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Chaotic British sites pay price of inefficiency

CHAOS ON British construction sites is preventing the industry from taking advantage of cost saving automatic plant and equipment, an international symposium was warned this week.

Top international engineers heard how the UK is falling behind the rest of the world in the drive towards greater efficiency and automation in construction - and disorganisation and poor planning of work was identified as the main reason.

President of the International Symposium for Automation and Robotics in Construction, Professor Jonathan O'Brien was speaking at Bauma 98 in Munich last week (see page 32). He said that 'robotics is a technology whose time has come' but claimed the construction industry is not yet ready to take advantage.

O'Brien pointed to the launch of several computer guided plant systems at Bauma and said it was time for engineers to remove the chaos from construction sites. 'The challenge for civil engineers is to redesign work on site for these new products,' he added.

O'Brien believes that the UK construction industry is getting further behind the rest of the world in its approach to automated site management. 'Most applications are in Japan, followed by Sweden and France with the US as a late entrant,' he said. 'The UK is a keen supporter academically but there is little constructor interest.'

Richard Thompson

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