Presidents Column (November 2019)

What’s going on in the construction sector at the moment? On one hand, we have the statistics implying its all doom and gloom, and on the other hand, many of my customers are saying they’ve never been busier. How do we reconcile these conflicting sentiments, and what do they mean for us all?

The IHS Markit / CIPS UK Construction PMI has been in the doldrums for months, sitting well below the 50 break even point. Their latest data release for October was 44.2, following on from September’s weak 43.3. Experian is expecting a flat year for construction this year, up 1.2% and the ONS new orders data for quarter 2 was 13.3% down, more than reversing the gains we saw in the first quarter of this year.

But when I speak to my customers, they all say they’re flat out and never been busier tendering. So what’s the story?

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BCSA releases new Historic Steelwork Publication

With many cast iron, wrought iron and early steel structures still in use today, it is essential that engineers have access to practical information on the types of material, their properties and the section sizes used, should such structures require repairs, alterations or strengthening for a change of use.

Originally published in 1984, BCSA’s Historical Structural Steelwork Handbook has been one of the books to go to for those tasked with inspecting, investigating and assessing historical metallic structures for 35 years.

The intention of this new publication – ‘Historical Structural Iron and Steel Sections – Properties of historical cast iron, wrought iron and steel sections’ – is not to rewrite that document, but to build upon it with additional information.

Written by Dr David Gent it brings together in one easy to read publication information that up to now has only been available through a variety of historical documents that few engineers have access to or are able to locate, and will be invaluable in assisting investigations to determine the:

• probable material (i.e. cast iron, wrought iron or steel)
• technical properties of the different members
• origin of the members
• strength of the material from which the members were made

A PDF download of BCSA’s ‘Historical Structural Iron and Steel Sections’ can be obtained from the publication section of the website priced at £25 +VAT for Non-BCSA members and £18.75 + VAT for BCSA members.

To purchase this publication please click the link below.

Historical Structural Iron and Steel Sections – Properties of historical cast iron, wrought iron and steel sections

BCSA supports NCE Future of Bridges conference

BCSA is supporting New Civil Engineer’s (NCE) two-day Future of Bridges conference and is able to provide 15% discount to BCSA members.

To book your place please visit the Future of Bridges booking page and enter the discount code BCSA15 when you checkout.

The event, which will be held at the America Square Conference Centre in the City of London on the 25th and 26th November, and will showcase a number of inspiring projects from around the world, and address some sobering lessons from bridge failure. The emphasis will be on learning from the past, pinpointing how we can innovate in the future, first class networking, and examining the ongoing pipeline of projects.

This will be NCE’s first event dedicated to the design, construction and maintenance of bridges. Future of Bridges will bring together an international audience of clients, consultants, contractors, specialists and architects to discuss best practice, materials innovation and sustainable design and construction.

Some key features of the conference include, a dedicated half-day seminar focused on the monitoring and maintenance of existing bridges; a number of talks and panel discussions exploring innovation in materials, access and technology; a meeting place for the key stakeholders in the supply chain – clients, consulting engineers, contractors, architects and specialist suppliers; an in-depth analysis of high profile bridge projects, including existing assets and new builds; and a graduate competition, encouraging young engineers to ‘Design a Carbon-Neutral Bridge’.

Further information please visit the Future of Bridges website.

Presidents Column (October 2019)

One thing that really raises my blood pressure is hearing politicians using that old chestnut ‘metal bashers’ when in fact nothing could be further from the truth. But it’s sometimes hard for those outside the sector to reconcile their traditional image of the structural steelwork industry with the modern-day reality of digitisation, automation and business process improvement.

In fact, BCSA members are already expert in the use of technology and automation and are always on the lookout for what’s next. And BCSA’s Digital
Technology Working Group continues to investigate new technologies on behalf of the structural steelwork sector.

Software use is integral to the steel fabrication process, supporting activities such as internal knowledge and bid management, project planning, analysis and design, 3D modelling and BIM coordination. Continue Reading →

2019 Structural Steel Design Awards winners announced

The Structural Steel Design Awards have recognised and rewarded many of the best examples of ambition and innovation in our built environment. Now celebrating their 51st year, the 2019 Awards, jointly sponsored by the British Constructional Steelwork Association and Trimble Solutions (UK) Ltd, continue that great tradition. This year’s collection of entries once again demonstrates the excellence achievable with the use of steel, as well as structural and architectural design.

The Judges selected the Award-winning entries from a shortlist of 20, all of which scored highly in terms of efficiency, cost-effectiveness, aesthetics, sustainability and innovation.

The five projects receiving Awards this year were announced at a presentation evening held at LSO St Luke’s, London yesterday (Tuesday 1 October). They include:

The Judges were once again impressed by the remarkably high standard of entries and thought all the shortlisted projects showed merit.

Commendations were awarded to six projects: Battersea Arts Centre, Chiswick Park Footbridge, Fen Court, London, Ingenuity House, Birmingham, Neuron Pod, London and Royal Academy of Music, London.

Merits were awarded to four further projects: G W Annenberg Performing Arts Centre, Greatham Creek Seal Hide, Middlesbrough, Telford Central Footbridges and The Macallan Distillery.

This year’s ‘Project of the year’ award, which went to Tottenham Hotspur Football Club, New Stadium.

Presidents Column (September 2019)

From small acorns grow mighty oaks. This wellknown proverb applies perfectly to the UK’s structural steelwork sector.

BCSA has many substantial member companies who only a generation or two ago were just starting out and are now contributing significant amounts to the UK’s economic growth, productivity improvements and  employment. And BCSA’s small and medium sized member companies are individually and collectively contributing to UK PLC. While some of these companies will continue to remain SMEs, others will grow and become large individual contributors to the economy in their own right.

Or will they? Not if the government persists in bringing in new regulations and taxes that affect SMEs and construction sub-contractors disproportionately.

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