Emerging Technology in Construction
Welcome to our second newsletter from City & Guilds and EAL. The newsletter will be issued quarterly and will include:
- A round-up of interesting and useful information that can be used for Continued Professional Development (CPD)
- Links to relevant resources
- Useful Industry contacts
- Details of events and training
- New industry developments that will assist in delivering Construction and Building Services courses.
The theme of this Newsletter is Emerging Technologies in Construction. If there are other themes you would like us to cover in this quarterly industry update let us know by sending an email to Charlie.email@example.com
Using Technology to CONVERT Construction Education
Construction Wales Innovation Centre (CWIC) is re-launching a sector leading CITB funded project known as CONVERT (Construction Virtual Environment Resource Training). This autumn CONVERT is preparing to offer immersive learning opportunities using industry leading Virtual Reality and Mixed Reality hardware and software to students in further and higher Education.
CONVERT learning opportunities are being delivered through its unique partnership created between educational institutions across the UK, which includes Bridgewater & Taunton College, Coleg Cambria, Construction Scotland Innovation Centre, Leeds College, University of Wales Trinity St David’s Construction Wales Innovation Centre and Waltham Forest Construction Innovation Centre.
The project aims to create a test bed where Immersive Learning is used alongside traditional teaching and learning methods to contextualise classroom-based delivery. Additionally, embedding learners into our simulated virtual environments across four key industry vocations increase their familiarisation and skills upon specialist equipment, in turn reducing errors, accidents, time, and costs. All this made possible through targeted and informed use of Immersive Learning.
CONVERT’s solutions are as follows:
- Construction Drone Use (Virtual Reality)
- Woodworking Machines and Paint Spraying (Virtual Reality and Mixed Reality)
- Working at Height – Scaffolding (Virtual Reality)
- Virtual Built Environment Element Explorer – VBEEE (Virtual Reality)
Gareth Wyn Evans, Head of The Construction Wales Innovation Centre, said:
“CWIC’s innovative CONVERT solutions aim to drive forward construction education and further promote the use of sector leading technologies with education.”
“For both education and the construction industry, immersive and remote training is engaging, cost-effective, safe, and provides trainees with the true-to-life experience not always available in educational facilities.
CONVERT does this by allowing learners to explore, gain familiarity, and practice in our simulated environment. In turn, learners can develop knowledge, skills, and experience without the interruption of real-world consequences.
Whilst Covid-19 has limited our access to live working environments, VR, particularly through the CONVERT project, has enabled learners to test ideas, components, and features before committing them for construction, where previously they may have only encountered the subject in textbooks and online presentations. This is effectively digitising the delivery and aspiring to change perceptions of the evolving construction sector. With the pilot now complete, we can’t wait to roll out access to our solutions further.”
CWIC have already piloted its ‘virtual hands-on’ opportunities in partnership with the CIOB. A programme was piloted with learners in further education, where our gamified software was used. The pilot allowed the learners to explore and experience the construction process by constructing a variety of different buildings virtually. On completion the learners were able to compare the performance, sustainability and cost measures built into the completed building. For further information about how your learners and students can benefit from these exciting experiences please contact Julie Evans (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Building Information Management (BIM)
No newsletter about emerging technology would be complete without mentioning BIM. This fascinating article was written by Nigel Robins. Nigel is currently the lead data analyst on the Restoration and Repair Programme for the Palace of Westminster (UK Parliament). He has a background in heritage and conservation, particularly industrial buildings.
BIM, the new opportunities for heritage conservation
A digital view of the Palace of Westminster showing all the chimneys and fireplaces (coloured blue). We use digital models to estimate all the work we intend to carry out.)
A small screw hand-made in their thousands in the 1840s with a dimpled finish. BIM allows us to understand the large to the very small. We need to calculate how many screws we need to refurbish all the doors!)
When I was first introduced to the world of Building Information Modelling (BIM), many years ago, my training instructor opened with “the construction industry has been doing things the same way for thousands of years…concrete is poured, bricks are stacked, timber is used for frames and fittings and systems for heating and water are designed”. Modern construction is changing those techniques, but equally, many traditional building techniques are being re-evaluated and understood from a sustainability perspective. Modern IT and data techniques allow me to trace supply chains for timber and other materials and understand impact of building and restoration on local and national environments and resources.
My current work is in applying new technology to the restoration and repair of the Palace of Westminster. The restoration programme is a complex mix of traditional stone repair, conservation of stained glass, plaster, and thousands of fixtures and fittings in brass, iron, and glass. Objects for repair or restoration can now be scanned in 3D and their condition assessed in advance of any dismantling or work commencement. Using modern laser scanning techniques allows us to record in great detail problem stonework or windows that may need replacement. I now have access to a 3D digital model of the rooms I am planning to restore, and I can understand and plan for restoration of wallpaper, flooring, plaster, doors, and windows in levels of detail that were impossible barely 5 years ago. I can create a digital model of a whole building and relate all my information to precise locations on the digital ‘twin’ of the actual building. This is already having a benefit as we record the precise geological details of every stone repair we complete.
Understanding my building in the new world of BIM means I can predict how much traditional repair I’ll need and whether I’ll have opportunities to use new methods and techniques. I know that some of my old sliding sash windows cast in an obscure alloy of bronze and lead may have to be 3D printed as we can’t reproduce the alloy or the delicate castings of the 1840s. Other scans of oak doors from the 1850s help me understand that I need 120 small brass screws for each door refurbished, important to know when you have three thousand doors to plan for!
So, my digital world is now being used to bring together modern construction and fabrication techniques and combine them with traditional methods of repair and assess sustainability impacts and footprints. I can simulate the energy performance of the repairs and experiment with different methods of restoration.
Everything we create can be easily brought up on phone screens, so a conservator or craftsman has all the essential information available at the right place and the right time, an incredible time and money saving benefit!
Perhaps the nicest thing in all this is being able to blend traditional building skills with cutting edge IT technology, which is already transforming the way we care for our built environment.
SPECIFIC Innovation and Knowledge Centre
Here in Wales, SPECIFIC, based in the College of Engineering at Swansea University is leading the way in research into energy technologies and systems for buildings. The project has pioneered a concept called ‘Active Buildings’ in which buildings are designed to generate, store and release their own renewable energy. Their goal is to develop affordable technologies that can be manufactured in volume and re-used or recycled at the end of their life.
SPECIFIC’s demonstrator buildings are used to test and validate new ideas. These buildings include a classroom, an office and a warehouse. They are also supporting Pobl Group in the development of 16 homes for social housing tenants.
Improving the energy performance of buildings will be a critical part of efforts to tackle climate change. A core part of SPECIFIC’s work is to share learning and support for others to adopt and improve low-carbon building design. Through proactive engagement with the construction industry and business, they’ve helped over 200 organisations to run more sustainably or to develop low-carbon products and processes. They also support outreach with schools and colleges to encourage the development of relevant skills for the construction industry of the future.
You can find out more about this ground-breaking work see case studies and information relating to the new technologies that have been used such as organic photovoltaics and solar heat storage.
The B1M- collection of educational and inspiring videos.
If you are looking for resources to inspire, engage and motivate your learners then look no further than The B1M. The B1M’s website states ‘we love construction, and we want the whole world to love it too’. The website offers high quality short videos on a wide range of construction topics including emerging technologies. The good news is they are all free to view!
You can find videos on topics ranging from BIM, Construction Robotics, Smart Cities and Micro living to name but a few.
Why this 3-D printed house will change the world: This video demonstrates the progress being made in the technology for 3-D printed buildings and discusses the savings and efficiencies that this can bring.
Why all buildings should be timber: This video shows how innovative processing methods have resurrected timber as the building material of choice moving into the future.
How buildings can power our world: This video examines how we can generate energy, save energy and improve the energy efficiency of old buildings using new technology.
Innovative materials in construction: This is a fascinating short clip that explains self-healing concrete, energy generating floor tiles and 4-d printing methods that could lead to huge advances in plumbing and other areas of construction.
Factory-made ‘modular’ housing is an option to quickly increase the number of high-quality social and affordable homes being built across Wales.
As modular homes can be manufactured to exacting standards in a controlled factory environment, they overcome the challenge of trying to build in all weathers and open the possibility to embrace technology to introduce further efficiencies to the production process.
To find out more about the facts, fiction, and the future of modular buildings, you may find this recorded webinar useful. The webinar is delivered by Ben Wernick , Managing director of Wernick Construction and the event was supported by The Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB).
CPD Opportunities – Trade shows
If you’re looking for opportunities for Continued Professional Development UK Construction Week is the UK’s largest built environment event and is staged in Birmingham 5-7 October 2021 and London 3-5 May 2022.
There is has a huge range of interesting topics including emerging technologies in construction. If you can’t make it to the events, there is an online platform that you can sign up to.
In Wales, The Welsh Construction Show has been postponed until 2022 but will offer information on new and innovative products and services, construction industry developments and informative seminars by UK Experts.