We all know we need to get out more. How else will we meet new people, learn new things, find new ideas and discover new products? Yet the pressure on our time is unrelenting. It can be difficult to justify time out of the office with all those deadlines looming and emails piling up.
The internet provides part of the answer, of course. But the smartest solution for busy construction professionals is also about choosing days out that can be crammed with as much value as possible. By taking advantage of UK Construction Week (UKCW) you can tick off all the above at one event.
If you’re not yet registered to attend the UK’s largest construction event, here are seven things that ought to convince you to pop over to the NEC on 8-10 October.
- Products, products everywhere
New products are always being developed to meet different and emerging needs. Staying up to date with all the latest technology is essential to find the right product for the job. So, if you need to source a new heat pump, find a new sustainable material, discover new roofing products or even new BIM software, then look no further than UKCW. With over 10,000 products being showcased at the event, it makes it the ideal marketplace to source your new product. With eight different sections ranging from build to timber and from surfaces to civils everything you need is right there under one roof.
- That lucky encounter
Year after year, visitors at UK Construction Week say they won new work as a result of a planned meeting or a chance encounter at the show. People do business with people – and with 35,000 visitors set to attend UKCW, that is a lot of potential leads. Meeting face to face is the most engaging way to do business and UKCW can facilitate that. If you have spotted a business that you want to connect with contact them through the exhibitors’ portal and arrange the meeting in advance. 4,000 business meetings were booked by UKCW visitors prior to the show last year, and exhibitors reported that they had generated 70,000 new business leads at the event. To help with meetings, there’s a new business and networking lounge with free WIFI.
3. Genuine innovation, not another widget
You could leave the future of the industry as a surprise. But where’s the business sense in that? Disruptors are now present in many different markets, so this year UKCW is shining a spotlight on the serious change-makers in construction. To aid the search, a new Innovation Zone has been established in partnership with the Construction Innovation Hub (the Hub).
Another new addition for this year is the Innovation Station in partnership with On the Tools. This is a demonstration area specifically for power tools, with all the latest biscuit jointers and heavy-duty bench grinders from top trade brands in action. Visitors can pick up tips from the experts on how to get the most from their range, try out the latest products, and cut a deal with the manufacturers as show discounts will apply.
4. Your own personal industry MBA
Condense your strategic business learning into one, two or three days of insights. UKCW brings together more than 300 expert speakers including Mark Farmer who is spearheading policy initiatives on MMC, Professor Birgitte Andersen of the Big Innovation Centre, Chandru Dissanayeke, director of building safety reforms at MHCLG, Keith Waller, programme director at the Construction Innovation Hub, Sarah Beale, chief executive of CITB and Sonia Zahiroddiny, BIM Strategy Manager for HS2. The UKCW main stage is the place to head to. It offers a programme of keynote talks and panel discussions on many of the big issues of the day around Government policy, digital innovation, MMC, sustainability, diversity, housebuilding, productivity and skills.
And if that’s all a bit too high level, get stuck into the details at a wide range of workshops. This year there will be more than 150 hours of CPD content available. The programme will take on a different theme for each day of the show, tackling fire safety, health and wellbeing and sustainability. There are mini-theatres covering regeneration, MMC, digital construction, energy and HVAC, surfaces and materials, timber and the workplace. There’s a new Careers Centre offering workshops on career progression, apprenticeships, staff retention, diversity, career change and new talent.
5. A bit of myth busting on MMC
Everyone knows that Modern Methods of Construction (MMC) are back in vogue, but what is the reality this time? MMC is a strong theme at this year’s UKCW. Full-scale builds will be erected onsite with live demos of MMC technology in action. Head to the MMC Hub for other digital demos and simulations too. Examples of the pre-manufactured structures at the show range from a modular care annex for the healthcare sector and a SIPS panel residential building, to a factory-finished modular bathroom pod for the high end hotel sector, and offsite solutions for the education sector.
6. An experience not easily forgotten
To really understand another person, as the saying goes, you need to walk a mile in their shoes. So, when did you last get to run a building site? Make a beeline for the Coventry University stand and its site simulator. It’s hailed as one of the most powerful experiences of any construction show. If you’re feeling brave you can step into the site hut, take on the role of the site manager and get first-hand experience of what it’s like to work on a busy project. Not for the faint hearted!
7. Celebrations and a beer festival
Everyone enjoys a good awards night and UKCW is no exception. The show hosts the UKCW Role Model of the year, the new Building Trades Awards with Fix Radio and the new UKCW Construction Awards. Plus, to encourage young people into construction the iBuiltThis competition is back and the winners will be announced at UKCW.
And if you’re not involved in the celebrations, just unwind each day with a beer, some street food and a spot of music. The Fischer bar is in Hall 11 and the Rawlplug bar is in Hall 12. Don’t forget the Beer Festival, sponsored by NBS and of course the ‘Rockaoke’ on Wednesday night.
UKCW is one event with many sections, including Build, sponsored by Easy-Trim, Building Tech, Civils, Energy and HVAC, Surface and Materials, and Timber. It also features Concrete Expo (8-9 October only) and Grand Designs Live (9-10 October only).