Innovation in the construction industry is needed now. Although it is known for moving on a slower pace and fall behind other industries, there are more players like us coming into the mix that are betting on disrupting the industry and doing things differently. Together, we are becoming the face on innovation for the sector by joining forces with entrepreneurs and startups in fostering a construction revolution.
When we speak about introducing new construction methods into the industry, we refer to those that offer better products and processes, aiming to improve efficiency, quality, and sustainability by allowing to have a better performance and delivery of a construction project.
As part of Construction Startup Competition 2021, we are looking for startups that have solutions fit for the “New Construction Methods” category. In it, we are seeking for entrepreneurs that have gone deep into the development of, offsite & modular construction, advance prefabrication, 3D printing, robotic solutions for process automation, Industry 4.0 (hardware, IoT, sensors), and overall solutions that promote a radical efficiency of the industry.
“While most technologies are an improvement of current processes in our industry, we need a deeper revolution to drive real value. New Construction Methods have the potential to radically improve the build world. We need to position construction as a leading sector through industrialization, robotics, automatization, IoT and Data to bring efficiency, quality and sustainability into the industry” expressed Mateo Zimmermann, Investment Manager at CEMEX Ventures.
Need some inspiration? Read along for some examples and startups who are rocking the built sector with their innovative approach to bringing innovation to the industry through the development of new constructions methods.
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How do new construction methods help?
In a big scale, the benefits of implementing new construction methods in the day to day of the industry can be highlighted in 2 areas:
- Cost and time savings: when the different variations of new construction methods are combined, the savings in a single project can be significant; from faster construction that helps generate revenue streams quicker, to the use of sensors, robots and specialized software that can help reduce errors and enhance the safety of the workers in the jobsite, and even the automation of otherwise manual labor.
- Sustainability: precision engineering and manufacturing in a factory-controlled environment help reduce the misuse of materials and waste generation, while also allowing for an increase in efficiency, quality, and environmental performance of the final structure.
We also wanted to look deeper into how these new methods help. Therefore, we asked CEMEX Ventures Operations and Venture Capital Director, Cristina Aparicio, what´s her take on new construction methods and why they play an essential role in promoting innovation in the construction industry. “The way I see it, it´s best to deeply understand the problem we are trying to solve and what solutions are a better fit to address them, instead of using the latest technology trends in the industry without a thorough analysis of what´s needed for that specific issue” she expressed.
“For example, the housing shortage we face nowadays in the big cities due to the mass migration, at once was thought that could just be resolved with 3D printing. When we take a closer look into the challenge, we understand that it might not be the only nor best solution for it.”
So, what could be a better way to tackle this challenge?
“Modular, industrialized construction and cast in place. This doesn´t rule out 3D printing, it just enhances the pool of possibilities that can help solve one very pressing issue in the sector with a solution that is potentially more easily scalable and quicker to implement” she added.
4 examples of advanced technologies in building construction
Offsite, modular construction, and advanced prefabrication
As part of the side effect of the pandemic, this became one of the most spoken about solutions of 2020. With a market size value at USD 72.11 billion in 2020, modular and offsite construction allows for building to be done quickly by using construction systems assembled in a factory and installed on-site, reducing time, waste and cost of project. By 2028, the markets it´s expected to grow and reach the USD 114.78 billion mark globally.
Modulous, the grand winners of Construction Startup Competition and part of our investment portfolio, are a UK based startup that developed a construction-technology platform dedicated to delivering quality, sustainable and affordable homes at scale and pace. Through the digitization of design and procurement, a high-performing kit of parts, integrated supply chain and localized assembly, they enable the rapid delivery of homes anywhere in the world.
Robotic Solutions for process automation
The integration of robotic solutions in the construction industry implies the use of software tools or modern-day programming to partially or fully automate human activities that are manual and repetitive. It also enhances productivity, efficiency, and manufacturing flexibility throughout the industry, like automating the fabrication of modular structures components off-site, m aterial handling on building sites, and robot 3D printing of customized structures.
One of the winners of Construction Startup Competition 2020, Okibo is developing mobile, multi-purpose, autonomous robots for use in construction sites. Their robot is designed to autonomously traverse the rough terrain of construction sites with high precision, while maintaining human and equipment safety. It is also able to identify the area for application, pre-plan the working path and apply the material autonomously in an accurate and expedited fashion.
3D printing is a group of addition manufacturing technologies that allow for a three-dimensional object to be created by superimposing successive layers of materials. In the construction industry, it can help reduce a project execution time by 50-70% and lower the total cost by 40-70%. It should come as no surprise then that the global 3D printing construction market is expected to grow from USD 94.58 million reported in 2020 to USD 259.31 million by the end of 2025.
Amongst its benefits, it allows for more design flexibility, automation of construction processes, faster execution, waste and cost reduction, and enhances material availability.
Cobod, recognized as one of the Top 50 Contech Startups of 2019, is a manufacturer of concrete 3D printing machines offering unique advantages for the industry. They strive towards full automation in the construction industry by designing robotic 3D construction printers and automated processes for the building site.
Their machine is capable of printing entire buildings with little human support, enabling faster, cheaper, and safer construction.
Industry 4.0 (hardware, IoT, sensors)
A relatively new concept in the industry (2016), Industry 4.0 (or Construction 4.0) is primarily based on the awareness construction firms developed of the digitization of the industry and integration of four key concepts: digital data, automation, connectivity, and digital access. With IoT being the king of the castle, allowing for a more interconnected jobsite, the benefits range from the adoption of BIM, reduced project costs, enhanced safety, predictive maintenance, and improved waste management.
Our newest investment expansion of the portfolio, SAALG provides the construction industry with digital solutions that empower data-driven decisions by analyzing large volumes of monitoring data in real-time. Their latest software, Daarwin, is a cloud-based platform to manage all geotechnical monitoring data, reducing geotechnical uncertainties through real time analysis of the terrain´s behavior on civil projects and large buildings. It does so by using machine learning, real time data analysis, and cloud computing. Their solution also allows for a more efficient jobsite & built environment.
How does CEMEX Ventures promote new construction techniques?
At CEMEX Ventures, not only do we work closely with startups and entrepreneurs who are betting on new construction techniques that can solve the challenges identified in the construction industry.
We also identify new business opportunities for CEMEX and leverage on the knowhow our team has developed from working hand in hand with innovative leaders in the sector. As a result we developed our own innovative construction method: Wallex, an integrated company for the design, engineering, fabrication, transport, and installation of fully serviced and concrete wall panels in Spain for residential construction. With the opening of the first industrialized construction factory in the country, Wallex is set to transform the housing industry and deliver homes faster in a more controlled, sustainable, and affordable manner.
Can the next collaboration be amongst the participants of this year´s competition? We believe so! By having the “New Construction Methods” category as part of the 2021 Construction Startup Competition, Dysruptek, Ferrovial, GS Futures, Hilti, VINCI Group´s Leonard, NOVA by Saint-Gobain, and ourselves look to evaluate the most promising startups in the Contech ecosystem and identify the solutions in which all of us can help expand its business and reach new milestones.
If this seems like something that can benefit your startup, apply today to Construction Startup Competition 2021! The application phase will remain open until June 27. You do not want to miss out in this one-in-a-lifetime opportunity!