Highland construction firms invited to experience ‘cutting edge’ sector tech

HIGHLAND and Islands SMEs working across the construction and built environment sector are being invited to attend free workshops next week to experience ‘cutting edge’ manufacturing technology with the potential to boost their businesses.

The drop-in sessions are being hosted on August 17 and 18 at Inverness College University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI) by Make it Smart Hub – a programme led by Built Environment – Smarter Transformation (BE-ST).

Construction professionals will be able to experience some of the latest technology coming into the sector, including 3D scanning equipment, virtual reality (VR) training simulations, augmented reality (AR) helmets and a heat flow meter.

The 360° 3D scanner uses laser distance meters, HDR cameras and lidar (light detection and ranging) tech to capture as many as 360,000 data points per second and create a digital representation of a place or object to ‘millimetre accuracy’ in a matter of minutes.

BE-ST said the scanner could be beneficial for retrofit work, which is expected to increase significantly as the 2045 zero carbon deadline approaches. With detailed 3D images, the organisation explained that SMEs could more easily quantify the environment to deliver a full assessment of the work needed.

The heat flow meter can be used to test the thermal performance of different materials, such as alternative insulation fabrics, while the AR and VR visualisation kit is tipped to benefit teams in rural locations.

Experts from BE-ST will demonstrate the equipment and answer any queries, as well as share more about the innovation centre’s ambition to accelerate decarbonisation.

Tom Warren, impact manager – sustainability, at BE-ST, said, “Digital transformation will play a big part in the sector’s transition to zero carbon and these sessions are designed to help raise awareness of the types of cutting edge technology that could support SMEs to achieve that ambition.

“Make it Smart Hub was set up to support the Highlands and Islands construction community to adopt new manufacturing technologies, processes and skills, that can improve productivity and help them to grow sustainably. As well as providing access to equipment, the hub also offers training, guidance, and innovation and business development support and we are looking forward to making new connections next week.”

BE-ST revealed a number of companies have already benefited from the support offered through the hub including 7-22 Systems, an ecological construction business based on the Isle of Benbecula. The firm designs and builds sustainable buildings using offsite manufacturing and pre-insulated components, and recently collaborated with BE-ST to improve its cutting templates.

Alex Durie, co-founder of 7-22 Systems, said, “BE-ST brought organisation, funding know-how and a real interest in what 7-22 was looking to achieve to the project. Each part of the team is engaged in the process of assisting SME innovation, and the collaboration enabled us to make tangible improvements to our production process, reducing time and improving the quality of the outputs.”

The Make it Smart Hub programme is part-funded by the 2014-2020 European Regional Development Fund via the Advancing Manufacturing Challenge Fund. The hub is led by BE-ST, with support from Inverness College UHI, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, the Data Lab and CENSIS – the innovation centre for sensors, imaging systems, and Internet of Things (IoT) technologies.

For more information on the demo sessions, visit: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/make-it-smart-hub-demo-event-tickets-375099742427