Technology in the construction industry

I am glad you made it to  ConstructionWeb on Tuesday, November 28th, 2017. This is a special Tuesday for us and probably you who is reading this, We are introducing a new segment on the website. The segment dubbed Tech Tuesday will zero in on technology in the construction industry,  Tech applied from conception, implementation and finally to demolition. 

We will focus on tools reviews and giveaway some on our social media channels. 

In today’s technology-driven world, it should come as no surprise that many of the biggest 2017 construction trends revolve around new technologies that improve and enhance the building design and construction process. To stay ahead of the curve we will post blogs on technology every Tuesday or what we like to call Tech Tuesday. 

New technologies are constantly changing the construction landscape. Drones now make it possible to survey and map a site with ease and at a lower cost. Smartphones and tablets make on-the-go communication a breeze. Digital blueprint apps and other software make it possible to map out a project ahead of time like never before. 

This article is all about the most significant changes in construction by examining technological trends and how they affect the entire construction sector. These trends fall into four major areas:

construction-related design

construction equipment and methods

automation and expert systems

construction management.

Here are the most innovative technologies  transforming the construction industry

COMPUTER AIDED DESIGN 

Nobody can narrate the success story of CAD more than an architect who was in the industry before the software and after the software. Manual drafting of technical drawings has been replaced with the use of computer systems to create, modify, optimize and analyze designs.

The CAD system looks at possible issues that may arise, to help reduce errors, and can help to reduce errors, which means less time spend off-schedule and a reduced risk of going off-budget. 

More focus on CAD in the subsequent Tech Tuesday articles

CONSTRUCTION EQUIPMENT 

The only surefire way to protect drivers from being hurt or killed in an accident is to remove them from the equation. Today, operators may be closer to changing their job title to ‘remote control pilot’ than you think.

Royal Truck & Equipment builds driverless trucks that are being used at highway construction sites in FloridaCat® Command can automate hauling, dozing and drillingVolvo Construction Equipment is experimenting with autonomous technology in its L120 wheel loader and A25F articulated hauler. 

Videos of such will be uploaded every Tuesday meanwhile check out The Fire Fighting Robots

AUTOMATION AND EXPERT SYSTEMS

Technologies such as laser range-finding and geodetic positioning can be used to pinpoint exact locations, to automate storage areas on the job site, and to set guide tracks for remotely operated vehicles. These technologies will gradually be integrated into a coherent system for the highly automated control of certain job site activities.

Automation in the construction sector is usually seen in terms of robotics, and the development and application of robotic systems in all industry sectors are relatively new.

CONSTRUCTION MANAGEMENT

Construction management software has changed a lot over the years, especially since the growth and development of the internet. New versions help not only to increase productivity, but also to track progress and organize the entire construction team. It can be used for billing and as a time clock as well. The process of planning, scheduling, and cost control is addressed through these interfaces. 

Well, that’s just the introductory session of our Tech Tuesday articles. For this and more similar articles be sure to check us out next Tuesday,

Other technologies, such as Building Information Management, prefabrication, big data and much more surprises to be featured in subsequent articles 

 

 

 

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DAMPNESS IN BUILDINGS

 

Structural dampness is the presence of unwanted moisture in the structure of a building, either the result of intrusion from outside or condensation from within the structure.

Causes of dampness in buildings

  1. Rain penetration
  2. Level of site
  3. Drain ability of soil
  4. climate condition
  5. Defective orientation of building
  6. Moisture entrapped during construction
  7. Defective construction e.g. joints

A wide range of instruments and techniques can be used to investigate the presence of moisture in building materials.

The competence and experience of the person undertaking the damp investigations is often of greater importance than the kit he or she carries.


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The Survey

It is essential when investigating the potential for rising dampness to eliminate other sources of water ingress. Care must be taken to eliminate other potential sources of moisture, especially condensation in the colder months, and it is, therefore, essential to ensure that a full investigation is always undertaken. If any other sources are identified then these must be first eliminated before a proper assessment of any rising dampness can be made as it can be very difficult to distinguish between two or more interfering sources of water ingress.

The following gives a guide to on‐site routine procedures for the survey:

Dampness in building materials can be harmful to the structural integrity of buildings. If not treated properly water ingress can damage bricks and mortar, causing cracks in masonry, spalling and chipping. 

Primary Internal Examination (Visible Signs):

  1. Fungal decay in skirting and/or other timbers.
  2. Peeling / blistering wallpaper, peeling / blistering paintwork.
  3. Efflorescence.
  4. Mould growth, staining.
  5. Damp/wet patches, water droplets, water runs.

Different types of dampness need different treatments. It is therefore important to find out exactly which type of dampness is affecting the building, as the wrong treatment can in some circumstances do more harm than good.

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Quality of Sand

Quality of sand is as much of importance as other materials for concrete.

There are some useful tests that can be done in the field for checking the quality of sand utilized for construction. The following tests may be performed to determine the characteristics of sand.

 

1. Organic impurities test – this test is conducted at the field, for every 20 units or part thereof.

2. Silt content test – this is also a field test and to be conducted for every 20 units.

3. Particle size distribution – this test can be conducted at site or in laboratory for every 40 units of sand.

4. Bulking of sand – this test is conducted at site for every 20 units of sand. Based on bulking of sand, suitable water cement ratio is calculated for concrete at site.

But to save on resources and time Field tests are the best and outlined below

FIELD TEST OF SAND:

1. Take a glass and add some water in it.

2. Add a few amount of sand in the glass. At that point, shake it vivaciously and permit it to settle. If there is clay present in the sand, an apparent layer will be formed at the top level of sand.

3. Mix the sand into sodium hydroxide or caustic soda solution to distinguish the presence of organic impurities. If organic impurities are present in the sand, the color of the solution will be turned into brown.

4. Now take a squeeze of sand and taste it. If it is salty that means salt is present in the sand.

5. Take little amount of sand in the hand, and then rub it against the fingers. If the fingers are recolored it means sand consists of some earthy materials.

6. The color of sand describes the cleanness of sand. The size and sharpness might be examined by touching and watching visually.

 7. The sand may be examined by mechanical analysis to know its fineness, durability, void ratio etc.
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TYPES OF COLUMNS

Hey, Thank you for making it back to Construction Web   Your number one site on building and construction.

Apparently, The featured image above the structural members is meant to be columns. I personally haven’t seen that type of column before. You probably have the same questions like I do but let us analyze this together.

What is the structural integrity of this types of a column?

Can the columns withstand horizontal forces and vertical forces like wind and floods?

Can the columns withstand all the structural failures?

  • The first is that the column might not be strong and tough enough to support the load, due to either its size, shape, or choice of material.
  • The second type of failure is from fatigue or corrosion, caused by instability in the structure’s geometry, design or material properties.
  • The third type of failure is from the use of defective materials. This type of failure is also unpredictable, since the material may have been improperly manufactured or damaged from prior use.
  • The fourth cause of failure is from lack of consideration of unexpected problems. This type of failure can be caused by events such as vandalism, sabotage, or natural disasters. For instance what if vandals hack the blocks which can be easily done because of the joints?

Also Read:  Why Buildings Collapse
      The State of the Real Estate

A column is a vertical structural member intended to transfer a compressive load. For example, a column might transfer loads from a ceiling, floor or roof slab or from a beam, to a floors or foundations.

Columns effective length should be greater than 3 times Its least lateral dimension.

Primarily, Columns carry  Axial Loads and therefore are designed for compression. Other loads from snow, wind or other horizontal forces can cause bending in the columns. Columns then need to be designed for Axial Load and Bending.

 

Columns can be classified into four types  

  1. Based on Shape
  2. Based on a type of reinforcement
  3. Based on type of loading
  4. Based on slenderness ratio

 

Based on shape   

Columns can be classified according to their cross-sectional shape. Common column shapes include:

  • Rectangular.
  • Square.
  • Circular.
  • Hexagonal
  • Octagonal.
  • Y-shaped column

    Standard gauge railway: Photo credits Nairobi News

In profile, they can be tapered, non-tapered, or ‘barrel’ shaped, their surface can be plain, fluted, twisted, paneled and so on.


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Based on the type of Reinforcement 


Reinforced concrete columns have an embedded steel mesh (known as reinforcement bars ) to provide reinforcement.

The design of reinforcement can be either spiral or tied.

  1. Spiral columns are cylindrical with a continuous helical bar wrapped around the column. This spiral provides support in the transverse direction.
  2. Tied columns have closed lateral ties spaced approximately uniformly across the column. The spacing of the ties is limited in that they must be close enough to prevent failure between them, and far enough apart that they do not interfere with the setting of the concrete.
  3. Composite Columns – When the longitudinal reinforcement is in the form of structural steel section or pipe with or without longitudinal bars, it is called as a composite column.

 



Based on type of loading

Here the columns are classified into three types

Axially loaded Column: –

When the line of action of the compressive force coincides with the center of gravity of the cross-section of the column, it is called axially loaded column.

Eccentrically loaded column (Uniaxial or Biaxial)

When the line of action of compressive force doesn’t coincide with the center of gravity of the cross-section of the column, it is called as the eccentrically loaded column.


Based On Slenderness Ratio 

The slenderness ratio is the effective length of a column in relation to the least radius of gyration of its cross-section. If this ratio is not sufficient then buckling can occur.

Column slenderness is used extensively for finding out the design load as well as in classifying various columns in short/intermediate/long.

Short Column:

If the ratio effective length of the column to the least lateral dimension is less than 12, the column is called as the short column. A short column fails by crushing (pure compression failure).

The length of the column is less than the critical buckling length. Mechanical failure would typically occur due to compression.

Long Column:

If the ratio effective length of the column to the least lateral dimension exceeds 12, it is called as long column. A long column fails by bending or buckling.

If Length of the column is greater than the critical buckling length. Mechanical failure would typically occur due to buckling.

INTERMEDIATE  COLUMN:
  • In between the long and short columns, and its behaviour is dominated by the strength limit of the material.

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Roofing Systems and solutions

I have been arguing with other builders and roof experts which roofing system is the most beautiful, They all have different opinions or rather tastes and preferences. This article is inspired by them!

Here is all you need to know about roofing systems and factors to consider when choosing the type of roofing, but before that

The roof is the covering on the uppermost part of a building or shelter which provides protection from animals and weather, notably rain or snow, but also heat, wind and sunlight. Roofing also denotes the framework that supports that covering.

Roof systems and materials generally are divided into

  1.  Low pitched roofs.
  2. High pitched roofs.

-Low pitched roofing includes water impermeable, or weatherproof, types of roof membranes installed on slopes less than or equal to  15°

-High pitched roofing includes water shedding types of roof coverings installed on slopes exceeding  15°

TYPES OF PITCHED ROOFS

Gabled roofing 

The roof slopes around a triangular extension of the end wall. This piece of wall is the gable. 
 
Hipped  Roofing
A  hipped roof, is a type of roof where all sides slope downwards to the walls, usually with a fairly gentle slope. Thus a hipped roof house has no gables or other vertical sides to the roof. 
A square hip roof is shaped like a pyramid.
Shed -ROOFING 
This simple roof has only one slope. It is commonly used on lean-to structures, such as additions. 
Mansard
A modified version of the pitched roof that creates a spacious living area in the roof space. a four-sided gambrel-style hip roof characterized by two slopes on each of its sides with the lower slope, punctured by dormer windows, at a steeper angle than the upper 

 

Low-pitched  roofing 
There are five types of low slope roof membranes or systems. 

  • Built-up roof (BUR) membranes
  • Metal panel roof systems for low-slope applications
  • Polymer-modified bitumen sheet membranes
  • Single-ply membranes
    • Thermoplastic membranes (e.g., PVC, TPO)
    • Thermoset membranes (e.g., EPDM)
  • Spray polyurethane foam-based (SPF) roof systems

Most low-pitched roof membranes have three principal components:

  • Weatherproofing layer or layers — the weatherproofing component is the most important element because it keeps water from entering a roof assembly.
  • Reinforcement — reinforcement adds strength, puncture resistance and dimensional stability to a membrane.
  • Surfacing — surfacing is the component that protects the weatherproofing and reinforcement from sunlight and weather. Some surfacings provide other benefits such as increased fire resistance, improved traffic and hail resistance, and increased solar reflectivity.

With some roof membranes, a component may perform more than one function.

High pitched 

There are divisions of high pitched roof coverings.

  • Asphalt shingles
  • Clay tile and concrete tile
  • Metal roof systems for steep-slope applications
  • Slate
  • Wood shakes and wood shingles
  • Synthetic

Steep-slope roof systems typically are composed of individual pieces or components installed in shingle fashion. Steep-slope roof assemblies typically consist of three primary parts:

  • Roof deck — a roof deck is the structural substrate and usually is a wood-based material such as plywood or oriented strand board (OSB).
  • Underlayment — underlayment provides temporary protection until a roof covering is installed and provides a secondary weatherproofing barrier. Sometimes underlayment is referred to as “felt” or “paper.”
  • Roof covering — the roof covering is the external water shedding material.
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WHY BUILDINGS COLLAPSE IN KENYA !

Greedy investors coupled up with the swelling population in urban towns give way to collapsing buildings.

I feel you are a bit confused, but here are my two cents on collapsing buildings in Kenya.

For the past few decades, Africans have been moving from rural areas into cities, seeking work and schooling so the continent’s urban population has skyrocketed. Nairobi is a prime example of that migration, with its population pushing upward and its boundaries pushing outward. Kisii, Nakuru, Kisumu, Mombasa and Eldoret depict the same global trend in high relief.

While such migration often mirrors economic advancement, it also presents socioeconomic and environmental challenges. Rapid urban growth strains existing infrastructure, as a result, the construction industry is greatly affected.

Investors pump in money in high-rise apartments to accommodate students and job seekers. This means developers are maximally using land as they seek to reap big from their investments.

Because of the high housing demand, contractors routinely flout building codes to either build more houses and earn quick cash or they quote so low in their Bill of quantities and end up building substandard houses.

So I thought we should zero in the main reasons why buildings are collapsing and how to address the issue.

The residential building that collapsed in Kware, Embakasi early this year, photo by Ouma wanzala

1. Weak Foundation 

The foundations of the building transfer the weight of the building to the ground, they are the footholds of buildings and therefore need to be strong enough to support the subsequent load. While ‘foundation’ is a general word, normally, every building has a number of individual foundations.  Most buildings have some kind of foundation structure directly below every major column, so as to transfer the column loads directly to the ground.

Adequate foundations are usually costly and depending on the strength of the soil and the expected load of the building, they can contribute up to half of the entire cost of the building. It is for this reason that contractors take shortcuts and build apartments on swampy areas.

Some developers, however, want to save money when building on weak grounds by cutting on concrete and reinforcements resulting in the collapse of buildings.

A six-storey building that collapsed in Huruma, Nairobi, on April 29 last year is a good example of this kind of negligence.

The building, which was put up next to a river, collapsed after a heavy downpour killing 51 occupants and injuring more than 100 people.

Although the building may have had a sound design and structure, the ground beneath it was incapable of carrying its load and it had to collapse.

It is evident that pre-construction surveys were not carried out, the soil mechanics was neglected!


2. Counterfeit Building Materials  

We all know Kenya is ranked among the largest markets for fake products in Africa, with the construction boom in Kenya it has created a huge market for building materials, and rogue traders are taking advantage of this demand to introduce fakes into the local market.

From non-certified steel to pipes and low-quality fittings, the market is now flooded with fake “cheap” products

Most of these materials are weak therefore unable to support a building.

While some contractors might be duped by counterfeiters with fake authentication certificates into buying substandard materials, some individuals use these goods knowingly to cut costs.

The products are mainly sourced from China, Dubai, Japan, Korea, Thailand and India. To be on the safe side insist on locally manufactured products.

By the way, KRA has unveiled a smart phone application which can be used to verify authentic products in the war against counterfeits. Advise your builders to embrace this technology to avoid being a victim of collapsed buildings.


3. Poor Structural Design 

There is an aspect of engineering known as Structural integrity and failure which deals with the ability of a structure to support a designed load without breaking and includes the study of past structural failures in order to prevent failures in future designs.

The structural integrity of a building component is the ability of the same component to carry the designed load without breaking or deforming excessively, whereas the structural failure is initiated when a building component loses its integrity.

A structural engineer can make errors in computation and fail to take into account the weight that a structure will be expected to withstand.

The engineer may also follow inaccurate theories and use inaccurate data and make wrong choices of materials during construction of a building. Such an engineer will be responsible for the future collapse of the building.

In a well-designed building,  a localized failure should not cause immediate or even progressive collapse of the entire structure.


4 Unprofessionalism 

Construction management might be challenging and a demanding. In order to successfully complete a project, from the perspective of a Client, the contractor will need the assistance of many construction professionals ( architects, surveyors, soil, electrical, mechanical, structural and civil engineers ) to help them realize their objective, particularly from the feasibility to completion of a project.

These construction professionals have different specialties, for example, an architect will generally manage the design and construction of the project, whereas the structural engineer will ensure that the project is structurally stable, and the quantity surveyor will generally look after the financial aspects of a project.

The services of such professionals come at a cost and in a bid to cut on costs, some developers prefer to hire uncertified jua kali artisans – most of whom are nothing but quacks – which has led to the rising building collapse cases.

Such unskilled labor lacks the technical know-how on building construction requirements such as the ideal standards of structural steel as well as the correct concrete mixing ratios and curing procedures for optimum strength in relation to the expected load of the complete building.

Although the cowboy developers initially think they are saving a lot of money, in the long run when such buildings collapse, it becomes a perfect example of being penny-wise and pound-foolish.


5 Greed for wealth 

In a bid to cash in on the ever-growing demand for housing in urban towns, rogue developers flout building code and regulations to hurriedly put up substandard residential apartments

Some are adding extra floors originally not planned for resulting in heavier load than was planned for in the foundation. This is especially common in the less affluent residential estates where the population is swelling.

The understaffed national construction authority cant inspect all the buildings that are rapidly mushrooming every day across the country, and before you know it

BREAKING NEWS ….A building has collapsed in town A “


6 Corruption 

The delivery of a construction project involves many professional disciplines and tradespeople and numerous contractual relationships that make control measures difficult to implement, The complex transaction chains make it easier for corrupt developers.

The Numerous approvals required from the government in the form of licenses and permits at various stages of the delivery cycle, each one provides an opportunity for bribery.

The government agencies mandated with inspection of buildings to ensure they are safe for human habitation are riddled with corruption and inefficiencies.

For a few thousand shillings, corrupt inspectors are willing to turn a blind eye on malpractices resulting in fatalities and financial loss.

Although there are many reasons as to why a building may collapse, most of the incidents in Kenya seem to be driven by greed for wealth and corruption. In fact, it would be accurate to cite the two as the main real reasons as to why why buildings collapse in Kenya. 


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  • Technology in the construction industry
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  • Quality of Sand
  • TYPES OF COLUMNS
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