Kingspan is using digital technology to become the most sustainable and customer-driven construction materials company in the world.

In Toronto last year, Hass Jishi of Kingspan told the Rotman Design Challenge audience that construction is the only business sector where productivity has fallen in the last 30 years. This startling fact came from a World Economic Forum report in 2017 highlighting that construction is falling behind other industries in several metrics, especially in the use of digital technology. The comment complemented Kingspan’s sponsorship of one of the world’s largest international design competitions; challenging the audience of 500 MBA students from across four continents to find ways in which Kingspan can inspire construction industry to embrace digital to become smarter, more efficient and greener. 

Kingspan has ambitions to become the most sustainable building materials company in the world, while delivering more performance and value to customers, and digital transformation is a key part of the strategy to achieve this. Three years ago, Kingspan’s Global Digital Team was formed to explore this and help turn the company into the most innovative in its sector. “The benefit of digital is to understand the ecosystem you are involved in and supporting,” says Hass Jishi, Experience Transformation Strategist at Kingspan. “As a product manufacturer we are best placed to understand our products and how they can be optimised at all stages of the building lifecycle. This knowledge should be shared. Digital is best placed to do this, and it will reveal how the industry can be both more productive and more sustainable.” 

The Global Digital Team is working with employees, customers and partners like Autodesk on existing and new digital technologies to affect this change. “The future of construction is all about data,” according to Hass. “As a manufacturer, we are working on a wide range of collaborative research projects to understand how we should be supporting our products with rich data so that Kingspan buildings are more efficient to design and construct, more comfortable and productive to occupy, and ultimately become net zero carbon across their whole lifecycle including demolition and re-use.” 

Further benefits of these digital processes are people and product development. “The construction industry has a mix of skills and competencies from the office to the building site, and between sites, and errors creep in,” says Hass. “Deeper, real-time digital information can mitigate this, giving all people involved the same information, reducing the problem where a small number of key individuals have all the knowledge. Digital also helps with CPD, it can accelerate training and certification,” he adds. 

Product and service development are also boosted because digitalisation shows how customers are accessing Kingspan products and how they are putting them to use. The R&D teams then have data to modify or increase a product line or SKU, while the Global Digital Team gains vital insights on service improvements to make it easier for customers and specifiers to do business with Kingspan. 

IKON is an icon for a sustainable building industry

 In November 2019, Kingspan opened the doors of IKON, its global innovation hub at Kingscourt in Ireland. “All divisions [of Kingspan] were brought together to bring their products and specifications into one system at IKON,” says Hass. Collaborating with Autodesk, the new research building is using one of the most advanced digital twin systems in any industry, worldwide. Real-time data is fed from sensors in the building, and as-built modelling shows all the products and characteristics in the entire building as a skeletal frame. From here a user can interrogate occupancy, CO2 levels, sound performance, structural values and much more. “The research projects at IKON will show for each building decision, where are the benefits, what data we can pull, and how we would manage things like data sovereignty, for example,” says Hass. 

Mike Stenson, Global Head of Innovation, Kingspan Group, says of IKON’s focus, “Our most urgent priority is to find ways to dramatically reduce carbon emissions in buildings all the way through the lifecycle. Digitalisation is a key part of this strategy.” 

MORE ON IKON AND THE ROTMAN DESIGN CHALLENGE CAN BE FOUND BELOW: kingspan-news/introducing-ikon kingspan-news/students-to-develop-disruptivesolutions- to-the-co 

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