We are happy to explain digital solutions, including in Belgium, of course. Whereas a few years ago digital design, often called BIM, was still the exclusive domain of the big innovative construction companies, now the democratisation is proceeding apace. More and more large and small contractors are making the move to digital design, taking their suppliers and subcontractors with them.
Help from a configurator
Logically, if the construction sector wants to meet the urgent demand for more homes with fewer failure costs, digital design is the only solution. However, digital design alone is only a first step. If every house, flat, hospital, office or any building is designed from scratch and built traditionally every time, the bottom line profit is small. There is little time saved in the design phase and much remains the same on the building site itself. At most, design errors are intercepted at an early stage and the site supervisors can do their work without any problems. Not insignificantly no, but the real revolution in construction is modular construction using a configurator.
How does it work? Basically, just like the well-known configurators of most car brands. There is a basic model that you can expand and personalise as you wish using all kinds of accessories and options. Similarly, you can design the configurator for a building that includes all those elements you use to shape a house, office or school. Facades, windows, installations, heating, kitchen, bathroom, dormer, everything a building needs. You build a house module by module, so to speak. At the bottom you see what it costs and with a click of a button you place the order.
Taking the next step
And after that? Then the contractor can get to work on it. In the traditional way or in collaboration with factories where the different modules are built using robots. When all modules are ready, everything is transported to the building site where skilled workers quickly assemble the house. The advantages are huge. Significantly less construction time, less scaffolding and cranes needed, less traffic and noise on the building site, less manual labour, less risk of errors. And less CO emissions, essential in these times to be allowed to build at all. And another advantage of modular construction: the building sector can respond to circularity and take into account in advance the reuse of materials when the building reaches the end of its life cycle. The digital design shows down to the last screw which material was used, where it came from and how it can be reused later.
Dreams of the future? No way. The first modularly designed and built housing estates are already a reality. With the help of Autodesk's specialist software, which we install at our customers' premises, including intensive guidance. Of course, we understand very well that not every contractor switches directly from Engineering to Order (EtO) to Configure to Order (CtO), because that is what we are talking about. They are complicated processes that demand a lot from architects, designers and executives. There is also still some scepticism. Does the architect still have a function? Won't it become uniform? No, the configurator can offer a lot of options in colours and stone strips on the facades. Variation is possible with windows, as with roofs, dormers, and so on. And yes, the architect will have a key role in designing the configurator and supporting the client and/or contractor with the choices.
Taking steps in the right direction
Not everyone is convinced yet, but we see tentative steps forward. Towards modular construction with a mix of EtO and CtO. It is also quite possible to use a configurator initially only for calculations and for quickly generating a quotation. The data can be linked to GEO data so that it is also immediately visible whether and how a building fits into its surroundings, what utilities are required. The generated data and drawings can then be used in further design and construction.
What is the future? This was the question I was asked the most after the presentation. Without owning a crystal ball, I dare say that we will eventually design every building digitally in the configurator and erect it using modular factories. From hospital to housing estate, from villa to tinyhouse. The software is already there. We are already able to store all the data securely and have it communicate with each other. Whether it's data from ERP, Document Management or CRM; Cadac Connect ties everything together. I would love to elaborate on that, but then the story really gets too technical.
Would you like to know more about Cadac Group or do you have any questions after reading this article? Feel free to contact us and we will be happy to update you on all the possibilities.