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Connected building site is the target

Luleå University of Technology has been assigned the task of developing a project in collaboration with Linköping University and seven companies from the Construction and Telecom sectors, aiming at digitizing Swedish construction sites, in order to streamline the construction industry in Sweden. In October Vinnova will decide on the project, which in that case, means 40 million for the research and development project "Online Construction Site".

-The construction industry is the industry with the lowest digital maturity in Sweden today. Now Sweden has the chance to broaden the successful digitization of the process- and engineering industry to the construction industry, thus increasing the efficiency and sustainability of the swedish construction industry, says Lars Stehn, Professor of Timber Structures, at Luleå University of Technology, who heads the pilot project to land in the project, Online Construction Site.

The construction site is a kind of temporary factory

Productivity development in the swedish construction industry is slow and construction costs are increasing steadily. At the same time, demand for new housing in Sweden is growing. The need is therefore great in the Swedish construction industry to save construction time and reduce construction costs. The industry also needs to reduce energy use, raw material and waste consumption and carbon dioxide emissions and increase the safety of construction workers. Digitalization in industry is nothing new in itself. Many industries, such as the process industry, have used sensors, wireless communications, automation and robots for a long time. But in construction, the knowledge of digitization is generally low. Understanding and applying industrial digitization is a key ability for the construction industry players, but knowledge is insufficient about where, when and how it will be used to benefit.

The building site has special challenges in terms of digitization because it is a kind of temporary factory which, unlike the process-, engineering- and automotive industry, is being built up and assembled, in ever new places. For all new construction projects, a new building site must be designed, installed, used and dismantled and the construction industry has difficulty collecting and transferring important data between different sites. The construction industry will be the last industry to now take on advanced technology, which digitalization requires.

– The digitization of the construction industry will change the image of an industry that lagging behind and increase the attractiveness of recruitment. To succeed, however, requires an understanding of the construction industry for the potential of digitization in the building sector and concrete examples of how digitization can be used in practice and what effects it has, says Lars Stehn.

Several companies are already ready for the project

In the research and development project, Connected Building Site, which is a test bed, that is launched after Vinnova's decision in December 2017, at least seven building sites in Sweden, both people and machines will be online, while the work is fully underway at the sites. These are connected to virtual labs at, inter alia, Luleå University of Technology, to ensure continuity and long-term relationships between the building sites. Sonymobile, Telia, NCC, Skanska, Ahlsell, Cementa and Design Evolution are already ready to participate in the project. Besides Luleå University of Technology, Linköping University also participates. The project requires close collaboration between building and ICT actors and colleges.

Photo: Katarina Karlsson
Professor of Distributed Computer Systems, Kåre Synnes, Lars Stehn, Professor of Timber Structures and Thomas Olofsson, Professor of Construction Engineering and Management at Luleå University of Technology Photo: Katarina Karlsson

More efficient construction site

In Connected Building Site, the researchers focus on streamlining the production process at the construction site and supply processes such as design, prefabrication and logistics. These currently constitute about 50 percent of the costs of a normal construction project. Coordination of interconnected production should be easier and efficient with digital solutions and create sustainable business value for all players.


– At the smartly connected building site, professionals, machines, subsystems, components and materials communicate with each other. Critical components are equipped with connected sensors and built-in systems for monitoring, automation, control and follow-up of production, as well as after-checking and optimization of operations, says Lars Stehn.

The financiers behind the project

Connected Building Site, is a project within the Government's Strategic Interaction Program, run by the Strategic Innovation Program Smart Built Environment, funded by Vinnova, Energy Agency and Formas. Connected building site is an enhancement of Innovationslab within the SIP Smart Build Environment and provides a unique opportunity for collaboration with test beds in the ICT and engineering and process industries.

Participant in the design of Connected Building Site from Luleå University of Technology, are also Professor of Distributed Computer Systems, Kåre Synnes, and Thomas Olofsson, Professor of Construction Engineering and Management.
 

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