Construction Innovation News from the North
Many of you know Nokia and Rovio, the creator of Angry Birds. Are you aware that Finland also has innovative companies in the construction industry?
A one-hour roof
Two Finnish companies, Koskisen Oy and Brand Building Oy, have developed a patent-pending roofing system (Vetokatto) that takes under an hour to install.
The roof is prefabricated and delivered to the construction site as a tight, accordion-like package. After lifting the package onto the building, the installation team draws the “accordion” open, and the roof structure is complete.
The package contains the gables, roof trusses, battening, and underlay. The roof covering must be installed separately.
The developers emphasize that the innovation allows quick protection from weather during a home’s construction. It also improves site safety since the installation is performed using a mobile crane.
Energy-efficient window with integrated ventilation unit
Skaala is a Finnish window manufacturer. They have been focusing on combining energy efficiency with good indoor air quality. As a result of a research collaboration with a local university, the company developed and patented Skaala Alfa cLean. This low-energy window contains an air ventilation and heat recovery unit. According to Skaala, the unit exchanges heat between the inbound and outbound airflow very efficiently.
The window looks like an ordinary window, and it is easy to install. The unit works independently, and it does not require expensive, space-consuming ventilation piping. You can also control the ventilation manually from the panel installed on the frame or by using an online application developed by Epec (download their paper).
Image source: Skaala manual (in Finnish)
Durable construction site lights
El & Site, a startup from Helsinki, provides construction site lights that can take rough handling. Timo Lindberg, an electrical contractor, wondered if there was a way to replace easy-to-break fluorescent-tube site lights with something more durable. Together with a team of LED specialists, he developed MBerg® LED work lights. The company’s promo video shows that MBerg® lights can survive a drop from 15 meters.
MBerg® LED lights are configurable, “white-label” products. The company can customize colors, voltages, sockets, plugs, cables, and more. Customers can also have their own logos displayed on the lights’ covers.
Swedish regulations require that temporary site lights provide safety lighting when power is cut off. To meet this requirement, the company developed a smart, integrated power unit that operates on lithium batteries. Their specialty is a film that surrounds the batteries. It provides heat to keep the batteries chargeable, even in extremely low temperatures (source: Rakennuslehti).
Photo: EL & Site Ltd
3D-printing technology that makes multi-layer walls
I already wrote about Fimatec, a Finnish startup. It has the first 3D printer in the world that produces exterior and interior walls, insulation, and reinforcement all at the same time.
Fimatec has already tried, with some success, to print wooden walls. In addition, it has tested installing electrical wiring between concrete cladding and insulation. In a video interview for Helsingin Sanomat newspaper, CEO Arto Koivuharju shows a sandwich concrete element that took three minutes to print. It has a decorative pattern on the surface and has insulation and steel reinforcement. The printer can perform ten operations simultaneously.
Fimatec’s new 3D printer is not based on existing technology. It combines 3D printing and robotics. We’ll learn more about its features as the company’s patents become available.
A device that monitors almost anything
The Thingsee One IoT multitool provides remote monitoring and data collection. With Thingsee One, you can measure environmental data such as temperature, humidity, and air pressure. The sensor notifies you about vibrations or impacts. It can send live data about location and speed or it can trigger actions using geo fences.
You don’t have to be a programmer to use Thingsee One. You can set up the device to do a number of tasks with Thingsee Creator. You can send data to the Thingsee cloud dashboard or log on to the device and have SMS messages sent to you when important events take place.
There are many potential uses for Thingsee One in construction, including the following:
- Monitor the humidity level of cast concrete
- Receive alerts when construction vehicles and expensive equipment exit a construction site
- Monitor temperature
- Monitor the altitude of products or equipment on high-rise projects
- Receive impact alerts for sensitive building parts before installation
- Track the location of goods or vehicles to help with logistics planning and control
In the example below, using Thingsee Creator, I defined the perimeter of a construction site and asked the device to send me an alert if a certain vehicle left the site.