New tech hits the headlines at UK Construction Week

UKCW 2019 will be bringing cutting edge technology to the NEC in October, helping make it a must-attend event for any architect who wants a peek into the future

Construction was told three years ago it had to ‘Modernise or die.’ That statement has clearly resonated with parts of the sector with new technology and techniques entering the industry, but what about the rest of the sector? This drive for innovation encouraged UK Construction Week (UKCW) to “throw down the gauntlet and ask the new disruptors to step forward and show others the way towards the next industrial revolution,” said the organisers.

Real innovation

The new Innovation Zone, partnered with the Construction Innovation Hub (the Hub), is only hosting exhibitors with genuinely innovative products, and it has really pushed the innovation boat out. Products range from quiet heat pumps to BIM-related innovations, from bricklaying robots to passive fire protection. Nathan Garnett, UKCW event director says, “We really want to encourage true innovation at this year’s show. With assistance from our advisory board and input from the Hub we have some fascinating new products to showcase in the Innovation Zone. The journey towards a more modern industry has begun, although there is still a way to go. Our hope is that UKCW will demonstrate a new possible future, which will challenge and inspire others to change.”

From robots to heat pumps

Examples on display include robotics, with the Semblr Catus robots out in force at the show. Working in small swarms, they build brickwork at faster speeds and lower costs than larger robots. Speeding up this heavily manual process will make a huge difference to the delivery of buildings and other brick structures. Sharing tasks and information can be time consuming, especially if big files are included. PlanRadar has developed an all new task management system which works in 3D. This is essentially a 3D BIM version for designers, architects and builders and makes sharing plans much easier. Air source heat pumps have caught the attention of the Government as a low carbon heating option. Mitsubishi’s Ecodan ultra quiet air source heat pump, for example, is breaking new ground because it is so quiet it can be located closer to homes. It is also more efficient and helps reduce the reliance on fossil fuels. Fire has been on everyone’s agenda since Grenfell, with many companies adding fire proofing to their ranges. Tenmat has introduced a new product range of passive fire protection to provide fire breaks around ceiling fittings. The products include downlight covers, fire rated air valves and ceiling fan fire stops. A ceiling is only as fireproof as its weakest element, so this new product range is essential to improve fire safety.

Self-build, sustainability and repurposing are all boxes which are ticked by another innovation – the Studio Bark wooden building system called U-Build. It is made up of wooden frames and panels which can be assembled and dismantled with just a drill and a hammer. It can be used to build a small or large structure depending on your needs, and once the build is no longer required it can be dismantled. There are many more products on display in the Innovation Zone and one of them will be the winner of the new Innovation Award, which will be announced on Wednesday 9 October. UKCW is one event with many sections, including Build sponsored by Easy-Trim, Building Tech, Civils, Energy and HVAC, Surface and Materials, and Timber. It also features Concrete Expo (8-9 October only) and Grand Designs Live (9-10 October only). Single registration gives free access to all areas of the show. Pre-booking is also strongly recommended for the extensive seminars and CPD programme.

Find out more about what’s on at UKCW at