Last year, as briefly mentioned, I got recruited to a working group looking at ICT and Automation issues for the National Platform for the Built Environment. Our small team, which included Sarah Bowden (Arup), Steven Yeomans (Buro Happold) and Martin Ong (ex-BAA), successfully completed a report just before Christmas and – I am pleased to say – it prompted Paul Howard, a freelance journalist writing a piece for UK construction trade weekly, Contract Journal, to get in touch.
His article was published this week (online version here), and it helpfully lists “some of the more eye-catching benefits for an ICT-enabled construction industry”, including:
- Use of a virtual environment to create prototype or model solutions that meet all the various dimensions of the brief – functionality, aesthetics, logistics, ease and safety of construction, operation and maintenance, whole-life cost, sustainability, etc.
- Manufacturers and suppliers (already involved in the design process) reusing model information for offsite fabrication of the required components in the optimum sequence for just-in-time delivery to the facility.
- All project personnel wearing small devices that monitor their exact position, giving warnings, where necessary, regarding the individual’s safety and security.
- Those with managerial responsibilities being able to interrogate the online environment to get real-time updates on schedules, project costs and other performance parameters.
- Upon completion, using the building model as a powerful asset management tool, linking the facility owner/operator with relevant suppliers or maintenance contractors, with all repairs or replacements automatically recorded.
I was due to meet Paul Howard again this evening, reflecting a shared interest in cycling. As well as writing about construction, Paul is also a cycling writer and just about to publish a new book – Sex, Lies and Handlebar Tape – about the five-times Tour de France winner Jacques Anquetil. He had invited me to attend a book launch event in Islington but domestic commitments got in my way. Nonetheless, I wish Paul well with his new book (published by Mainstream Publishing in April) – I can’t wait to read it, especially after reading the April issue of Cycling Plus magazine, where Paul has also written a related article about Anquetil.