Firstly, apologies for plagiarising and modifying the post World War 2 “export or die” slogan which was generally associated with the motor industry, in the days that we actually had one, and with the need for foreign money to keep Britain afloat. However, in this fast paced digital age, I can’t help feeling that the principal of the adage applies as strongly now as back then.
Industry thrives on innovation; a thought that entered my head during an internal product development meeting I attended last week.
As suppliers of proprietary temporary works equipment, we at Groundforce Shorco are constantly looking for new and better ways of doing things safer, faster and generally more efficiently.
Looking back, the last 10 years have seen major changes within below-ground temporary works. The size and scope of projects that can now be tackled with rental based proprietary equipment never ceases to amaze me; I can remember when 6m square, 5m deep manhole pits were a big ask.
We are now firmly in the digital age, headlined by the building information modelling (BIM) revolution of course. However, behind the BIM banner are many initiatives and projects that use modern digital technology to provide vast amounts of information.
For example, a quick scan on YouTube will reveal a plethora of very clever animated training and product information videos
that are instantly accessible on the electronic devices that everyone today carries about
Virtual reality is likely to be the next thing that hits us. Currently perceived as a gimmick, when done properly, this is truly an incredible and literally mind blowing experience. It has the potential to revolutionise many areas of information transfer such as training and product usage.
So what drives us forward?
Healthy market competition for a start.
There is no time to sit on laurels as complacency leads to stagnation – traits that can easily be exploited by keen competitors. Delivering value and market awareness are other factors that push us forward.
Global issues such as carbon dioxide emissions, global warming, sustainability
and the better use of resources pressurise us to design smarter, more efficiently and economically. Clever use of materials in equipment design can lead to huge gains and clear market advantage.
Are we innovating quickly enough? Probably not, but that is a difficult question to answer simply as it depends on many perspectives. However one thing for sure is that engineers
love a challenge and indeed need to be challenged, whether it is simply solving problems or designing and developing new equipment systems or methods; this is what we thrive on, and returning to the article title, it is what keeps us alive.
- Tony Gould is technical director, Groundforce Shorco
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