“It’s all about designing differently.” That was the message from Nicolas Mangon, Vice President of AEC Business Strategy at Autodesk, when, as a keynote speaker at Nordic BIM Summit, he summarized where the construction industry is heading. The building sector is becoming a more industrialized business, and looking ahead at the demands it faces, it will be necessary to increase productivity to meet the needs of a growing population. In this interview, we look at the changes in the market through Nicolas Mangon’s interesting presentation about the future and how AI based-technology is about to make a strong entry into the construction industry.
In your presentation you talked about a report saying that we have to build 13,000 buildings every day to the year 2050 (which is an average of 3,600 more than we do today) to meet the demands of urbanization. What are your thoughts and solutions for achieving this?
- We have to start designing differently and changing the way we work. By automating the construction processes and connecting teams in the cloud we have an opportunity to do things more efficiently. The construction and manufacturing industries are converging, and we will see broader adoption of methods and techniques such as robotics, IoT and machine learning enter the construction sites in the years to come. This will be an important key to meeting the requirements.
How do you think this convergence will affect the industry?
- It will affect the nature of our work, and we must start to embrace automation and human-machine collaboration. There is also an upside to changing the view of working in construction to one of more attractive and innovative work similar to that of high-tech employment.
Is there any way automation can take our jobs?
- We don’t look at it in that way and I don’t believe it will. Rather the opposite actually. However, automation will change the kinds of jobs we are doing and create new job titles. ATM is a good example of this. When certain tasks are automated, companies can take on more work in other sections.
Can you walk us through the latest technology and the opportunities this brings to the market?
- We are in the midst of what we call Connected BIM, which means BIM plus the cloud. Mobile technologies together with the cloud are enabling much better collaboration than we’ve ever had before. Suddenly, we can access real-time information from anywhere and at any time, improving productivity, safety and costs. The next era, which some industry players have already entered, is Industrialized BIM. Here, we have increased adoption of modular housing and manufacturing techniques such as generative design where computers are used to co-create buildings and infrastructure.
Tell us more about this generative design technology.
- Generative design is really redefining the way we design, and it will help us come up with ideas we could not imagine ourselves. You simply tell the computer what you want to accomplish by inputting goals into the generative design software. The software then explores thousands of ideas, all based on the criteria you’ve given it in the first place, and generates solutions that best fit your need. The Dutch company Van Wijnen is a great example of a company using generative design as a mechanism for improving the planning process for residential neighbourhoods.
What’s your advice when starting to implement all this available new technology?
- Don’t do everything at once. Pick one project and learn how it works. You have to start by mastering BIM. Then you can move to the next level, and then the next, etc. And never stop learning. Technology moves so fast today that it is important to learn something every day to continue to develop and, not least, to survive on the market. But don’t forget to pause for thought sometimes.
So, if we look into the crystal ball, what are the most important emerging trends?
- Again, I would say automation and implementing industrial techniques. This will help us not only to realize efficiency but also to cut waste and carbon emissions, and to fight climate change. And then there is the exploration of AI, which is already showing valuable benefits for the industry.
Learn more about Autodesk at www.autodesk.com.
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