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Centre for Digital Built Britain

 

Digital Construction on a Shoestring aims to break down barriers to the practical deployment of digital solutions within construction to include: 

  • supply chain – (manufacturers, architects, building contractors) organisations which are often SMEs
  • off-site – the Shoestring team has experience working with Laing O’Rourke, a pioneer of off-site production processes, as well as other off-site constructors. Off-site construction spaces lend themselves to Shoestring solutions which can add ‘value around the edges’ of the core production operations
  • onsite – onsite construction often includes organisations working on developments that could be helped by Shoestring solutions.

Shoestring for Construction workshops have been run all over the UK and are designed to identify and prioritise the participating organisations’ areas of need that require a digital solution. Data from the workshops are taken and compiled to create a Construction Top 10 priority list across suppliers, off-site and onsite companies. A number of systemised pathways for developing digital solutions are formed. Solutions are interoperable enabling technologies and tools to work together to optimise benefits.

The Shoestring team have used these workshops to build a catalogue of potential digital solutions in the construction space, often comprising simple commercial ‘off the shelf’ technologies, of which some are being co-developed as demonstrators enabling the organisations to see solutions up and running and working. 

Method

Digital Construction on a Shoestring follows the Shoestring Approach that emerged from Digital Manufacturing on a Shoestring, a University of Cambridge Institute for Manufacturing project that helps SME manufacturers to benefit from digitalisation without excessive cost or risk, and with limited requirements for digital skills. Shoestring does not set out to deliver a comprehensive digital transformation but rather provides a collaborative approach for SMEs to develop and increase their digital capabilities.

Next Steps

The project is organised in three phases. Phase one identified requirements and scoped demonstrators as part of a number of Digital Construction on a Shoestring requirements workshops.  These workshops – to identify the needs for construction, form the team and launch the project – were held in 2020. Phase two, which has just started, extends requirements capture specifically to the onsite construction domain and is identifying and building demonstrators and planning outreach work to showcase demonstrators and how to build solutions. Phase three will pull all the solutions together to formalise the design approach and create a prototype software environment for semi-automated digital solution design. The proposed Shoestring foundation (hub) will be expanded to support construction solutions, share knowledge, experience and resources.  

Outcomes

The main aim of the project is to increase awareness among SME construction organisations as to what can be achieved simply and cheaply to provide digital solutions to their problems. Following co-development of demonstrators, the participating organisations are empowered and equipped to build their own digital solutions. Most of the solutions developed are helping someone in a construction organisation to do something – but better. Shoestring participants are happy to share experiences and benefits.  

In the longer term, Shoestring plans to review all the solutions to formalise the design approach and create a prototype software environment for semi-automated digital solution design – a ‘Shoestring Ikea’. It is intended also that the Shoestring foundation (hub) will be expanded to support construction solutions, share knowledge, experience and resources.  

Find out more

Find out more about this project in this RESEARCH PROFILE.

People

Professor Duncan McFarlane

Liz Salter

Dr Gokcen Yilmaz

Dr Greg Hawkridge

Jan Kaiser

Project Status

Current Project

 

Publications