The Federation of Piling Specialists, as its name suggests, represents foundation contractors – those directly involved in piling and geotechnical works on construction sites – it not only promotes best practice, but also ensures that through regular audits its members operate to the highest level of professionalism and quality.
However, the work and activities of FPS members often overlap with many other areas of the construction sector and specifically those of the wider geotechnical profession. Any steps and measures the FPS puts in place that promote quality and standards, and which its members implement, are devalued without the involvement and engagement of those that we work with.
To truly represent the geotechnical sector the FPS has to become more inclusive and learn from those we work with and alongside. It would be arrogant to assume we have all the answers and, worse, to assume we can set Standards and offer guidance and advice on operations and procedures without seeking the input of those outside of our membership on which these factors impact. For these reasons the FPS has long sought to involve the wider geotechnical sector, our supply chain and service providers, including equipment suppliers, in many of the issues we need to address. As a natural development of this constructive-engagement approach it has now launched an Associate Membership initiative.
Informally launched earlier this year, the Associate Membership initiative has been widely welcomed, with already some half dozen companies having joined. It aims to not only broaden the membership of the FPS, but will directly add specific areas of specialist knowledge and expertise, critical to shaping the direction going forward and deepening the total knowledge base.
The construction sector is changing; issues such as BIM, sustainability and quality are all underpinned by effective communication and collaborative working with a necessity to see standards and procedures established and adhered to. The Associate Membership initiative is designed to build, pardon the pun, on a foundation of recent success by the FPS and help drive higher standards throughout the construction chain. At the same time Associate Membership initiative will increase exposure to best practise as others will learn from us as we hope to learn from them.
Perhaps most significantly, a growing Associate Membership base gives the FPS a much stronger and authorative voice in the construction sector. Strength in numbers and knowledge will help us more effectively lobby at both industry and government levels on issues such as health and safety, training and fair payment.
More and more construction industry bodies are widening their membership, which is no bad thing. The greater the dialogue between the various construction sectors that overlap can only be of benefit to the construction sector as a whole and, as the future is increasingly uncertain, a collective voice is perhaps the best way to shout and more importantly be heard!
- Martin Blower is chairman of the Federation of Piling Specialists