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Young blue-flames hack the big industry challenges

Two NG Bailey design engineers, Kayley Lockhead and Paul Falkingham, took part in the CN Summit 24-hour hackathon as part of teams drawn from the industry’s rising stars. Their task: come up with technological solutions to some of our industry’s most pressing challenges.

Construction is changing and change is good. With approximately half of the UK’s carbon emissions coming from the construction and operations of buildings, the industry is becoming increasing carbon-savvy.

With the emergence of BIM, prefabrication and digital lifecycle management, technology is already providing an answer to the UK government’s commitment of cutting emissions by 80 per cent by 2050.

But how can we further develop these technology-based solutions to reduce time, cost and carbon while maintaining quality? The CN Summit Tech Sprint, which took the form of a 24-hour hackathon, was all about just that.

Pooled abilities

The ’Tech Sprint’ brought together a diverse set of people to think collaboratively, share knowledge and develop a technological solution to bring further efficiency to the construction industry.

We were split into four teams to share our strengths and ideas. As the team members were so diverse in background, we were able to pool together a wealth of knowledge in a short time, centring around big data, the ‘internet of things’ and augmented reality to name a few.

“We focused initially on concrete due to the sheer quantity used and wasted each day throughout the construction industry”

Powered by caffeine and enthusiasm, each team worked tirelessly through the night to deliver a technology-based solution that would drive efficiencies in the built environment. Programmers were on hand to bring each team’s high-tech vision into fruition and by morning we were all a little closer to presenting our ideas and prototypes to the judges.

Uber for concrete

From robots to drones, resources to 3D modelling, each team presented their innovative and revolutionary ideas, giving us all an insight into how the future might look and what we could do next.

I was part of ‘Team Resource’, which was the panel of industry judges ruled to be the winning team. Our idea took the form of a phone app, dubbed “the Uber for concrete”, to allow contractors to work collaboratively to reduce waste and save costs.

We focused initially on concrete due to the sheer quantity used and wasted each day throughout the construction industry.

Concrete is the single most widely used material across the globe. Our idea was also scalable, with the possibility to use the app for other building materials once the concrete market was conquered.

The CN Hackathon was a truly inspirational experience and one that I would recommend to anyone with enthusiasm for change.

Kayley Lockhead is a design engineer at NG Bailey

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