Optimizing construction technologies and methods

    Istanbul’s Küçük Çamlıca TV tower, currently under construction, features a Newtecnic-developed façade that allows inhabitable spaces to be attached to the whole of the tower’s core. With a projected height of 1,197 feet, this tower will be Istanbul’s tallest structure.

    Engineering design house Newtecnic seeks new levels of quality, efficiency, and productivity.

    From its four offices in the United States — San Jose, Calif.; Los Angeles; Atlanta; and Austin, Texas — Newtecnic partners with large-scale construction industry players and leading academic institutions. The aim of this enterprise is to bring new levels of quality, efficiency, and productivity to construction projects. This is achieved through the application of knowledge, know-how, and technology that allows the structure, methodology, and performance of building projects to be better understood, controlled, and optimized.

    Initially developing a 3D digital-twin of a building allows Newtecnic to analyze, then improve, develop, and refine its components both individually and as part of a system. Simultaneously, engineering is conducted from first principles so that new construction methods are invented that lead to greater manufacturing accuracy and accelerated building processes. This way of revealing and solving problems at the earliest design stage means that later operations run more smoothly and have highly predicable outcomes.

    This methodology produces immediate economic benefits by making projects easier to manage because they have foreseeable physical and procedural characteristics that are better understood by all stakeholders.

    It’s the year 2038 and inside the Newtecnic Construction Lab additive manufacture is used to make replacement façade panels for the King Abdullah Financial District Metro Hub in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Each component fits perfectly because it is developed from data collected using LiDAR scans from the as-built structure.

    Innovation is the key to economic growth in any industrial sector. And because innovation has traditionally been limited in the construction industry, the potential rewards are not just achievable but pay high-percentage rewards. The scale of the projects that Newtecnic works on are of regional and in some cases national economic significance, which means that when efficiencies are introduced, their impact is felt far beyond the jobsite.

    Because construction represents around 5 percent of U.S. GDP, it is vital that the supply of skilled workers is increased and that the workforce is developed accordingly. We therefore work with universities to harness the enthusiasm and energy of young tech-savvy minds. By offering opportunities to enter the industry and straight away work on dramatic and iconic projects, often by signature architects, we are giving tomorrow’s industry leaders the chance to get ahead now. Once introduced to the dynamism that Newtecnic’s methodology generates, they continue to innovate, invent, and actively share new ways to work better. I am proud that many of our employees also contribute to training the next generation, thereby developing the skills that are needed to sustain the industry.

    Newtecnic promotes the practice of manufacturing components onsite rather than in remote production plants. This entails facilitating Construction Labs equipped with advanced manufacturing equipment including 3D printers and additive manufacture facilities. This enables mass-customization which, for façades in particular, is economically very advantageous as it reduces transportation and materials cost and provides assured quality by producing components that perfectly fit the as-built specification. It also up-skills the workforce through access to the most advanced technologies available.

    Having stayed ahead of the technology curve for several decades means we have the experience to know what works and also what does not. This is important in terms of cutting waste. Currently between 25 percent and 40 percent of all waste in the U.S. is produced from construction. The cost to the environment and the economy is huge, but with the application of appropriate technology and skill it can be dramatically reduced. This is achieved with early-stage planning and introduction of engineering design aimed at producing building components and devising new construction methods that, like efficient product manufacturing plants, produce very little waste of materials or labor.

    The U.S. construction industry knows that it must improve. And the companies that we work with are often amazed at the positive effects of building system and methodology changes. When combined and rolled-out across projects and enterprises, this not only produces economic advantages but also manifests in a change of attitude that takes construction from a wasteful, dangerous, dirty, and inefficient occupation and makes it a truly 21st century data-driven activity — one that makes clear and sustainable contributions to the American economy and is an exemplar of efficiency, productivity, and social and economic benefit.

    Andrew Watts, FICE, FIED, FIET, FRSA, RIBA, is CEO of Newtecnic (www.newtecnic.com), an engineering design house that undertakes the engineering design of building structures, façades, and MEP installations in partnership with leading international developers, architects, and contractors. In partnership with the Engineering Departments of Cambridge University, Newtecnic’s R&D team analyzes, develops, tests, validates, and specifies new building technologies and methods. Newtecnic has offices in the U.S., UK, and Saudi Arabia.