If there is a defining icon for an industry then for the small builder perhaps the White Van is it.

Symbolising cash deals, unregulated work, zero safety standards and every thing that could be said to be bad about our industry.

I know you will say that there are some very nice White Van People out there, but I think you’re smelling what I’m selling.

Roll this forward a few years. I think White Van Woman might make an appearance. Lets go and explore what her van looks like.

Firstly from the outside it’s clean!

There’s a few odd looking aerials on the roof. And a small badge on the side ” UKAS accredited digital worker”.

Apart from the ” Jones and Daughters” branding on the side, that’s it.

Lets go inside.

The space inside the rear of the van is crammed. Half of it is made up of a huge industrial 3D printer and a CNC laser installation. To the side is a workstation, with 6G mobile broadband, equivalent to our fibre optics now. And of course various bits of mobile technology, heavy duty tablets, heads up displays, holographic projectors and laser scanning stations.

What does White Van Woman actually do? She and her daughters offer a bespoke service door to door. Sourcing, printing and producing those objects that are too large or complex for the home 3D printers that we all have (of course).

In addition providing a small building service, in some cases scanning parts of the building in situ and replicating parts made to measure there and then right on the spot. They also go to larger sites and provide what used to be called a BIM station for use by subbies and contractors to access and display digital information for the project, and also maybe do a little printing and installation.

Whilst not wanting to sound like a religious nutter, I believe in this stuff. The power of digital technology to help transform our industry. Once information can be accessed in this way industry wide combined with increasing processing power and more intuitive platforms and ways of working, all sorts of things can and will happen.

It is the democratisation of the knowledge base of our industry resulting in the flexing and morphing of the skills and capabilities we have. This can be grass roots up as well as top down. (Why not start with White Van Man?) And of course when the Gen Z Makers and Coders get hold of this stuff, sparks will really begin to fly!

As a consequence hopefully this will impact on our profile in society, raising standards, professionalism, fuelling diversity and much more.

So watch out for White Van Woman – coming to a building site near you!

Cheers! :o)


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