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Strategy is a window of opportunity

John Twitchen

The Government launched a consultation on its industrial strategy in January, which runs until 17 April. But what does it mean for those visiting this year’s RWM show?

Clearly, one of the major challenges to the UK economy is the supply of materials and energy for manufacturing and construction. The opportuni­ties around delivering a truly circular economy (CE) and the resources demanded by smart cities of the future are huge.

The green paper sets out a ‘10 pillars’ strategy, which includes science, research and innovation, skills, infrastruc­ture and affordable energy.

For resource managers, the main challenge is engaging in supply chains to provide the right feedstock, product or outcome, and overcoming old barriers based on perceptions of quality and performance.

digital future

digital future

As Jaguar Land Rover has demonstrated with its pioneer­ing move to incorporate re-cycled aluminium in its pro­duction, large manufacturers are making the switch to deliver carbon and cost reduc­tion while securing access to reliable sources of material.

Today, engaging with manu­facturers means going digital, probably the greatest chal­lenge facing the traditionally technology-shy resource man­agement sector. The drive to digitise systems is in part driven by the consideration for whole-life and end-of-life costs of products along with the need to be flexible in the design stage.

As my PCSG colleague Steve Thompson says in his report for the Construction Products Association (CPA), by follow­ing the CE approach, everyone benefits.

Creators of buildings will be able to customise designs and optimise options. Financiers and owners of buildings will be able to eliminate perfor­mance gaps, deliver on time and to budget with more flexi­ble, less risky assets.

Manufacturers will under­stand the value and perfor­mance of their products, and UK plc will be able to cut the need for raw materials and imports.

As the CPA report says, a digitally-enabled supply chain delivers products and systems for reuse, redistribution, remanufacturing and recy­cling during an asset’s life, with huge carbon savings and socio-economic benefits. The Ellen MacArthur Foundation has suggested a potential EU-wide benefit exceeding e130bn (£112bn) by 2030 through a built environment CE, largely enabled by the digital economy. Defra has placed the onus on business to lead – so let’s get digital.

John Twitchen is head of Professional Construction Strategies Group’s cities and communities programme. He is writing as an Ambassador for RWM.

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