Contractors and clients to share new technologies
Major contractors are to come together with infrastructure clients and supply chain organisations to share and develop innovation.
A number of leading contractors have signed up to the new venture known as The Infrastructure Industry Innovation Platform, or i3P, including Balfour Beatty, Laing O'Rourke, Costain, BAM, Kier and Skanska.
The new venture, launched before Christmas, is a continuation of the Innovate18 programme run by Crossrail over the last few years under which the industry has worked together to develop new technology for the £14.8bn infrastructure project.
It already has the backing of industry representative bodies, including the Construction Leadership Council and the Civil Engineering Contractors Association.
The new i3P platform is an online portal in which every partner involved can login to and share information, news, develop ideas as well as promote events.
Each member pays a subscription fee and it is from this money that an innovation fund has been set up to develop ideas and technology. At Crossrail member firms each paid £25,000 a year.
The forum decides on what ideas to take forward to funding and development. At Crossrail it has nurtured a range of ideas such as the development of augmented technology and smart helmets as well as adapting GoPro cameras for use in health and safety.
William Reddaway, innovation programme manager at Crossrail has been working with Innovate18 and is now involved with i3P.
Reddaway said: “Infrastructure and construction are not seen as innovative compared to aerospace and the automotive industries. Crossrail is coming to an end but the benefits of the programme and its legacy is something we wanted to continue. Particularly with such big projects coming up in the next few years like the new runway at Heathrow and Hinkley Point.”
Reddaway added that the new platform also has the backing of a number of other organisations and projects, such as Thames Tideway, Highways England, Network Rail and the Environment Agency.
“The new platform is still at a very fledgling stage, but we can see the real benefit such programmes and cross industry collaboration can produce,” he said. “Obviously there are benefits to both cost and time on projects that we have seen from Innovate18, but it can help so much more such as in health and safety and other areas where the positive impact down the line is immeasurable.”