Birmingham City University ‘manufacturing’ innovation with Excelsior Panelling Systems
Academics at Birmingham City University have formed a collaborative initiative with Dudley-based Excelsior Panelling Systems after securing a Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) bid from Innovate UK.
This two-year project seeks to infuse existing production methods of vanity units, toilet cubicles and integrated panelling systems (IPS) by digitising the manufacturing modus operandi, namely though Building Information Modelling (BIM).
Digitisation is set to revolutionise the construction sector given the UK government’s mandate for implementing technologies such as BIM on all their projects. The benefits of using such technologies are countless but include: optimisation of construction costs and time savings on the building’s scheduled programme, elimination of building design errors, improved collaboration between all project stakeholders and a reduction of contractual disputes.
Although the majority of industry practitioners, including architects, designers, engineers and construction contractors have predominantly focused upon using advanced digital technologies during the design and construction phases of a building’s development, there has been a lack of extension in to the construction supply chain.
Therefore, digital design and construction experts Professor David Edwards and Erika Pärn in Birmingham City University’s School of the Built Environment have teamed up with Excelsior to streamline the digitalisation of the construction sector’s supply chain.
Research findings from the collaboration will be disseminated into the University’s curriculum, ensuring that its teaching is informed by both industry practice and research innovation. In addition, project findings that can be applied to better inform construction supply chain SMEs will also be published in peer reviewed scientific journals and shared with practitioners via industry white papers.
Richard Gallagher, Operations Director of Excelsior, said:
“This is a very exciting development for Excelsior. We are enjoying our 40th anniversary year and the KTP is timed perfectly to set us up for the next 40 years. This collaboration will allow us to learn, share and progress within the construction world and lead the way in washrooms for years to come.”
Excelsior’s vision is to become the leading construction supply chain manufacturer of washroom products by strategically integrating digital design technologies to innovate the product life cycle – from design and manufacture, to facilities management during building occupancy.
Steve Sanders, Contracts Manager, Excelsior, said:
“This is our first involvement in a KTP programme and our experience to date has been excellent. From initial contact with Birmingham City University right through to the planning, candidate interview, selection and placement, it has proved to be a seamless flow and a true development of the partnership side of the KTP. We are excited as to what the future holds as we see the Knowledge Transfer start to embed itself within our company.”
Research Fellow Dr Yahya Al-Saeed has recently been appointed KTP Associate for the project and will now lead Excelsior to help revolutionise design and manufacturing processes within the construction supply chain industry by embedding geometric (3D design data) and rich semantic data (specifications) into their ‘downstream’ manufacturing processes – from product conception to installation on site – using BIM.
Dr Yahya Al-Saeed, KTP Associate, said:
“KTP is a great opportunity to transfer knowledge from academia to the industry and vice versa. This project offers a great opportunity for researchers to test innovative solutions in practice. I have thus far gained many new insights into manufacturing procedures in the construction supply chain and the current challenges. The aim of the project is to improve Excelsior’s performance through the implementation of BIM.”
Cumulatively, Dr Al-Saeed will act as an active member of the company team and will be challenged to both absorb and transfer new knowledge to colleagues within the company and University.
Birmingham City University’s Knowledge Base Supervisor Erika Pärn, said:
“This is an exciting opportunity for both the University and the company to converge new ideas and processes to innovate in the construction supply chain sector. We hope this project will uncover new insights into the ways in which construction suppliers can better streamline the information requirements of BIM implementation and help improve existing manufacturing and installation processes in return.”