In recent years many papers, both government whitepapers, research document and industry guru’s have voiced concern on the poor productivity within the construction industry.
Comparisons have been made with manufacturing industry where overall productivity has doubled over 20-30 years. So how did that industry achieve such gains and construction didn’t?
There are many answers which are well documented elsewhere. These include and can be summarised as:
- Improved collaboration
Typically, this involves the use of 3D design technologies to improve understanding and sharing of information.
- Improved business processes
The automotive industry particularly took up the methods developed in Toyota to make continuous improvements to any process. Using these Lean methods production efficiency increases together with quality.
- Skill development
Core to any improvement it is proven that developing the skills and knowledge in an organisation ensures both that quality improves but that output increases too.
Removing repetitive tasks and making machines or software perform these probably much faster and with less error, clearly will deliver productivity gains. Robots, automated machining, and knowledge-based engineering all enhanced these benefits.
Clearly, the construction industry knows some of these lessons and in certain of these topics improvements are being made. Some of the easy gains that can be made through engaging in a Lean Program has made great inroads in improving contractor’s performance. Skill developments as well are being funded by both UK Government and companies as that message of improving individual performance shows that the team gains as well.
The one area that is seen as a tough challenge is how to automate the design, fabrication or construction of what in many cases is a one-off building. There is minimal replication of design from one building to another, which would allow investment in automation.
However, one area where design automation can help are those items in a building that have the same topology but different sizes or shape – typically the building envelope i.e. the façade or the roof.
This can be addressed using KBE (Knowledge Based Engineering) methods. Here at Desktop Engineering we took the KBE approach to façade design and created with CATIA 3DEXPERIENCE an adaptive rainscreen and glass façade panel.
This panel has knowledge captured in it of how it should behave both from a geometrical and structural perspective. We also embedded costing information. The net result is that a complete building façade structure can be designed and costed up in moments. Full fabrication drawings and schedules are automatically created.
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