An alliance of three research groups has received $72m from the UK government to make construction more like manufacturing through the use of high-tech design and building techniques.
BRE, the Manufacturing Technology Centre (MTC), and Cambridge University’s Centre for Digital Built Britain (CDBB) won a competition for the cash, and will use it to promote digital design, advanced manufacturing, robotics, drones and augmented and virtual reality, ministers said.
They hope the technology will let the sector design and build faster, cheaper and more sustainably.
The groups will work through an initiative called the Core Innovation Hub. Their consortium is called the Transforming Construction Alliance (TCA).
“We have the opportunity to revolutionise construction in the UK and the Core Innovation Hub will help us build smarter, greener and more efficient buildings much faster and cheaper than we do now,” said Business and Industry Minister, Richard Harrington.
One aim is to put sensors and digital systems in buildings and infrastructure so they can “manage and maintain themselves”, the press release said.
It went on: “The UK construction industry is facing a once-in-a-generation opportunity to change and modernise. Through the Industrial Strategy and the Core Innovation Hub the UK will be able to seize this opportunity – enabling us to master precision manufacturing resulting in the delivery of better performing schools, hospitals and homes – to the benefit of businesses, public services and people.”
Neil Rawlinson, the MTC’s strategic development director, said; “There is huge potential for transformation of large parts of the construction sector to a manufacturing industry. The widespread appetite for change throughout the industry and the impact that this change will have on so many aspects of life in the UK make us enormously excited to be delivering this pivotal role.”
Professor Andy Neely, director of the CDBB, said the Core Innovation Hub aimed to “transform the way buildings are designed, manufactured, integrated and connected within the built environment to create smart buildings and infrastructure with high levels of safety and energy efficiency”.