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Comment |Taking the plunge into the future

Mark Hansford

Changing the way we build stuff. Removing delivery uncertainty. That’s the vision and the mantra of the genuinely passionate and enthusiastic brains driving Laing O’Rourke’s efforts to transform the UK construction industry.

Digital engineering is at the heart of it, feeding into and supporting the much-talked about Design for Manufacture and Assembly (DfMA) production line construction philosophy. Technical excellence is a key catalyst, provided through a sizeable and growing Engineering Excellence Group, and the vertical integration offered by various subcontractor subsidiaries brings the self-delivery firepower.

But technology is the heart. And it is fairly well publicised that for Laing O’Rourke that is more than building information modelling - or at least more than what most people consider BIM to be. Yes, there is design co-ordination through the digital model. But there is also sequencing, logistics planning, constructability, visualisations, costing and facilities management - all coming out of the digital model that Laing O’Rourke builds at tender stage for all its projects.

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It’s an approach that is already throwing up some remarkable project performances. And there is much more to come, whether it is the potential for a hassle-free new nuclear power station, a catalogue of parts leading to standardised, delivered ready-for-assembly bridges (High Speed 2 is watching closely), or super-efficient glass fibre reinforced concrete tunnel linings made possible with 3D printed wax moulds (Crossrail is already reaping the benefits).

It’s genuinely exciting to hear about, and Laing O’Rourke’s Explore Industrial Park, an inspiring place to glimpse what the future holds.
Next month sees NCE’s brand new Future Technology Forum. We’re excited. It brings one of our core themes - future technology - to life in a live show format.

Clients such as EDF’s Hinkley Point C director Steve Livingstone, and, National Grid innovation manager John Zammit-Haber, will be joining speakers from High Speed 2, Network Rail, London Underground and Anglian Water to throw down the gauntlet.

There will also be a packed line up of technology exploiters - and of course Laing O’Rourke, represented by its engineering excellence group partnership and innovation leader Adam Locke.

There will be plenty more visionaries to hear from too. Crossrail innovation programme manager Marie Gilmour will share plans for and experience to date with drone technology. Network Rail head of programme planning and integration, digital railway Pete Ansell, will speak at our “Little sensors, big data” VIP breakfast club to share Network Rail’s transformation programme to a digital railway.

A live demo zone, moderated group discussions and a real live Dragons Den for tech pioneers complete what will be an action-packed day.

We’re really excited and I hope to see many of you there. If you can’t make it, there will be plenty of coverage in NCE.

  • Mark Hansford is NCE’s editor

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