SWISSPACER’s most recent Symposium, whereby smart windows, façades and innovative materials were all discussed, looked at all the radical changes happening in this particular industry.
The Symposium, in its third year, saw SWISSPACER invite leading industry experts to Salzburg, Austria.
‘fenestra-vision’ included window and façades builders, window systems companies, scientists and planners to discuss the impending changes to the industry, with all agreeing digitalisation is inevitable.
Keynote speaker Dr. Eckhard Keill, Chairman of the Board of Roto Frank AG, talked about the technology behind the latest smart homes and the potential obstacles and risks.
According to a recent Gartner study, the demand for smart homes, the public perception and understanding of them is approaching its peak; however the market will not be ready for new developments for another five years.
Emphasis was focused on the abilities of the individuals involved along the ‘value chain’, all the way down to the window installer. Experts at the Symposium all agreed new, attractive professions will be created in this new era, such as System Integrators.
Andreas Bittis, Product Manager at Saint-Gobain Building Glass, detailed an interesting scenario with regards to intelligent products and processes during his presentation.
Not only is the focus on smart solutions, such as switchable glass, but mainly on communication between components, disciplines and users, as well as the availability of more information resulting from this.
An intelligent RFID chip, for example, makes seamless documentation of the process achievable; from the production of a window, to user behaviour, maintenance cycles, all the way to disposal. Based on this information, Andreas is sure new business models can be created.
Jochen Wilms, founder of W Ventures, highlighted just how quickly a market can turn, citing within five years, Google, Facebook, Microsoft and more have replaced industry heavyweights like Shell or Texaco as the most valuable companies in the world.
“The window industry will not be able to enjoy the stability of recent years for much longer,” he said.
The window and façades industry will take on special responsibility here as it could control buildings via the building envelope. Jochen encouraged the construction industry to form a “Star Alliance” to properly address the upcoming changes.
Maarten Verhezen, Manager at Nest, the smart thermostat, picked up on the shift in perspective his company has undergone.
The brand, which belongs to the Google parent company, alphabet, has taken a user-centric point of view as the focus of its business model. He claimed that “Nest wants to create a construction industry network.”
Aluminium window systems manufacturer, Schüco, has already made one big step towards digitalisation, by launching Schüco Digital as an independent business unit that groups all these activities.
Prof. Winfrid Heusler, Senior Vice President Global Building Excellence at Schüco, emphasised in his presentation that “components across various sectors are needed to successfully tackle interdisciplinary challenges. Combining the real and virtual world will have a disruptive impact on the construction industry.”
The benefits of a ‘digital twin’ were highlighted by Prof. Klaus Sedlbauer, Head of the Fraunhofer Institute for Building Physics (IBP). ‘Digital twins’ can be used as a basis for planning, to simulate aspects of use and coordinate technical construction solutions that can mimic the reaction of external conditions.
He also introduced the topic of smart building materials. Building envelopes of the future will manage functions like a human body, and the façade will control the building. Intelligent components, such as textile façades, will also make a contribution here.
The final panel of experts, moderated by Prof. Sieberath, head of the ift Rosenheim Institute, spoke about possible developments in relation to PVC as a profile material.
There was a strong consensus this material will not be replaced, even in decades to come. Arno Bender, Head of System Support at Aluplast, says: “The benefits of recyclability are great; ultimately, all PVC frames removed can be recycled in full.”
The experts also cast a first glance towards the Fensterbau Frontale trade show, where new developments in adhesive technology and new BIM solutions from Aluplast will feature, as well as 76 and 88mm systems from Profine that provide a better solution with components.
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