VINCI Construction UK

Media Centre

The Road to Digitalisation

Tony Raikes Many of our operations are already digitised, replacing paper with electronic data. When did you last fill in an annual leave or expenses form? But while many of our operations are already digitised, there is still work to be done to keep up with the digital revolution. Digitalisation, or the use of modern technology to change the way we do business, is this next stage and is an inevitable road we all need to travel.

There are many instances where digitalisation is already part of everyday life. The use of Smartphones, for example, and Skype. How did we ever manage without them? The use of Skype for keeping in touch with friends and family is now being used routinely for business. BIM technology has revolutionised our ability to envisage how structures will function and therefore our ability to maintain and service them efficiently. Our Facilities Management system, V-Nexus, a paperless system for managing our work, enables us to react quickly and effectively to end-user requirements. However, this is only the tip of the iceberg. Digitalisation will present many more opportunities to drive improvement by speeding up our activities, at the same time reducing errors, creating efficiencies and improving quality. This is good for us in terms of reducing cost and growing our profitability and good for our customers as we create more value and deliver greater benefits.

Change can be daunting, but it is essential that we adapt to change if we are to remain competitive. In this regard VINCI in the UK has the advantage of being able to leverage the benefits of being part of a global group. Ground breaking work has already been undertaken across the business, and plans are underway to further develop our digital platform.

One thing is for certain - the FM and construction industries will be exciting places to work as the digital revolution gathers pace over the coming years.

By Tony Raikes, Managing Director, VINCI Facilities

Constructing the Future

Bruno DupetyConstruction is one of the main engines of economic growth and a strong economic indicator.  Reports suggest that there will be a sustained increase in activity of around 3% across all sectors over the next few years.  This is good news for a company like VINCI Construction UK which has the experience and expertise to make the most of the opportunities this will bring.

This growth will not only present opportunities to win work, it will give our people the chance to develop their skills, both technical and entrepreneurial, across the wide range of disciplines needed to create or maintain a building or structure. 

Nothing is possible in our business without the people who deliver our projects.  Our success is dependent on the quality of our project managers and their teams.  At VINCI Construction UK, we recognise that we need to attract new talent as well as retaining our more experienced team members.  We also recognise the benefits of having a diverse team of people whose backgrounds enhance the talent pool we are able to draw upon.  Some of their skills will be transferrable to construction and others will be honed through training and mentoring.

We need to think ahead and plan for the future.  For those who have the aptitude, there will be the opportunity to start climbing the career ladder.  For those who want to specialise, there will be the chance for professional development.  But for everyone who works for VINCI Construction UK there will be pride in the knowledge of having played a part, no matter how big or small, in making a difference to people’s lives both now and in the future through the delivery of a successful project.

Bruno Dupety, Chairman & Chief Executive, VINCI PLC & VINCI Construction UK Limited

The Power of Communication

Angela StanleyI was recently interviewing a candidate who was an employee of one of our competitors who spoke so passionately about her role, that I was left wondering why she had actually come for an interview at VINCI Construction UK.

Her answer?  She had been looking for a suitable opportunity with VINCI, the biggest and best construction company in the world and she was very excited to be talking to us - she would love to have the opportunity to work with us and contribute to our successes.

This conversation brought home to me what I guess we already know about the power of the brand and word of mouth communication.  But it also made me think more about how we use these to make a positive impact at a time when there is a skills shortage in an industry that has suffered the worst recession since the second world war and that continues to suffer from lack of awareness when it comes to career paths and choices.

We are the best ambassadors for our industry as well as the companies we work for.  Every one of us has the ability to talk about our roles at work, the career paths we have taken to get there and the pride we feel when we see the company we work for create a building such as Swansea University, or maintain a facility such as the Olympic Stadium.  These are legacy projects that will be used and enjoyed for generations to come.

We can attend careers fairs, advertise in all the right places and have a fantastic web site that showcases what we do and why people should work for us.  But the best way to have a positive impact on people’s perceptions and help shape career ambitions is by being a better communicator of all the good things we do. 

So my challenge to you, is to talk enthusiastically about your role, the company and the industry and, together, we will start to make a difference to how much people know about the fantastic career opportunities available.

Some of you may be wondering whether the candidate got the job – the interviews are ongoing but watch this space ….

Angela Stanley, Human Resources Director, VINCI PLC

Engaging the Supply Chain

Jeff StephensJeff Stephens, head of BIM at VINCI Construction UK, on getting smaller suppliers engaged, holding architects' hands, and the likely impact of the new NBS BIM Toolkit.

What do you make of the government’s Strategic Plan for Level 3 BIM?
It has the right aspirations, but how long it takes to implement and the funding available to support the development of the standards have not been made clear. Aspects that still need to be resolved include: how to run projects entirely without paper; how should contracts be set up based on only digital information; and how will that impact on insurance policies when delivering integrated projects?

If we can get integrated project delivery to work under Level 2, then perhaps it will provide the foundation for Level 3 BIM’s success.

What do you see as the major challenges with Level 2 BIM?
A big issue is finding clients who have a proper understanding of what asset data is useful to them under the Employer’s Information Requirements, and how to define those requirements. You also get clients with a surface BIM knowledge, who, might know, for example, to ask for COBie data, but don't even have the FM software capable of making use of it.

What do you make of the NBS BIM Toolkit, launched last week?
It should help us define in plain language, and from a data point of view, the level of detail needed at every stage of projects using BIM. Rather than relying on spreadsheets or Word documents ad hoc, this provides a clear method for capturing information. In future, this can be used in conjunction with the BIM checking toolkit, currently in Beta, to highlight when information is missing and whether the requirements have been met in BIM models.

VINCI Construction UK is already using tools like 4Projects’ 4BIM to give us early warnings highlighting which COBie data cells have not been filled out. Over the next year, software like this will include the same spec on what projects should be delivering, based on the NBS BIM Toolkit.

Does VINCI Construction UK  have enough “techie” people, well versed in BIM?
Some of our design managers need a lot of support from BIM coordinators/BIM integrators, and are not used to forensically looking into 3D BIM models to validate the quality of the information, and ensure the common data environment is being used properly. That’s a challenge because we only have a handful of people qualified to provide that support.

What work needs to be done with the rest of the supply chain?
Architects, though normally considered BIM literate, often need their hands holding. We are planning to be more prescriptive in contracts around what we expect lead designers to do. At present, they might be happy to take responsibility for coordination of the design team and supply chain at the level of a 2D drawing, but when you ask them to do the same in 3D BIM, they throw their hands up in horror and say “no, we want more money”. But BIM’s supposed to be saving clients money, not costing them more. Again, they need hand holding from our BIM coordinators/BIM integrators.

How about the lower tier suppliers?
We’ve just started the Tier2Tier project, in collaboration with 4Projects, MEP subcontractor NG Bailey and its supply chain, to examine how the lower tiers can engage with BIM and provide asset information without having to prepare complicated 3D models, or significantly change the way they currently work. The project will look at how to give them access to a common data environment, and ensure they only hand over necessary asset information, which might just be a couple of characteristics but not an entire 3D model (for example, an FM manager probably doesn’t need a complicated model of a pump).

Has BIM saved any time or money on projects VINCI Construction UK  has completed?
It’s a difficult thing to quantify. Even the BIM Task Group has not yet published metrics on early-adopter projects showing the actual margins achieved. The best approach is to work to traditional metrics, such as whether it was delivered on time, or to budget, or the number of snags, clashes or technical queries on site. It’s wrong to focus just on BIM though, as this is about changing process and using the technology as a tool to be more efficient.

Typically at the detailed design stage we are seeing many thousands of issues in BIM models that traditionally might not have been revealed until construction work is underway, so clearly we are better coordinated on design.

This interview first appeared on BIM +

Delivering Sustainable Projects

Dr Russell MatthewsIn February this year I was invited to make a presentation at an event organised by Sweett Group on the theme of sustainability.  The opportunity had come through VINCI Construction UK’s involvement with ProCure 21+.  Aptly named the New Year Healthy Breakfast, the audience was made up of representatives of NHS Trusts as well as architects and consultants operating in the health sector.

My particular focus was on helping to deliver sustainable projects.

Starting early in the design process is key.  BREEAM assessments carried out by the Technology Centre’s environment team prove time and again that difficulties in achieving the target number of credits originate from the design as well as the construction stage.   Also, it usually costs more to achieve BREEAM credits later in the development because the opportunity to ‘design them in’ has been missed. Our experience is that everyone finds BREEAM difficult and this sentiment was echoed around the room. 

I don’t think it’s appreciated sufficiently that BREEAM credits have multiple detailed compliance points which will be rigidly interpreted by BRE when an assessment is submitted.  Also the degree of rigidity they apply is gradually increasing with time; i.e. something that was accepted last year may not be now.  My key messages for success are therefore to take BREEAM seriously, focus on credits as early as possible and remember detail, detail, detail! 

I also recommended for organisations to follow ISO 50001; energy management standard. In 2009 the Technology Centre was one of the first companies in the construction sector to become accredited for energy management, initially to BS EN 16001 which later became ISO 50001.  Since then we have reduced our energy use by over 43% and have achieved cost savings of many times more than the costs of accreditation.  And if you have to comply with the energy savings opportunity scheme (ESOS), it’s a much smaller step from there to 50001 which is an automatic route to compliance.  I believe the introduction of ESOS may lead to an increased take up of ISO 50001. 

You might like to find out more about how the Technology Centre is helping to deliver sustainable projects by visiting our web site.

Dr Russell Matthews, Managing Director, VINCI Technology Centre UK Limited - 30th March 2015

The Energy Sector – Expert Opinion

Many of us have spent small fortunes in developing our energy businesses, be it wind, wave, nuclear new build, decommissioning or waste and recycling.  The rate at which projects are coming to market is disappointing to say the least.  Funding, planning, protester action and affordability issues continually frustrate the procurement progress and seem to provide sufficient options for decision makers to do nothing, or procrastinate at best.

That said, one area of the energy market that does seem to be making relatively good progress is the Energy-from-Waste sector.  Whilst it’s had its fair share of preconstruction problems it has to be said that, when built and operational, these are sophisticated machines which deal very effectively with an increasing UK waste problem.  I have visited several plants and have been surprised at how impressive they are. Architecturally, the appearance of some of these plants is spectacular. They wouldn’t be out of place on the Olympic Park. Operationally, there’s no odour, noise, dust or traffic congestion despite the fact that some plants are in urban areas.  You drive away thinking, what’s all the fuss about? – This is vital infrastructure built for the 21st century and every county in the land should have one.

At last we’re doing something to catch up with other European countries in avoiding landfill, and generating electricity from waste. Unfortunately though, we’re not catching up fast enough.

The number of constructed plants, and those in the planning and under-construction phase will not be sufficient to serve the UK’s needs.  The nett effect is that we will continue to send our waste to the likes of Denmark, Sweden and Finland. It’s absurd that these countries are building new plants to accommodate our waste.

There seems to be disinformation around about overcapacity in the UK, which in turn is stagnating the industry.  The UK is therefore missing an opportunity to develop EfW plants and we are losing investment and employment opportunities in the UK.

It’s hard to believe how complicated our planning and procurement processes have been allowed to become.  Waste infrastructure procurement periods can take many years thanks to the complexity of the processes we follow; granting permits, overturning decisions, Government call-ins, reducing or removing PFI credits, legal challenges…  We’re losing the plot.  When you see these plants in operation you think “why weren’t they built decades ago? … After all, we wouldn’t consider not building adequate waste water plants in the UK…. Double standards me thinks.

Dave Williams, Sector Director – Energy, Taylor Woodrow

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