UK Construction Week returns for a fourth turn at the Birmingham NEC in October. Its nine shows cater for the breadth of the construction industry. Suzie Mayes reports on what to expect this year with a focus on the housebuilder-targeted Build Show
From House Builder Magazine September 2018
Now in its fourth year, UK Construction Week returns to the Birmingham NEC from October 9 –11.
As before, visitors can choose from nine shows assembled under the UKCW umbrella, the variety reflecting the depth and breadth of the construction sector. One ticket offers unlimited entry to The Build Show, Timber Expo, Civils Expo, Plant & Machinery Live, Energy 2018, Building Tech Live, Surface & Materials Show, HVAC 2018 and Grand Designs Live.
Across all the shows, professionals can immerse themselves in seminars, CPD sessions, exhibition stands and networking opportunities. With the Brexit deadline approaching and myriad industry issues to contend with, there is plenty to reflect on and discuss.
UK housebuilding remains firmly in the spotlight, confirms UKCW’s organiser. “Recent research estimates the industry to be worth a staggering £38 billion per year, supporting nearly 700,000 jobs,” a spokesperson states. “Residential development and regeneration professionals will be feeling the pressure to increase these figures, as housebuilding and the push to increase the supply and delivery of affordable homes is firmly on the government’s agenda.” UKCW therefore remains a crucial staple in the industry calendar. Last year was the show’s most successful to date, it reports, with more than 30,000 trade visitors filling the NEC. This year, more than 35,000 visitors are tipped to attend.
More than 650 exhibitors are slated to feature at UKCW. In the Roofing, Cladding and Insulation area of the Build Show, Forticrete will display its range of masonry products. And Knauf will show off its glass and rock mineral wool insulation solutions.
At the Doors, Windows and Glass section, Velux will present its new smart window system. Over at Offsite Construction, representatives from Fermacell will be on hand to discuss the company’s energy efficient and eco-friendly building board.
Other Build Show exhibitors include British Gypsum and the Concrete Centre.
The Build Show
The Build Show, sponsored by Easy-Trim, is likely to pique the interest of housebuilders the most. Nathan Garnett, UKCW’s event director, explains its particular importance: “For most people working in the trades, finding the time to keep up-to-date with the latest products, sourcing the best deals and networking with UK Construction Week returns for a fourth turn at the Birmingham NEC in October. Its nine shows cater for the breadth of the construction industry. Suzie Mayes reports on what to expect this year with a focus on the housebuilder-targeted Build Show the whole construction supply chain while juggling work commitments feels impossible.
“That’s why the Build Show is always an unmissable event for housebuilders and developers. It brings the latest products, ideas and manufacturers to one place and is broken down into specific sections to make the search easier.”
CPD sessions to interest all walks of housebuilding include:
- Building Regulations – update post-Grenfell with Dr Graham Smith from the Chartered Institute of Architectural Technologists
- Are you fire door sure with Hannah Mansell, head of technical research and insight at the British Woodworking Federation
- Flood resilience with Jessica Lammond, professor at the University of the West of England
- The role of daylight and ventilation in happy and healthy homes with Aaron Sudgen, area sales manager at VELUX.
The “specific sections” that Garnett is referring to are the four new areas of the Build Show, where more than 100 products will be launched. At Roofing, Cladding and Insulation, roofing exhibitors are poised to showcase an array of tools and services.
The Tools, Health and Safety section will include time-saving tools, and Doors, Windows and Glass is set to feature global solutions in the windows and doors market. (For more on the exhibitions, see box, page 62).
Meanwhile, Offsite Construction is dedicated to the latest in offsite design, research and development.
As the interest in offsite as a housing solution continues to build, in this area visitors can discover hybrid concrete solutions, factory-built bathrooms and certification from industry experts. The space will also stage seminars.
Against the prevailing climate of political uncertainty, UKCW will again host strong seminar content across its shows. (More on UKCW’s main stage theatre later).
The Build Show’s seminars are set to be just as thought-provoking. The Regeneration Hub will explore the latest developments, trends, innovations and projects set to rejuvenate cities and towns across the UK, boost local communities, improve transportation links, and provide office spaces and housing. Experts taking the microphone include Victoria Hills, ceo of the Royal Town Planning Institute, and property expert and TV presenter Kunle Barker. Specific topics range from the future of construction skills after Brexit to Passivhaus.
The Offsite Theatre will tackle subjects including digitising offsite construction, and “All you ever wanted to know about how to solve the affordable housing crisis but were too afraid to ask”.
New to the Build Show seminar circuit is the Digital Construction Hub. This zone will delve into digital project case studies and include thought leadership on the adoption of BIM (Building Information Modelling) and the latest technologies. Among other topics visitors can learn about BIM maturity for all the supply chain (speaker: Alex Giles, consultant at Action Sustainability).
Another new addition is the Working at Height Stage. Comprising 40-minute CPD sessions, this platform will cover trends, developments and techniques in height safety. (For more on CPD sessions, see box, page 63).
And, after a successful stint in 2017, IEMA returns to UKCW with its one-day conference – Sustainable construction: playing our part – on October 10. In the first of two sessions, IEMA will address the matter of low impact construction and critical issues such as low carbon electricity on construction sites. Session two is scheduled to concentrate on how to move from low impact to net gain.
Main stage theatre
Taking the highlights of UKCW’s main stage content, the first session of the show comprises a debate on the digital future of construction. Mid-morning the Housing Forum will consider how to stop building failures.
In the afternoon of the first day, Lord David Blunkett will examine how technology and diversity can transform the skills gap into a thriving industry that delivers projects on time and to budget. Lord Blunkett will then join a panel to debate infrastructure in post-Brexit Britain.
Day two’s seminars begin with a construction industry economic forecast for 2019, featuring speakers Steph McGovern – journalist and BBC TV presenter – and Rebecca Larkin, senior economist at the Construction Products Association. This is followed by a session on solving the UK’s housing crisis.
Some may find the day’s lunchtime speaker intriguing. Barbara Res, the project manager behind Trump Tower, will share insights into her experiences as a female in construction and working with US president Donald Trump.
But of particular importance will be the afternoon session on quality in construction post-Grenfell. Claire Curtis-Thomas, ceo of the British Board of Agrément (BBA), and Peter Caplehorn, CPA’s deputy ceo and policy director, will join others to discuss this key issue, more than a year after the tragic events of June 2017 and following the publication of the Hackitt Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety earlier this year.
In the mid-morning session of the last day, experts will discuss diversity and its “uncomfortable truths”.
From lunchtime into the afternoon, the focus will turn to “Buildings, Brains and BIM,” exploring the concept of using neuroscience to design for wellbeing. And later in the afternoon, speakers including Brian Berry, director of the Federation of Master Builders, will consider how to rebuild faith in the construction industry following recent events.
Also included in the main stage agenda is the outcome of UKCW’s Role Models initiative. In the spring, UKCW called upon industry professionals to nominate themselves (or to be nominated) as role models to the construction industry, offering them the chance to elevate their profile and tell their story of success through a nationwide publicity campaign. Following the shortlisting of 36 inspiring men and women, the role model of the year will be revealed on the main stage. There will also be a Role Models panel debate.
Returning to the Build Show and running throughout the others is the Innovation Trail. This is where the most enterprising exhibitors can showcase their products as well as new ways of working, collaboration and evolving technologies.
“The number one reason visitors come to UKCW is to find innovative products,” the show claims. It is inviting companies to apply for their product or service to feature on the trail, via UKCW’s website. Products submitted will be judged and notified within 14 days of entry.
The Future of Construction
And forward-thinking is very much the theme of UKCW, with the presence of the Future of Construction Hub at the show. This area will afford an opportunity for visitors to immerse themselves in digital construction, 3D printing, robotics, AI (artificial intelligence), AR (augmented reality) and modern methods of construction to discover how they can all deliver the new Government Construction Sector Deal.
The Hub also forms part of UKCW’s student and teacher and career changers programmes. These, UKCW says, aim to demonstrate to the next generation as well as educators, that construction is “at the forefront of the design and tech revolution, and that a career in the built environment is exciting, dynamic, rewarding and allows you to play an influential role in shaping our world of tomorrow”.
Focusing on the “future of construction” theme, the Build Show will feature the latest advancements in building products, policy and projects.
At the end of their busy days, visitors can turn to UKCW’s Beer Festival for some well-earned evening entertainment. On offer is street food, a live band, rockaoke and wind-down drinks. FIX Radio will also broadcast from the festival across the three days.
A new company is set to exhibit at UK Construction Week, promising to “shake up the property industry and revolutionise the way we buy and sell new build homes”.
Yourkeys will offer an online platform which will allow buyers to purchase their new homes online from start to finish, “from anywhere in the world”. Through the user’s private online dashboard, the platform will set out the new homes buying process in a clear linear timeline, Yourkeys explains. “This means that house developers will have less reliance on estate agents to sell their properties,” it explains.
Instead, developers and buyers will be in far greater control, with Yourkeys offering support. “This involves setting clear and realistic deadlines for all parties to follow and generating real-time reports and notifications during the sales and conveyancing process.”
Yourkeys will launch this month (September) with the team demonstrating its software at Stand B62 next to the BMF Pavilion at UKCW.
The other shows
There is plenty to see and digest at the other shows that constitute UKCW. Timber Expo and the Surface and Materials Show will showcase what is possible with wood and other surfaces.
At the Timber Focus Theatre, visitors – when they are not being treated to musical performances (featuring a timber instrument) – will be briefed on subjects including designing correctly for fire safety performance.
At Energy 2018 the focus is on renewable energy, with the REA Theatre and the Energy Hub hosting seminars.
At Building Tech Live – originally named Smart Buildings – the Electrotechnical Certification Scheme (ECS) will demonstrate its new online system, ECS check, which allows main contractors and clients to verify the skills and qualifications of electrical personnel working on projects. Also at Building Tech Live, delegates can experience the Internet of Things.
Visitors can introduce themselves to the latest systems at HVAC 2018. The Infrastructure Hub is a focal point of Civils Expo. And at Plant and Machinery Live, there are interactive demos to enjoy.