Andrew Watts, CEO of international design engineering firm, Newtecnic, looks at the Top 10 Construction Trends for 2019
Construction Sequence Simulation
Simulating and animating construction sequences will grow in popularity as city building sites become increasingly complex. Protected public spaces that need to account for pedestrians and transport systems can be simulated, along with buildings themselves. Putting them into context helps people better understand how to build harmoniously in tight spaces.
Real-world simulations that include noise and air quality impacts, delivery schedules, make worksite management simpler by allowing stakeholders to see both the big picture, and the fine details, brought to life.
On-site Construction Labs
While off-site manufacturing can be the right method for mass-produced building
components, on-site Construction Labs are ideal for fabricating mass-customised parts. Bringing materials, in optimised form, to be made into components on-site, saves transportation costs and enables a level of manufacturing flexibility that no other system delivers. Portable, very high-tech production facilities can use data, gathered from LiDAR equipped drones to fine- tune manufacturing so that each component perfectly fits the as-built structure. The movement towards 3D printing is very well accommodated by the use of Construction Labs which capitalise on the growing trend towards industry-wide digitalisation.
Training foreign workforces
Knowledge transfer to non-UK workforces in remote locations can be facilitated through design engineering that ensures construction and installation complexity is greatly simplified. That means very ambitious structures can be built by local workers who, when provided with the right project specific information and training, can achieve world class performance.
Reducing crane use
Crane usage will be reduced by deploying specialist machinery and robotised systems able to more efficiently and safely carry, and potentially autonomously install, large building components. This trend is especially relevant to building refurbishment where, on low but wide buildings with continuous wall and roof facades, it may not be possible to use cranes to lift components into place.
Digital user manuals
Buildings are becoming smarter and more like consumer products such as smart-phones, which can be upgraded throughout their lives. And just like consumer products, smart buildings require digital user manuals that can be continuously updated. Combining BIM data with engineering information, means that current and future occupants and owners can make the best use of resources, adapting and developing buildings and their interconnected machines and systems to make them future proof.
Robots and Cobots
Humans have always shared workspace with machines on construction sites. The development of robots, drones and cobots (i.e. robots that can work together with people) to automate tasks and help humans with heavy lifting and repetitive work, is underway. This trend is unstoppable and will accompany advancements in fully or semi-autonomous robotics.
Inspection of building facades by drones is safer and more thorough than using top-slung cradles because it allows operators better views from the comfort of an office. It will not be long before drones and robots go beyond inspection by also delivering components for installation. And because the engineering that makes this possible is being devised right now, I predict that in less than a decade those parts will be installed using robots and cobots.
When promoting the lightweight Dymaxion house in the 1920’s, Buckminster Fuller used to ask prospective buyers, “How much does your house weigh?” Today the same question is increasingly asked because each extra kilo requires more energy and resources to manufacture, transport and assemble, as well as to heat, cool, clean and maintain after construction. Immediate and substantial long-term saving can be made when weight is reduced. Therefore, the trend to produce precise weight calculations, such as are are made for all Newtecnic projects, will extend across the industry so that the immediate and long-term, consequential and extended costs can be accurately calculated.
The major and growing trend for cloud operation in construction will expand over the coming months and years as its benefits become increasingly apparent. Working on the cloud means there is only one set of building data – one version of the truth – that is shared and used by all stakeholders. Information cannot be siloed or hidden. Cloud operation using 3D digital twins of buildings, their components and their construction methods, lets everyone better understand the project and their role in it. Anyone can see the big picture and its myriad details. That leads to fewer mistakes, better quality, and collaboration that avoids confrontation and disputes.
According to the European Commission around 30% of all waste in Europe is generated by the construction industry. This is both unacceptable and unsustainable. The trend for engineering to find solutions is leading directly to increased efficiency, productivity and profits through eliminating wasted materials and time.
When design is freed from traditional industry practices, shapes and components can be based on the interpretation of physics and mathematics. And, they can be ‘generatively’ created. This means that rather than being designed by a single person, geometry is based purely on functional requirements. In many cases the shapes that are generated have never been seen before, yet they are perfectly suited to purpose. This trend is often the starting point for human designers to adapt these shapes and to be inspired to develop new types of façade and detailing that can be manufactured using 3D printing.
Newtecnic is an international world leader in the engineering design of complex highly ambitious construction projects and advanced building envelope systems. The company is an engineering design house that undertakes the engineering design of building structures, façades, and MEP (Mechanical Electrical and Plumbing) installations in partnership with leading international developers, architects and contractors. Founded in 2003, Newtecnic’s design professionals team is completely and solely dedicated to the design and engineering of structures, façades and MEP. In partnership with the Engineering Departments of Cambridge University, and UCLA in Los Angeles, Newtecnic’s R&D team analyses, develops, tests, validates and specifies new building technologies and methods. Newtecnic has offices in the USA, UK and Saudi Arabia. The company is owned, directed and managed by long-established and experienced engineers. Newtecnic holds the ISO 9001:2015 certification with the British Standards Institution (BSI)
For further information: http://www.newtecnic.com/
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