Wednesday, 12 October 2016

The Cutting Edge - Construction Technology Today

 
Recent events that show where we are at.

Autodesk

The Autodesk BUILD Space opened in Boston in October, to explore all kinds of new materials and processes. It will host teams from academia, industry and practice doing work in digital fabrication, design robotics and industrialized construction. Autodesk will provide, at no cost, work space and access to advanced training and equipment, and Autodesk personnel.

BUILD Space has more than 60 pieces of equipment including six industrial robots, and 11 dedicated workshops for wood, metal fabrication, composites, 3D printing, laser cutting, and large format CNC (Computer Numerical Control) router and waterjet. It works with all the materials used in building and construction processes: steel, wood, stone, concrete, ceramics, glass, and composites like carbon fiber. The space also includes a 5-ton bridge crane for large fabrication projects and moving equipment and materials between floors. All this equipment allows integration between software and the fabrication tools.


Prefabrication

Hickory Group built Australia’s tallest prefabricated building two floors a week, twice the industry standard. The 44-storey apartment tower in Melbourne was constructed entirely from prefabricated concrete and steel elements made offsite at Hickory’s Brooklyn factory. Prefabricated building components included bathroom pods, precast concrete slabs and pre-attached windows. These were trucked to site and craned into place. Once in place, shotcreting was used to provide structural stability between modules.

The project featured at the prefabAUS 2016 conference, where these figures were reported: share of Australian market 3 per cent, in the UK 45 per cent of health industry development and in Sweden 80 per cent of the residential market is prefab.


Smart Cities

In September we had Smart Cities Week in Washington, which started with the City of New York and over 20 US partner cities announcing guidelines for the Internet of Things, a framework “to help government and our partners responsibly deploy connected devices and IoT technologies in a coordinated and consistent manner”. The guidelines’ subtitle is “Better. Faster. More Equitable”.

Support from the Obama Administration is through the White House Smart Cities Initiative, launched at last year’s event with US$170 million had an additional $80m committed for 2017. New programs include low income communities, partnerships for innovation, smart and connected health research, and big data regional innovation hubs. This is particularly relevant to Australia as the Turnbull Government is expected to release a smart cities policy in 2016.