It’s fair to say the future of construction appears to be distinctly digital. Where once enthusiasm for the latest innovation was definitively lacking, digital adoption is now gathering momentum and helping to improve industry best practice. To obtain some expert insight into what’s currently making the ConTech sector tick, we’ve asked some of its most respected providers to give us a glimpse into what’s hot and what’s not.
Ian King, Chief Operating Officer, innovative fire protection technology, Zeroignition, says: “The construction industry needs to learn from other industries, such as automotive and aviation, which focus on a checklist approach to reduce harm to passengers. When people rely on memory, mistakes happen, and the simple action of checking off points can prevent fire planning elements being missed.
“The digital ‘revolution’ that the construction industry is experiencing can create ‘digital footprints’ that prove the right building criteria has been adhered to. This will become essential if we’re to successfully implement watertight fire safety checks before a building is handed over to the occupant or end user.”
Siôn Bellis, Head Residential Officer, structured data and O&M specialist, Createmaster, comments: “Post-Grenfell, fire and emergency systems and protocols have been thrown into the spotlight. While many will see the physical solutions from fire doors and smoke alarms, to sprinklers and extinguishers, the operation and maintenance information which underlies them is less appreciated but equally important.
“As the new planning gateways start to take effect, contractors, developers and asset owners will be keen to ensure the fire and emergency information they have matches what’s been specified, and complies with the law. This information was previously stored in a nebulously inconsistent physical or rudimentarily digital file, making it easy for vital information to be mislaid.
“Technology’s changing that, and storing this vital data in the cloud will start to become the norm, particularly as asset owners begin to understand the vital importance of having this information at every stage of the building lifecycle.”
Tom Boland, Head of Digitalisation, Building Lifecycle Information Management Software, Zutec says:“End clients as asset owners, are waking up to the monetary value of digital twins and robust data logs which detail how buildings have been constructed, maintained and adapted. This digital record is set to become essential as the regulatory landscape changes.
“The collation, management and presentation of accurate data looks set to become a preoccupation, even an obsession, for contractors and developers nationwide as they seek to comply with new regulations and de-risk property. This will apply whether they ultimately own the asset or not. Positively, it will drive up transparency, responsibility and quality. That’s no bad thing.”
PJ Farr, Managing Director, leading construction connectivity provider, UK Connect says: “As AI, IoT-backed devices and big data applications start to become commonplace on site, so too will the latest standards in connectivity. One of the main reasons the industry has been relatively slow in the race towards digital adoption is down to the network capabilities during the construction journey.
“However, the advent of 5G and Wi-Fi 6, two landmark wireless broadband standards, are changing the rules of the game. With these two innovations in place, think of the benefits: no lag time, live collaboration without buffering, and automated systems and machinery which can work almost intuitively, operating efficiently and saving their own energy when not in use.”
Matt Ryan, UK Country Manager, defect management expert, PlanRadar adds: “The role of construction technology is becoming synonymous with compliance. As we’ve seen through recent legislation changes, such as the Building Safety Bill, residents’ safety is a top priority and businesses can no longer bury their heads in the sand when it comes to improving standards.
“Instead, housebuilders must act quickly to introduce ways of preventing potential mistakes, to improve build quality and reduce end-user risk. This is where technology comes in, helping businesses to take action now, and futureproof for later. Investing in the latest digital quality assurance and project management tools will avoid any action being taken by the regulators and provide answers to claims from homeowners, while raising general building standards across the board and offering residents maximum protection.
The above responses reflect the concerted drive being made by the entire construction industry towards achieving a completely de-risked built environment, where public safety is at the top of the agenda, definitely prioritised over profit. Further, our contributors effectively outline how technology can play a central role in achieving this scenario, through the latest management software platforms, better connectivity and enhanced products, developed specifically with resident/occupant safety in mind.