Next Generation Building is Systemised, Data rich and Disruptive

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Next Generation Building is Systemised, Data rich and Disruptive

Now, is the greatest time in history to be a part of the AEC Industry as the disruption in the Industry gives us the greatest opportunity for transformation. With this in mind, the Centre for Smart Modern Construction (c4SMC) hosted its second Industry Roundtable on the 30th of April, 2019 which witnessed overwhelming participation from industry and academia. In just over a year since a forward-looking group of industry leaders invested in the Centre for Smart Modern Construction at Western Sydney University, a momentum is building that recognises that national interest can be served by collaboration aimed at joining-up the modern construction narrative.

The Roundtable commenced with Professor Srinath Perera, the Director for the Centre for Smart Modern Construction welcoming the forum. He also highlighted the achievements of the Centre in the past year.

The Director’s address was followed with an address from the Dean of the School of Computing, Engineering and Mathematics at WSU, Professor Simeon Simoff. He preferred naming Industry 4.0 as an Industrial Renaissance, and said that it is not a milestone but an evolutionary process. He also talked about how not only technology but also the challenges to its adoption evolve giving an example of Smart Cities. While towards the beginning of the Smart City buzz, priorities were about ensuring seamless connectivity, now it is more about trust, security and transparency.

There were three stellar keynote speeches lined up for the day.

Professor Kerry London, Western Sydney University
The first keynote address was by Professor Kerry London, Deputy Dean, School of Computing, Engineering and Mathematics. With an international research reputation, she is considered a leader in construction supply chain theory and practice. Key pointers from her talk was that transformative change relies upon an understanding of the economic, structural and behavioural characteristics of supply chains and theoretical development of inclusive digital collaborative practices models is the key to successful implementation of offsite construction manufacturing right across the supply chain.

‘You are only as fast as your weakest link’

George Argyrou, Hickory
The next keynote address was by George Argyrou, Joint Managing Director, Hickory. George is one of the most impassioned leaders of the industry today. A champion of innovation, he talked about ‘Hickory Building Systems (HBS)’. HBS is a structural system that integrates the core, shear walls, bathrooms and fa├žade into the structure and is built ex-situ, in parallel with onsite works. It is designed as a structural prefabricated platform that can build any type of reinforced concrete construction and can locate within millimetres. HBS is suitable for a range of high-rise projects, is the safest in the world with no risk of falls and no live edges and it accelerates on-site and offsite construction programs by 30 – 50%.

He concluded by saying that the skillsets of a ‘future’ construction personnel are different from what we have now essentially because we are going to build differently. Architects should be able to design with creative freedom and we as an industry should have ‘systems’ in place to deliver these buildings. This aligned to the concept of ‘systemised construction’ as opposed to ‘standardised construction’ that was discussed in the previous version of the roundtable in July 2018.

‘In the data rich industry that we are now becoming a part of, the important questions that need to be asked are how do we utilise the data, how do we setup frameworks for data to be used well and for it to be controlled which depend on whether there is trust, whether there is sufficient maturity in the market to get value, whether you perceive that your intellectual property is being used appropriately and whether you are getting the right return on your investment’

Ronan Delaney, ARUP
The final keynote presentation of the day was by Ronan Delaney, the Global Aviation Skills Leader at ARUP. Ronan has over thirty years of experience in Engineering Management of large multi-disciplinary teams, across the full spectrum of building and infrastructure projects in Australia, China and Hong Kong. Talking about his experience in projects like the Beijing and Hong Kong International Airports, Ronan gave us the sense of the challenges that our industry is now bringing to us because of the sheer scale of such projects and the data around it being so large in volume. Given that we have the once in a generation Western Sydney Airport and Aerotropolis coming up in our backyard, this was very relevant.
Centre doctoral researcher Amer Hijazi engaged with the forum with the BIM and Blockchain activity. Amer is working on integrating BIM and Blockchain to enable a trustable construction supply chain. The purpose of this was to validate from industry experts the rationale, potentials, and challenges in integrating BIM and Blockchain to enable a trustable construction supply chain. The outcomes of this activity will be published in due course of time.