Last Thursday over 100 key stakeholders in the UK construction and infrastructure sector from industry, government, academia and research, came together at the Manufacturing Technology Centre in Coventry to get an insight into the future of construction and infrastructure in the UK.
The Working Together Transforming Construction event showcased technologies and processes that can drastically reduce hazards, improve quality, boost productivity, reduce waste and increase accuracy for those operating in the sector.
Robotic assembly, large volume metrology, wearables, smart tools and ergonomic improvements were demonstrated in the MTC’s state-of-the-art facility, designed to show how new technologies developed for other sectors can be applied to help bring about a step-change in the construction and infrastructure industry.
The MTC has been working with award-winning architects Bryden Wood and other stakeholders from across the industry to investigate how manufacturing approaches and solutions already proven in other sectors, can be adapted for the benefit of the construction and infrastructure industry. One of the project outputs on show was from the Innovate UK funded ‘Platform architecture for construction using manufacturing and assembly methods (PACMAM)’ project, which was a collaboration between the MTC and Bryden Wood.
The event saw the MTC announce the launch of a toolkit, developed from work conducted over the last year with industry partners, to support the wider community in adopting some of those practices described and demonstrated on the day. Bryden Wood also launched their report ‘Platforms: Bridging the gap between construction + manufacturing’ at the event – the third in a series that have been adopted by The Centre for Digital Built Britain as a key means of articulating the future of construction.
Jaimie Johnston, director and head of global systems at Bryden Wood, said: “I don’t believe there has ever been a more exciting time to be involved in construction and over the next ten years, the industry will be completely transformed from its current state. This technological transformation of our industry is seeing the wide adoption of new ways of working which are inevitably looking increasingly attractive and achievable. The work done with the MTC to date has been invaluable in establishing a strong vision, and we are looking forward to continuing to strengthen the links between the construction and manufacturing sectors with them.”
Channel 4’s Restoration Man George Clarke joined the event to lend his support to the movement to introduce new technologies and approaches to the construction sector. Clarke told delegates about the work of the Ministry of Building Innovation and Education (MOBIE), a new initiative designed to inspire the next generation to take up a career in construction and investigate new approaches to housebuilding.
The MTC already has a proven track record developing new technologies and manufacturing systems for a range of other sectors including defence, automotive and aerospace, and is promoting the advantages of adapting technologies like automation, robotics and virtual reality for the benefit of the construction industry. The day was designed to demonstrate how new technologies and approaches could support them in meeting the targets set in the Construction 2025 strategy and address key recommendations of the Farmer Review to invest in research and development, embrace new technologies and increase collaboration.
Trudi Sully, associate director for construction and infrastructure at the MTC, said: “The MTC is perfectly positioned to support change in the construction and infrastructure sectors using our knowledge transfer experience and leading manufacturing process improvement capabilities, as we’ve already demonstrated in other industries.
“This past year has been an exciting journey and we’re eager to tackle the challenges ahead as we build on the work done and lessons learnt to further develop and support the adoption of game-changing processes and technologies for the sector.”