Rick Murcock founder and CEO of US company Autovol thinks it will be.

An affordable apartment building for one of the nation’s most expensive markets is being built right now in Idaho.

The five-story building, with 301 apartments for seniors, isn’t for Boise. Instead, Virginia Street Studios will open in San Jose, the sixth-most expensive city in the United States, where median home prices hover around $1.4 million.

A Nampa company, Autovol Volumetric Modular, is creating the building module by module inside a 400,000-square-foot factory on Star Road that cost $100 million to build. As they’re completed, the 160 modules are loaded onto semi trucks and driven by Boise-based Western Home Transport to the Bay Area for assembly.

So far, 133 modules have been completed, with the rest to be finished next week.

“Building it here and and shipping it into California saved a lot of money and works to lower the costs for affordable housing,” Autovol founder and CEO Rick Murdock said in an interview. “We produce multifamily, multi-story affordable housing with the idea that we want to save you 20% of your costs and 40% of your time.”

Longtime Treasure Valley residents bemoan the meteoric rise in local house and apartment-rental prices, even as homeowners and landlords quietly delight in the money rolling in. But the shortage of affordable housing is a nationwide problem, said Murdock, a longtime Idaho resident with 43 years of experience creating modular products.

He was co-founder of Guerdon Modular Buildings, a Boise modular building manufacturer, and Prefab Logic, which provides consultation services for clients using modular construction.

“California alone needs 11 million units,” Murdock said in an interview. “It’s an excellent market, and they’ve got probably the highest need in the western United States, and their cost structure is extremely high.”

It’s more efficient to build inside a factory, where changes in weather don’t hamper production, he said. The savings in time comes from being able to prepare a work site at the same time construction is taking place. In a site-built project, all of the prep work must be completed before construction can begin.

“Obviously, our labor rates are less than what they are in California,” Murdock said. “We’ll build it here, ship it and save the project about $100 a square foot.”

The cost savings aren’t enough to make Autovol’s buildings attractive to the Idaho market, he said.

 

Housing costs in Boise area keep rising

The median price for homes sold in Ada County in January set yet another a record $454,000, which was $19,100 above December’s mark, also a record, according to the Intermountain Multiple Listing Service. In the past five years, the median price in Idaho’s largest county has nearly doubled.

Meanwhile, the number of houses listed on the market continues to shrink. In January, there were 269 houses for sale, down from 333 in December.

In neighboring Canyon County, where prices have traditionally been much lower, January’s median of $338,490 was down $955 from December. It was the first time in a year that the Canyon County median did not set a record.

Autovol began work at its factory, located north of the Lactalis American Group cheese factory, about a year ago. It has 115 workers, with the workforce expected to increase to 250 by the end of 2021 and to 300 next year.

Robots are used to build walls, floors and ceilings and to assemble the modules. The machines are meant to relieve the “back-breaking work” of construction, Murdock said.

Autovol workers install wiring, plumbing and fixtures, and they perform inspections. They also create software programs that control the robots.

The robots have names, chosen by children of employees. Murdock’s executive assistant, Merrick Macomber, has a daughter who named one of the robots Stacy. Others include Sunflower and Lilly.

“We’ll have names on all of our robots and googly eyes so when they move around, you see them move,” Macomber said.

Autovol found labor force mostly from SW Idaho

Nearly all employees — what the company calls Solutioneers — are from the Treasure Valley, he said. They range from entry-level workers to people with master’s degrees in electrical and engineering, he said. Salaries range from $15 to $25 an hour, Murdock said.

Most of Autovol’s employees have worked for Murdock for more than 30 years at his other companies.

“Our team is made up of people with great character who are allowed to speak what’s on their mind and give fresh ideas,” he said. “We listen and take care of each other.”

The company is adding employees. There are listings for electricians, machine operators, floor, wall and ceiling fabricators, among others.

Autovol has several other affordable housing projects lined up in California, including a 186-unit project in American Canyon, south of Napa; a 193-unit building in Oakland; and a 160-unit building in Santa Maria, west of Bakersfield.

On-site assembly of the $10 million Virginia Street Studios building is scheduled to begin March 2 and should take about three weeks to complete, Murdock said. The modules cost about $126 per square foot to build. Cranes will lift the modules into place.

“It sounds funny, but it’s a lot like stacking Legos,” Murdock said.

Even as modular buildings have improved in quality since the days of single-wide trailers, Murdock said he still has to educate potential customers on how Autovol units rival the quality of site-built buildings. The Virginia Street Studios will prove that, he said.

“Once it’s ready, you would never think it was built in a factory,” Murdock said.

After the Virginia Street Studios building is completed — Autovol’s first project — he expects it will help recruit new clients by having a place to show them.

“The finished building will speak for itself,” Murdock said. “I think it’s a better-quality product because you’re building it in a controlled environment.”

Murdock declined to disclose revenues. He said he expects Autovol to turn a profit before the end of 2021.

Autovol isn’t the only Idaho connection to the San Jose apartment project. The Pacific Cos., an Eagle residential and charter school developer that is a partner in Autovol, is the developer.

Led by CEO Caleb Roope, The Pacific Cos. operates 110 workforce and mixed-income developments with 6,000 units in eight Western states, along with three dozen senior apartment complexes with more than 1,300 units.

The Pacific Cos. is also developing the American Valley, Oakland and Santa Maria projects that Autovol is building.

Roope, who is an investor in Autovol with Murdock and several other people, could not be reached for comment.

When Autovol’s factory is fully operational, it will be able to produce 2,000 modules a year. That will hardly put a dent in the nation’s need for affordable housing, he said.

Murdock hopes Autovol’s experience will spawn competitors to better meet the need. He doesn’t care that he’s putting in the blood and sweat to perfect the process and make it more efficient.

“If we took all this information and held it to ourselves and didn’t share it, what gain would there be?” he said. “We’re going to produce only so many units out of this plant and after that, is that it? I’m looking at our entire industry. I see it through a slightly different looking-glass.”

 

Source: Idaho Statesman

 

 

Multiple applications: from residential construction to the artificial reef – again and again, new application possibilities for specialized building material from Bavaria

Worldwide more and more projects are being carried out using this innovative method. Korodur, the specialized building materials manufacturer based at Amberg and the CyBe Construction technology specialists from Oss in the Netherlands are reaping the benefits of it now, not only in residential construction, but by constantly developing new applications for 3D concrete printing – from outdoor furniture to environmental protection projects based on artificial ocean reefs.

Since 2012, this medium-sized Bavarian company and the Dutch civil engineering experts have been running their joint-venture, and have already completed a variety of quite sensational residential buildings. “We implemented our first joint project, a residential construction in Dubai, in the desert under the most difficult conditions. Since then, even more exciting properties have been added to this, for example in India, Japan, Indonesia and Saudi Arabia. After putting in years of lab work on the task of perfecting our 3D printing method, this combination of robotics and intelligent mortar has been refined even further. In the process, we have not only gained new insights into the most efficient methods of construction, but have also explored completely new possibilities for applications”, says Frank Sander, Technical Manager at Korodur International GmbH.

Efficient, fast and inexpensive

The CyBe MORTAR, a mortar designed specially for 3D printing, is applied layer by layer in this process by means of robots, in a short time forming a wall or column with a high load-bearing capacity. CyBe’s 3D printers reach a speed of up to 500 mm/s. Thanks to the CyBe MORTAR building material developed by Korodur, units can be manufactured in one complete piece. Via the integration of an additive, the concrete can solidify very quickly, thus reducing the printing time significantly.

The particular advantages of this method are, on the one hand, a considerably shortened construction time and the cost savings involved. On the other hand, it offers architects and planners completely new design options that go beyond those of conventional construction. The buildings created in this way can be replicated any number of times with identical floor plans or simply adjusted as appropriate to cater for varying circumstances and requirements.

The 3D printing robots can be used, as required, on the actual construction site or for the prefabrication of components in an arbitrarily located workshop. In addition, there are mixed forms in which a robot close to the actual construction site produces various tailor-made components.

 

Sustainable, versatile and variable

“The possibilities for application are practically endless! Accurately-fitting service shafts are produced and installed on site in the shortest possible time lags using this innovative technology, for example, allowing damaged conduit access assemblies and connections to be replaced quickly. In addition, we have already created seating areas as well as combinations of tables and benches for outdoor use. Their exceptional design plus high degree of durability and stability all carry conviction. In any case, sustainability has always been a labour of love for us. A quite spectacular application in this context is the use of the product for the construction of artificial reefs. Thus, at critical locations we would like to help to revive the marine environment and assist the animals, plants and, in particular, corals in developing new habitats”, Frank Sander explains.

There are other ways, too, in which the Korodur/CyBe process contributes to climate and environmental protection – namely, in terms of its CO2 footprint: the quantity of carbon dioxide obtained during the production of the solely mineral CyBe MORTAR “made in Germany” is at least 20 per cent lower than that produced by conventional Portland cement. Nikola Heckmann, Korodur’s CEO, says emphatically: “This is an essential part of our corporate philosophy. We consider the careful use of resources and the reduction of emissions to be fundamental to our future viability. For the same reason we are committed to the development of new technologies and processes. This also includes our 3D concrete printing process, with which we have positioned ourselves not only in Europe but throughout the world as an innovative and reliable partner to the construction industry”.

Up-to-date information on CyBe MORTAR procedures and applications is presented for architects, planners, developers and other companies from the real estate sector on the site www.3d-concrete-printing.com.

Further information: www.3d-concrete-printing.com; www.korodur.de; https://cybe.eu

 

Challenging suppliers to seek a  wider knowledge resource

 #constructionindustry #sustainable #architects #localauthorities #contractors #developers #innovation #buildingtechnology #MMC #modular #suppliers #adhesvies @LiquidPlastics

We hear a lot in the media relating to Offsite Construction, Modular Buildings and Modern Methods of Construction – the success of this approach is key to the future success of our construction industry. The challenge for component or material suppliers is to be able to transfer their ideas and knowledge to the specifiers and manufacturers.  It has been my experience that we have an abundance of companies in the UK with innovative ideas for Offsite Manufacturing in the construction industry, but they may be failing to access a much wider knowledge resource.

Many material and component suppliers from diverse industries have something to offer for offsite construction, even if their heritage is not from a construction background. I see my responsibility as bringing positive ideas to the table and helping manufacturers to avoid reinventing the wheel. Here are two examples from my own organisation’s experience.

 

Adhesives Create Opportunities
My first example is the rail market.  In the 1980’s most trains and carriages were constructed using traditional joining technologies (welding, rivets, and other mechanical fixings).  This limited design possibilities and with a greater reliance on a very skilled workforce, created a restriction on what could be achieved.  With the main train manufacturers, Sika worked on providing elastic bonding systems which helped in so many ways.  It allowed design flexibility as alternative materials could be used.  Mixed materials could be joined, with the use of bonded solutions allowing structural integrity to be improved dramatically.  Bonded processes allowed greater process repeatability which in turn improved quality and reduced the requirement for skilled labour.  The use of elastic and structural adhesives is now common amongst all rail rolling stock manufacturers.  I would make the same recommendation to the Offsite Construction market – there is an alternative to the mechanical fix norm.

Dramatically Improve Efficiency
The second example is the automotive Industry.  Whilst the offsite and modular building market still sees a degree of bespoke manufacturing, the trend is towards reducing components and design complexity, and increasing potential output.  The challenge again is that many traditional construction techniques are used where an automotive manufacturing approach will see reduced costs, higher levels of efficiency, and higher quality.  The automotive market provides vehicles of different specifications allowing customers to make choices but can still have a production line running at sub 60 seconds per work-station.  The automotive industry relies on building a critical mass of vehicles so any ideas that can level out the build process and reduce build time is welcome.  Whilst employing many engineers, the automotive manufacturers utilise a pool of highly experienced and knowledgeable suppliers to create ideas, new concepts, and novel ways to help them achieve their goals.

We Are Here to Help
I would therefore venture that the Offsite, Modular, and MMC market can benefit from a lot of great ideas and know-how from key suppliers. I would also say an investment in key partners is extremely valuable.  The challenge is for the industry to work together, to create collaboration, and more importantly to develop the right supplier partnerships.
For more information on Sika Offsite, contact James Taylor on 01707 363893 or visit the
below website.

www.gbr.sika.com

AI has transformed our lives in a plethora of ways. Starting from advanced robots to simple household devices, it is hard to name an industry that does not involve the applications of AI. Most noticeably, AI has made a significant impact on the construction industry. AI-enabled construction robots are helping the construction industry realize its true potential by simplifying the laborious tasks and executing them with precision.

The construction industry primarily relied on manual-intensive labor with little to no automation. The main hindrance in using robots was the unpredictable landscape of the construction site. While robots can excel at repetitive tasks, a construction site requires adaptability and flexibility. However, the recent advancements in AI have empowered construction robots to analyze complex tasks and improvise based on what the situation demands. Construction robots are increasingly being used in building residential homes as well as commercial buildings. In this analysis by vHomeInsurance, we explore the impact of robots on the construction industry and the future for construction robots.

Construction robots are designed in such a way that they can be easily transported to the construction site. The main advantage of using construction robots is to save time, increase precision and efficiency, thereby leading to greater economic benefits. For instance, Hadrian X is a bricklaying automated machine capable of building walls of a house by calculating the necessary materials and movements without any supervision. It was developed by an Australian based firm by incorporating an intelligent control system. The robot can lay bricks at a speed of 1,000 per hour with 100% accuracy. It can also detect changes caused due to external factors such as wind and vibrations and create the design accordingly. It has been estimated that the bot takes 2 days to complete work that could otherwise take around 4-6 weeks when done manually.

Another hindrance to the progress of construction is linked to safety concerns and accidents occurring due to human error. Statistics reveal that 21% of work deaths in the U.S are linked to the construction industry. Many companies have been actively involved in developing robots that could increase the safety of humans. Most noticeably, Volvo has designed an autonomous self-driving load carrier, HX2, that can carry supplies and materials to the construction site without human intervention. It can also move heavy loads with relative ease. The autonomous carrier detects obstacles and humans with the help of the “vision system,” developed by Volvo. This could replace humans working in construction sites, thereby reducing the risk of fatalities.

The International Federation of Robotics and the Robotics Industries Association had predicted that the construction robotics industry would witness a CAGR of 8.7% from 2018 to 2022. The global market research company International Data Corporation went a step further and estimated a CAGR of 20.2% for the same period. While the numbers are not staggering, this is considered to be promising, given that the construction industry is one of the least automated industries. With the growing demand for residential and commercial buildings and the advancements in AI, it is safe to say that AI-powered construction robots will play a vital role in revamping the construction industry.

Source: Robotics Tomorrow