Construction Plus' launch partners - 30 major organisations from across the industry - see the internet as having a dramatic impact on business. 'Our industry is on the precipice of change,' says John Laing head of information systems Mark Joynson. 'The internet is set to revolutionise relationships and the way we do business. E-business is the future of business.'
Corus construction centre general manager Ian Fleming Cox adds: 'The internet is likely to play a huge role in the way that business will be conducted in the future. The construction industry provides an exciting opportunity for serious use to be made of this technology and it is going to be increasingly important in the future for all participants in the supply chain to improve communications and increase overall efficiency.'
Construction industry e-commerce is predicted to be worth more than £1bn a year by 2003. 'These are undoubtedly exciting times, with new internet and e-commerce opportunities being grasped on a daily basis,' says Shell marketing, communications and e-commerce development manager Paul Adby.
The internet and the web offer the best solution for presenting the most up to date and consistent information, according to Hepworth Drainage marketing manager Derek Thomas. 'The efficiencies the web brings will save time and enable suppliers to build longer term customer relationships.'
The internet's role in cutting costs through improved communications is also huge, believes Autodesk business development manager David Clarke. Instead of decisions taking weeks, they can be made in a day, he points out. He knows of a project where such technology has allowed building costs to be halved.
British Board of Agrement sales and marketing manager Alan Thomas says that accesses to the BBA site have exceeded expectations, and he sees the Internet as becoming a benchmark for information in construction.
Visits to Eternit's website have doubled in the last six months to about 2,000 a month, with 10-15% following up with e-mail enquiries, says Eternit Building Materials marketing manager Mike Wood. These enquiries increasingly come from professionals such as contractors and designers.
'We are looking at all sorts of opportunities, such as downloads of drawings and roof details, estimating packages and information to suit users' needs rather than just brochure material,' says Wood.
Clarke sees the technical data from suppliers' websites playing a major part in increasing efficiency. The internet will enable people to import the full details of construction components directly into drawings.
Launch partners have welcomed the arrival of Construction Plus and NCE Plus. 'We are delighted to be associated with Construction Plus, which will be closely linked to our own extensive ICE and Thomas Telford websites.
Together they will provide an increasingly important service for our members, in the UK and overseas,' says ICE chief executive Mike Casebourne.
'Arup is pleased to be associated with Construction Plus, which will promote better working practices between the various companies and groups within the industry and also highlight issues affecting those working in the industry,' says Ove Arup Partnership chairman Duncan Michael.