Innovating construction to work with population challenges

So when we saw the way in which Arup has been researching Australia’s challenges as a result of population growth (see the article here), it got us thinking: Innovation HAS to be at the centre of every business in the construction industry.

As the landscape of the country changes and urbanization grows faster, infrastructures are supporting more and more buildings and a growing population puts huge demands on the existing built environment, where will it end and how will it continue to grow at the pace it is? Britain is in a growth situation again – houses are being built faster than a microwave meal, the public sector is reinvesting into healthcare and education buildings and the government central initiatives are focused on infrastructure.

Innovation in the industry has partly helped this speed of growth become a reality through modular builds. And it is innovative ways that mean existing buildings can be altered and upgraded with minimal disruption. There are tighter restrictions on what construction can and can’t do to tie in with low carbon initiatives alongside the demand and existing constraints.

That said; the biggest area of innovation in the construction industry is the use and adoption of technology.

Building Information Modelling (BIM) has been a huge transformation in the way that technology is used to work collaboratively. Although this has been around for some time, there is still trepidation about the technical side, and moreover, training people how to use it correctly. Although there are short term pains (and costs) for those who have yet to embrace it, the rewards for those already actively using BIM methodology are clear in terms of time, cost and error reductions.

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Apps are also being embraced to assist those working on site – this works by linking digital plans and programme schedules with apps. In some cases, this is taken a step further and linked with an ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning). In other words, all the information you need is at your finger-tips. If there are amendments to be made from the office or from site, these can be uploaded instantly and shared straight away to minimize confusion, errors, time and ultimately cost. This keeps programmes on tight schedules and budgets with minimal snagging and quality issue.

On the whole, those companies that are proactive in the industry are whole-heartedly embracing innovation. As the construction landscape continues to change and throw more challenges our way as a result of constraints and changes from social, political, environmental, legal or technological aspects, without doubt, those embracing innovation and technology, or even leading the innovation, will be those who make a difference and create a sustainable brand.