Infrastructure construction remains one of the key drivers of the UK economy with Highways England one of the main clients in the sector, more so since the Chancellor recently announced in the budget that £28.8BN was to be allocated to improving England’s roads.
It was in this atmosphere of heady expectation that we headed to Highways UK, the sectors premier event, especially after Jesse Norman MP, Road Minister, described it as the “Woodstock of the Transport industry!”
The day got off to a flying start with Highways England announcing the contractors for its £8.7bn Regional Framework, which included a number of our own customers, Balfour Beatty, BAM Nuttall, and Costain.
As Highways England move towards a programme and enterprise led delivery model, suppliers will see a step change to a more collaborative partnership with Highways England listening to the voice of suppliers and customers to drive improvements.
The message from Highways England CEO Jim O’Sullivan was that they would be insourcing data from the supply-chain, so they can better understand their estate, a topic close to our heart especially as GroupBC provide the backbone for the digital delivery of information from the HE supply chain into the major programmes including Smart Motorways (SMP) and Regional Investment (RIP).
Our own Rick Cooper demonstrated this further in the Technology Dome, explaining how our BC Common Data Environment (CDE) is used to co-ordinate and accelerate the sharing and capture of design, construction and operational based information helping to reduce the risk of delays by ensuring consistency and adherence to industry and corporate standards.
Efficiency, sustainability and innovation were key themes, especially as the industry prepares for the roll out of Connected and Autonomous Vehicles and their supporting infrastructure. For all the technological advances in vehicle design, they are still, for the most part, going to need roads to travel on. So, amongst the discussions around digital technologies, laser scanner, drones and robots, there were still the core tools of the trade – big trucks and diggers!
Indeed, the JCB big yellow bag was the must-have giveaway of the show.