Last year Specfinish asked how the sector could deliver on the government’s construction strategy. Sector leaders said at the time that there should be a greater drive and energy to promote a more efficient construction industry and give impetus to addressing the era of austerity.
Procurement practices were at the top of the agenda. Many contractors often deemed procurement processes as wasteful and repetitive, the perception was that the procurement process could deliver a large chunk of the strategy’s 20 per cent target.
It might be the way in which end users and main contractors continue to procure specialist subcontractors means that the benefits of innovation and less waste could still be a long way off. All too often it’s only price and programme that count and the potential benefits of adopting a new, and potentially productivity boosting technique, is squashed early on because it requires a leap of faith on everybody’s part to do something differently. If it’s not been done before there is a greater risk profile.
Numerous reports during the last three decades have referred to the need for construction to improve productivity and quality. Phrases including partnering, value engineering, lean construction, pre-assembly and innovation have been popular construction speak but sadly they are often misunderstood or misused.
Now the era of austerity has taken over. Hard won modern working practices are being thrown out of the window to a point where the main contractors who procure drywall, ceilings and facades work packages only want the best price (e.g cheapest).
Critically end user clients must have more confidence so that they can invest in new opportunities. However the supply chain, and specialists in particular, need to perform their part and work to strict budgets and deliver great value.
Take your average contractor, it’s highly unlikely they’ll know anything about the government’s construction strategy! Despite the recession in construction the sector could benefit from a fresh injection of energy. Specialists need to ensure they deliver this energy with high quality, labour must have the right skills and experience, and main contractors need to pay their bills on time. What more do you need to ask for?
Adrian JG Marsh