Howard Richings

Head of Estates Management, Royal National Lifeboat Institution

‘The value of early involvement is getting it right the first time’

The RNLI is the charity that saves lives at sea. They provide, on call, a 24-hour lifeboat search and rescue service around the UK and Ireland, a seasonal lifeguard service to over 200 beaches and provide training and advice internationally in a commitment to reduce lives lost through drowning. With their lifeboats, lifeguards, safety advice and flood rescue, they are committed to saving lives globally.

How do you see the construction industry in ten years’ time?

‘It is easier to look back and see what has changed over the last 40 years that I have been involved in the construction industry. I don’t see major changes in the type of maritime work that we undertake, however there does seem to be a tendency in the construction industry for both contractors and designers to grow into even larger groups. I don’t believe this that can continue and I think it will become uncompetitive. In time these larger groups will break up and we will see a number of smaller companies coming back into play again.’

In what phase of the value chain do you believe BAM delivers the greatest added value?

‘Early involvement, so that we make sure that if we set a project up that the whole team – namely the designer, the contractor and the client – are involved right from the beginning. This is exactly how BAM delivers its projects for us. The value to us with involving the contractor as early as possible is getting it right first time and minimising any unnecessary changes.’

How can BAM win over partners in the value chain to achieve an even more sustainable approach?

‘In overall terms being a sustainable business should result in the most economical way of doing something. This simple philosophy has yet to translate into individual construction or civil engineering projects but I suspect that in the future the application of life costs will demonstrate that we need to be sustainable. Worldwide there is a growing shortage of raw materials and recycling is becoming more important than ever. RNLI is fully committed to operating in a sustainable manner although we probably incur small additional costs as a result. So long as we can show that the project being undertaken by our contractors offers the best value, that’s fine.’

In what respect can partners contribute to a more sustainable approach?

‘Well, partnerships certainly help. The work we do with BAM is based on the development of a partnership we put together in the early 2000’s with two contractors, two designers and our principal subcontractors. We developed that partnership over a five year period and now it is just the way that we operate. If you relate it back to sustainability, partnerships make it easier to convince all parties – from the designer to the contractors – that a sustainable approach is the right thing to do.’