Seattle is known for many things: the Space Needle, Microsoft, Amazon, and Starbucks among others. It is a city willing to try new as well as revel in the old. In the near future, it may very well be the case study for automation of city contract functions.
Aurigo Software, a provider focused on the public sector, entered into a multiyear, multimillion dollar contract with the City of Seattle to automate the entire city's contract management process including more than 5,000 individual construction and non-construction contracts annually.
The IoT (Internet of Things) connects smart appliances in the home and smart devices outside the home. Often the intermediary, the connector, is cloud-based. Data up, data down, data everywhere. Some construction related tools and equipment are smart enough to be monitored via a cloud app and more companies are searching for ways to make IoT and the cloud a part of construction.
A partnership of PCL Construction with AOMS Technologies, a specialist in IoT technologies for smart buildings and construction sites, is intended to make IoT enabled "Smart Construction" a new reality. The relationship will further enhance Job Site Insights, PCL's cloud-based construction platform, to provide a single view into all aspects of work at a jobsite. With additional sensor technology integrated into the platform, including concrete maturity and strength, gases, sound, vibration, air quality, and energy consumption among others, PCL has taken steps to enhance the smart construction space.
Sometimes the simple things are overlooked. With the emphasis on “social distancing” these days, with spaces marked on grocery store floors showing where to stand six feet apart, with people avoiding each other on sidewalks, there is one space that many forget can be a problem: the elevator. Once stores and offices are open for business, the old days of crowding into elevators or riding shoulder-to-shoulder on escalators will be a thing of the past.
And the elevator industry recognizes that the COVID-19 pandemic might have long-term impact on the business. Take for example, the European market. According to a Technavio report, the elevator and escalator market in Germany may be impacted by the spread of COVID-19 if the containment efforts go beyond Q2 2020.
A digital twin is an abstraction, a twin, of something in the real world done up in a digital image. It may be a digital version of a physical device, product, system, or other tangible item or of a service, process, or simply an idea. A digital twin is more than just a representation of something, it captures the behavior and attributes of its physical counterpart with data and lifecycle changes that emulate the physical piece.
A digital twin may be used for simulation, as a digital prototype, to understand expected behavior before there is a physical element or twin. Applying known characteristics of the various elements or parts of an assembly, for example, it can capture real-world behavior and can be used in VR (virtual reality) and AR (augmented reality). Digital twin technology is a method for the rapid creation and control of physical systems that delivers value to the companies employing it.
Building information management, better known simply as BIM, has become the go-to digital approach to monitoring everything that is involved in making every structure from tiny houses to massive bridges. Combining design functions of CAD (computer-aided design) and the engineering capabilities of CAE (computer-aided engineering), BIM adds many other disciplines necessary for the full life cycle of a structure.
The idea of virtual design and construction, digital twins and other advanced technology applications encompass not just BIM, but also GIS (geographic information system) and many other Design/Build functions. BIM allows seamless collection of data that can be transformed into verifiable information for the owner for years after the completion of project. In the case of much of the nation’s infrastructure, that owner is a government agency.
As Sherlock Holmes famously said, “Data, I need data! You can’t make bricks without clay.” And whether you use bricks or other building materials, construction companies today cannot build their businesses without data. Data is everywhere and collecting, analyzing, and using it has become the building blocks of profitability. With the forced slowdown in construction activity during the COVID-19 crisis, more emphasis is being placed on data to determine the best approaches to restarting businesses across all areas of the economy and using data is part of the process. The increasing need to store the ever-growing volume of data being generated by artificial intelligence applications, machine learning projects, IoT (Internet of Things) requirements, and big data in general is fueling the demand for increased data center infrastructure and the cloud is a significant part of that movement. Cloud service providers accounted for a significant market share in 2019 according to a recent report by Researchandmarkets.com.
Building Information Modeling, otherwise known as BIM, has been growing in value over the decades and many segments of the construction industry have taken advantage of its inherent digital analysis and presentation. German BIM developer Allplan, a division of Nemetschek Group, has released its latest version, Allplan Bridge 2020, for parametric modeling and structural analysis of bridges. Allplan Bridge is a fully integrated 4D BIM solution that uses a common parametric model for both structural analysis, design, and detailing. It forms the basis for BIM in bridge construction to improve the planning process both in terms of time and quality. For a limited time, Allplan Bridge 2020 is being offered for a free trial.
The term “smart” is used to indicate the use of technologies such as computer chips and the myriad of applications that run on them. Smart phones and smart watches are literally miniature computers that you wear or carry in a pocket. Smart homes include digital assistants, IoT (Internet of Things) connected appliances, remote operation, and entertainment and comfort controls often activated by voice. But what constitutes a smart city? In Asia/Pacific, excluding Japan, more than half of the population is living in cities, and it is expected to reach 60% by 2030. This rapid urbanization brings numerous challenges such as traffic congestion, water and electricity shortage, and public safety. State and local governments are investing in smart cities initiatives to address these challenges.
Enclosed areas, like tunnels or storage and water tanks, are notorious for being hazards to worker safety. Obviously, fumes from activities such as welding can be trapped in these environments while workers are performing their duties. But other air quality changes are also dangerous and harder to prevent. What is needed is a way to monitor and regulate activities to prevent injury or death to workers. GSIL, a South Korean company that specializes in construction applications, independently a smart safety management system for the prevention of accidents and the elimination of safety "gray areas" at construction sites. The system features a function that can ascertain a worker's current location as well as an SOS-enabled emergency rescue system.
Today, there is a big opportunity construction professionals can tap into: supporting customers globally in the digitalization of facilities and asset support services. New technology continues to come to market to help make this possible. For instance, Leica Geosystems, a Hexagon company, and Geomap, a cloud-based and GIS (geographic information systems) integrated workplace management system, are working together to facilitate digitizing facility management. With this announcement, Geomaps’ IWMS platform is integrated with Leica Geosystems’ reality capture solutions.