Phil Clifton, Managing Director of Balfour Beatty’s Highways business, has featured in Highways Industry discussing “Production Thinking” – the company’s new approach to highways construction and management.
In the article, Phil explains that “Production Thinking” is a mindset, that focusses on productivity improvement, innovative delivery and waste reduction with clear alignment to the UK Government’s Construction 2025 strategy.
Commenting on the transformative new approach, Phil said: “As the construction and infrastructure industry continues to evolve, with new players, technologies and ways of working coming to market, it’s crucial that we adapt – and at pace. Production Thinking offers a simple and actionable roadmap to help us deliver our projects safely, sustainably, innovatively and ultimately, efficiently.”
Production Thinking is not just another construction methodology; it’s a mindset focused on improving productivity, innovative delivery and predictability, and reducing waste, Its aligned to the UK Government’s Construction 2025 strategy which aims to achieve lower cost, lower emissions and faster delivery in construction projects.
There are six steps that underpin Production Thinking: Method-led Construction, Modern Methods of Construction, Innovation, Right First Time, Lean Mindset and Digital Transformation. Combined, these steps will help us deliver our projects in a safer, more sustainable and innovative way, and at the lowest possible cost for customers whilst continuously improving productivity. Let me explain.
Method-led Construction ensures that we always design highways schemes with construction front of mind. It allows us to introduce design changes early in the process to reduce the programme duration, carbon emissions and ultimately, the cost. We’ve already reaped the benefits across several projects – including on our A57 Mottram Underpass project where alongside our design partner, Atkins, we changed the design of the secant walls to contiguous piles, resulting in a 12-week programme reduction, 50% less carbon emissions and cost savings totalling over £2.1 million due to the significant reduction in materials used.
Modern Methods of Construction are also integral in delivering efficiencies when designing and delivering highways projects. By using off-site and near-site manufacturing, we are able to deliver significant benefits in both quality and safety, as well as time. On the Lower Thames Crossing, for example, we’ll be utilising modular construction techniques to build 49 structures including bridges and major viaducts, offsite and in a controlled factory environment which will reduce the time our workforce spend on site, whilst also accelerating the overall construction process.
At Balfour Beatty, keeping our promises and delivering Right First Time is what makes us a trusted partner. By making this commitment and continually improving how we deliver, we avoid re-doing works and minimise health and safety risks for our workforce. We also remove the additional carbon emissions and waste production that occurs as a result of doing a task more than once, helping us achieve our 2040 sustainability ambitions of going Beyond Net Zero Carbon and Generating Zero Waste. To help us get it Right First Time, we’ve rolled-out BIM 360 Field, a construction field management software that centralises project information and workflows, from design to completion, to accurately demonstrate how we have been meeting the requirements of customers and stakeholders alike.
We also have a laser-like focus on creating value for our customers. By adopting a Lean mindset and streamlining our processes and procedures, our projects become more efficient, resulting in reduced resource consumption and a smaller ecological footprint.
But none of this would be possible without our Digital Transformation which allows us to embed innovation solutions at pace and scale. We are already making great strides across several initiatives, including the pioneering Cement 2 Zero project through which we are leveraging our experience and expertise alongside industry partners to develop the world’s first zero emissions cement on an industrial scale.
As the construction and infrastructure industry continues to evolve, with new players, technologies and ways of working coming to market, it’s crucial that we adapt – and at pace. Production Thinking offers a simple and actionable roadmap to help us deliver our projects safely, sustainably, innovatively and ultimately, efficiently.