New ideas and innovation

A reported 34,000 industry professionals attended this year’s UK Construction Week (UKCW).

The ‘Future of Construction’, this year’s theme, pervaded throughout the nine different shows within UKCW, and was brought to life through an innovation trail, 3D printing, AI, AR, numerous construction site simulators, and robotic technologies such as the Robocop-esque ExoSkeleton.

There were more than 650 exhibitors at UKCW this year, demonstrating and launching over 10,000 products and services. The diversity and innovation on show brought national media attention to UKCW, with live broadcasts each day including BBC Breakfast, Birmingham Live and BBC News channels.

Delegates were also keen to learn from the repercussions of the Hackitt Review and the Grenfell Tower fire. This led to CPDs and seminars covering the big issues all being extremely busy, including sessions on the review of building regulations and fire safety, quality and the consequences of poor building practices, insulation and cladding and other topics concerned with fire.

Other packed-out sessions generated calls for more responsive planning and housing policies, more integration across digital construction and software systems, and more consistency and guidance from the government, especially in procurement and standards.

Equality, diversity and inclusion was also a major theme, with debates on the UKCW stage. There was an interview with Barbara Res, the woman who built Trump Tower, plus a presentation by Lord Blunkett discussing the Heathrow Skills Taskforce, and the first award presentation for the UK Construction Week Role Model of the Year.

Stuart Gray, senior building services engineer at ROK Construction, said: “You can’t compare looking at the internet and websites to going around and chatting to people who really know what they are talking about. It’s really interesting to see the latest and greatest technology which is coming into the world.”

Looking towards next year’s show, Nathan Garnett, UKCW event director said: “There was a tremendous positivity around UKCW this year, with a real feeling that the industry wants to adapt and embrace a new way of building. The success of the Offsite section was testament to this, as was the interest in new technology, electric vehicle infrastructure, renewables, and the IoT Arena. Our exhibitor rebook rate has exceeded our expectations and is 40% higher than last year, so we are really excited about how we can take this all forward in 2019 at UKCW.”

Next year’s UKCW will take place between October 8 and 10, 2019 at Birmingham’s NEC.