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TopHat signs up aviation digital guru to improve housebuilding

12 January 2021

Modular housing manufacturer TopHat has appointed former Airbus digital guru Matt Evans as its chief technology officer.

He will take charge of TopHat’s digital strategy and will be a key figure in integrating new technology into the company’s manufacturing process to deliver “well-designed, energy-efficient housing” for private developers, housing associations and local councils.

Starting with a blank piece of paper, it makes much more sense to build homes in a factory-controlled setting. You wouldn’t build a plane in a field, and the same should be true of new homes.– Matt Evans, TopHat

As vice president of digital transformation at Airbus, Evans was responsible for helping to create the Skywise platform, which brings together the data – previously fragmented across airlines, airports, baggage companies, and manufacturers – needed to keep planes moving and minimise delays. It uses machine learning and AI to predict when an aircraft’s parts will need to be replaced or repaired, before they fail and cause a delay to the aircraft’s schedule. The platform is also used to model the impact of events such storms and reroute aircraft to minimise delays and missed passenger connections.

Skywise is now used globally by more than 100 airlines, representing 40% of the world’s commercial aircraft.

Evans aims to bring this data-led approach to UK housebuilding. 

He said: “By spinning a ‘digital thread’ that links every stage of the manufacturing process from design to assembly, we can make the process more repeatable and certain, create a higher-quality product, and minimise waste through the learning and efficiency that this will generate.

“Starting with a blank piece of paper, it makes much more sense to build homes in a factory-controlled setting. You wouldn’t build a plane in a field, and the same should be true of new homes.”

Jordan Rosenhaus, TopHat chief executive and founder, said: “Housebuilding is an industry that needs to embrace technology to improve its energy efficiency, productivity and build quality.”