Innovation, change and reform are the big themes taking centre stage at this year’s UK Construction Week. And with Brexit on the horizon, housing in a seemingly irresolvable crisis and the climate catastrophe on our doorstep, it becomes all the more important to look for innovative solutions to meet the challenges of the 21st century.
Now in its fifth year, UK Construction Week (UKCW) is the biggest construction event on the calendar and will once again be held at Birmingham’s NEC on the 8-10 October. This year UKCW is shining a spotlight on the serious change-makers in construction. Key innovation themes throughout the 2019 event include modern methods of construction (MMC), sustainability, the digital revolution and diversity in the workforce and how they impact risk management, productivity and skills.
The Construction Innovation Hub (the Hub) will be exhibiting at this year’s UKCW, where visitors can find out more about the recently-launched Platform Design initiative, designed to encourage innovation in offsite construction for a range of government projects such as schools, hospitals and prisons.
Meanwhile, George Clarke’s educational charity, MOBIE, has teamed up with the Hub to inspire future designers. The Student Design Challenge asked students to design the ultimate 21st century house, taking into consideration technology, affordability, size, space, family growth, sustainability, comfort, individuality and aesthetics. The winning design will be on display at UKCW.
New for 2019 is UKCW’s Innovation Zone. In partnership with the Hub, the zone is designed as an inspirational space where visitors can explore new ideas. And to showcase the best, UKCW has launched a new Innovation Award. Arbiters from Willmott Dixon, Luton Airport, Bryden Wood, Mace, TfL, The Prince’s Foundation, Castle Planning and the Construction Innovation Hub will choose the winner, to be announced on the second day of the show.
Displays will include the latest prototype of Semblr’s bricklaying construction robots. Fully integrated with BIM workflows, the cat-sized robots are designed to operate in a swarm to speed up bricklaying. Also, on display will be ITI’s virtual reality crane simulator that offers a real-world experience of over 1,000 different crane operating scenarios for eight different crane models.
The climate emergency is driving innovation within the construction sector. JCB will be showcasing its new generation of electric products including its electric fork lift truck that produces zero emissions at the point of use. And with the ban on gas central heating for new homes from 2025 and a drive to retrofit existing housing with alternative heating technologies, Mitsubishi’s new ultra-quiet Ecodan air source heat pump will be on display.
The challenges for new materials include energy, available resources, and our general health. Titled “Material Innovation”, MaterialDistrict’s exhibition will showcase 60 materials such as ceramics made with cow dung, aluminium and algae foam, paper tiles, and leather made from cow stomachs. The expo will also showcase acoustic solutions such as panels made from conifer needles, coffee-based composites and translucent concrete.
A packed three-day conference and seminar programme
The tone of this year’s show is set by the first seminar on the UKCW Main Stage. At 10.30am on Tuesday 8 October, industry leaders will lay down the gauntlet: ‘Are you being left behind? Capitalising on Innovation and Disruptive Change’. Hosted by George Clarke, hear from industry experts on the solutions that will transform the way we build, increase profitability, help deliver projects faster, safer and without compromising on quality.
Artificial intelligence, digital twins, digital roads and smart cities are just a few of the digital streams that will revolutionise the way that the UK’s infrastructure operates. Come along to Dragging the Industry into the 21st century to hear from infrastructure experts on how to integrate new technologies while balancing benefits and risks.
Join Lorna Stimpson, deputy chief executive of Local Authority Building Control, as she discusses ‘Delivering high standards in building control.’ Or follow the main stage debate on ‘Building safe homes: When is the fundamental reform? where you can hear from the members of the working groups set up to take forward the recommendations made by Dame Judith Hackitt.
Brexit, MMC and sustainable communities
There are also opportunities to look ahead with ‘Brexit Boom or Bust? Industry Economic Forecast 2020’’. Or if you need to know more about how to bid for those big contracts then ‘Seven must-do things when bidding for large contracts’ is essential.
Free seminars to book in advance include the update on the Government’s MMC Working Group and its upcoming policies, from Mark Farmer, author of the ‘Modernise or Die’ report and chief executive of Cast Consultancy on Wednesday 9 October on the UKCW Main Stage.
The following day there is a keynote event on ‘Sustainable Communities: delivering energy-efficient, modular and cost-effective homes’. This will look at the interface between MMC and community-led housing, and will feature Joseph Daniels, chief executive of Project Etopia.
UKCW is one event with many sections, including Build sponsored by Easy-Trim, Building Tech, Civils, Energy and HVAC, Surface and Materials, and Timber. It also features Concrete Expo (8-9 October only) and Grand Designs Live (9-10 October only).
UKCW is free to attend and single registration gives access to all areas of the show. For further information follow @UK_CW or search for the hashtag #UKCW2019.