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HK construction firms use tech and innovation to build better

According to a recent report, in a simulated scenario to obtain data on how to design the perfect high-speed train, users can experience find themselves, through virtual reality, aboard a high-speed train travelling at 300km/h.

These virtual passengers bump along through the green suburbs of London as they hear the wind whistling by.

This experience is enabled by a set of virtual reality (VR) goggles inside the Greater China headquarters of global engineering and consulting firm in Kowloon Tong.

The VR train services are modelled on a design the firm created for the British government, which will be used for a consultation with the public and stakeholders on the country’s first domestic high-speed rail link, between Birmingham and London.

Companies in traditional industries such as engineering and construction are striving to innovate and add technological elements to work processes to save costs and boost efficiency.

The VR element in its consulting projects is only part of the technological push the firm is pursuing, according to the firm’s Greater China managing director.

The company played an active role in designing and planning parts of big Hong Kong projects such as Two IFC, International Commerce Centre, Stonecutters Bridge, the midfield concourse development at Hong Kong International Airport, Kowloon East smart city, the local section of the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link and the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge.

According to the managing director, engineering is a traditional industry that has come under the disruption of technology; engineers also need to transform themselves by combining their traditional skills with digital elements.

Recently, dozens of younger staff without engineering training joined the firm’s almost 1,000-strong workforce at its Hong Kong office, a move the MD stated was crucial for bringing in new skills.

He noted that the purpose is to have the newcomers, who are mostly computer programmers, bouncing off their ideas with the firm’s engineers, adding that it is possible for every idea, concept and even dream to come true.

However, he added, it was not easy to find the right talent in the city as the IT ecosystem was still developing.

The MD noted that jobs professions in medicine, law, finance and architecture are still more popular among academic achievers than setting up start-ups, noting that most of the programmers the firm recently hired came from across the border in mainland China.

For a labour-intensive industry such as construction, a Hong Kong industry leader developed and deployed technologies to shorten work time, minimise casualties and boost productivity.

The company’s head of innovation said the company set up a unit last year which distributed innovations from international start-ups and academia and commercialised technologies developed and tested internally.

He noted that it is stretching the limits of human capability by making use of the latest advances in robotics and automation. The construction technologies the firm has embraced are making its projects more efficient and the lives of its workers less strenuous and safer.

A case in point is a device for jackhammers developed in partnership with Hong Kong Polytechnic University, which does not require electricity and cost much less than similar ones in the market. The device, which is put on the jackhammer, reduces vibrations by 90 per cent and increases the power to break concrete by 30 per cent.

Another example is the use of temperature sensors to test the strength of concrete.

The sensors work in real-time. That is, workers can proceed to the next stage of a job without having to wait for laboratory results on the strength of recently poured concrete. Nevertheless, to ensure quality, the concrete will be tested in a lab.

It was noted that, earlier, it took an average of five days per floor to complete concrete work. This meant 150 days for a 30-storey building. The smart device has reduced this time by 20 per cent – 30 work days.

A professor from the department of industrial and systems engineering of Polytechnic University said industries should aim for automation. He notes that Hong Kong has space expand in automation, adding that automation will significantly reduce spending on manpower and in some routine or straightforward tasks.

However, whether the manpower released could be redeployed would depend on factors such as whether the workers in question could be retrained and companies had sufficient opportunities, he said.

It was noted that in order for automation to have a make a significant effect on the industry, Hong Kong players need have a paradigm shift in mentality.

He added that a Hong Kong industry leader has designed its own AI-powered software to process and analyse a large amount of data, which helped automate weekly safety reports and intelligent risk assessments.

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Qlik’s vision is a data-literate world, where everyone can use data and analytics to improve decision-making and solve their most challenging problems. A private company, Qlik offers real-time data integration and analytics solutions, powered by Qlik Cloud, to close the gaps between data, insights and action. By transforming data into Active Intelligence, businesses can drive better decisions, improve revenue and profitability, and optimize customer relationships. Qlik serves more than 38,000 active customers in over 100 countries.

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As a Titanium Black Partner of Dell Technologies, CTC Global Singapore boasts unparalleled access to resources.

Established in 1972, we bring 52 years of experience to the table, solidifying our position as a leading IT solutions provider in Singapore. With over 300 qualified IT professionals, we are dedicated to delivering integrated solutions that empower your organization in key areas such as Automation & AI, Cyber Security, App Modernization & Data Analytics, Enterprise Cloud Infrastructure, Workplace Modernization and Professional Services.

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IBM is a leading global hybrid cloud and AI, and business services provider. We help clients in more than 175 countries capitalize on insights from their data, streamline business processes, reduce costs and gain the competitive edge in their industries. Nearly 3,000 government and corporate entities in critical infrastructure areas such as financial services, telecommunications and healthcare rely on IBM’s hybrid cloud platform and Red Hat OpenShift to affect their digital transformations quickly, efficiently and securely. IBM’s breakthrough innovations in AI, quantum computing, industry-specific cloud solutions and business services deliver open and flexible options to our clients. All of this is backed by IBM’s legendary commitment to trust, transparency, responsibility, inclusivity and service.