UKCW London: Get ahead with the programme

Build in Digital once again hosts the Digital Construction Hub at UK Construction Week in London next week. Tim Clark looks ahead to a packed and insightful programme

It’s the eve of May, the DIY adverts have begun popping up on the radio, and the government is tweaking the planning system; it can only mean one thing. It’s time for UK Construction Week (UKCW).

Build in Digital is once again packing its pen, pad and microphone to host UKCW’s Digital Construction Hub over three days between 7-9th May, and will be highlighting innovations across the construction sector.

Digital aficionados will also be kept up to date with the latest from the Golden Thread, the next steps for BIM innovation, and what to know when it comes to artificial intelligence.

For those looking to crunch construction’s financial numbers, Noble Francis, economics director of the Construction Products Association will be talking to Channel 4’s George Clarke as well as Aurelie Delannoy – director of economic affairs at the Mineral Products Association – to cast their view across how inflation has hit the sector, what could be coming over the course of 2024, and whether there is or is not a slowdown in activity.

At the digital nerve centre of UKCW we will be digging into Artificial Intelligence. The role of artificial intelligence (AI) has begun to dominate discussions in the boardroom, and the dining room as society digests how it will impact all our lives.

Global data and tech lead at the RICS, Andrew Knight will explore a holistic approach to AI in Property in this session, and then open the floor to audience discussion in an interactive Q&A.

As highlighted in Knight’s chat with Build in Digital last year, a computer may be in charge of crunching the numbers, but humans will still be held accountable if anything goes awry.

As well as gaining an understanding of the range and scope of what we mean by AI, we need to uncover its uses, and the implications it holds for the use of data and the impact on skills across the built environment. Knight is appearing at 2:15 – 3pm on Tuesday 7 May.

Andrew Knight isn’t the only expert to take delegates through the realms of AI. Laing O’Rourke’s Robert Claridge and Pedro Rentre Lourenco are due to inform the debate over how AI and the Metaverse can help digitise construction.

As group head of data at Laing O’Rourke, Lourenco will highlight how with AI algorithms for predictive analytics, automation, and optimisation, we can streamline construction processes, enhance safety, and minimise errors. In the Metaverse, we’ll uncover how Extended Reality (XR) is especially suited to construction.

Amidst all this, the user’s needs, preferences, and experiences must remain central to ensure that these developments are harnessed in a way that is intuitive and helpful.

Join us as we delve into the future of construction, where innovation, AI, the Metaverse, and user-centricity converge to reshape the built environment.

The duo are appearing at 11:15 on Wednesday at the Digital Construction Hub.

Get smart

Another topic which caught the headlines in 2023 was the concept of smart cities. Four experts including Georgios Grioriou, senior building systems integration consultant at Arcadis, George Floros, head of GIS at Skanska, Costain’s senior BIM manager Shadan Dwairi-Wigley and Emilia Cardamore, associate director – real estate digital at Turner & Townsend are delving into how data driven smart cities can meaningfully serve communities.

In a year when the 15-minute city has been attacked by senior ministers as a dangerous plot, and even mentioned by the Prime Minister himself, the importance of highlighting the positive role that the concept can play on communities is more pertinent than ever.

The panel will discuss how the intersection of technology, data and community engagement can be leveraged to address some of the urban challenges of our age, and improve quality of life for residents. The panel will be appearing from 12:15pm to 1pm on Tuesday.

Rounding off the first day of UKCW is a further panel with Aecom’s senior BIM manager Lillian Ho, chairing a debate on the role of information management in delivering net zero.

Ho will be joined by Melanie Dawson, director of Origin 7, as well as Allies and Morrison’s Ciaran Garrick, and Jonathan Fashanu, founding director of Dash House to analyse the critical nexus between information management and the ambitious goal of achieving net zero emissions.

In an era where sustainability and environmental responsibility are paramount, understanding how information is harnessed, managed, and disseminated holds the key to transformative change within the construction industry. The panel discussion begins at 3:15pm on Tuesday.

Automation advances

Delegates keen to learn about the advances in automation will want to head to the panel session at 1:15pm on Wednesday. Automation is an advance which has not quite delivered compared to the lofty predictions of the past decade, however can innovations such as the Internet of Things (IoT) help unlock those advances?

Mairead Gallagher Morgan, founder of MI+DS, as well as a Babcock’s William Baker-Jones, Mollie Claypool from Automated Architecture, and Allister Leiw from Automated Data Driven Design (ADDD) are set to examine the concept itself before dissecting how it can impact on efficiency, productivity, revolutionise workflows, and accelerate timelines.

The world of modular has had a turbulent couple of years. From looking seemingly back on track in the summer of 2023, a flurry of high-profile administrations has dented confidence in the sector.

By comparison, the world of offsite construction has quietly grown with both suppliers and products blossoming since the start of the decade.

Hsbcad’s Andrew Baker-Kean’s session, Digitalisation in the offsite factory, aims to educate UKCW on the latest innovations in the sector, from addressing quality and sustainability, to speed challenges from design to offsite manufacturing and onsite assembly. His session at 3:15pm rounds of the Digital Construction Hub’s Wednesday session.

Thursday is BIM day, at least as far as the Digital Construction Hub is concerned. Looking back at the 2016 BIM mandate, the panel of experts including Emma Hooper from BuildData Group and Dan Rossier from BSI assess how, as the technology has advanced to focus increasingly on data, what can the sector harness from the reams of information across the built environment.

Hooper and Rossier are joined by Chris Lees, founder and director of Conversion Digital as well as Kevin Reeves, MD of KJR Digital to share their experience and insight from 1:15pm on Thursday on the BIM journey thus far.

The BIM journey continues in the following afternoon session as BIM Academy’s Melanie Robinson is joined by Skanska’s deputy head of BIM Anita Soni, as well as Padraig Delaney, UK operations manager at GagaMuller, and MI+DS’s Mairead Gallager-Morgan who will chair a debate focussing on how innovation is reshaping both the architecture and engineering sectors.

From advanced digital modelling and simulation techniques to sustainable building materials and smart infrastructure solutions, our discussion will highlight the most impactful innovations revolutionising how we conceptualise, design, and build structures in the modern era. The session will take place at 2:15pm on Thursday.

And, as the UKCW draws to a close until we gather again in Birmingham the Digital Construction Hub will welcome Mott MacDonald’s Simon Cross, director of MMC as well as Andrew Victory, global digital transformation lead at Arcadis, and Martin MacDonald, BIM lead at ISG to discuss the trends over the past three years, what we as a sector can mark down as real progress, and what the sector is capable of.

Join Cross, MacDonald and Victory from 3:15pm-4pm to pick up your digital construction takeaways.

Read next: Construction’s brave new world of materials

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