Clearly there are cost, time and sustainability benefits from prefabricating houses. But they can also be made smarter by employing cutting-edge fifth generation (5G) wireless technologies. Wireless electronic equipment can be installed on the go, turning an ordinary prefabricated house into a smart house. Specifically, wireless sensors can be installed at hidden spots in the house to measure temperatures, humidity, and sunlight. A central computer, which runs on solar power, can be set up to process data fed-back from sensors to, for example switch on/off air conditioning systems or lower/raise curtains/blinds.
With the rise of smart prefabrication and the involvement of 5G and advanced technologies, what is the role of the QS? Quantity surveyors will be required to understand these technologies and their implications for cost estimation and should understand that the initial cost of the 5G and advanced technologies will be high. However, their operational cost and long-term benefits should also be understood by the QS.
Quantity surveyors will be required to understand these technologies and their implications for cost estimation and should understand that the initial cost of the 5G and advanced technologies will be high. However, their operational cost and long-term benefits should also be understood by the QS.
Life-cycle analyses should thus be conducted and compared with the traditional approach. This will assist quantity surveyors to promote the technologies for a project’s clients.
And there are many reasons to promote implementation of 5G. It enhances the life-cycle performance of buildings, acting as an aid for managers to improve their decision making processes and helping reduce costs and greenhouse-gas emissions.
In addition, once sufficient data are collected, employing neural networks and data training, prediction can also be performed to inform building occupants of severe weather conditions or unstable conditions.
The exact location of prefabricated houses can also be pinpointed using satellite links, which offer engineers remote-building, and remote-supervising prefabrication processes. The investment costs or purchase costs of innovative technologies are typically high; how can the industry gain by providing such high initial investments?If all relevant costs are considered, including initial costs, planning costs, operation costs, maintenance costs, demolition costs, this will constitute a life-cycle perspective using a cradle-to-cradle principle.
Technologies can thus significantly lower the life-cycle costs compared with traditional approaches. It’s also worth noting that the costs of implementing new advanced technologies have gradually come down, meaning smart quantity surveying for prefabricated houses looks increasingly likely to become a reality.
It is critical that quantity surveyors be educated in knowledge of and costings for these advanced technologies. Without the hand-in-hand support from the QS, smart prefabrication growth for the construction industry will be hindered. ■
Professor Tam and Dr Khoa are currently undertaking research on sustainable construction using advanced simulation and optimisation techniques, focusing on lifecycle analyses, green building and recycled concrete.
Professor Vivian W.Y. Tam – Associate Dean (International), School of Computing, Engineering and Mathematics, Western Sydney University.
Dr Khoa N. Le – Senior Lecturer, School of Computing, Engineering and Mathematics, Western Sydney University.
Grant Warner – CEO, Australian Institute of Quantity Surveyors (AIQS).