One the largest major projects is successfully using digital modelling to accelerate project delivery.
Tom Hardiman, Director of MBI (Modular Building Institute)
The modular construction industry has seen record growth since 2015. Once considered a lower quality and cheaper alternative to traditional construction, the industry has found a new life as a viable solution to construction needs.
As the executive director of MBI for more than 15 years, tom Hardiman has noticed an increase in popularity in the industry. “I’d say the state of the industry is strong. Everyone I’ve talked to said they are extremely busy. One of the busiest years they’ve had in a long time, if not the busiest year,” said Hardiman.
This rise in interest clearly has an impact on MBI as it’s the international non-profit trade association for the modular construction industry with approximately 450 member companies throughout the world. Hardiman highlighted that it’s a “portal or hub for anyone who wants information on modular construction.”
Being isolated from the traditional construction industry during the 2000s, the industry has faced some challenge. However, since 2015, there has been a dramatic change and a greater need for modular and hybrid projects. In the past five years alone, MBI has doubled its membership and the industry has doubled its market share.
These numbers illustrate that many of the misconceptions around quality have dissolved. Although some still believe it’s cheaper than traditional construction, there are still the same costs associated like local labor rates, local material rates, labor availability, and the experience of the team. However, the significant time savings and labor efficiencies associated with module construction should lead to lower overall costs.
Source: Market Scale
By Linda Smith
When the UK played host to COP26 in October last year, over 40 governments signed up to ‘the Glasgow Breakthroughs’ – a series of commitments to speed up the development of clean technologies to help achieve key climate targets by 2030.
These commitments made decarbonising industry everyone’s business – from the smallest supply chain company to the largest contractor and government department.
With a combination of legal directives and customer pressure quickly moving sustainability up the procurement agenda, every supplier across the civil engineering sector is expected to have a sustainability roadmap. This lays out not only what the company itself is doing to improve its environmental performance, but also how that plays a part in helping customers achieve their sustainability goals.
At the heart of each roadmap lies a commitment to identifying and reducing CO2 emissions. This includes emissions resulting from the organisation’s own operations (Scope 1), as well as its upstream and downstream activities (Scope 3). As a result, companies throughout the civil engineering supply chain are effectively interdependent when it comes to achieving the sector’s Net Zero goals.
The nature of infrastructure makes this a real challenge though.
For example, roads, airports, stadia, tunnels or stations typically involve the use of high-carbon materials such as concrete and steel. Some Scope 1 reductions can be delivered in the design stages by making use of off-site manufacturing techniques and other modern methods of construction, but often these are not readily applicable to infrastructure in the way they may be for other construction projects.
So what more can be done to help the sector meet its Net Zero targets, beyond large-scale carbon offsetting?
The answer lies in innovation, particularly developing Cleantech solutions.
At the time of writing, it is expected that 40% of emissions reductions will rely on technologies that are not yet commercially deployed at scale. These might include alternative or lower-carbon materials such as lower-carbon concrete and other aggregates; diesel genset replacement technologies; leaner construction techniques to reduce waste; and exploring new end-of-life materials and waste management processes, including digital solutions.
There are challenges involved in bringing all of these to market, not least of which is the time it takes to identify development partners, trial use cases and navigate the regulatory frameworks required to enable adoption of new technologies and processes into design and procurement frameworks.
That is why collaboration across the supply chain is crucial.
National Highways recently announced that the Lower Thames Crossing – a key infrastructure project delivering a road tunnel from Kent to Essex – will be used as a testbed to explore carbon neutral pathways, sharing plans with the supply chain and wider industry to become a catalyst for change. Requiring supply chain companies bidding to support the project to demonstrate their commitment to its low-carbon goals is an important step forwards when it comes to placing carbon reduction at the heart of the agenda.
Specialist accelerators and agile bootcamp programmes also have an important role to play, supporting the development of Cleantech innovations and encouraging their wider adoption as part of the industry’s drive towards Net Zero. These initiatives allow innovators – from small organisations to established businesses, even those with in-house R&D teams – to take focused time out of their day-to-day operations to explore Cleantech solutions, accelerating their route to market.
Working with specialist consultants who live and breathe the Cleantech innovation eco-system, and who understand the regulatory and practical considerations unique to each industry, means participants can navigate the legal and regulatory requirements more quickly, identify development partners and feed effective innovations into procurement frameworks at an earlier stage than might otherwise be the case – all of which accelerates that all important return on investment while helping the sector reach its Net Zero goals.
With geopolitical pressures driving energy prices ever higher, harsh commercial realities mean the civil engineering sector needs to focus ever-more on innovation to reduce its emissions. The time for action is now.
Source: New Civil Engineer
If you’ve seen it, you’ll know the exact building this is, even if you didn’t know its official name. The building once named among London’s “ugliest, most hated” has a tendency to leave an impression on passers-by – but not necessarily a good one. Sitting directly opposite Bank tube station to greet unwitting passengers as they alight from the trains, No 1 Poultry sticks out like a sore thumb.
The building, which began construction in 1994, is a far cry from the classical architecture surrounding it. Unless you’re inside it, using one of the offices, co-working spaces, or the rooftop garden restaurant, there’s no escaping this wedge-shaped carbuncle, which dominates the fork where Queen Victoria Street meets Cheapside.
As well as its unusual form, an intriguing decision by architect James Stirling to clad the five-storey building in pink-and-yellow limestone make it unmissable; particularly from its vantage point between two of London’s busiest streets, where it splits the bustling traffic thoroughfare like a giant piece of streaky bacon.
In fact, Londoners steadily became so “angry” about the ugly building that by 2016 the council was overwhelmed with demands to have it pulled down, according to Architecture Tour Guide. But the vocal vexation had the reverse of its intended effect, and totally backfired when the government doubled down and made it a Grade II listed building – the youngest in England.
No 1 Poultry may be a protected historic building now, but that hasn’t stopped it from being the subject of endless scorn from Londoners, who are frequently so incensed by its ugliness that they take to TripAdvisor or Google reviews to vent about it. Reviews of the building’s exterior range from the appalled to the downright baffled.
“I get a shiver down my spine every time I walk past this horror show,” wrote one scandalised Londoner on Google reviews, who continued: “A building that looked dated before it was even finished. When I think of what was demolished to make way for this stripy dollop of towering awfulness, I have to reach for the hankies. Only in Britain.”
One Londoner described No 1 Poultry as a ‘stripy dollop of towering awfulness’ (Image: View Pictures/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)
“Strutting cock or plastic chicken?” asked another recent visitor to the building on TripAdvisor, who seemed unable to make up their mind about No 1 Poultry. “I am a little conflicted about the whole design,” someone seconded, adding: “It’s colourful and anywhere else, I would like it. As it stands in Bank amongst some grand old buildings, it just seems oddly out of place.”
One visitor suggested No 1 Poultry had perhaps been “inspired by lego,” which might explain the numerous complaints about how “dark” the building is, particularly in the atrium. “I have never liked it,” whinged one visitor, who explained: “it looks very dated by modern standards and it is quite dark inside.” Another person simply wrote: “Very ugly.”
Interestingly, although Londoners despise the look of No 1 Poultry, most visitors to the services inside tell a totally different story. Glowing reports left by people using the co-working spaces have praised the “awesome venue” which reportedly boasts a huge amount of space for workers, with “great amenities,” and – somewhat surprisingly – “tasteful decor” on the inside, if not the outside.
We wondered what our readers think of No. 1 Poultry, for my part I think The Selfridge Building in Birmingham takes the crown for the most ugly, love it or hate it, once seen it is regrettably never forgoten.
By Tom Stone
National Highways – the government company responsible for England’s Strategic Road Network – will be unveiling a new industry-wide scoring system for connected and autonomous plant (CAP) to construction bosses at this weeks Futureworx event (30-31 March).
Visitors to the industry event will be given the first look at the new CAP levels which will score machinery according to its level of automation. This standardised measure, the first of its kind, will offer clarity and a clear way to compare different types of machinery to suit different tasks.
The system is the latest development in the CAP Roadmap launched by National Highways and i3P jointly in June 2020 which identified challenges and workstreams to support a goal of making automation business as usual in construction by 2035.
The new CAP levels will establish a common language and a first of its kind framework to enable connected and autonomous plant to be specified and deployed on construction schemes.
This means that all construction clients, like National Highways, can communicate clear expectations to suppliers and manufacturers can describe capability of their products using the same language.
“Connected and autonomous plant offers a real opportunity to revolutionise the construction sector by making work safer, quicker and brings significant benefits for the environment,” says National Highways head of innovation, Annette Pass. “Futureworx is the perfect platform to showcase our new CAP levels which will further our ambitious plans to introduce more connected and autonomous plant onto sites as we continue to develop the roads of the future.
“CAP has the potential to improve productivity by more than £200bn by 2040 in the construction sector and we are committed to making it standard industry practice. By establishing more collaborative relationships with innovators and academics we hope to continue to lead in this field.”
This diagram shows the vision of a connected site by 2035, enabled by CAP technologies
The term CAP refers to construction plant that is connected to its environment through sensors or wireless transfer of data between a remote operator while the autonomy element refers to aspects of the vehicle’s operation and also movement around a site.
The new CAP Levels Maturity Matrix offers a standardised scoring system that enables plant and machinery to be scored according to its level of automation.
An example of currently available technology is Intelligent Machine Control which guides excavators to dig to precisely the right level and profile, meaning more efficient and easier working for machine operators. In future the operator may not need to be in the vehicle and could even control it from the other side of the world.
The roadmap and the CAP levels have been developed in collaboration with TRL – the UK-based global centre for innovation in transport and mobility – as well as i3P, Costain and over 75 industry stakeholders meaning they have been shaped by those who will be guided by them.
The ongoing digital revolution in the construction industry can increase productivity dramatically and generate billions of pounds in savings. At the same time, digital transformation can reduce disruption to the public and improve safety.
Digital technologies are increasingly being introduced in construction and opportunities arise to introduce new techniques such as automating some activities that require manual labour and human intervention but also involve risk.
The initiative is part of National Highways Digital Roads strategy – a vision for safer and greener roads that outlines how the growth of digital technology and the move to electric, connected and autonomous vehicles will fundamentally change roads in the future.
The Futureworx technology showcase is taking place March 30-31, 2022 at the East of England Arena, Peterborough.
As with many sectors, the past couple of years have been turbulent for the Bathroom market. Experiencing a sharp decline of 16% in 2020 due to the covid pandemic, a return to growth was seen in 2021. The UK bathroom market bounced back with around 15% value growth. Many consumers have accumulated savings over the pandemic and have opted to focus on improving their home environment, including refurbishing the bathroom.
Taking up a 35% share of the market, it is Baths & Sanitaryware that continue to dominate within the sector. This can be partly attributed to the positive influence from new build housing specification, where private housebuilders are widely stipulating 2 or more bathrooms within a house along with a downstairs cloakroom. A decline or even shift is expected over the coming years with the trend towards showering and the higher number of wall-hung sanitaryware installations.
Abdul Tantouch, Research Manager at AMA Research, and editor of the Bathrooms Market Report 2022-2026 elaborates on the condition of the market,
“The UK bathroom market is primarily influenced by levels of residential and commercial construction, bathroom refurbishments, demographic changes, environmental influences, design trends, technological developments, also updates in building and energy efficiency legislation.
In 2021, the market for bathroom products bounced back, with a notable uplift in home improvement activity, including bathroom refurbishments. There has also been steady recovery in housebuilding activity, with 2+ bathrooms and a cloakroom area now commonly specified in new build homes.
Future market opportunities will arise from changing design trends and product developments that will lead to a quicker replacement cycle, with consumers trading up to added value solutions. The evolution of the smart bathroom is now evident, with the growing demand for hygienic touchless solutions. Water efficiency is also becoming a key consideration, with climate change and the increasing focus on sustainability and the environment.”
The level of bathroom imports has increased considerably, despite ongoing supply chain issues and is currently estimated at over 75% of market value. The UK bathroom market is exposed to product and design trends from a wide variety of sources globally. Technological developments such as the hygienic touchless control of taps and WC flushing systems have become ever more evident. Water efficiency and sustainable methods of production & distribution is also important, given the UK target to achieve carbon net zero by 2050.
This information was taken from the Bathroom Market Report – UK 2022-2026 by AMA Research
MEYER Group, the leading shipbuilding consortium with three modern, large-scale shipyards in Europe, has joined forces with ADMARES Marine, global leader in floating real estate, to form a new joint venture. The new company, headquartered in Turku, Finland, is named MEYER Floating Solutions, and is focused on developing and manufacturing high quality floating real estate.
“MEYER Group had recognized great potential in the floating solutions business and identified ADMARES Marine as the market leader in this developing industry. At the same time, ADMARES Marine was looking for a strategic partner to strengthen its capabilities and maximize its potential in the market. The new venture combines the strengths of both companies and allows us to compete for the mega projects that are being built on the water”, says Kaj Casén, CEO at MEYER Floating Solutions.
“We are happy to enter additional business areas and use our unique know-how to create floating solutions for housing, tourism, infrastructure and many more. MEYER Floating Solutions is a natural addition to our current product portfolio and with ADMARES we have a great and experienced partner at our side”, says Bernard Meyer, Chairman of MEYER Group.
The industry of building real estate on water is expected to grow exponentially, as it offers a whole new opportunity to develop high quality property in valuable locations. It has become even more valuable to build on water than by water.
For MEYER Group, the joint venture means natural additional business to its core business of shipbuilding. The new company will continue to provide products manufactured and commissioned offsite in a controlled factory environment. Compared to conventional construction work, the company’s advanced production methods enable shorter delivery times and minimized environmental impact since traditional construction sites can be completely avoided.
“Traditional construction industry is a slow adopter of new technologies. With the two companies’ strengths combined, the joint venture accumulates unprecedented expertise in the field of developing and manufacturing floating solutions”, Casén says.
MEYER Floating Solutions offers a variety of floating real estate from private villas up to the world’s largest overwater installations
The new company will inherit ADMARES Marine’s product portfolio and patents. Thanks to ADMARES Marine’s significant R&D investments and pioneering expertise on overwater solutions, the new company can already offer market-ready concepts. The company has a selection of standard floating villas and hotels but also serves clients who are after fully customized overwater solutions.
MEYER Floating Solutions will continue to serve clients globally by providing turnkey services including design, manufacturing, transportation, and final installation at destination.
Joint mission to supply sustainable lifestyle opportunities on water
MEYER Group has recently set a goal to develop a climate-neutral cruise ship concept by 2025, and to achieve carbon neutral shipbuilding by 2030. The newly formed MEYER Floating Solutions will follow this path and has defined sustainability as one of their core values.
“The floating real estate solutions are by standard not seagoing vessels and require energy for moving and maneuvering. Therefore, there’s a great potential in going into fully energy neutral solutions, where electricity is generated by solar panels and heat pumps use water body to ensure both heating during winter and cooling during summer”, says Casén.
The entire lifecycle of the products is designed to minimize environmental impact. Overwater buildings are designed with sustainable materials and manufactured in controlled manufacturing facilities. According to studies, this can reduce waste by over 70% and provides significant cost benefits as well as sustainability compared to traditional construction completed on site.
The company expects to have a busy year ahead with multiple exciting overwater projects in sight.
“We are constantly looking for talents to be part of our team, creating something truly unique on water”, says Casén.
FOR MORE INFORMATION, PLEASE CLICK HERE to email Mr Kaj Casén, CEO
Google Trends search data suggests that interest in ‘digital twins’ has grown substantially since about 2016. The concept has also begun to gain traction in the architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) sector, and, to a certain extent, has supplanted BIM as the latest industry buzzword. Eager construction technology marketeers have seized upon the term to describe their product outputs as “digital twins” – at trade shows, we have seen exhibitors branding outputs from laser scanning, from 3D photogrammetry, and from 3D design authoring applications as ‘digital twins’. At PointFuse, we are not going to do that. But we do think that our mesh software enables a workflow of information from point clouds to BIM to the ‘digital twin’.
Looking at recent history, the growing popularity of the ‘digital twin’ phrase is perhaps to be expected. The UK Government’s BIM push started in 2011 with a public sector mandate set for April 2016, and the BIM effort plateaued a bit from that point, and businesses began to look ‘beyond BIM’. In December 2017, the National Infrastructure Commission published Data for the Public Good, then, around a year later, the Centre for Digital Built Britain published the Gemini Principles (defining both a ‘digital twin’ and the ‘national Digital Twin’), and a Digital Twin Hub was subsequently launched to bring together major asset owner-operators and agree some common principles. It’s not surprising, therefore, that the term began to become overhyped.
What is a ‘digital twin’?
The concept of the ‘digital twin’ concept actually dates back to 2002 when American academic Michael Grieves used the term in talking about product lifecycle management. He proposed that a digital model of a physical system (for example, a car) could be created as a virtual entity containing information about the physical system and be linked with the physical system through its entire lifecycle. Data could then flow between the real and virtual spaces to keep the twins synchronised.
Today, digital twin thinking, along with new technologies including the Internet of Things (IoT) and high bandwidth telecommunications, is providing sophisticated insights. In Formula 1 racing, for example, Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes F1 racing car has over 200 sensors connected in real-time to pitlane telemetry streaming over 300GB of performance data during a race to the team’s pit crew and the car’s digital twin.
In an AEC context, the Gemini Principles simple definition of a digital twin is “a realistic digital representation of assets, processes or systems in the built or natural environment”, but it makes the important distinction that the digital representation is connected in real-time to the physical twin, and that data flows bi-directionally between the two. As a result, the digital model is updated by data outputs from the physical asset, and the digital model can be used to make interventions in the operation and management of the physical asset.
Why point cloud software can’t produce a digital twin
It should be clear, therefore, that three-dimensional graphical representations of built assets produced through point clouds, photogrammetry, 3D design or BIM are not ‘digital twins’. This does not mean, however, that they are irrelevant. Indeed, they can help to create ‘twins’ – in effect, if you follow a comprehensive BIM process during the delivery stage, you get an operational digital twin software for free.
Today’s AEC professionals are increasingly capturing information digitally for handover to the building owner. Design intent and detailed construction are captured during the BIM processes, but detailed as-built information about the outcomes is also needed. Laser-scanning and photogrammetry help to provide comprehensive, accurate, asset-specific 3D representations of buildings and their internal systems for use through buildings’ life-cycles (including, in the UK, for compliance with new building safety regulations).
With Pointfuse’s mesh software and use of artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies, users can dramatically reduce the onerous processing involved in converting ‘dumb’ point clouds into useable data both for millimetre-accurate progress monitoring and for as-built information handover. Lightweight outputs that are in the same file formats as their original models allow architects and engineers to then easily associate geotagged data with their 3D models in, say, Autodesk Revit, or with other design documents held in information management platforms such as Procore.
Enabling the connected digital twin
In parallel, growing integration of ‘internet of things’ (IoT) technologies into building systems and components, and the exploitation of 5G communication bandwidth, are going to enable much richer integration between the digital models and their real-world counterparts. PointFuse CEO Steve Salmon has explained the opportunity:
“We will have accurate as-built imagery that is directly related to the owner’s original asset information requirements captured in BIM, rendered in industry standard formats like IFC and FBX, and providing a clear route towards an accurate digital twin of the physical asset.
“Above all, we have technologies which are now more affordable and usable than ever, which can be deployed at lower costs, and which deliver significant savings over the lifetime of buildings. With wider industry awareness and adoption, the AEC sector will be in a stronger place to create and manage digital twins for building owners.”
by Steve Salmon
Steve is a seasoned technology general manager who has worked in both software and hardware technology businesses. Starting with a software and service company that helped businesses get on to the internet, through the mobile phone revolution and latterly a consumer electronics solution to keep vulnerable children and adults safe. The common theme being early adopter industries where technology has been the catalyst to change and improved profitability. Having led a number of businesses to a sale Steve joined Pointfuse, a digital construction software 3 years ago to develop a very interesting and unique software technology into a solution that enhances existing workflows in the construction industry.
The UK’s leading manufacturer of offsite, panelised ‘room in roof’ systems Smartroof is delighted to announce some key appointments within its rapidly expanding UK team with Tom Wright as Design and Technical Director, Jamie Bremner as Head of Contracts and Matthew Horwood as Contracts Manager. Tom brings 8 years experience in panelised roofs and Jamie has 5 years behind him.
Tom Wright, Jamie Bremner and Matthew Horwood have taken up their new positions following the busiest 12 months in the company’s history. The promotions demonstrate Smartroof’s continued commitment to support and invest in its people and expertise as it continues its growing presence across the UK.
Commenting on Tom’s appointment, Ian Dean, Operations Director at Smartroof said: “Tom has been a very steady hand on the tiller of our design department for 16 months now. During this very challenging period he has seen a whole host of changes to both our design infrastructure and personnel, ensuring we remain in a comfortable position throughout these transitions. He has also willingly taken on various other responsibilities such as championing our sustainability pledge.”
On Jamie Bremner’s promotion to Head of Contracts, Ian Dean said “Jamie has been a Senior Contracts Manager within our Contracts department for 16 months and during this time he has fulfilled his day-to-day duties whilst managing other senior manager responsibilities, such as the recruiting and training of new recruits. This change of title is intended to properly reflect on these duties and provide structure and clarity to Jamie’s role and standing within the Contracts Department.”
The final promotion sees Matthew Horwood taking up the role of Contracts Manager
having joined the company 13 months ago as contracts supervisor within the Contracts Department.
Jamie Bremner, Head of Contracts at Smartroof said “In the last year, Matthew has continued to show great aptitude in the role, completing both his SMSTS and CPCS appointed person training while gaining the necessary experience to step up to his new position.”
“These promotions are tremendous news for our business and our clients. I would like to congratulate all three on a deserved recognition of their invaluable contribution to the business’s success,” added Ian Dean.
On Monday 7 March 2022, the Leader of Stevenage Borough Council – Cllr Sharon Taylor, Mayor of Stevenage – Cllr Sandra Barr and Cllr Jeannette Thomas visited the development site at Dunn Close to see the plot before any works started. Construction will soon begin to build 21, one, two and three bed apartments, with six further, one bed apartments in an adjacent building that will be for independent living. These works form part of Stevenage Borough Council’s commitment to providing homes to those most in need.
This scheme, alongside the development in Longmeadow of 11, one bedroom supported living bungalows, will help to ensure that there is high quality accommodation with the necessary support elements in place. The Longmeadow scheme will see the homes built off site, before being delivered fully constructed with the expectation that the properties will be completed by April 2022. Through offsite construction techniques, we are better able to deliver environmentally sustainable new homes and make use of renewable energy sources to heat and power the homes. This in turn makes them more affordable for the residents to live in.
Both schemes will make use of a range of environmental enhancements, with air source heat pumps being used, while solar panels and heat recovery systems will be installed at Dunn Close. A fabric first approach to the design and build of the schemes ensures that the properties benefit from enhanced insulation, meaning that the properties will be cheaper to heat for the residents living there.
Cllr Jeannette Thomas, Executive Member for Housing, Health and Older People at Stevenage Borough Council, said: “Supporting the most in need is a housing priority for us at the council. We are working hard to build more social and affordable homes so everyone in Stevenage can live comfortably.”
We know the demand for more affordable and social homes in Stevenage is high, so we are working hard to deliver more housing across every part of the town. In addition to building hundreds of new homes in Stevenage, we are also generating local prosperity by creating new jobs on the development sites and offering professional training.
Source: Stevanage Borough Council
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