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Engineering Wonders of the World

In the UK and beyond, we’re surrounded by stunning feats of architecture and engineering. The Shard is one of the most famous modern architectural pieces and is also the tallest building in the UK.

When compared to structures and skyscrapers across the world though, the Shard seems diminutive in comparison. There’s no doubt that these monoliths are true engineering wonders and inspiration to architects all around the world.

Here, we discuss two of the tallest and most impressive skyscrapers across the world and two more that are in construction and could steal the crown of the most impressive engineering wonder of the world.

The Burj Khalifa (829.9 metres tall)

The current tallest building in the world, the Burj Khalifa (pictured, above) dwarfs the structures around it. The 162-floor skyscraper sits in the heart of Dubai, a city known for its impressive architecture. When it was completed, the Burj Khalifa broke a lot of records, including the world’s highest outdoor observation deck, the longest elevator travel distance, and the world’s highest occupied floor.

As well as smashing world records, the Burj Khalifa has been nominated for and won prestigious awards. It wasn’t initially intended to reach its now-famous soaring heights – the building was only planned to be 550 metres tall. The Burj Khalifa is well-known for its pioneering concrete technology and innovative spire, which comes out of the top of the building. The Y-shaped design is based on Hymenocallis, a desert flower.

The Shanghai Tower (632 metres tall)

The second tallest building in the world, the Shanghai Tower stands head and shoulders above the Shanghai skyline. It also holds the title of the world’s second-highest hotel, with the 84th-110th floors designated as guesthouses.

Utilising modern innovations in engineering, the Shanghai Tower has a concrete core instead of a steel framework. The building uses 980 concrete piles to make it earthquake-proof because it’s located in an area prone to earthquakes. The cylindrical spiralling design of the building makes it aerodynamic too. All of these factors combine to make the Shanghai Tower a truly spectacular engineering feat.

Jeddah Tower (expected to be 1,000 metres tall)

The Burj Khalifa may soon lose its status as the tallest building in the world if the Jeddah Tower is completed according to plan. Construction on this monolith began in 2013, but progress has stalled in recent years due to the pandemic.

The Jeddah Tower is expected to be so tall that it’ll reach into the clouds – imagine getting a bird’s-eye view of the clouds from a room in the tallest building on Earth! As with many of the existing tallest buildings in the world, the Jeddah Tower will be multi-use and include facilities such as hotels, living quarters, and restaurants. The tower represents Saudi Arabia’s goal to diversify its economy and become a tourist hotspot, thus reducing its reliance on oil revenue.

Like the Burj Khalifa, the tower’s one-of-a-kind shape is inspired by a desert plant. Its concrete pile base, which often requires structural design software to be truly effective, reinforces the building and protects it from dangerous weather.

Merdeka PNB 118 (678.9 metres tall)

A futuristic name to match a futuristic design. The Merdeka PNB 118 is still under construction, but the spire of the building was completed in November 2021. The uniquely designed structure is visible in the Malaysian skyline, with full construction expected to be completed by the end of 2022.

As well as its innovative geometric design, the Merdeka PNB 118 has multiple sustainability accreditations to its name – something that’s becoming more important in architectural design as global efforts to halt climate change continue. This stunning feat of structural engineering is proof that sustainable design and construction is not only important, but can also be done without compromising the structure.

Skyscraper designs require genuine innovation to be effective and durable, and it’s safe to say these current and upcoming structures have innovation at their heart. Not to mention they’re some of the most stunning modern buildings in existence. Will we see the Jeddah Tower overtake the Burj Khalifa as the tallest structure in the world in the near future? Only time will tell.

How can we achieve digitised services through construction?

The use of smart technology has surged in the past decade, with the global market doubling in value from $43.4bn in 2017 to an expected $91bn in 2022. From its use in the home to integration in most sectors of the economy from banking to shopping, it’s been adopted to enhance the experience of consumers.

The time is right for local governments, architects and builders to understand the best ways to deploy technology to support health and care needs in a range of environments, and the benefits of considering its inclusion as part of construction design.

Gavin Bashar, UK managing director at Tunstall Healthcare, discusses why technology should be integrated into buildings from the design and specification stage…

A digitally enabled future

Technology has a key role to play in services being delivered in innovative ways, placing citizens at the heart of decision making, and enabling health, housing and care providers to target support where it’s needed most

Using technology to support people is low cost, and helps citizens to live independently for longer with an increased quality of life. Relatively low-cost telecare systems can help to avoid hospital admission, delay and prevent the need for residential care, and reduce carer burnout. Architects and developers therefore have a crucial role to play in driving cost savings, and enhancing the lives of vulnerable service users.

We must lead from the top to ensure buildings have technology integrated at construction to enable stakeholders to support citizens effectively, and provide a platform to make the most of future advances in technology. Too often, technology is considered as an afterthought, rather than a system that can be central to the way the building is lived, used and worked in, and therefore this is pivotal to the way it is designed.

Case study

Northampton Partnership Homes (NPH) and construction firm, Jeakins Weir recently worked together to integrate smart technology into a new innovative housing development comprising eight semi-detached bungalows that will support the independence of young adults with learning disabilities and complex needs.

Smart technology was integrated at the planning stage of the development to provide more person centred support, as well as offering greater insight into how best to allocate resources to meet the needs of the people living there.

The system supports the use of telecare sensors and wearable technology, such as fall detectors, which will automatically raise an alert if help is required, enabling care to be given where and when it is needed, but supporting independence when it isn’t.

The next steps

A healthcare system fit for the 21st century must have digital innovation at its core which is embraced by architects and commissioners. As innovative technology continues to transform every aspect of modern life, there is a growing body of evidence demonstrating the impact this is having on population health and wellbeing.  Where it has not already done so, digitisation is set to touch every corner of health and social care, and in turn this needs to impact upon the way we design and build.

As the UK’s communications network is set to complete its transition from analogue to digital by 2025, technology has an even greater role to play in enhancing the lives of service users. Although this will require significant engagement from architects and builders, it brings a once in a generation opportunity to modernise, improve and shift thinking from a reactive, to a proactive delivery model which can empower users and enable care to become more intelligent and personalised.

Construction industry urged to apply COVID learnings to ‘new normal’

Balfour Beatty, GKR Scaffolding, Kier, Mace, Morgan Sindall and Skanska have published an independent industry research report into COVID-19, that stresses the importance of carrying pandemic learnings in construction beyond the crisis.

The independent report, “COVID-19 and construction: Early lessons for a new normal?”, based on research conducted by Loughborough University experts into six UK major construction schemes, explores the industry’s health and safety response to the COVID-19 pandemic and potential medium to long-term benefits arising from extending and embedding these new working practices.

The report demonstrates how the changes made during the pandemic reflect a phenomenal effort by site staff, frontline workers and occupational health and safety professionals to adapt safely and efficiently to the rapidly evolving situation.

The research identified that, despite overall site productivity being negatively impacted due to social distancing requirements, individual and team effectiveness and productivity had increased for a number of reasons including better and more detailed task planning, reduced waiting time between tasks, increased space and therefore less “overlap” of trades, a boost in the use of technological solutions, more responsibility for individuals and less meetings.

The research also explored the effects of working from home and found that, notwithstanding the cost, flexibility and productivity benefits, making this a permanent solution could have a negative impact on employees with a rise in social isolation and uncertainty of expectations.

Whilst new approaches have been adopted in response to COVID-19, the report presents several recommendations that should be taken before these approaches can become truly embedded into the industry’s ways of working. In doing so, the industry can make substantial, lasting and transformative changes to working practices, productivity and efficiency.

Russell Adfield, The Health and Safety Executive’s Head of Construction Sector and Policy, said: “This industry-led report highlights the significance of having Construction, Design and Management regulations (CDM 2015) – to ensure effective communication, co-operation and co-ordination of workplace practices to both protect workers from risk and allow projects to advance, even in the most difficult of times.

“Involving workers and the supply chain in planning and designing the work is an essential component in developing trust and achieving positive behaviour which will ensure the industry continues to play a critical role in stimulating the economy as we respond to COVID-19.

“With health, safety and wellbeing at the heart of what all companies do, it is clear that the learnings from COVID-19 should extend beyond the lockdown period and shape the whole industry for the better.”

To read the report in full, please click here.

CLC launches tool for COVID-19 cost assessments

The Professional Practice Task Group for the Construction Leadership Council (CLC) Covid-19 Task Force has published a methodology for assessing and reporting the cost implications of disruption due to the pandemic.

Construction clients and contractors rely on accurate cost prediction as the basis of business plans, financial contracts, and commercial control.

The CLC says unprecedented nature of the pandemic is affecting the progress and productivity of existing and future contracts, meaning that the information upon which estimates are usually prepared no longer applies.

The Toolkit acts as a guide to enable better cost forecasting to assist the industry in making informed investment decisions on viability, improving robustness of pipeline and driving long term economic growth.

Simon Rawlinson, Chair of the Professional Practice Task Group said: “The Cost Assessment Toolkit will help the construction industry manage the impact of Covid-19 on existing and future contracts.

“It establishes a standard methodology to incorporate the cost impacts of the virus into estimates, provides clarity on exclusions and through the collection of industry wide data allows clients and supply chains to compare their project costs against an aggregated data set.

“By providing the tools to measure and therefore improve productivity, the toolkit acts as a guide to ascertain and assess project risks and establish viability for the long term.”

To access the tool, click here.

Buildings and human induced vibration – The risks & the solutions

Whether it’s a building or bridge, human footfall needs to be considered by engineers working on the project to ensure that the end result for users is safe and comfortable (remember the Millennium Bridge ‘wobble’!). Oasys Software explains why human induced vibration is an important consideration…

Fluttering and resonance

Vibrations can affect structures in a wide range of ways. Two of the main ways are resonance and aeroelastic fluttering.

When Object A vibrates at the same natural frequency as Object B, this is known as resonance. As a result, object B resonates with this and will begin to vibrate too. Think singing to break a wine glass! Although the person singing isn’t touching the glass, the vibrations of their voice are resonating with the glass’s natural frequency, causing this vibration to get stronger and stronger and eventually, break the glass.

Aeroelastic flutter differs slightly; for example, a force is applied to Object B, causing it to shake. It’s not necessarily at the same frequency as Object B’s natural vibration, but it makes Object B move all the same.

When an object resonates, it is technically fluttering too. But not everything that flutters is necessarily resonating. This is how confusion over disasters such as the Tacoma Bridge collapse occur — for a long time, and to this day, the event is used as a textbook example of resonance. However, it’s been argued that the bridge’s collapse wasn’t caused by resonance, but by fluttering.

Fluttering also occurs with human induced vibrations, and an example of this is when human movement is applying force, causing the structure to vibrate. Some instances would also see resonation happening too, but it wouldn’t be a certainty.

Engineers have to ensure that their designs reduce the damage or discomfort caused by either fluttering or resonating.

The downsides

The structure and users within a building can be compromised when fluttering or resonation occurs, and it can have a range of impacts:

  • Human health suffering. Research has found that vibrations in buildings and structures can cause depression and even motion sickness in inhabitants. Buildings naturally respond to external factors such as the wind or human footfall within. This low-frequency vibration can be felt, even subconsciously, by people. It has been argued that modern designs featuring thinner floor slabs and wider spacing in column design mean that these new builds are not as effective at dampening vibrations as older buildings are.
  • Jeopardising structural integrity. Eventually, the build-up of constant vibrations on a structure can lead to structural integrity being compromised. A worse-case scenario would be the complete collapse of said structure.
  • Swaying bridges. The Millennium Bridge is one of the best examples of resonance caused by human induced vibrations and fluttering. As people walked across the bridge, the vibrations and swaying caused oscillations in the bridge. Everyone crossing the bridge would then sway at the same time to avoid falling over, resulting in a cycle of increasing and amplifying the swaying effect.
  • Jeopardise integrity of sensitive equipment. Depending on what the building is used for, what is within and what can be affected by the vibrations of those inside the building. Universities, for example, may have sensitive equipment whose accuracy and performance could be damaged by vibrations.

How software can help

Modern designs that favour thinner slabs and wider column design and spacing tend to be susceptible to all forms of vibration, whether it is human-induced or otherwise.

At the design stage, it is important for engineers to use appropriate structural analysis software to test footfall on a design and see the resulting vibrations.

Vibrations are inevitable, but engineers must account for a wide range of catalysts that trigger vibrations in a structure, such as human footfall, adapting their overall design accordingly.

Sources:

https://www.oasys-software.com/news/analysing-vibration-with-gsa/

https://www.oasys-software.com/case-studies/footfall-analysis-singapores-helix-bridge/

https://www.oasys-software.com/case-studies/princeton-university-frick-laboratory/

http://homepage.tudelft.nl/p3r3s/MSc_projects/reportRoos.pdf

https://www.forbes.com/sites/startswithabang/2017/05/24/science-busts-the-biggest-myth-ever-about-why-bridges-collapse/#1b9e3b001f4c

https://phys.org/news/2017-03-impact-bridges-skyscrapers-human-health.html

https://www.quora.com/Whats-the-difference-between-resonance-and-aeroelastic-flutter

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/2017/03/19/wobbly-skyscrapers-may-trigger-motion-sickness-depression-warn/

Which countries are investing the most in construction?

Around the world, business is booming for the construction industry. Not only are countries looking to house an ever-growing population, but they are also looking to compete on a global scale to grow as nations.

Some countries are fuelled by sheer speed of growth, while others are supported by a huge economic force. With this in mind, which countries are the biggest investors in the construction market? Work platform supplier Nifty Lift investigates… 

How the construction market has previously played out 

In the past, the USA has remained the dominant figure of the worldwide construction market. Ten years ago, the country commanded a construction market value of $1,313 billion, compared to China’s $1,035 billion. But just a year later in 2010, the two had finally shifted places, with China taking 15% of the total global share. 

2009 (value in USD)2010 (global share in %)
USA ($1,313 bn) China 15%
China ($1,035 bn)USA 14%
Japan ($592 bn)Japan 9%
Germany ($303 bn)India 5%
Spain ($292 bn)France 4%
France ($271bn)Germany 4%
Italy ($262 bn)Canada 4%
South Korea ($248 bn)Spain 4% 
India ($247 bn)Italy 3% 
UK ($243 bn)UK  3% 

China overtaking the US 

Naturally, a country’s individual construction market strength will shift a lot depending on a variety of factors — from economic stability to population growth, or simple change in needs. But the USA has remained on the top spot for a long time. That was until 2010, when China surpassed its global construction market share. 

The USA has suffered during the recession, with the house building sector’s fall resulting in its construction industry slowing down. 

India’s rapid growth

While China may have enjoyed a swift growth in the construction market, India has certainly proven itself to be an emerging contender, with one study showing the country is growing at almost double the rate of China. This saw India flying up the global shares table, from 9thin 2009 to 4thin 2010. 

Spain’s fall

Due to the Spanish financial crisis from 2008-2014, the country descended in terms of its construction market share. The country went from recording the 5th largest global share to having the 8th largest, as it and other European countries struggled with a recession. 

The current construction market growth

With most countries well on the way through a recovery period after global economic crises, the construction market is set to see an exciting period of change and growth too. Turner and Townsend surmises that recovering oil prices, demand for data centres, and the retail need for refurbishment in order to create new experience to compete with the online retail world will see the construction market go from strength to strength. Plus, the worldwide desire to move to a greener future is also calling for continued efforts and renovations to old, outdated buildings and structures. 

Predictions for the future construction market 

Observations and predictions have already rolled forth for the continued global growth of the construction market, and with it, which countries will be the biggest players: 

2020 (predicted global share) 2030 (predicted ranking)
China 21%China
USA 15% USA
India 7% India
Japan 6% Indonesia
Canada 3% Japan
Indonesia 3% UK
France 3% Canada
Germany 3% Germany 
Australia 3% France
Spain 2% Australia 

China’s continued #1 spot

China’s growth is set to continue through to 2020, with a prediction of the country sitting at a global construction market share of 21% that year. But its overall construction growth is also set to slow down considerably, while the USA’s growth is on track to grow faster than China across the next 15 years. This is speculated to be down to the country’s return to form in the house building sector, as well as planned major investment in its older cities. 

With that being said, China’s projects aren’t set to diminish — the ‘One Belt, One Road’ initiative is set to push further trade, and thereby further construction needs, to the country. 

India in the top 3

In this time, India is predicted to continue its trend of construction growth, overtaking Japan as the third largest share in the construction market between 2010 and 2020. This need to expand its construction market will be fuelled by its own rapidly increasing population. According to the B1M, India needs to build 31,000 homes every day for the next 14 years to keep pace with its growing demand for housing! 

Indonesia’s growth 

Ten years ago, Indonesia didn’t feature within the top ten biggest construction markets. Yet, by 2020, it is predicted that the country will hold the sixth biggest share in the global construction market, growing to fourth by 2030. In many ways, Indonesia is mimicking the rapid rise through the rankings that India has enjoyed from 2009 onwards. 

This sudden burst of activity is simply down to an increase in demand, which in turn, is due to the favourable conditions the country is currently enjoying. Indonesia’s economy has enjoyed a steady growth in recent years, and with a low public debt coupled with stable governance and commodity prices, the country has the perfect foundation for increased housing and improved infrastructure needs. 

UK out of the top ten in 2020  

The UK has been struggling on a number of fronts in recent years, and in terms of its share in the construction market, the nation will drop out of the top ten in 2020 according to predictions. There is a certain amount of Brexit uncertainty affecting investment in general, and for the construction industry, output dropped by 1.7 per cent in the UK for the first quarter of 2018 due to difficult weather conditions at the time.

This drop isn’t expected to last long, however, as the UK’s housing crisis remains rife and will provide a catalyst for many construction projects to get underway across the UK by 2030. These will include housing and a number of mega-builds, as well as rail and airport development. 

In fact, some predict that the UK will not only return to form in the construction market, it will actually become one of the biggest contributors to the construction industry’s 14.7% share of all global economic output by 2030. 

Biggest construction projects at present 

As we enjoy further technological advances and opportunities, the construction market is witnessing a number of mega-projects that are fuelling growth. 

Currently, some of these proposed large-scale construction projects that are in-progress include: 

  • South-North Water Transfer Project in China. This construction project is set to help the population living in the north of China to access a greater water supply. The project has a whopping 48-year schedule! 
  • London Crossrail Project in the UK.The construction of the world’s first underground train system is set to connect 40 stations.
  • Dubailand in Dubai.This project will see a complex of 278 square kilometres being built, containing a number of theme parks, hotels and more. 

Sources: 

http://www.turnerandtownsend.com/media/2389/icms-survey-2017.pdf

https://www.enr.com/articles/45732-india-overtaking-japan-as-worlds-third-largest-construction-market?v=preview

https://www.ice.org.uk/ICEDevelopmentWebPortal/media/Documents/News/ICE%20News/Global-Construction-press-release.pdf

https://www.statista.com/statistics/199054/the-largest-construction-markets-in-the-world/

http://www.turnerandtownsend.com/media/3352/international-construction-market-survey-2018.pdf

https://www.theb1m.com/video/top-5-construction-markets-by-2030

https://www.statista.com/statistics/677079/annual-construction-investment-by-region/

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/news/uk-business-investment-brexit-gdp-office-for-national-statistics-a8558936.html

https://www.thebalancesmb.com/top-ten-largest-construction-projects-844370

Utilities and construction apprenticeships ‘the answer to falling university applications’

Apprenticeships can meet many of the challenges thrown up by falling university numbers, according to DTL.

While many commentators have blamed high tuition fees for a growing number of young people choosing not to apply for university, in turn raising fears of a lack of social mobility, DTL points out that school leavers give other reasons too, including that they don’t enjoy studying or don’t think they have the necessary academic skills for university.

The training company says that apprenticeships have the capability, not just to provide an alternative to university, but also to address the wider issues.

Operations Director, John Kerr, said: “Instead of racking up student debt, apprentices earn while they learn, and apprenticeships provide other ways of learning for those who aren’t suited to academia. At DTL, we specialise in practical training for high earning roles in utilities and construction. Yes, there is an element of classroom learning, but for most of our apprenticeships, the focus is on learning through well-supervised, genuine on-the-job experience.”

Kerr says that apprenticeships can also generate social mobility, beyond what might be expected from gaining a practical qualification and a well-paid job.

He explained: “As an organisation that believes in providing a holistic educational experience, we support many young people who have fallen behind with academic learning.”

Crucially, he points out, that includes ensuring that apprentices attain satisfactory levels of literacy and numeracy.

Ensuring students attain a set level of literacy and numeracy is a requirement made of apprenticeship providers by the educational watchdog Ofsted, and DTL says it has invested in technology and teaching to ensure that apprentices reach the levels they need, not just to attain their qualification but also to equip them for life.

“Clearly, people who have poor literacy or numeracy, or both, are going to be disadvantaged,” said Kerr. “This is a significant step in giving them social mobility.”

With these crucial core skills and the confidence of having completed an apprenticeship, they might well go on to get a university degree or similar-level qualification, he added.

“For us at DTL, this is much more than a question of meeting the requirements of the regulator. You can see this in our response to another Ofsted instruction. We have pioneered the introduction of safeguarding, ensuring that young people are safe in the workplace and the training environment.”

DTL’s latest Industry Skills Forum on the subject brought together leading figures in HR in the utilities and construction sector, to discuss safeguarding and the government’s Prevent initiative, which requires education providers to play their part in ensuring young people aren’t recruited into extremism.

As an approved provider under the apprenticeship levy scheme, DTL says its customers expect it to deliver well-trained individuals, capable of carrying out their roles effectively and safely. This is particularly important when those roles are often in potentially hazardous environments in the gas, electricity, water and construction industries.

Kerr said: “Our first duty is to the apprentices themselves, and we believe that ensuring their safety is paramount. By also ensuring they have those core literacy and numeracy skills, we add value to the opportunities created by their apprenticeship.”

100% Hackitt initiative to ‘drive cultural change in construction’

A new industry initiative has been launched to encourage the government to deliver all of the recommendations contained within Dame Judith Hackitt’s report in the wake of the Grenfell tragedy.

100% Hackitt is being led by Local Authority Building Control (LABC) and the British Board of Agrément (BBA), who say they have united to bring focus to industry calls for a full adoption of Dame Judith’s Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety.

The initiative has a dedicated website at www.100-hackitt.co.uk and has ‘pledge cards’ for supporters to sign up to the initiative and pushing for an Early Day Motion debate in the House of Commons.

Dame Judith attended the launch, delivering a keynote speech to a large number of cross-party politicians, policy advisors and industry body representatives, telling them there was ‘massive need’ for culture change throughout the industry, with responsibilities clearly defined at every stage of a building’s lifecycle.

“Much remains to be done to bring the construction industry up to the standards of other industries in terms of accountability, transparency and record keeping,” she said. “Don’t tinker, don’t tweak, it has to be fundamental.”

Claire Curtis-Thomas, BBA Chief Executive, said: “The BBA is backing this initiative as strongly as we possibly can because we want to see bad practices in the industry eliminated and protection for the public and companies that are fully committed to high standards of delivery.”

Paul Everall, LABC Chief Executive, added: “The LABC and the BBA share the same outlook and are determined to make a difference in our industry. But we’re not waiting, we’re getting on with building a safer future together – right now. The 100% Hackitt initiative is a space for everyone who wants to see systemic change in the construction industry and I hope the whole industry gets behind it.”

The launch event was facilitated by cross-party think tank Policy Connect through its parliamentary forum for the built environment, the Westminster Sustainable Business Forum.

The initiative has the support of senior figures across the construction and fire safety sector including the Fire Sector Federation, whose Executive Officer Dennis Davis said: “We are backing the 100% Hackitt initiative because we need a mandatory, controlled system that allows us to balance what we want – innovation, good buildings, new ideas, growth in our economy – with sensible restraint that ensures short cuts and economies aren’t made and shows that people are competent, resulting in safe building for those who occupy them.”

Jonathan Shaw, Chief Executive of Policy Connect, added: “The Hackitt review represents a once in a generation opportunity to recast the building system and start to build safer, better designed homes. We will discuss how the review can bring about positive change in the construction industry, what still remains to be done and where the Hackitt review could have gone further so that we can encourage the industry to push for change.”

100% Hackitt unites those who wish to see cultural change in the construction industry, promoting safety and public trust via a forum which provides on-going opportunities to discuss cross-discipline issues whilst keeping pressure on Ministers to adopt all of the Hackitt review recommendations.

“Dame Judith’s review of building regulations and fire safety showed systemic change is required within our industry,” added Curtis-Thomas. “Her report came with a warning that cherry-picking recommendations would compromise their overall effectiveness and it is this ‘pick and mix’ approach that the BBA and LABC are urging the government to avoid by accepting the recommendations in full.

“The construction industry has overwhelmingly taken on board her views and aspirations and wants to drive change – shifts in practices and working relationships have already been voluntarily introduced by many – but we need government backing to ensure this happens across the board. Many of the recommendations fall to government rather than industry. We are doing our bit and it now needs to do its bit and if this needs new regulation or even legislation it will have our backing and the backing of those who recognise that business as usual is not an option any of us want to consider.”

For full information about 100% Hackitt and to keep abreast of its latest developments visit: www.100-hackitt.co.uk

GUEST BLOG: Is it true that women are not fairly treated in construction?

Recent research has found that one in five UK construction businesses have no women in senior positions, which is a cause for concern. But, what does the overall situation look like for women in this male-dominated industry?

Here to discuss women in construction and what the future may hold to create a more equal playing field is Niftylifts — a leading supplier of work platforms for a range of UK manufacturing and construction businesses…    

Women in construction: is gender inequality an issue?

When it comes to gender equality, it appears that the construction sector is not faring too well. According to Construction News, 50% of all construction firms claim they have never had a female manager. What is even more striking is that, when asking the women who did work within the industry, 48% claimed they had experienced gender discrimination in the workplace, with the most common example of this (28%) being inappropriate comments or behaviour from male colleagues. These are figures that prove that the industry still needs to enforce more regulations to change attitudes towards women in the industry and encourage equality.

How do construction firms handle equal wages? Nearly half of construction companies (42%) do not monitor equal pay between gender in the business and 68% were not aware of any initiatives to support women transitioning into senior roles. Furthermore, according to Randstad, 79% of men believe they earn the same as their female colleagues in the same position. However, 41% of women disagree — highlighting the need for better pay transparency within the industry to dispel perceptions that men are earning more.

The future of female roles in construction

But what do construction employees think about women’s roles in construction? 99% of roles in construction are filled by men, but 93% of construction workers believe having a female boss would not affect their jobs. In fact, they believe it would have a positive effect by improving the working environment.

All over the country, every sector is feeling the pressure of ensuring gender equality — could this help improve matters for women in construction? According to Randstad, female employees are anticipated to constitute just over 25% of the UK’s construction workforce by 2020. Also, employing more women could help ease the pressure of the sector’s low workforce numbers. With the industry raising concerns that it is experiencing a shortage of skilled workers, 82% of people working in construction agree that there is a serious skills shortage. If demand is expected to require an additional million extra workers by 2020, women could account for a significant portion of that — especially in senior roles, which have previously been bias towards their male colleagues.

By 2020, there will be more women in senior roles within this industry — if research and predictions are to be trusted. In 2005, there were just 6% of women in senior roles within the UK’s construction industry, but by 2015, this rose to 16%. It’s also vital to consider progression, so that we can ensure women get the chance to develop their careers. Back in 2005, 79% of women in the industry were dissatisfied with the progression of their careers. However, in 2015, this number more than halved to just 29%. Some of this progression was even attributed to the fact that almost half of women in the industry (49%) believe their employer to be very supportive of women in construction.

Ranstad reports that there remains a tendency within the industry to exclude women from male conversations or social events, with 46% of females experiencing being sidelined. A further 28% said they had been offered a less important role and 25% reported being passed over for promotion. While there are clearly changes to be made, there are a handful of positives regarding women in construction. Three quarters of female workers say that they would recommend a construction job to a female friend, daughter or niece, and there has been a 60% increase in the average annual salary for women in the construction sector in the past decade.

If progress continues and more focus is on gender equality, there’s no reason why women should not have better paid and more fulfilling roles in construction. But, there’s still a long way to go. Hopefully, by 2020, we can report further positive developments, making roles more attractive to females and providing a solution to the lack of skilled workers in the industry right now.

Sources

https://www.randstad.co.uk/women-in-work/women-in-the-uk-construction-industry-in-2016.pdf

http://rg-group.co.uk/whitepaper-women-and-the-construction-industry/

https://www.constructionnews.co.uk/analysis/cn-briefing/women-in-construction-what-do-the-numbers-say/10029022.article

https://www.constructionnews.co.uk/best-practice/skills/trad-ceo-there-is-a-definite-prejudice-against-women/10028845.article?blocktitle=Women-in-construction&contentID=20127

https://www.constructionnews.co.uk/analysis/editors-comment/tackling-gender-diversity-is-an-education-for-us-all/10028849.article?blocktitle=Expert-opinion&contentID=7125

AI in Construction

GUEST BLOG: How Artificial Intelligence will revolutionise the construction sector

Artificial intelligence is making its way into the construction industry, helping to revolutionise the way we build and design.

By harnessing robotics, construction managers can utilise intelligent machines that can perform routine tasks that were once completed by humans, such as bricklaying.

Alternatively, AI systems can collate and organise information for engineers to use within project planning and design implementation.

AI utilisation

The way we use artificial intelligence is spread into four areas. Together with Oasys, specialists in building design software, we assess the way the construction industry is starting to use AI in order to complete projects that contain fewer errors, less omissions, safer working practices, improved workflows, and more on-time worksite completions.

The planning processes

At the beginning of any construction, it must be planned thoroughly, and artificial intelligence is helping achieve this. Autonomous equipment is considered AI, as it is aware of its surroundings and is capable of navigation without human input. In the planning stages, AI machinery can survey a proposed construction site and gather enough information to create 3D maps, blueprints and construction plans.

This was previously a process that took weeks, but through the use of AI it can now be completed within one day. This helps to save firms both time and money in the form of labour.

AI taking on a management role

Managing and controlling projects from an AI perspective is now being put into place when construction begins. For example, workers can input sick days, vacancies and sudden departures into a data system and it will adapt the project accordingly. The AI will understand that the task must be moved to another employee and will do so of its own accord.

AI advice

With this technology being more advanced, it’s beginning to advise engineers on how to complete specific tasks that they might face within the construction phase. For example, if engineers were working on a proposed new bridge, AI systems would be able to advise and present a case for how the bridge should be constructed. This is based on past projects over the last 50 years, as well as verifying pre-existing blueprints for the design and implementation stages of the project. By having this information to hand, engineers can make crucial decisions based on evidence that they may not have previously had at their disposal.

Autonomous equipment is becoming more popular and the construction industry is taking full advantage of this — allowing vehicles to operate independently when at certain heights. Using sensors and GPS, the vehicle can calculate the safest route.

AI inside

Don’t just think that AI is only used to make the building, it can actually be implemented inside, too. In the US alone, $1.5 billion was invested in 2016 by companies looking to capitalise on this growing market.

Wynn, a hotel chain, said that it wanted to introduce the Amazon Echo into every room of its Las Vegas hotel to improve customer experience by the end of 2017. These devices can be used for aspects of the room such as lighting, temperature and any audio-visual equipment contained in the room. These systems can also be used within domestic settings, allowing homeowners to control aspects of their home through voice commands and systems that control all electronic components from one device.

BIM — Building Information Modelling

Building Information Modelling is a feature that holds information about the entire building, from the construction to if it ever got demolished. From this, you will be able to see decisions about the building that were said by management that will be a good reference for any future work.

Virtual assistants (VAs) are good for creating conversation but also for gathering the information that you need. By combining VAs alongside NFC (near-field communication), VAs can receive additional information about the building in real-time from various sensors in the building. For example, if there were structural problems with a building, then VAs could inform engineers specifically where the problem is and how it can be fixed.

Making savings is essential for any business, and artificial intelligence and virtual assistants are helping to achieve this. As the future of AI becomes more of a reality within construction, only time will tell how reliant on intelligent machines we will have to be in order to construct innovative building designs.

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