Howick Director Hamish Coubray told Built Offsite the company currently has a FRAMA 3200 automated steel framing machine set up at the Autodesk Build Space in Boston, US. The Howick machine is housed in the facility full time for special projects and industry partners to use to develop and test new technology.
Autodesk Build Space is a facility for innovation in the building industry, housing leading researchers, students, and practitioners, as well as educational and community programs. Its remit is to explore and advance the ways in which emerging technologies such as robotics and additive manufacturing (3D Printing) can contribute to innovation in the architecture, infrastructure, engineering, and construction industries, from design to delivery, fabrication, and construction processes.
The Howick and Autodesk partnership started in early 2017, and came about through our work with software partner Strucsoft and a mutual desire to see development of the automation of design and manufacture in construction, building on the adoption of BIM in most world markets in which Autodesk is a major player,” said Coubray. “We got involved in the early stages of Autodesk setting up their Build Space in Boston, which is the perfect tie-in, as the aim of the facility is to highlight the process of going from the digital design space to the physical production of components.”
The partnership was also pertinent to Howick’s plans to expand its market presence within Australia, he said.
“This will definitely play a role in our Australian market plan, as these processes and adoption of BIM are growing and being taken up well in the Australian market, especially in the modular and prefab space,” he said. “We are hoping to see a rapid uptake of this technology in Australasian markets as has happened in the last few years in the established UK, European and USA markets.”
A recent collaborative event located at Build Space and driven by Howick typifies the potential synergies flowing from such partnerships. Taking place on 7 June, The Howick Industry Education Event, titled ‘Framing Automation’, explored automated digital design-to-fabrication workflows in the context of the Howick automated framing machine.
The aim of the event was to show the complete process from design through to manufacturing and installation of a project. It featured presentations, a panel discussion and equipment demonstration, showing “the state of the art in automated light-gauge steel framing technology”, the value proposition for the adoption of such technologies, and speculating on the near-term future of automated computation design-to-automated framing production. ■