By RMBA chief executive David Kelly
Industry transformation is happening. After two Constructive Forums we are now seeing new approaches and technologies being applied right here in New Zealand.
While only two years ago technologies such as 3D printing and modelling were seen as futuristic, today they are a reality on many of our building sites.
This year, Constructive will focus on the practical application of these technologies on building sites throughout the country.
As an industry, we are not waiting for solutions. We are taking control and implementing the transformation the sector needs. There has been great progress across many areas, and more is still to come.
New technologies are already here
Prefabrication and Building Information Modelling (BIM) are now more commonplace in the sector.
But we are also seeing a rise in technologies such as 3D printing, smart materials, augmented reality and virtualisation to name but a few. Examples of this are:
• 68% of this year’s entries in the Registered Master Builders New Zealand Commercial Projects Awards talked about using new technologies.
• 38% of the projects utilised prefabrication, improving speed and design, and reducing cost.
• 25% used BIM, a collaboration and management software which strengthened partnerships, embedded innovation and ensured efficiency.
• 26% also used 3D printing and modelling, particularly in the planning process.
Things are moving so fast that very soon this will all be commonplace in the construction process.
With the collapse of high-profile construction projects in the latter half of 2017, minimising risk has never been more important.
There are no silver bullets here. But again, our sector is not waiting for others to solve this issue.
Nearly half (43%) of this year’s awards entries worked to de-risk the construction process by ensuring contractors were engaged and involved early in the process.
This enables discussions around constructability and potential build risks at the outset.
We are also working with Government, who are looking at how to rebalance risk and liability, to improve the way they manage pricing and risk in the sector.
A number of initiatives are underway to help raise the profile and lift the attractiveness of our sector to more diverse groups.
LookSee Build NZ introduced 50 construction professionals from around the world to prospective employers in Auckland earlier in the year. Many are now being offered permanent roles.
We have also worked with Government to ensure immigration policy will not hinder the sector’s growth.
The KiwiBuild Visa will also help address the current skills shortages. It is limited to only between 1000 and 1500 migrants at a given a time — so we will keep a close watch on this.
The industry is also working to build a strong pipeline of local talent. We are working to ensure the Government’s education reforms have a strong focus on on-the-job learning, and the ability to continue to learn over your career.
Sector leaders coming together
In 2017, the chief executives of New Zealand’s most prolific commercial construction companies formally agreed to standardise their approach to on-site health and safety policy, engagement and induction.
This effectively minimises conflicting policies, rules and on-site expectations between different contractors.
The chief executives of Leighs Construction, Hawkins Construction, NZ Strong, Arrow International, Russell Group, Dominion Constructors, Fletcher Construction and Naylor Love were all part of the original agreement. This agreement is now being used more broadly across the sector.
Following this success, this group has now come together to advocate on broader construction sector issues. The RMBA is overseeing its formation.
Called the Vertical Construction Leader’s Group, it will cover a number of broader policy issues, including risk transfer, procurement, KiwiBuild, and retentions.
Our role in Kiwibuild
Kiwibuild is still a key priority for the sector. We are working closely with the new division of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) as it builds its capability.
The RMBA is actively talking to Ministers and officials about the role we can play to co-ordinate the build of these homes. We are confident RMBA members alone can build 1000 additional homes within a year if they are given the certainty.
We are actively working with the Government to put New Zealand companies at the heart of the solution.
This year’s Constructive Forum is only a month away. Our sector leaders will be sharing the changes and innovations that are making a difference.
The Government is poised for action. We are committed to change. Are you also up for the challenge?