Sameer Daoud, chief devel­op­ment officer of Drake and Scull In­ter­na­tional, thinks that tech­nol­ogy in con­struc­tion is about to change sig­nif­i­cantly, par­tic­u­larly for the MEP sec­tor

Construction Business News Middle East - - Contents -


Un­like pre­vi­ous times, the words tech­nol­ogy and con­struc­tion are ever more com­monly used in the same sen­tence. With all due re­spect for ev­ery­thing, one reads about in­no­va­tion and the emer­gence of smart cities; tech­no­log­i­cal devel­op­ment in the con­struc­tion sec­tor has been lim­ited com­pared with in­dus­try in gen­eral.

Among the most highly an­tic­i­pated de­vel­op­ments in the leld of con­struc­tion is D print­ing. If its ad­vo­cates are to be be­lieved, this tech­nol­ogy has the po­ten­tial to re­struc­ture economies and labour mar­kets and re­delne the built en­vi­ron­ment, as we know it. My in­ter­pre­ta­tion is that con­ven­tional con­struc­tion prac­tices will not be­come a thing of the past. We are not at the stage yet where build­ings will soon be manu- fac­tured from the ground up us­ing big

D print­ers that mix ce­ment, steel, and plas­tics. That vi­sion still has a long way to go be­fore it be­comes a re­al­ity! How­ever, Dubai is push­ing the bound­aries and be­com­ing a lead­ing hub of D print­ing tech­nol­ogy. Its stated goal is to have 25 of new build­ings D-printed by 20 0. The over­ar­ch­ing strat­egy is to adopt emerg­ing tech­nolo­gies to cut

costs; the con­struc­tion sec­tor be­ing pri­mary fo­cus.

I ex­pect that D print­ing will re­duce the con­struc­tion cost and speed up the build time. In some mar­kets like Thai­land, we have seen ex­per­i­ment­ing with de­liv­er­ing one-storey houses. I see this be­ing a more likely lrst mode of ap­pli­ca­tion rather than us­ing it for high-rise ap­pli­ca­tions. Us­ing D print­ing for mod­el­ing and plan­ning needs to be dis­tin­guished from adopt­ing it for build­ing con­struc­tion per se. A chal­lenge with D con­crete print­ing is en­sur­ing that the struc­tures have the nec­es­sary strength. It is not vi­able to use it com­mer­cially un­til test meth­ods are es­tab­lished to guar­an­tee ma­te­ri­als hold up ac­cord­ing to the de­sign.

Ini­tially, I see D print­ing to fore­most com­ple­ment ex­ist­ing con­struc­tion meth­ods. De­posit­ing ma­te­rial Quickly and speed­ing up the con­struc­tion process com­pared to con­ven­tional meth­ods is a ma­jor in­cen­tive for ex­per­i­ment­ing with new tech­nolo­gies in con­struc­tion. An ex­am­ple is how print­ing form­work on site is be­ing con­sid­ered to re­place the labour-in­tense and time-con­sum­ing tra­di­tional ap­proach of form­works. D print­ing can also be adapted to use for rapidly build­ing tem­po­rary struc­tures in re­mote ar­eas with­out easy ac­cess to bring in dif­fer­ent ma­te­ri­als and ma­chin­ery, for in­stance, af­ter a nat­u­ral catas­tro­phe.

The stage we are in now is achiev­ing in­cre­men­tal im­prove­ments through the adop­tion of D print­ing and merg­ing it with other emerg­ing tech­nolo­gies and prac­tices such as Build­ing In­for­ma­tion Mod­el­ing (BIM) and 6ir­tual Re­al­ity (6R). What I see is the merger of the In­ter­net Age and the Au­to­ma­tion Age com­ing to­gether to com­pletely change what we deem as prac­ti­cally and eco­nom­i­cally pos­si­ble. How this is ap­plied in the real world is that these tech­nolo­gies en­able the many peo­ple and stake­hold­ers in­volved in a project to han­dle greater com­plex­ity with­out in­creased risks of mis­takes. In the­ory, con­struc­tion projects are rather sim­ple; in that you have the end re­sult clearly staked out and the scope of work delned for each stake­holder.

How­ever, when projects do not hap­pen ac­cord­ing to plan, it mostly comes down to hu­man er­ror. Us­ing tech­nol­ogy to mit­i­gate these risks rep­re­sents an in­cred­i­ble po­ten­tial for im­prove­ment. 6isu­al­is­ing how the dif­fer­ent parts all lt to­gether in a build­ing project is a tool that will ex­pose maws in the plan­ning process, and will help you solve prob­lems be­fore they arise on the con­struc­tion site. De­lays will be fewer; more cre­ative so­lu­tions can be de­signed and tested in a vir­tual en­vi­ron­ment be­fore they are im­ple­mented in the real world.

The next step be­yond that is to man­u­fac­ture en­tire pre­fab­ri­cated sec­tions that sim­ply slot to­gether, with­out the risk of draw­ings get­ting mis­in­ter­preted and im­pro­vised on by work­ers on site. &or plan­ning the MEP lt-out, higher lev­els of in­tri­cacy and cus­tomi­sa­tion will be pos­si­ble too. Feed­ing laser mea­sure­ments from a BIM model and ex­port­ing them into a D printer will make it pos­si­ble to cus­tomise each com­po­nent where the MEP lay­out and lt-out had pan­els and walls with duct­ing and wiring pre-planned and con­trolled pre­cisely. This will vastly im­prove the efl­ciency and what is pos­si­ble to achieve with MEP de­sign. None of this can be ac­com­plished in one fell swoop, but the jour­ney to­wards this vi­sion is now well un­der­way. Pro­duc­tiv­ity gains, re­duced labour costs, and safer work­ing en­vi­ron­ments will surely but surely keep im­prov­ing. The process of adopt­ing new tech­nolo­gies will likely feel slow for longer than many ex­pect, but change will come and in­evitably wholly re­delne how we ap­proach con­struc­tion and MEP.

Us­ing 3D print­ing for mod­el­ing and plan­ning needs to be dis­tin­guished from adopt­ing it for build­ing con­struc­tion per se."

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