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Nottingham university and contractor call out to small firms to help drive innovation in construction

Nottingham university and contractor call out to small firms to help drive innovation in construction

Some of the best ideas in construction come from the small companies that are directly responsible for site production. Yet, a lot of industry productivity initiatives are driven from top down and valuable solutions from the site-level supply chain are all too often missed or overlooked. This means that easy wins and smart solutions to make better use of time, materials and skills on site goes to waste.

A programme to help tackle this productivity challenge is entering a new phase, with a series of workshops and events to bring together the industry to find solutions. The programme, known as Innovation Driven Procurement (IDP), is run by Nottingham Trent University, Morgan Sindall Construction and funded by the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB).

The organisations first partnered in 2019 on a commission to tackle productivity through better procurement approaches and despite a period of suspension during the pandemic, work to engage site employees to gain their insights and ideas for driving innovation and improving productivity is now a priority of the project.

“The IDP is focused on improving profits, relationships and projects as a whole for all parties involved,” commented Sean Bowles, managing director in the central region for Morgan Sindall Construction. “The aim of the modules in the programme is to streamline construction practices, flushing out potential problems before they arise and generally taking a more collaborative, communicative approach to encourage innovation from the outset.”

Dr Andrew Knight, Executive Dean of the School of Architecture Design and the Built Environment for Nottingham Trent University, said:

“The Innovation Driven Procurement programme has highlighted the real need for academia and construction to come together to realise challenges and solutions for the industry, especially as the sector’s productivity is lower than other parts of the economy.

“The programme offers a solution to this through training and mentoring from experts to help businesses challenge their current working practises and promote a culture of innovation. It has so far been received with praise by subcontractors, who have the necessary skills and knowledge to complete a job, and can now deliver an enhanced collaborative service for their clients. We look forward to continuing our partnership with Morgan Sindall Construction to inspire change in the construction industry.”

The IDP is one of four pilot projects which received funding from the CITB’s £3m commission.  Together the projects are set to achieve £25m in savings and will involve 1,900 construction employers with the focus being on collaboration to mitigate risk, as well as an emphasis on quality and whole life outcomes, not just time spent.

Over three years, the IDP will include a programme of 120 face to face training interactions, 165 virtual training interactions, 51 innovation projects facilitated and supported, and 48 innovation champions trained.

So far, the IDP programme has been implemented with three supply chains in the Midlands with proven success, reaffirming the need for collaboration between academics and industry. Benefits include shorter delivery times and minimising risks on site.

The IDP leverages collaborative technology and processes to support design, buildability, and quality advice to drive innovation, cost savings, and improvements. Modules include: Collaborative Behaviours, Collaborative Design and the Supply Chain, Collaborative Risk Management using Flow Walks, Innovation and Value in the Supply Chain.

Jon Jacznik’s company, Drywall Contractors Ltd (DCL), was selected by Morgan Sindall Construction as one of the first subcontractors to benefit from the IDP programme after working together on a number of successful developments in the Midlands.

Jon and the team achieved an attendance rate of 100 per cent over the four-week training period. They are now undertaking coaching and support in the development of innovations through the programme.

He said: “I’ve definitely changed my management style after engaging with the IDP programme, it’s made me appreciate the nuances of the different jobs within the business and to look at things differently.

“I was surprised at just how much myself and the team got out of the training. My advice to anyone who’s struggling with collaboration is to engage with the IDP team to discuss how the modules can help your business. I would also suggest when putting employees forward for the training to choose as wide a spectrum of people as possible to get a real balance of opinions and cover all bases of your business.”

The ongoing strategic partnership between Nottingham Trent University and Morgan Sindall Construction, along with the CITB commission with CECA and the Sustainability Supply Chain School, has also led to the creation of the Collaborative Construction Procurement Training Hub (CCPTH), which is dedicated to improving the quality of procurement practices in the construction industry.

The purpose of the hub is to increase the skills level for those who buy products and sub-contract services within the industry. By improving these procurement skills, the CCPTH hopes to drive productivity improvements, and increased value for clients.

If you would like to find out how you can become involved in the scheme, please visit www.theidp.co.uk

For more information on the hub, please visit: www.supplychainschool.co.uk/topics/procurement/collaborative-construction-procurement-training-hub/

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