New tech to hit the headlines at UK Construction Week

Construction was told three years ago it had to ‘Modernise or die.’ That statement has clearly resonated with parts of the sector with new technology and techniques entering the industry, but what about the rest of the sector?

This drive for innovation encouraged UK Construction Week (UKCW) to throw down the gauntlet and ask the new disruptors to step forward and show others the way towards the next industrial revolution.

As part of this, UKCW 2019 will be bringing cutting edge technology to the NEC, in Birmingham, 8-10 October. It is a must attend event for any timber specialist who wants a peek into the future.

The new Innovation Zone, partnered with the Construction Innovation Hub (the Hub), is only hosting exhibitors with genuinely innovative products, and it has really pushed the innovation boat out.

Products range from brick laying robots to dustless saws, from quiet heat pumps to BIM-related innovations.

Nathan Garnett, UKCW event director said: “We really want to encourage true innovation at this year’s show. With assistance from our advisory board and input from the Hub we have some fascinating new products to showcase in the Innovation Zone. The journey towards a more modern industry has begun, although there is still a way to go. Our hope is that UKCW will demonstrate a new possible future, which will challenge and inspire others to change.”

The innovators

Innovators on display include robotics, with the Semblr Catus robots out in force at the show. Working in small swarms, they build brickwork at faster speeds and lower costs than larger robots. Speeding up this heavily manual process will make a huge difference to the delivery of buildings and other brick structures.

In 2023 reduced softwood dust workplace exposure limits by the HSE will come into effect. This legislative change will see the need for businesses to limit employee exposure to softwood dust. Multiquip has acted by introducing the IQ dustless masonry saw and tile saw, which it will be demonstrating at the show.

Sharing tasks and information can be time consuming, especially if big files are included.  PlanRadar has developed an all new task management system which works in 3D. This is essentially a 3D BIM version for designers, architects and builders and makes sharing plans much easier.

Fire has been on everyone’s agenda since Grenfell with many companies adding fire proofing to their ranges. Tenmat has introduced a new product range of passive fire protection to provide fire breaks around ceiling fittings. The products include downlight covers, fire rated air valves and ceiling fan fire stops. A ceiling is only as fireproof as its weakest element, so this new product range is essential to improve fire safety.

Self-build, sustainability and repurposing are all boxes which are ticked by another innovation – the Studio Bark wooden building system called U-Build. It is made up of wooden frames and panels which can be assembled and dismantled with just a drill and a hammer. It can be used to build a small or large structure depending on your needs and once the build is no longer required it can be dismantled.

There are many more products on display in the Innovation Zone and one of them will be the winner of the new Innovation Award, which will be announced on Wednesday 9 October.

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.

Opportunity to network

The timber industry is in a unique position to address the climate emergency and the ongoing housing crisis. The need to create buildings that are safe, fast to build, use less energy to heat and have a positive effect on occupants’ wellbeing and timber is the material of choice. See the latest innovations and ideas in the sector which will drive the need for timber.

Timber is a key area of UKCW and is the UK’s largest showcase for wood and timber in construction, covering structural timber frame, sawmills, merchants, glulam, SIPs, CLT, fixings and fastenings, timber cladding, doors and windows, mouldings, skirtings and flooring products. Architectural timber structures and award-winning designs will also be on display, including a number of full-scale buildings. Hosted in association with TRADA, it brings together the best of the UK’s timber industry under one roof.

Architects, merchants and housebuilders attend the show to source hundreds of new timber products, network with the entire timber supply chain, meet potential and existing clients, and learn about the latest trends and regulation on the market.


Getting time out of the office can be difficult so condensing your strategic business learning into one, two or three days of insights makes sense. UKCW brings together more than 300 expert speakers from all sectors of construction.

The Timber Focus Theatre, supported by TRADA, will host talks on key topics such as: Building standards post-Brexit and post-Grenfell; Offsite timber construction; The best methods of teaching building design to the next generation of building designers; Procuring big timber projects; and Timber’s circular economy.

Brush up on your knowledge with a packed three-day CPD programme. With more than 150 hours of CPD content available, this year’s programme will take on a different theme for each day of the show, tackling fire safety, health and wellbeing and sustainability. Learn about the strengths and weaknesses of different offsite timber solutions, and how digital technology is advancing offsite construction.

These talks will be brought to you by industry experts including: Hugh Mansfield Williams, technical manager at BM TRADA; David Thompson, fire consultant at Entuitive; Matthew Smith, fire consultant at Entuitive; Wojtek Serwatka; Bruce Bell, founder of Facit Homes; Robert Hairstans, Professor at Centre for Offsite Construction and Innovative Structures, Institute for Sustainable Construction and Edinburgh Napier University; Robin Lancashire, timber structures at TRADA; Piers Taylor, architect at Invisible Studio; Maria Vogiatzaki, Professor of Architecture at Anglia Ruskin University; Alex Abbey, partner at Cullinan Studio; Jonathan Roynon, technical director at Buro Happold.

If you prefer a more interactive experience, then why not try your hand at wood-bending with trained architect and eco-friendly artist Charlie Whinney – see what wonders you can create with a strip of ash and a simple steam machine.

TRADA’s University Challenge is back for 2020 and will be launched at UKCW. The challenge will see budding architects, architectural technologists, engineers, landscape architects and quantity surveying undergraduates complete a design task, with the winners walking away with superb prizes.

Health and wellbeing

Timber’s health attributes are always heralded and the show this year has a big focus on mental health.

Mates in Mind has been working with UKCW to help bring together the all new Mental Health Zone at this year’s show.

Mental health awareness and support is much needed within construction and as UKCW is the largest built environment event of the year, it is the ideal place to share the mental health message.

Launching at UKCW this year is the Mind Your Head campaign, which is designed to promote mental wellbeing. It is running the ‘Material Support’ gallery which is a collection of artwork made from construction components. There will be speakers and practical advice available from an onsite therapist.

CRASH, the construction industry charity, has teamed up with Club Peloton’s overnight cycle ride from London to Birmingham. Covering an impressive 114 miles, the cyclists will arrive in time for the start of UKCW.

UKCW is also working with STEAM; a mental health charity, which is organising UKCW’s first multi sports cup. Exercise is beneficial to those who suffer with mental health issues, so the aim of the tournament is to promote the wellbeing benefits of sport and exercise. Teams will play a round robin of football, netball and touch rugby. It’s sure to set hearts racing.

There are also plenty of seminars and talks for even more learning opportunities. The Working Well Together Theatre includes sessions on: how to manage the issue of alcohol and drugs effectively in the workplace and mental health in the work place – an industry perspective.

The Main Stage is also covering: wellbeing in construction: tackling work-life balance, mental health & diversity; mental health in the work place – an industry perspective; workplace wellbeing; and waintaining good mental wellbeing is a skill, a skill that we and our workplaces can learn.

UKCW finishes on 10 October, which is World Mental Health Day, so the theme runs strongly throughout the three days.

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). Single registration gives free access to all areas of the show. Pre-booking is also strongly recommended for the extensive seminars and CPD programme.

To find out more visit: www.ukconstructionweek.com


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