The UK’s largest construction trade event UK Construction Week is underway with thousands flocking to the NEC in Birmingham to hear from the biggest names in the industry and see the latest innovations.
Architect and television presenter George Clarke cut the ribbon at the main entrance of the show and proceeded to host a heavyweight panel discussion on the main stage centred on Chancellor George Osborne’s quote that the UK doesn’t “train enough or build enough or invest enough”. Debating how to boost construction productivity, investment and training, the panel included Adrian Belton, Chief Executive of the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB), Dr Diana Montgomery, Chief Executive of the Construction Products Association (CPA), Paul Nash FCIOB, President of the Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB) and David Hancock, Head of Construction at the Cabinet Office.
During the panel Dr Diana Montgomery commented: “In these halls you see so many examples of construction products that highlight the innovation in our industry. Unfortunately, relative to other industries like pharmaceutical, construction has so much conflict at the heart of its supply chain. We need to become more integrated, not just for the big iconic projects but for the more mundane stuff and eventually housing.”
Other notable seminars that took place across the 13 seminar theatres present at the show include the first in a series held throughout the week entitled ‘A Tale of Three Cities’. Today focused on Birmingham and what lessons could be learned from one of the UK’s most active cities. Over the next two days Manchester and London will also be discussed. Over in the Home Building Theatre a seminar lead by John O’Brien, Associate Director for Construction Innovation at the Building Research Establishment (BRE), looked at the latest innovations in offsite housing construction and how this technology will revolutionise the sector.
Alongside the grand opening, a team of cyclists led by Peter Murray, Chairman on New London Architecture and Chairman of the Construction Youth Trust Andy Wates, concluded their 126-mile charity bike ride at the NEC this morning. Peter commented: “Although we are all experienced cyclists it was a tough ride but well worth it. We’ve raised over £7,000 so far for the Construction Youth Trust, which does a great job of encouraging young talent into the industry. We also did the ride to raise awareness of the Construction Logistics and Cycle Safety (CLOCS) initiative, aimed at reducing collisions involving vulnerable road users and construction vehicles.”
Andy added: “We can’t thank Peter and the team enough for their commitment, it’s a great example of personal investment by the industry for the industry. In the current uncertain climate, charities can find it tough so every penny counts – there is still time to donate so please visit Construction Youth Trust’s JustGiving page if you can.”
The show is a hotbed for new innovation with countless new products, services and product launches. One such product launch is from construction giant CEMEX, which debuted its new low-density foam concrete Porofoam. James Fairclough, Head of Marketing at CEMEX UK, commented: “We're delighted to launch our new lightweight concrete Porofoam at UK Construction Week. It's been amazing seeing people's reactions to the product and the rest of our stand, which includes working demos that showcase the possibilities of concrete.”
Attending and speaking at the show, Brian Berry, Chief Executive of the Federation of Master Builders (FMB), commented: “UK Construction Week is definitely a date for the diary! It is such a unique opportunity to bring the whole industry together and celebrate what it does best. I’ve been encouraged to see so many industry leaders tackling the big issues, such as the skills and housing shortage. The key now is to build upon these conversations and translate them into action.”
In addition to all the day’s content, visitors to UK Construction Week can look forward to a host of evening entertainment and awards ceremonies being held at the venue each night. Tonight the inaugural Construction Enquirer Awards will get underway as will the Offsite Awards and the popular Beer and Ale Festival. Among those at the festival will be today’s winners of the 5-a-side football competition held in partnership with Construction United. The team from BRE won today’s trophy and a £500 voucher redeemable at the festival.
Nathan Garnett, Event Director for UK Construction Week, commented: “In preparation for this year’s show we’ve been overwhelmed with the support we’ve received from leading industry associations and companies and the result is fantastic. The amount of high-quality, relevant seminar content is only outdone by the number of new products and innovation on display at the show. Indeed, the first day has been packed with unique features and I look forward to the next few days. Importantly, representing the first major event following the decision to leave the EU, UK Construction Week is playing a significant role in shaping strategy and driving new business for a more prosperous future in the sector.”