News

Digital tech is key to challenging construction's methods

13 November 2020

Digital technology will be key to the work of a new innovation partnership that wants to challenge current methods in the construction industry.

The University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) has teamed up with framework provider Pagabo to pioneer fresh ideas that embrace new technology and advanced manufacturing methods.

Joining them in the venture are C4DI, the Hull-based incubator company that promotes growth in tech businesses, specialist data centre company Yondr and Lord Bob Kerslake.

The University of Sheffield AMRC is a network research and innovation centres that work with manufacturing companies of all sizes around the globe. It has particular strengths in the automotive and aerospace industries. Its research develops innovative methods that are of practical use to the manufacturing industry. 

Steve Foxley, CEO of the University of Sheffield AMRC, said: “We want to look at areas like enterprise architecture, the future of buildings in a digital world, and how standards and interfaces will enable the digital world in construction.

“We will be learning from the automotive and aerospace industries and seeing where we can adapt methods and innovations that would work in the construction sector.”

Lord Kerslake, the former head of the civil service, is a non-executive chairman of Pagabo who helped forge its relationship with the AMRC. He said: “Research and development remains low in construction. And there is very little collaboration on this among key players in the industry. Combined, we want to make a real and transformational difference in construction within the next ten years.”

Professor Rab Scott, head of digital at the AMRC, said that in just four weeks, the new collaboration had already created change. “We have already started working with Pagabo on health and safety on site and looking at ways of using digital technologies to streamline processes. In terms of results, if we can prevent one accident or one hour’s lost time, it has an immediate benefit, and our work is immediately scalable.” 

Gerard Toplass, executive chairman of Pagabo, said: “Everyone agrees that construction is a sector that has been left behind in terms of new ways of working and innovation. Many methods in construction have been used for decades.

“What we want to do as a group is to totally shake up the construction sector – and create real change to drive economic growth and establish the UK as a global innovator.”

Image (left to right): Steve Foxley, CEO, University of Sheffield AMRC; Charley Wainwright, Pagabo; Gerard Toplass, executive chairman, Pagabo; Lord Bob Kerslake; and James Illingworth, head of construction research, AMRC.