Property Aspects Magazine recently had the pleasure of speaking with Amanda Clack. Amanda is a surveyor, a Partner at EY and President Elect at RICS. We discussed the ever-changing construction industry and its opportunities for growth.
What Have Been the Major Changes in the Industry Since You Joined It?
“It has to be the ways that technology have helped us move forward. I can remember when I first started at aged 18, seeing the first cut-and-shuffle, bill of quantities going out of the office. That was paper-based and it was interesting making that all come together as you’d have the whole quantities for a major project”.
“Very quickly that became computerised and I worked with a number of companies including the University of Marseilles developing what was, I guess, very early BIM technology. It is great seeing that moving forward today, and the ways we are using BIM in our projects, to start to think through all of the aspects of the building”.
“It is worth mentioning that I think the role of the contractor has changed and the whole supply chain that’s there. Contractors are much more about management contracting and professionalising the industry“.
“There have been massive changes, on so many levels, but most of it really is around embracing technology“.
How is Technology Improving the Construction Industry?
“We have seen changes in the way that things are built, including offsite pre-fabrication. 3D printing is coming in to its own and we have only seen a fraction of what that can bring to construction going forward”.
“There is also the use of mobile technology, so things like trying to get more on to tablets and smartphones for people. At EY, we have been doing a lot of work around that”.
“Technology enables people to look at and get a feel for major assets from their place of work because all of the site and survey information has been captured ahead of that”.
What are the Benefits of Technology in the Construction Industry?
“For operatives on some construction sites, there are the benefits of having drawings on their tablets rather than having lots and lots of paper. You’ve got BIM (Building Information Modelling) at the forefront of allowing people to think through construction ahead of anything being built. You are working together as collaborative design and constructing teams to think about dealing with issues, reducing costs and adding value, ahead of anything even starting on site”.
“Drones are going to have an increasing role, going forward, both in terms of the ability to survey and to take visual information. That means there isn’t a necessity for people to physically go up and see things. You can get the information and you’re making real-time decisions“.
“The whole aspect of being able to work globally means we can now operate 24/7 using design teams and collaborative working, utilising the best expertise you can from around the globe”.
“Construction is increasingly modernising, using and embracing technology and data. You just have to look at the finished product; the amount of wires and cables that go into our buildings now to make them smart. They’re actually thinking about the way in which we use those buildings, both in a commercial aspect and a domestic sense as well”.
“I think we’re going to see more of it pushed down into residential and domestic environments going forward rather than just in the commercial space”.
Which Area Has Huge Potential for Growth in the Industry?
“It has got to be around infrastructure. Through the RICS Futures report, McKinsey identified there’s a $57 trillion investment gap in infrastructure that’s needed through to 2030. Infrastructure is an exciting place to be and there’s such a lot of opportunity both here in the UK and on the global stage as well”.
“These opportunities could be renewing existing infrastructure in cities like London. It could also mean developing new infrastructure, like roads, rail, bridges, ports and facilities around the globe. Infrastructure is at the heart of everything, whether it is transport, energy assets that are associated with all of that, or indeed cities themselves. Infrastructure has got to be the new buzz word”.
“It is really interesting seeing that translate in the UK. We’ve now got the National Infrastructure Commission that was launched in October 2015. I think that’s the first time we’re going to be taking a pan-government view of what the demands are for UK infrastructure over the next 30 years. There’s a lot that we are doing but it’s about prioritising investment and thinking about where the government needs to optimise investment around infrastructure”.
“I am a surveyor and a Partner at EY, which is a major accounting firm. I believe that the accountancy and surveying professions need to work together more. One of the things that we’re looking at is how to attract financial investment into the infrastructure market both here in the U.K. and globally. You have to work with people who understand financial accounting and have a financial background. For me, the two professions are intrinsically linked“.
For more information on – and to download a copy of – RICS’ toolkit, ‘RICS Futures: Our Changing World, Let’s Be Ready‘ please click here