Now in its fifth year, UK Construction Week is a key highlight on the built environment calendar. For 2019’s instalment, the show chose an important theme as its focus: innovation, wellbeing and diversity, highlighting the industry trailblazers making waves in the sector.
This included innovation, being centred around modern methods of construction, sustainability, the digital revolution and diversity in the workplace – exploring how all of these factors’ impact on risk management, productivity and skills.
Capitalising on Innovation & Disruptive Change
The day’s opening seminar ‘Are you being left behind? Capitalising on Innovation & Disruptive Change’ was led by George Clarke. The topics ranged from Blockchain and drones to HS2 and Industry 4.0, with all the expert speakers agreeing that there is a huge opportunity for UK construction to leverage these and move the industry forward.
There was a recognition that the industry is trailing behind most, so the big question of the day was ‘how’? How do we make sense of it all? How can a relatively low-tech sector learn from others to unlock the opportunities?
In response, there were two schools of thought:
- Go big and be brave – in the words of Steve Jobs “The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.” But then, of course, there is a need to be ‘in it’ for the long term.
- Keep it simple. Find the technology that will make the most impact immediately, and implement that. This will ensure an immediate return on investment.
The future is now
As well as a plethora of talks on the topic, there were a number of innovation zones around the show, highlighting products that are set to transform the industry. These included everything from brick building robots to VR classrooms and reinforcement of concrete floor beams.
Making mental health a priority
Wellbeing was another very strong theme at the exhibition, with a dedicated zone – ‘Wellbeing & Mental Health’ – highlighting some key sector issues. There were lots of interactive stands and installations including an artistic display of ‘networking swings’ to bring people together and encourage relaxation, as well as a support gallery from ‘Mind Your Head’. The collection featured artwork made from construction components, plus practical advice from an on-site therapist.
In contrast, the ‘diversity’ theme was a lot less obvious – aside from a giant rainbow painted JCB celebrating the industry’s LGBTQ+ community, which we loved.
Stand out stands
In terms of stand out, well, stands, CMO Trade’s ‘old fashioned’ merchandisers facade was a tongue-in-cheek spectacle that caught the eye of passers-by. Committing to the Dickensian aesthetic, the team were even handing out free moustaches.
From one extreme to the other, ‘Simulation Centre‘ showcased immersive high-tech virtual training environments that allow construction students to do some of their ‘on-site’ training in the classroom. The aim being to make it safer, while allowing teachers to run a multitude of different scenarios efficiently.
After another inspiring year, we’re looking forward to seeing what’s next for the brands and companies leading the way, not only in their product offering, but in their approach to how the construction industry is run.
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