COMIT with Dropbox at Marylebone

Our last Community Day for 2018 was hosted by Dropbox at the Marylebone Hotel in London. This has to be one of the best locations we have ever had for a Community Day so many thanks to the Dropbox team for arranging it. Despite the usual attrition due to seasonal maladies at this time of year 55 delegates made it to this superb venue.

Guests & New Members

After a safety moment from Stuart Young (about driving in poor conditions rather than avoiding the colds and flu going around at the moment) we welcomed our numerous guests and a new COMIT member - Shell International.

Thoughts from the Chairs

This was Max Mallia-Parfitt's first Community Day as COMIT's new Chair for Technology (photo on the right below) and he took the opportunity to point out that our next meeting (March 14th 2019) is potentially just two weeks before Brexit. Taking his Technology role seriously Max has read the entire draft Withdrawal Agreement (all 599 pages) and warned that Articles 7 and 73 could affect access to cloud based systems. So if your business relies on any cloud based services (or you provide them) then you might want to check the details!

Steve Slater, COMIT Chair for Construction (left above) laid out plans for Rapid Site Setup in 2019 (as well as showing a seasonal traffic incident involving a very large Xmas tree and a relatively small van). Several years ago COMIT created a guide to getting connectivity on site and the aim is to revisit that project next year. This will culminate in the creation of a new Rapid Site Setup Directory of advice and tried and tested solutions which will be made available to members.

Vice Chair Roles

As you probably know COMIT is run on a not-for-profit basis and the Construction and Technology Chairs are voluntary positions held by people from our member organisations. To help share the burden we looking for people willing to act as Vice chairs. The role can be a great way to learn more about how the industry works and the effect of technology. If you are interested or know somebody in your organisation who might be then please get in touch.


Assytem - Machine Vision

Chris Murphy presented a tour of the technologies behind image-based automatic analysis - which is used for inspection, process control, structural analysis, security monitoring and much more. If you wanted to know about stereo photogrammetry, structured light and hyperspectral imaging then this was the presentation for you. One point that generated a lot of interest was the possibility of real-time defect scanning of steel ropes and self-diagnosing #IOT sensors on construction plant in general.

MabeyHire - Temporary Works & Laser Scanning

Paul McLaughlin described MabeyHire's BIM journey and the benefits of VR4Construction and 4D. One of the examples given was Glasgow's Atlantic Square project where they were working with BAM. Here the facade retention systems were modelled using Revit and VR was used to review clashes. Helpfully, all the Revit families for temporary equipment are available in the UK Hire technical library on Maybey's website.

Kwik-Step - modular stairways & platforms

After coffee, in a change from the original agenda, Nick Marshall bravely stepped up (pun intended) and moved from the ten-minute soapbox section to do a full presentation on his modular stairways solution. It was great that he did and the audience were genuinely amazed at how quickly and cheaply his temporary OR permanent access routes could be installed.

With costs of around a THIRD of conventional brick/paving solutions and installation times of around a TENTH, nobody could quite understand why the solution had not become ubiquitous. The ensuing discussion suggested a lack of joined-up thinking about health and safety and a lack of early engagement from contractors were both part of the issue.

A14 IDT - Using technology to make safety work on site

Roy Pearson described how there is 500km of underground apparatus to be avoid on the A14 project. Through extensive collaboration they developed a "Smart Permit To Dig" system which resulted in higher levels of productivity and improved health and safety. Roy argued that engagement, communication, ease of access and savings are all major factors connected with safety and that technology can help with all of them. The Smart Permit To Dig system generates about 1000 permits every month and was built on an open-source platform.

Dropbox Showcase & Panel Session

After lunch Franck Le Tendre (Directeur Général Dropbox France) described how the business had moved into enterprise markets such as construction, education, retail and manufacturing. Many consumer users had been using the product at work and this naturally lead to the development of DropboxBusiness. The focus and strength of the offering is with enabling and supporting collaboration rather than just storing data.

Abhishek Lahoti (Development & Partnerships at Dropbox) then demonstrated some of Dropbox's collaboration tools and how they could be used in bidding. Dropbox has also been adding support ("extensions") for integrating with other applications, for example Adobe Sign and Autodesk. A customer case study was presented in which an Australian company has used Dropbox as an interface between Aconex and FieldwireHQ.

The showcase was followed by a panel discussion lead by Mat Quinn from New London Architecture. The panel comprised of Amit Puri from PlanGrid, Neil Thompson from SNC-Lavalin and Franck Le Tendre from Dropbox (left to right below, Matt far right). The discussion ranged fairly widely about innovation in the construction industry and barriers to technology adoption.

Soapbox Talks

As usual we closed with a number of short talks on a diverse range of topics.

Mahsa Chandry from Colonel Duck Productions presented the results from a recent Health and Safety Attitudes survey. One significant and slightly worrying figure was that only 18% of respondents that had been through a Health & Safety Induction found it to be an engaging experience. This is something Colonel Duck are trying to address with their Pre Enrolement solution.

Stuart Cadge from GeoSLAM described the most recent member of the GeoSLAM family, the ZEB-HORIXON, a mobile hand-held laser scanner. He also very helpfully explained that SLAM stands for Simultaneous Localisation and Mapping - something which had clearly escaped most of the audience.

Darren Evans from AEC talked about asbestos and Legionella safety training. He pointed out that the UK leads Europe in construction safety, but not in construction health. AEC has a "Hazard House" in Manchester to train people in the risks and has developed VR tools to allow them to take this on the road.

Konstantin Novoselov from Panono described (and demonstrated) this 360 degree camera which has the highest resolution on the market:108MP / 16k. It has potential applications in various industries but the relatively low cost and high resolution presents interesting possibilities for construction.

Other Items

Digital Contracts

In collaboration with Sarah Fox (@500wordlawyer) COMIT will be running a working group next year to develop and trial a framework for using Digital Contracts in Construction. If you would like to know more or perhaps get involved then contact us via the website.

Tideway / Technology Portal / Site Safety

A year or so ago COMIT carried out some research sponsored by Thames Tideway into the use of mobile technology on construction sites. The aim was to develop a health & safety framework to allow mobile devices to be risk-assessed and managed in the same way as any other tools. Next year COMIT will be building on this to create a Safe Site Technology Portal. Again, contact us if you want to learn more or get involved.

The details for next year's Community Days are:

  • 14 March - hosted by SCISYS in Chippenham

  • 12 & 13 June - Community Day & Conference, hosted by Bentley in London

  • 19 September - hosted by O2 (venue to be confirmed)

  • 5 December - TBC. If you would like to host this Community Day then contact us!

As usual photographs from the Community Day and the presentations are available on our website.

Merry Xmas from everyone at COMIT

Many thanks again to Dropbox for hosting this Community Day and to all of our delegates and presenters. COMIT holds four Community Days a year which are free to attend for COMIT members. If you work in construction or construction related technology and think your organisation would benefit from membership then please contact us.

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