The new edition of REBUILD, the annual building innovation summit held this year in Madrid from September 17 to 19, will allow us to know first-hand the latest advances in construction systems and reflect on fundamental issues such as the industrialization of the sector, new technologies and materials used, sustainability or the necessary digitalization.
During these days, some 9,000 professionals, 3,500 congressmen and around 280 international experts will visit Hall 8 of the Madrid Fair (IFEMA). The spectacular 15,000 m2 showroom will allow all of them to become familiar with technologies that will play a decisive role in the near future, such as the BIM (Building Information Modeling) methodology, Cloud Services, Virtual Reality or 3D printing applied to the building , among others, as well as innovations in new sustainable materials.
9,000 professionals, 3,500 congressmen and around 280 experts will attend the new edition of REBUILD
The advantages of Virtual Reality
Marwan Halabi, vice-dean of the Beirut Arab University and one of the speakers who will participate in the National Congress of Advanced Architecture and Construction 4.0 that will take place during REBUILD, explains the advantages of some of these technologies: “The BIM is used to evaluate the constructive possibilities of a building before executing the project, visualize the construction model over time and make early budget estimates with a high level of accuracy. In addition, data management facilitates the coordination of all team members participating in the project ”.
Virtual Reality is very useful for designers, builders and customers “during the pre-construction stage, to simulate a realistic environment. Augmented Reality, on the other hand, comes into play when the project has already started. With a Smart Phone or a Tablet, for example, we can merge the technical documentation and 3D models with real-time images of the project, ”explains Halabi.
From the "Internet of Things" to robotics
In the opinion of this renowned researcher, Cloud Computing is "the future of digital, as it allows powerful storage and data processing, connected work sites, advanced analysis and easy and safe sharing." The possibilities offered by the so-called Internet of Things, meanwhile, allow to collect environmental data through sensors that can trigger a relevant action of a particular machine (such as a welding machine).
Through the use of drones, “aerial inspections, health and safety guidelines, creation of progress reports, promotional photography, laser scanning and thermal image recording,” Halabi points out. In addition, drones have served to reduce the communication gap between offices and workplaces, and robotics is already being used for tasks such as mixing concrete, laying cement or polishing floors.
Through the use of drones, “aerial inspections, health and safety guidelines, creation of progress reports, promotional photography, laser scanning and thermal image recording” can be carried out.
As explained by David Martínez, president of REBUILD 2019 and CEO of AEDAS Homes, digitalization offers advantages to the construction sector and also to citizens. The former can improve the quality of their work thanks to “standardization, greater control of costs that reduce uncertainty and a reduction of environmental impact. Customers, meanwhile, benefit from a drastic decrease in delivery time, as well as an increase in the quality of execution. ”
One of the logical consequences of digitalization is – as Fernando Morales Tosar, founder and director of BIM6D Consulting and architect explains well – the application of the information obtained through Big Data: “For the first time, in the building we have available a lot of information, thanks to the increasing use of software that manages databases. The key is to structure and relate this information so far disconnected, through automated systems. ”
So far, through the POWERBIM application, Morales Tosar and his team have already proven their advantages “in real projects of different types (residential, offices or equipment)”. By connecting to the so-called Building Management System (BMS), they manage to remotely control all the devices in the building, in addition to storing and managing all project information on a single platform.
Off-site construction arrives
On the other hand, the so-called industrialized construction or off-site building (literally, “off-site”) allows to improve processes and increase quality by displacing part of the construction (such as prefabricated facades or industrialized bathrooms and kitchens) outside of the location of the house, usually in specially enabled factories.
"Industrialization means working under cover and avoiding accidents or waste of materials during the construction process"
This is explained by Ignasi Pérez, director of the National Congress of Advanced Architecture and Construction 4.0, which ensures how “the advantages that off-site construction allows are endless”. Now, "of course, complying with the agreed deadlines for delivery and with the signed budget would be the most visible, and also those that have a more direct impact on user satisfaction," he says.
The materials of the future
Industrialization and off-site building represent a true paradigm shift. For Pérez, "industrialization means working under cover and avoiding accidents or waste of materials during the construction process." In addition, there is another important fact to keep in mind: while "traditional construction generates more than 50% of urban solid waste, industrialized building does not generate any waste."
Although part of the sector has been somewhat conservative and resistant to change for a long time, more and more businessmen and professionals are aware that the construction of the 21st century goes through a more industrial model, made with new sustainable and lightweight quality materials that facilitate transport. Among these, Marwan Halabi highlights “the bricks that purify the air, the illuminating cement, the hydroceramics or cooling bricks, the self-healing concrete and a new material in which many researchers are working on concrete mixtures with different types of waste and waste".
A "revolution" in construction
For Ignasi Pérez there is no doubt: the so-called revolution 4.0 (that is, the industrialization of processes) “will have an impact at least four times greater than in any other sector, since construction has not internalized any revolution so far industrial. ”All this will result in“ the use of data, the creation of common environments for the exchange of information or the digitalization of processes ”.
Revolution 4.0 will cause “the use of data, the creation of common environments for information exchange or the digitalization of processes”
The offsite building, for its part, will be decisive not only in "the way of conceiving the house, but also in the feasibility studies, the configuration of the city or even the role of the user, which may intervene in the entire election process of materials, finishes, shapes, etc. In fact, offsite construction is more like the way the automobile industry works than construction as we know it. ” For all this, this expert is clear that what awaits us is "so shocking that the sector will be unrecognizable within ten years."
Towards a quality housing model
Undoubtedly one of the main objectives of industrialization is to contribute to consolidate a model of housing of greater quality and accessibility. In Martínez's words, industrial production “incorporates the new social demands of customers, as well as the knowledge acquired thanks to the accumulated experience and collaborative work”.
Although the price of industrialized homes is still similar to those built traditionally, there are strong reasons to think that it may decrease in the future. As Martínez explains, “the key to reducing the global manufacturing cost is the ability to generate economies of scale through production, process optimization and innovation. I am sure that together, and with the proper institutional support, we will achieve it ”.
For now, as confirmed by stimulating and innovative proposals such as REBUILD 2019, the building sector is already beginning to take firm steps towards a new model that undoubtedly predicts a promising future.