Introducing the Construction Innovation and Technology Application Centre
In recent years, given the challenges of high costs and labour shortages, one of the policies of the Government is to encourage the construction industry to adopt innovation and technology to enhance productivity, cost-effectiveness and safety performance. The Construction Innovation and Technology Application Centre (CITAC), established by the Construction Industry Council (CIC) at its Kowloon Bay Training Centre in November last year provides the industry with an additional platform to share information of advanced technology, work equipment and machinery and building materials developed both locally and internationally, and to facilitate interdisciplinary collaboration. Here, I have invited the manager of the Centre to give us a guided tour.
Inside CITAC, there are five different thematic zones, namely “Industrialisation”, “Informatisation”, “Intelligentisation”, “Integration” and “Infinity”. Focuses of the exhibition include moving some of the construction processes from building sites to prefabrication yards; introducing the use of IoT and other information technology; introducing robotic application in construction sites; and promoting wider adoption of New Engineering Contract (NEC) so as to improve the effectiveness of project management, enhance cost-effectiveness and productivity as well as safeguard occupational safety and health. Visitors may scan the QR codes on the display pillars with their smart phones to learn more about the technical details of individual exhibits.
Besides the five thematic zones, a “Gizmo” corner is included in the Centre, showcasing the innovations initiated by frontline employees, for example: the IAQ Disinfection Robot which can sweep, disinfect and inspect air ducts. Do not look down upon these little simple innovations as they are driven by workers’ intuition and creation, which can really support practitioners to execute their daily works efficiently and in a safe manner.
I agreed with the manager of CITAC, Mr WAN Kai-hong that the application of innovation and technology has become a global trend and the construction industry must keep pace with the times. We therefore encourage exchanges and collaborations between Hong Kong’s and overseas construction sectors in order to facilitate the application of advanced technologies in construction sites. CITAC features about 30 exhibits, and some of them are still under research and development stage. Nevertheless, feedbacks from our visitors can definitely contribute to the improvement of such products or technologies. Feedbacks from frontline workers are particularly important on ensuring the user-friendliness of our construction innovations.
Mechanising working procedures and enhancing work site safety
Earlier I have introduced the concept of Building Information Modelling (BIM) and the Modular Integrated Construction (MiC) method. Both of them can bring enormous benefits to the construction industry. I am happy to see that the industry has been proactively adopting intelligence tools and mechanized working procedures to improve work site safety and employee’s working environment.
The Centre also introduces many robotic applications, including a service robot for repair of external gas pipe, which has been widely adopted by Towngas. Remotely controlled by workers, the robot can carry out different tasks on the exterior walls of high-rise buildings, including polishing and painting gas pipes. Another example of robotic application is ZeroG arms, which allows industry practitioners to comfortably operate heavy hand tools. These innovations could reduce injuries and fatigue due to heavy and repetitive tasks and hence improve safety and health at the workplace.
In enhancing the safety performance of public works, the Development Bureau and Works Department have all along adopted a multi-pronged strategies, including implementing a Safety Management System (SMS), safety monitoring system, reviews of regulation of safety, the Pay for Safety Scheme, under which funding is earmarked for public works project contracts to finance contractors to carry out site safety items, safety training and workplace safety promotional campaigns, etc. To upgrade the construction industry through wider adoption of innovative technology could undoubtedly reduce unnecessary industrial accidents, enhance productivity and cost-effectiveness, and also improve the professional image of workers, so as to attract more new entrants to the construction industry.
That’s one small step for construction innovation, one giant leap for our development. We hope to work together with the construction industry and related bodies to generate more creative ideas, create rippling effects for bringing sustained impetus to the industry and lead Hong Kong’s construction industry to the next level.
21 January, 2018