Why this is such an exciting time for Infrastructure – John Dowsett, CEO of Osborne Infrastructure Ltd

2021 has maybe been the perfect time to launch Osborne Infrastructure Limited as an independent business focused entirely on transport infrastructure. While the sector faces many of the same challenges as construction generally there’s much about infrastructure that’s unique.

The next few years will be a period of massive change. And that’s always exciting. The industry will continue to have an extremely high profile and we welcome high levels of investment as Infrastructure helps to power the nation towards post-Covid economic recovery.

However, more than ever, we’ll have to demonstrate how we’re delivering exceptional value for every pound invested in our highways and rail networks. Project outcomes will be more demanding as we seek to make assets future-proof and achieve measurable progress towards net zero carbon.

Changing Work Practices

There’s no doubt that the infrastructure sector is very different to when I started my career within it 25 years ago. The pace of change is also accelerating and the Covid-19 lockdowns have given us an insight into what’s possible. Digital technology means there’s less need for project managers, commercial and other technical staff to be physically present on sites. This should play a big part in broadening participation, encouraging new talent into our industry and generating more diversity.

Technology is also helping us build a greater understanding of road and rail assets. This will improve project planning and lead the way to preventive and less disruptive maintenance. More and more of our projects feature elements that are prefabricated off site. The benefits are less disruption, shorter closures, fewer safety risks and simplified delivery. These solutions are often more sustainable, generating less embodied carbon emissions.

Objectives and Outcomes

There’s a lot resting on the ability of the infrastructure sector to adapt to new challenges. To respond we have to move away from the project-focused approach, appreciate how interconnected everything is, and focus on broader economic, societal and environmental outcomes. Delayed projects affect communities relying on upgrades and improvements. They impact the whole supply chain ecosystem, the sustainability of our SME`s, the investment in developing much needed skills. They also damage confidence in our ability to deliver. Continuity is critical, which means evolving new, deeper collaborative relationships with asset owners and operators and with our supply chain partners, working together to truly deliver the needs of our rail passengers and road users. We can then all look forward to a secure and sustainable future.

With a reputation that has been built on delivering safe, assured and sustainable infrastructure transport solutions by bringing customers, suppliers and our own people together, then I believe that Osborne Infrastructure Limited is perfectly positioned to meet that challenge. There’s certainly no other sector of the economy I’d rather be part of.