Shouldn’t collaboration be a given?
It was interesting to read (NCE 9 January) that Thames Tideway Tunnel Chairman, Sir Neville Simms, is calling for Principal Contractors to collaborate to drive innovation for his forthcoming project.
Surely, years after the Egan Report, this should be a given? Why are clients still engaged in this sort of rhetoric? Well, of course, the reality is that our industry is still highly fragmented and we are for the most part focussed on projects that involve short term relationships. The challenge for the industry is for the industry to challenge itself and to either integrate more fully or to genuinely collaborate.
That said, there is a growing recognition, as Sir Neville points out, that it is at the level of the “tier two” contractors where the innovation is delivered. Some clients, Network Rail for example, are now engaging more than ever before with their supply chain and requiring evidence of collaborative working, using tools such as BS11000 “collaborative business relationships” to help drive the desired behaviour.
The High Speed 2 project team did just that when it invited the Federation of Piling Specialists (FPS) to engage with the scheme last year.
The FPS has been around for 50 years now and its members have always been at the forefront of innovation in ground engineering. Developing solutions in piling, house foundations, ground improvement, diaphragm walling and geotechnical engineering, the FPS has led the way. The Federation represents the best of the sector and is therefore a great resource that clients can tap into if they wish to engage deeper into the supply chain.
When it comes to implementing innovative ideas that will genuinely deliver value, principal and tier two contractors alike will mirror the behaviour of the client. Hence, if the rhetoric is to be converted into action, clients need to engage and collaborate at the earliest opportunity, selecting the team to deliver the project, not just the principals.
Jim De Waele is chairman of the Federation of Piling Specialists