Article | August 4, 2021
In amongst the chatter about how we can 'do' infrastructure better, there's now a growing consensus that we need to improve the way we design our interventions - 'design' in the broader sense of the word, rather than the narrow sense we tend to use as engineers.
My front-end principles for better infrastructure
Over the course of my career, the following front-end principles have served well to ensure we think through, before we rush in where angels fear to tread.
Be clear about the purpose and the expected outcomes, and engage communities in decision-making through an effective communication strategy.
Prioritise the user, aiming to offer services that are modern, effective and affordable.
Seek to improve people's quality of life and support the transition to a more sustainable future, while also facilitating the functioning of the economy, enhancing productivity and accommodating growth (to the extent possible, given other competing objectives).
Extract greatest value from existing infrastructure through timely maintenance, repurposing, renewal and upgrading. Seek to remove constraints and bottlenecks.
Aim to make best use of data, automation, innovation and technology (including for future asset management), recognising the complexity and risks this may introduce.
Recognise, analyse, mitigate and manage technical, environmental and climate risks, and complete any surveys necessary to support this.
Improve governance, with robust, timely and transparent decision-making, supported by strong evidence-based planning, clear prioritisation, and best practice technical design and delivery.
Seek an appropriate funding balance between 'user pays' and general taxation which incentivises behaviours in the best long-term social, economic and environmental interests.
Complete well-evidenced business cases and risk assessments of proposed initiatives before embarking on projects, including financing proposals. Aim to allocate the risks identified to those best able to carry them.
Facilitate collaboration between the government and business to promote delivery of the broader social, economic and environmental benefits.
Clearly, there are many other issues to consider as a project develops, and the above principles may seem obvious to some, and a counsel of perfection to others, but it's surprising how many are overlooked in the rush to build.
Article | February 24, 2020
Since the 1950’s, United States agricultural and manufacturing industries have increased their productivity rates by 1,000%. In stark contrast, productivity rates for the U.S. construction industry haven’t increased at all. Thanks to the rise of construction-technology, there are less obvious and less expensive ways to become more efficient. And they don’t involve completely changing the way you build. Instead, they use mobile apps to speed up or automate time-consuming administrative tasks. So you, your employees and your subs can spend less time on “busy work” and more time on the work that moves your projects forward.
Article | March 16, 2020
Trust has always been at the heart of the construction industry. Whether you’re turning up for a day at work at the Gherkin in London, enjoying a rugby match at Dublin’s Aviva Stadium or catching a train at Amsterdam Centraal, you need to trust that the infrastructure around you is well-constructed and safe. And of course, as a construction professional, you need to trust that your colleagues and collaborators can fulfil their commitments – so that projects are completed and everyone is rewarded.
Article | February 21, 2020
The current trend of electrification in the automotive industry challenges not only the development teams, but also the production lines and quality testing. While the ICE (internal combustion engine) production rely on the well-established hot and cold testing of engines applying vibration and sound measurements; assembly of electrified vehicles requires new advanced end-of-line (EoL) testing methods and standards.