going programmes to create smart cities, work to embed manufacturing in the construction process and important progress on digital security protocols.

“The proposal will create an industry-led transformation based on multi-disciplinary research and business academic collaboration,” said Bew. “Initial analysis shows whole-life benefits from embracing a whole-life approach to construction delivery could be as much as 6% of GDP, according to figures presented by EY’s Patrick Bossert. This programme is about helping the industry to create high-performing infrastructure delivery.”

The CLC Industry Leaders Forum was hosted by CLC chair and Crossrail chief executive Andrew Wolstenholme and construction minister Lord Prior.

The CLC plan for the industry is based around three common strands:

  • Digital: using technology to create better, more certain outcomes in the early phase of a programme; 
  • Manufacturing:  improve productivity in the delivery phase; 
  • Through-life performance: asset intelligence to optimise performance over the lifecycle.

Bew explained to industry leaders that the initial three-year sector deal bid to create high-performing infrastructure delivery was built around investment in a so-called Core Innovation Hub (CIH) which would comprise three major research and innovation centres that reach into and integrate technology and systems from across the whole industry knowledge base:

  • Digital Built Britain Centre: a centre to pull on capability from across industry to define new digital infrastructure standards and product specifications;
  • Integrated Production Systems for Smart Infrastructure Centre (IPSSIC): based at the MTC campus in Coventry, IPSSIC will be the home of the physical infrastructure delivery and maintenance industries process development programmes; 
  • Infrastructure Product Validation Centre (IPVC): based at BRE in Watford, IPVC will house large-scale test equipment to test infrastructure components during development, and provide independent validation of functional performance.

Wolstenholme’s message to industry bosses was simple: success for the construction sector boils down to better, more certain outcomes through the application of digital technologies; improved productivity through a more manufacturing type approach; and developing infrastructure that is much more optimised through life in its performance.

“The challenge is how we can bring the spending departments, the industry stakeholders and the supply chain together around this common theme of digital, manufacturing and through-life performance,” he added. “We are working on the business case for this and we hope that this will be compelling and that large parts of the sector will support us.”

For more information about Mark Bew’s work with Digital Built Britain and to hear how PCSG can assist with your business’ digital journey, contact [email protected]

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