I was asked to introduce this special supplement featuring some of the best modern concrete design and engineering in Britain, as the new chief executive officer at the BCA, and to give some early observations on the industry and on my plans.
I am very positive about what I have found. There clearly are challenges. There are also many people working to solve them. I hear that there are three key issues: working together, investment and sustainability:
Working together: The excellent examples of successful partnerships in these pages are not enough! Our fragmented industry competes intensely with itself. We need to get the whole supply chain to work together to provide innovative, easy-to-use solutions to meet the challenge of Egan.
Investment: The innovative solutions that do exist are not adopted widely enough! RCC, CONSTRUCT, RCB, the Bridge Group, the Concrete Society, Britpave and others have demonstrated the versatility and value of concrete. We have to invest to make this business as usual.
development: Concrete is low cost, long life, thermally efficient, quick to use and 100% recyclable, yet its use in the UK is the lowest in Europe! We have to get the message across about concrete and our improving environmental performance.
Meanwhile at Crowthorne people are building on the 'cluster' of concrete interests - to develop a one-stop-shop for knowledge and expertise in developing and delivering solutions. BCA plans to pilot a new concrete marketing partnership with the Concrete Society and others in three sectors during 2000, to show how such an alliance can grow our industry.
A final question as you browse these examples of excellence - think about the inhibitors to delivering innovation in speed, quality and value. What else should we be doing to improve client service, design and delivery of sustainable concrete solutions for the next millennium?
Mike Gilbert, chief executive, British Cement Association