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“Altruistic approach” can aid tunnelling innovation, says CH2M director

CH2M director Mike King has called for a more collaborative approach across the tunnelling industry to promote innovation and the adoption of new technologies.

Speaking at yesterday’s British Tunnelling Society (BTS) evening meeting, entitled Innovation and technological advances in the design of segmental tunnel lining, King said issues of confidentiality and intellectual property often discourage collaborative working between companies.

King suggested lessons can be learned from other industries that have overcome these barriers to innovation.

“We need to think about what we can learn and incorporate from other industries. The car industry, for example, has seen collaboration between BMW and Toyota to develop carbon fibre technology. I don’t see why we can’t work in the same way,” he said.

“There are some good examples of collaboration in our industry, but there is often a sense of not wanting to give away too much information.”

Kind added: “Why don’t we formalise the informal collaboration that goes on? We all need to work together so there is more courage for everyone to chip in. There is a need for a more altruistic approach.”

During the event, CH2M’s global technology director Anthony Harding and Ozengi Associates’ director Malcolm Chappell looked at how tunnelling has developed over the last 40 years and how it might develop in the future.

The discussion covered the use of robotic technology during construction and the development of self-monitoring intelligent structures.

Harding commented: “Some of this new technology is years away, but the impetus is on us to start thinking about these things now so that when the technology matures we are in a position to use it.”

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