Two UK innovators shortlisted by COINS Grand Challenge

Two UK entries are among those to have the made shortlist of the 2020 COINS Grand Challenge, a global competition organised by Construction Industry Solutions Ltd (COINS) to support innovation within the construction industry.

Cambridge-based SME Purrmetrix has been shortlisted for building a tool for housing (whether occupied or empty) that can be used to assess heat loss. Purrmetrix co-founder Hermione Crease told BIM+: "Using real, measured environmental and energy data, we’re making a step change in understanding performance of homes when they are built.

"Such building performance analytics will allow homeowners and managers to get a clear picture of how their homes work, helping them to select the right improvements and confirm that they are effective in reducing energy and keeping homes comfortable."

Meanwhile, University of Sheffield electronics engineering student Krithiga Ravichandran has been shortlisted in the student section of the competition for 3D-printing ‘ant-bots’.

"As an electronics engineering student inspired by the 4th Industrial Revolution, I researched ways to transition prudently into remote construction," Ravichandran said. "3D-printing ‘ant-bots’ is a vision that blends additive manufacturing, biomimicry and digital twinning by employing an army of reasonably sized, ant-inspired robots to 3D-print our buildings.

"The intended impact is about more than just robotic advancement: it is a chance to help our society, increase the inclusivity of architects, engineers, workers and individuals from diverse economic and social backgrounds to connect and refashion how we develop and monitor sustainable spaces in developing nations and difficult situations (eg rebuilding after natural disasters)."

Overview of the 3D-printing ant-bots process

There are two shortlist categories, professional (open competition) or student (undergraduate competition). The other open competition finalists are:

  • eco-friendly low-cost housing using steel structural insulated panels from Community Service Foundation of Clearwater, USA;
  • AI-powered infrastructure management platform to minimise the risk of infrastructure failure and optimise infrastructure spending from Aren, USA; 
  • a modular structural wall framing technology from X-Frame, New Zealand;
  • a value-added green aggregate using a combination of mining wastes and proprietary polymer from Western Sydney University, Australia; and
  • upcycling post-consumer waste using a chemical-free and energy-efficient technology to manufacture cost-effective plastic lumbars from plastics and packaging materials from EcoPlastile, Uganda. 

The other student competition finalists are:

  • a geopolymer concrete binder offering a cost-effective eco-friendly cement alternative, by Maropeng Mphaho, South Africa;
  • an IoT headset for safety and communication, by Quinn Sarah Hanitio, Indonesia;
  • an AI assistant for construction management that improves the process of information management, by Saurav Bhilare, India;
  • sodium-methoxide nanofluid that when incorporated into the cooling system of a building will reduce power consumption, by Samarpan Deb Majumder and Ankit Das, India; and
  • smart tech that aspires to develop smart buildings through a computer vision-based tech energy management and social sustainability platform, by Keval Nandu, India.  

The shortlisted entrants have been invited to present their ideas virtually to a panel of leading construction industry professionals including:

  • Mark Beard, chairman & chief executive of Beard Group and current CIOB president;
  • James Benham, CEO of JB Knowledge;
  • Mohamed ElZomor, assistant professor – Moss School of Construction, Infrastructure and Sustainability at Florida International University;
  • Neil Pike, head of sustainability and business improvement, Morgan Sindall Fitout; and
  • Stuart Binstock, president and CEO, Construction Financial Management Association. 

The winners will be announced on 24 September. 

Robert Brown, CEO of COINS, said: "Every year the number and quality of the applications for the Grand Challenge gets stronger and stronger. It’s great to see the level of interest in new and emerging technology in the construction industry continue to grow. We are very proud to see the event go from strength to strength and hope that all the finalists enjoy this year’s virtual Grand Final and go on to pursue a career in construction whether they win the competition or not."

Image (top): Krithiga Ravichandran’s 3D-printing ant-bot

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