Adam Whenman kicked the seminar off by saying that we shouldn’t be afraid of the term ‘offshoring’. He said that there is no difference between awarding a contract to a company from another country, and awarding it to a company in a neighbouring city or region.
“The world’s most successful companies draw benefit from a global stock of engineering knowledge, and all the signs are that global trade will increase.
“Companies that have not yet embarked on this journey are ten years behind the others,” he said.
The seminar rounded off with a discussion between a panel of leading representatives of clients, consultants and contractors based on an international perspective. Erik Lööv, the Swedish Transport Administration’s project manager for Project Hallandsås and the moderator for the seminar, focused on three questions: Will globalisation entail lower costs? Will the conditions for health and safety get worse? And thirdly: Will the degree of innovation increase?
Harri Yli-Villamo, Vice President of VR Track Consulting in Finland, was the panel member who replied no to the question of costs – although his no did come with reservations.
“I don’t think the question was phrased correctly. We talk a lot about costs, but we ought instead to be talking about quality. If the quality’s better, we may be willing to pay more,” he said.
As for the health and safety question, Mats Karlsson of the Swedish Transport Administration replied that the ordering client has a great responsibility.
“There are many good examples around the world where there are high demands on health and safety. It’s up to us to include this issue in the contracts and monitor the level of compliance. There may be a risk of deterioration, but it doesn’t have to be like that,” he said.
So will globalisation increase the degree of innovation? Perhaps not directly, but the meeting between new cultures and people will increase the exchange of knowledge.
“Working with people with different experiences will raise the degree of innovation. Each of us always has some experience that the other party didn’t have before, and the key is to draw maximum benefit from all the knowledge that exists,” said Björn Östlund, Business Area Manager, Urban Planning at ÅF Infrastructure.