Innovation in Construction : Mission Possible

19-04-2018

The construction sector is confronted with a variety of challenges: keeping housing affordable, guaranteeing high levels of comfort and convincing architectural quality, maintaining margins, optimizing the construction process to respect tight plannings, meeting ecological requirements, etc.

In order to meet all these constraints, innovation is key.

As introduced in a former news item, 3E participates in cluster groups (with companies spread over manufacturing, contracting, engineering and architecture) to focus on the challenges mentioned above, thus driving the industrialization of the construction sector and providing benefits to all players, including the end-client:

  • better cooperation reduces operational costs for construction players and increases the respect of project plannings;
  • increasing digitization, allowing a higher productivity for construction players inducing larger margins;
  • modernization of technologies possessing the capability of reducing product(ion) costs while ensuring high constructing speeds;

Today the cluster will enter year 2 out of 3. The partners work on three different axes, with the specific goal to investigate the potential of the different advantages listed above:

  1. Market approach: as industrialization often receives negative connotations like ‘architecturally limited quality due to repetition’, a booklet is in preparation to show this isn’t necessary at all. This ‘mass customization mentality’, creating added value compared to ‘mass production’, can take place on an architecturally non-visible part of construction (e.g. the structure behind a facade, or the detailing of the inner part of a window frame, etc.).
  2. Strategic and economic analyses: case studies are performed to quantify the actual impact of industrialized solutions compared to traditional construction processes. This analysis (including the impact on planning, environment, production cost, labour cost on site, cost towards the end client, …) is used to quantify the specific advantages the industrialization can offer, as objective data can be shared.
  3. Partner matching: by setting up monthly cross-sector workshops, different cluster members are brought together to evaluate how their activities would fit with other cluster members. This significantly enhances and accelerates R&D, leading to lower costs regarding products and/or activities in the long term.

Within the cluster, 3E is mainly active in the field of strategic and economic analyses. In order to determine where industrialization has the highest potential for market entry, it is important to understand the exact needs of decision takers in the construction sector. This is recently done for project developers of major residential developments, while currently ongoing for actors in the health care sector. Different public authorities and private companies active in health sector are asked which elements are the most essential to be optimized for their business regarding construction aspects.

As these interviews lead to interesting insights for the different cluster members, later this year a similar exercise will be performed for schools. Considering the huge challenges schools are confronted with (financial, air quality, need of facilities, …), also here industrialization migdht have a huge potential for market entry, inducing benefits for construction players as well as end-clients.

Parties interested in joining the project or interested in sharing thoughts regarding the segments mentioned, feel free to contact us through the form below.