2021 construction output suspected to be 6.4% lower than pre-Covid growth rates

PBC Today | August 05, 2020

Despite the government putting industry at the centre of its recovery plans, the full impact of Covid-19 is expected to spell uncertainty for the construction industry. According to the Construction Products Association’s (CPA) latest forecasting, changes to the UK economy brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic, and uncertainty around consumer confidence and unemployment rates, could prove significant to construction industry activity returning to pre-Covid growth rates. Although activity on-site returned quicker than initially expected post-lockdown, the CPA Summer Scenarios still anticipates construction output in 2020 to fall by 20.6%. The worst affected sectors include private housing (-33%) and commercial (-29%). The report suggests that returns to construction sites from mid-May were largely to drive completions on existing projects and refurbishments that couldn’t take place during the restrictions. However, uncertainty remains around long-term demand and future orders given the state of the wider economy.

Spotlight

In 1991, Lutron® identified the need for a completely retrofit light control system (LCS). The retrofit requirement drove the communications to be RF-based. Lutron knew that light control in a home or business was operationally essential, therefore ultimate reliability was vital. These systems can never stop working; in fact, they can’t even tolerate latency issues. The required performance standard for a light control system is much higher than for many other systems. The company began analyzing the needs in the global marketplace, investigating possible communication topologies, observing and predicting changes and trends in RF technology and usage, and working through the various frequency bands and their regulatory requirements.

Spotlight

In 1991, Lutron® identified the need for a completely retrofit light control system (LCS). The retrofit requirement drove the communications to be RF-based. Lutron knew that light control in a home or business was operationally essential, therefore ultimate reliability was vital. These systems can never stop working; in fact, they can’t even tolerate latency issues. The required performance standard for a light control system is much higher than for many other systems. The company began analyzing the needs in the global marketplace, investigating possible communication topologies, observing and predicting changes and trends in RF technology and usage, and working through the various frequency bands and their regulatory requirements.

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ENGINEERING TECH

Tekfen Partners with Petra to Bring New Hard Rock Undergrounding Technology to Its EMEA Operations

Tekfen | June 21, 2022

Tekfen Holding A.S., a leading conglomerate in the engineering, contracting and agriculture industries, announced a partnership and investment in Petra, the first undergrounding company using autonomous systems to bury critical utilities with robots capable of boring the hardest geologies in the world. Tekfen Construction, the flagship company of Tekfen Holding, is renowned for the construction of large-scale projects—ranging from pipelines, power plants, industrial facilities, highways, railways, oil and gas terminals, tank farms, marine oil platforms, pumping and compressor stations, stadiums and high-rise buildings. Tekfen will implement Petra’s unique undergrounding technology into future construction, as well as grow their utility infrastructure business offerings. Together, they will utilize Petra’s technology in extreme environments where Tekfen Construction operates—European mountains, Middle Eastern deserts, and deep below existing urban infrastructure across EMEA—as well as explore new frontiers where Petra now makes undergrounding projects possible. Petra’s undergrounding technology bores utility-sized tunnels through previously impenetrable geologies, making new projects possible in extreme environments. Petra provides engineers, contractors, and owners peace of mind by arming them with an undergrounding tool that successfully tackles nightmare geologies and changing ground conditions. Petra’s undergrounding machinery is equipped with remote operability, increasing safety measures on the job site. In phase one of the partnership, Petra and Tekfen Construction will complete a 100-foot pilot tunnel in North American hard rock geologies that are substantially similar to Tekfen Construction’s traditional service area. Tekfen Construction will provide Petra with specifications of their typical pipeline projects and help inform Petra’s development of a trenchless method that can bore through mixed conditions, both hard rock and softer soils. The partnership will focus on developing projects which uniquely showcase the benefits and capabilities of the Petra technology, specifically focusing on opportunities in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and CIS countries. Petra’s one-of-a-kind tunnel boring technology will bring multiple benefits for the Company. Time is always a principal component of our responsibilities towards our clients in the projects we undertake. Difficult geographical and geological conditions are critical factors that affect our projects most adversely by interrupting project timelines, thus seriously affecting our costs. Petra will considerably shorten our drilling timelines. In addition to benefiting our future projects we are also excited to collaborate with the company to leverage Petra’s unique competitive advantage to pave the way towards new segments of the business.” Mustafa Kopuz, President of Tekfen Construction Petra created the first non-contact, thermal-drilling robot that can uniquely bore trenchless utility installations less than 72 inches in diameter through hard rocks. This makes it possible for Petra to bore utility tunnels through previously impenetrable geologies. Petra’s customers can rapidly bury critical utilities for a fraction of the cost of legacy techniques. Conventional microtunneling machines are purpose-built for a single diameter. By contrast, Petra is capable of boring a range of diameters between 18-72 inches, dramatically reducing the costs of tunneling and is designed to minimize downtime. The boring unit can be completely reversed, through the carrier pipe, to the inlet at any time during the operation, enabling system maintenance and cutterhead rescue. “The world needs new undergrounding tools that are smart enough to handle changing ground conditions at various diameters through a variety of geologies,” said Petra CEO Kim Abrams. “Partnering with Tekfen Holding on some of the largest utility projects around the world will ensure communities have access to quality infrastructure that can be delivered economically to more places throughout the world.” “Tekfen Construction’s success requires staying ahead of construction innovation—both in technology and new project opportunities—and Petra represents a novel way to innovate in both domains,” said Sinan Uzan, Tekfen Ventures’ President. “With more infrastructure safely underground, we can now envision new uses for the reclaimed above-ground land, including preserving biodiversity along with rights of way. Petra’s non-contact technology promises to lead the next wave of innovation for infrastructure construction at Tekfen and beyond. This kind of direct investment in a complementary US-based technology that is scalable worldwide represents a new path for the investment arm and we look forward to what’s possible working together.” About Petra Petra is the first robotics company solely focused on undergrounding utilities. Petra is solving one of the biggest problems in utility infrastructure today: how to inexpensively underground utilities and enable trenchless installations in the most difficult geologies on earth. Petra changes the economics of undergrounding to make it more accessible for all communities. Underground your utilities with Petra to affordably safeguard your critical infrastructure. Tekfen Holding Tekfen Holding is a publicly traded industrial conglomerate based in Istanbul, Turkey. The company conducts its operations in multiple countries with a workforce of 18000 employees through thirty-nine companies and thirteen subsidiaries, each of which is a leading name in its respective industries. The company’s five main areas are: Engineering and Contracting, Chemical Industry, Agricultural Production, Services and Investment. Tekfen Holding’s shares are traded on the Borsa İstanbul and are quoted in that exchange’s BIST 30 Index.

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ENGINEERING TECH

Oceaneering to Team with Collins Aerospace, ILC Dover on NASA’s Next-Generation Spacesuit Program

Oceaneering Space Systems | June 13, 2022

Oceaneering International announces that Oceaneering Space Systems (OSS), a division of the Aerospace and Defense Technologies segment, will serve on a team led by Collins Aerospace (Collins), a Raytheon Technologies business selected by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to develop next-generation extravehicular spacesuits. NASA is enlisting commercial partners to develop, build, and maintain new spacesuit technology. The Collins team, which also includes ILC Dover, has decades of experience supplying spacesuits to NASA. Collins is one of two companies that received access to a NASA contract for Extravehicular Activity Services (“xEVAS”) worth up to $3.5 billion over 12 years to supply spacesuits for future missions. Next-generation spacesuits require new technologies for missions targeted to begin as early as 2025 through 2034. These new suits are expected to allow astronauts to work outside the International Space Station, explore the lunar surface on Artemis missions, and prepare for human missions to Mars. Additionally, the suits are expected to accommodate nearly every astronaut body type, provide added flexibility to allow for increased mission times, and be adaptable to evolving technology enhancements as required. “These suits will provide a better fit and comfort for the astronauts, increasing their mobility to safely operate on the surface of the moon,” said Carl Walz, former NASA astronaut and longtime Director of Business Development for OSS. We are thrilled to work alongside teammates Collins and ILC Dover on this xEVAS contract to deliver the most capable spacesuit systems possible to get NASA astronauts to the moon and beyond. This award builds upon Oceaneering’s longstanding relationships with Collins, ILC Dover and NASA and its experience in prior spacesuit programs. Oceaneering has proudly enabled successful space missions for NASA alongside our industry partners for over 40 years, delivering thousands of products and mission support for the Space Shuttle, the International Space Station, and its international partners’ extravehicular activity.” Rod Larson, President and Chief Executive Officer About Oceaneering Space Systems Oceaneering Space Systems is a leader in specialized engineering for harsh environments from sea to space. We complete turnkey design, development, manufacturing, certification, maintenance, testing and sustaining engineering for space-based robotics and automation, satellite servicing tools and equipment, human space flight systems and thermal protection systems. Our diverse engineering experience and precision manufacturing capabilities enable us to deliver product quality and mission assurance while maintaining an uncompromised focus on safety. Oceaneering is a global technology company delivering engineered services and products and robotic solutions to the offshore energy, defense, aerospace, manufacturing and entertainment industries.

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ROBOTICS AND AUTOMATION,CONSTRUCTION

SafeAI and Obayashi Operate Autonomous Vehicle on a Construction Site in Japan

SafeAI | July 25, 2022

SafeAI, a global leader in autonomous solutions for heavy equipment, in partnership with Obayashi Corporation hosted nearly 150 visitors to view its retrofitted autonomous Caterpillar 725, operating on a construction site in Japan for the first time ever. The demos, which took place over a two week period, brought together delegates from nearly 50 organizations across the construction industry ecosystem, including leading OEM, general contractors, technology companies, universities and research groups and Japanese government entities responsible for regulation. In addition to winning buy-in from key stakeholders, the demos mark a critical first step toward securing approval from the government and industry organizations to bring autonomous construction to Japan. Prior to the public demo, SafeAI and Obayashi spent 6 weeks extensively testing in a Japanese environment to confirm all the features previously developed in the US-based proof of concept (POC), which was completed in California in November 2021. Japanese regulations were not originally designed to support the use of autonomous vehicles for off-road construction. Yet, this technology is poised to unlock smarter, safer, more sustainable and productive construction sites. Self-driving assets enable companies to add thousands of hours of productivity annually, completing major projects 20% faster and at 25% lower cost—empowering the industry to overcome chronic deadline, budget and safety issues. “At SafeAI, we’re committed to making heavy industry safer and more productive for companies around the world. In partnership with Obayashi, and through the joint demonstration of an autonomous construction vehicle in Japan, we are making major strides towards achieving that goal, From here, we are focused on securing autonomous vehicle buy-in from the government/industry organizations and executing a ramp up plan for the construction industry that starts in Japan and expands globally from there.” -Bibhrajit Halder, founder and CEO of SafeAI. Following the successful completion of ground breaking demos, SafeAI will continue to work with the government and industry consortium groups to review findings and evaluate regulatory changes around autonomous construction. We firmly believe the future of the construction industry is dependent on off-road autonomy and we’re committed to bringing this technology to Japan where it will have a massive impact on safety, sustainability, and productivity by partnering with SafeAI, said Mr. Shinya Sugiura at Obayashi. The Japanese construction market poses a great opportunity for autonomous technology and the recent demos that were conducted in Japan not only confirm the functionality of the system we built, but have showcased the global viability and impact of autonomous construction projects. Obayashi is a recipient of the special award in pioneering activity category of the 5th JAPAN Construction International Award sponsored by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT), which cements the company as a leader in the Japanese construction industry and recognizes SafeAI’s joint development of this cutting edge system. SafeAI’s autonomous solution is powered by industry-specific AI technology and utilizes onboard processing power to enable real-time decision making. From using the latest multimodal sensors (LiDAR, radar, camera) to detect surroundings, to perception-based localization with GNSS, SafeAI leverages the most advanced technologies on the market to bring more effective, efficient and scalable autonomy to heavy industry. Additionally, the company uses a retrofit model to empower companies to upgrade existing equipment, regardless of manufacturer or vehicle type, instead of limiting companies to purchasing new, manufacturer-built autonomous vehicles, which is costly and more difficult to scale. About SafeAI- SafeAI is a global autonomous solutions provider for heavy equipment leaders focused on advancing modern industry. SafeAI retrofits heavy equipment for autonomous applications in mining and construction to serve a massive ecosystem of industry players with complex needs. By building a software platform with the most advanced, industry-specific AI, SafeAI enables equipment owners to transform existing machines into self-operating robotic assets. SafeAI is based in Santa Clara, CA. About Obayashi- Obayashi Corporation has delivered solutions to infrastructure challenges across the globe. Founded in 1892, Obayashi has provided a full range of general contractor services in both public and private works such as Tokyo Central Station, Kansai International Airport, TOKYO SKYTREE, Dubai Metro project, Jewel Changi Airport, and Hoover Dam Bypass Bridge. Other services include R&D, design, urban development, maintenance, and renewable energy.

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