Discussion on: The Value of Innovation

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Miles Walker

I do see that innovation is very competitive, and lessons learned not always shared in the industry.

Some of the large projects I have worked on or witnessed have shown reduced transactions through better relationships although some were under complex contracts to enable innovations to take place. This has included PFI, Design-Build, Management Contract, and IPD. Good (and fun) projects have been when the AE is working closely with the contractor/sub-contractors to deliver in a more collaborative process – joined-up thinking helps too. Having lowered the contract walls (around the AEC team), the transactions become less and collaboration increases. I have seen great innovation from Ireland, particularly for data center projects – this has ranged from innovation including DFMA where whole platforms of complicated electrical equipment delivered to site on skids and rolled into place into the plant room, soon after being craned off a flatbed lorry – reducing time and transactions as the parts are joined and tested quicker than those old traditional methods of delivery. Other innovations have included bring the parts to site (structure, cladding, MEP) and building adj. to site and moved to location…more like a modern assembly line on the side of the site.

For an ROI on a data center might be how can we deliver the project 3 months earlier, the client invests and challenges, the team develops solutions and is able to procure design and construction to suit and complete with the new end date. During this there will have been a lot of innovation, but can the next project be delivered faster and with better quality? Probably, and that’s where smart innovative companies will create a competitive advantage. It may take a few projects to improve again. The good news is innovation is not static, and in this example, it is constantly evolving (survival of the fittest perhaps). The bad news is I am not sure if the industry can keep up or if enough sharing exists.

So opportunities to share are always welcome and new types of partnerships and agreements to lower contractual silos/walls and encourage collaboration and innovation are always welcome.