i3P report: improving innovation and productivity in earthworks

Posted on: 06/10/2021

A new report from the Infrastructure Industry Innovation Partnership, i3P, has identified areas for efficiency improvements in the earthworks sector.  These represent a potential 10-20% reduction in the UK’s annual spend on earthworks, which is currently between £1bn-£1.5bn.

Productivity in the UK’s construction sector has barely improved in the last 20 years. In 2020, i3P set up a Tiger Team to research the sector; the team has and highlighted 24 opportunities which, if implemented, have the potential to save the industry £100m–£300m per annum.  The recommendations could also see embodied carbon reduction and improved air quality.

A total of 28 organisations were involved in the research including the creators of some of Britain’s largest infrastructure projects – HS2, the Environment Agency, National Highways, EDF, Sellafield, Thames Tideway and the Northern Ireland Department of Infrastructure.

Among the opportunities identified to transform earthworks are proposals to:

  • expedite the use and development of Connected and Autonomous Plant (CAP) which has the potential to significantly increase the productivity, accuracy and safety of earthworks;
  • use state-of-the-art geotechnical testing technologies and real time performance indicators to improve earthworks placement quality and reduce programme delays;
  • adopt digital technology to improve communication, accuracy, control and predictability of earthworks processes; and
  • encourage the use of alternative plant fuel types (e.g. electrified, hydrogen and hybrid technologies), which have the potential to reduce CO2 emissions, improve air quality and extend operational working hours.

Through its community and network, i3P will continue to champion the changes required.

Change across the Earthworks sector will only be possible with the leadership, input and support of infrastructure clients and their supply chains.

You can access the full report here.

The Tiger Team’s approach to the research can be seen here.


About i3P

KTN provides the secretariat, programme management and strategic lead for i3P, a community of client and supply chain organisations that have made a commitment to delivering collaborative innovation. Through its Strategic Priority Themes, i3P is addressing some of the infrastructure industry’s biggest challenges such as health safety and wellbeing, Zero Carbon World and industrial supply side digitisation and productivity (‘Capable Client’).

By using the breadth of knowledge and connections through its diverse membership network, i3P is identifying collaborative innovation opportunities to support the infrastructure sector.

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Infrastructure Industry Innovation Partnership (i3P)

Infrastructure Industry Innovation Partnership (i3P)

Infrastructure Industry Innovation Partnership (i3P) is an independent innovation community governed by representatives from its member organisations.


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