4 August 2021 | Innovation | Collaboration

Industry Interview: Reforming the sector

Galliford Try recently became the newest member of the Local Council Roads Innovation Group (LCRIG). The company’s Managing Director Dave Lowery spoke to Alec Peachey about a range of topics including the reasons why the industry needs to think outside of the box when it comes to attracting new talent, adapting to the challenges brought about by the pandemic, and why innovation is key to unlocking opportunities. 

 

Q. What are the biggest challenges facing the highways sector?

A. “We face many challenges as a sector, however, these challenges also provide an excellent opportunity for us to transform and drive better outcomes. There is much for us to do in the innovation and decarbonisation space, but, these are areas where industry can truly come together and be at the forefront of improving society and people’s lives in the future. 

“One key challenge today is that of the skills shortage currently facing the sector. We have to re-think how we encourage both young and new entrants into the industry. Doing what we have always done as an industry has led us to where we are today, finding the gap between our experienced people and new entrants is a challenging and lengthy process. 

“At Galliford Try, we are prepared to tear up the script and we see an opportunity to revise our approach to job descriptions, vacancies and talent attraction, a chance to make roles more attractive to individuals out of the sector who could provide us with fresh and diverse thinking to help reform the highways sector. We are also looking at how we enhance the reputation of the industry so that future generations see the sector as an attractive career prospect. We still see today young children generally depicting a civil engineer as a male builder – and this is something we have to change. This sector has an abundance of room for the creatives, the mathematicians and budding designers out there and we have a responsibility to make it easier for them to see and embrace the opportunities.” 

 

Q. How is Galliford Try working with councils to help them deliver highways services?

A. “Throughout the UK, we work with a range of councils. For many, we deliver major infrastructure with the aim of delivering safely, on time and to budget. We also engage on several maintenance and surfacing style frameworks, where we deliver to the immediate needs of the councils and their associated communities. 

“The common thread through all the work we deliver, is that we are here to support, offer expert advice and deliver a positive impact. We want to help councils get better value for money, achieve the environmental efficiencies they have targeted and provide innovative solutions that ultimately make peoples lives easier.” 

 

Q. How has your team adapted to the challenges brought about by Covid-19?

A. “Covid-19 has certainly been an unprecedented challenge for us all to face, however, I can honestly say the Galliford Try team have been exceptional.

“As a company we already had the mechanisms in place for agile, home working. So people that didn’t need to be on sites, were able to efficiently and effectively work from home. We have been able to keep all of our highways projects live, thanks to our amazing people. We adapted to the government guidelines, kept everyone safe and still managed to deliver against our programmes and objectives. 

“The pandemic really has tested the mental resilience of most people. We have been fortunate to have ‘build back better’ as a priority with many councils seeing the quieter roads as an opportunity to deliver improvements with a lesser impact on the local community. During the pandemic we have embraced new technologies, ways of working and shown a heighted appreciation of humility and respect, ultimately putting our people at the heart of everything we do; all of which need to remain at the front of our thinking as we embrace the future.” 

 

Q. How much importance is put on innovation within your business and in what ways can it enable change?

A. “Innovation has been a high priority for highways for quite some time and by unlocking the full potential innovation has to offer, the possibilities could be endless. We can reduce our delivery times, remove people from working on our roadsides and being put in harm’s way and explore technologies that make off-site manufacturing the norm. Every element of what we do today, could have an alternative innovative solution we could and should be exploring.

“Some examples of the types of innovation we are currently exploring include our Caviar project and ElectroRoads project:

“Caviar is funded by Highways England and supported by Innovate UK. The project looks at how the SRN supports both autonomous and traditional vehicles on the network. Our research provides Highways England with advanced simulation platform in which different highways scenarios can be tested.

“ElectroRoad is a national project to be delivered via a multi-national collaboration with Honda R&D UK, Honda R&D Japan, Galliford Try, Morales and TRL.
This study will look at the possibility of an Electric Road System applied to 44ft heavy goods vehicles as a cost effective & feasible solution to the rough decarbonisation of the heavy road transport sector.” 

 

Q. In what ways do you collaborate with local authorities and the wider supply chain?

A. “Collaboration, whether with councils or the wider supply chain, all comes down to one thing; having the right people in the right place, and ensuring they are empowered to be aligned on our collective ambitions. 

“Our Anstey Lane project for Leicestershire County Council is a perfect example of our collaborative style. We seamlessly integrated with the council and the supply chain to create an environment where everyone worked as one team. You could have walked on to site and not known who worked for the council, Galliford Try or the supply chain. This meant everyone had the project ambition at heart, focusing on doing what was best to deliver a successful scheme and work together to achieve it. 

“We also hold a number of ISO accreditations, work closely with the supply chain sustainability school to deliver content that supports our supply chain as well utilising our advantage through alignment approach.” 

 

Q. In terms of funding for roads, what do you think works well and what needs to be improved?

A. “There are many funding avenues available to councils. Despite this however, we can clearly see funding for vital infrastructure is not always easily attainable. 

“Support for councils that lack the in-house resource to bid for large sums of money is needed. More early involvement from contractors as well as design consultants would support ensuring that the scheme proposals have the feasibility they need.”

 

Q. How important is the role of LCRIG in driving change within the sector?

A. “LCRIG is an organisation where it is evident that councils have a space to collaborate, challenge, innovate and most importantly support one another. 

“We know the pressures that councils face, and the responsibility held to ensure that the constituents each council serves is looked after and considered. So LCRIG is vital to helping ensure there is a balance and best practice is shared. LCRIG can unravel the barriers our industry faces and garner support for our sector working together to provide solutions and innovations that will benefit the UK.”