Head of Construction at the Cabinet Office Dr David Hancock says NEC4 will play a key role in the construction industry digital ‘revolution’
NEC4, the next evolution of the NEC suite of contracts, is to play a key role in setting the ‘19th century ‘analogue’ built environment sector on the path to a critical digital ‘industrial revolution’, according to Dr David Hancock, Head of Construction at the Cabinet Office.
Speaking to a sold-out event audience of public and private sector industry experts in Westminster on Thursday – as NEC4 was made available for the first time - Dr Hancock said the contracts’ collaborative and flexible ethos will help UK industry move towards the ‘massive behavioural change’ needed to embrace a ‘critical digital future’.
Endorsed by and aligned with the Government Construction Strategy (GCS) and its commitment to Building Information Modelling (BIM) and Soft Landings, NEC4 has been sculpted from 20 years of user feedback in a move to inspire and enable project collaboration.
NEC contracts have already been critical to countless high-profile and iconic international projects including the London 2012 Olympics and Crossrail while all contracts let under the phase one of the High Speed Two (HS2) rail project are from the suite.
Dr Hancock added NEC4 is ‘central to strengthening the Government’s capability as a construction client’ and that the suite’s central themes of collaboration and shared understanding towards efficiency and risk management are key if ‘we are to enter new era of true manufacturing capability’.
Thursday’s event, the biggest-ever annual NEC Users’ Group Seminar, also heard from Beth West, NEC Users’ Group chair, who called on the industry to ‘create an environment of diversity of thought and remove barriers to entry and progressive behaviours’ if it is to truly embrace transformative digital, modular and off-site methods.
“NEC contracts provide a toolkit to resolve issues with common sense language, collaborative working and risk management. It is up to us to come together and use this to our advantage. This contract requires you to think and act in a certain way to get success – collaboratively.”
“This industry is about people as much as concrete. Having the right people is critical because it is easier to teach skills than behaviour.”
The NEC Users’ Group seminar, which also included a series of interactive workshops, panel sessions and networking opportunities, is the highlight of the NEC calendar and was the first opportunity for the industry to see the new suite – a culmination of years of best practice and industry feedback.
The audience also heard from ICE President Tim Broyd, NEC User's Group President Rudi Klein and Peter Barclay, Midlands Highway Alliance Manager.
Insights from John Hughes D'aeth, NEC4 Contract Board and Partner at Berwin Leighton Paisner, NEC4 contract board chair Peter Higgins and board members Matthew Garrett and Steve Rowsell completed a packed key speaker programme.
Later in the evening, the Leeds Flood Alleviation Scheme was crowned NEC Large Project of the Year at the very popular NEC Awards, established to recognise and celebrate the world’s finest examples of NEC3 contract collaborations. This and the full list of winning submissions will now be championed globally as the pinnacle of contract collaboration.
Rekha Thawrani, general manager for NEC: “What a fantastic start for NEC4 – this was biggest ever event and we were thrilled to have such an informed public and private sector audience including clients, contractors, consultants and professionals from along the supply chain.
“Our speakers highlighted the need, and inherent desire, for the UK to embrace a digital and collaboration revolution. An evolution built on the collaboration, feedback and endorsement of you, our users, NEC4 embraces these outstanding collective working practices already transforming industry, to make them accessible, practical and affordable for all.
“We all want to see this industry delivering outstanding projects on time and on budget, efficiency savings and risk management. Only together can we reach the highest standards, now and in the future, to the benefit of both industry and society.”
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