Innovation that inspires…

What do you think is the invention/innovation that has the most potential to change the world?

Laura Tordera: “Focusing on the world of infrastructure and mobility, without forgetting energy, the three basic pillars of our company, I would mention the discovery of the wheel, the steam engine and fire as major disruptions. The first great discoveries of mankind related to the use of energy and methods of transport- the wheel and fire- represented an essential change in the life of our ancestors, modifying social order and even in the very anatomy of the brain. The steam engine drove an enormous growth of industry in Europe and America and helped transform the economic and social structure of the civilisation of the time. The widespread development of engines and machines revolutionised mass production of consumer goods, construction and transportation. Thanks to the internet, virtual reality, artificial intelligence and new digital technologies, we are at a pivotal moment of technological change, in which the structures of our society are being modified. In our sector in particular, we are experiencing what we call construction 4.0.”

Luis Amorim: “Must start with Fire. 4 to 5 million years after starting to roam the Earth, Homo managed to control the use of fire. It is a mind-blowing achievement if you try to put yourself 500,000 to 1 million years ago. To date fire is present in almost everything we touch in one way or another.  Today I think about Quantum computing, that has the potential to revolutionise machine learning and AI, areas that have the potential to change dramatically the way we operate.”

Tobias Hanel: “The first thing that comes to my mind is the invention of writing. On the one hand, because it perfectly represents a huge step for mankind that encompasses all aspects and facets of the richness of the human mind (art, technology, science and philosophy…). But what fascinates me most is that it entails a level of abstraction that we can hardly understand today. Human beings were already capable of representing something through a more or less faithful drawing (cave paintings, for example), but the step needed to represent an object through letters is gigantic, and requires a lot of abstraction. In fact, there is nothing in common between a cow and its transcription “COW”, which, after all, are nomore than symbols. This work to link an object, a sound and new characters to facilitate and standardise communication is fascinating to me. From this point on, everything accelerated, and, in this sense, I think that this great revolution can be compared to what we have experienced with the emergence of computer science, and the great changes that are still to come…”.

Sara Cuerva: “I agree with Tobias: Writing. I still find it a revolutionary invention, especially knowing that it appeared more than 5,000 years ago and we are still using it today. Ortega y Gasset said that “Man is never a first man: he begins to exist above a certain altitude of accumulated preterit“. Thanks to writing, when we are born we not only learn from our parents and grandparents, but we can learn and go back in knowledge thousands of years. Let us make the most of it.”

“Through History, we find a number of examples of fascinating innovations that have changed the course of mankind: from fire or the steam engine to Internet or Artificial Intelligence”

Isabel Gonzalo:The Internet may be the invention that has changed us the most in the shortest time. I would say it has defined a before and after not only in how we access and exchange information but also in how we socialise, shop, travel, read…”.

Raquel Marco:The invention that has the most potential to change the world, apart from the internet, is the creation of intellectual property. Protecting innovation encourages people to innovate and it engages them, as they feel that their ideas are being recognised, it also promotes the generation of these ideas and their development. In addition, ideas from all walks of life are collected, which makes innovation cross-cutting in all areas of life.”

Irene Pajares: “We live in the Era of Knowledge and, even if we are not fully aware of it, this is the great innovation of all times: we have access to global information and it is  immediate. We are privileged to have access to all the world’s knowledge ‘at a click’, to have in our hands unlimited sources of information from which we can learn. Imagine the amount of physical libraries that Google would take up. It is unimaginable. It is a dream. Now we have a serious challenge as society, to be able to intelligently manage all that information to make this world a better place”.

Inés Azpeitia: “The computer, whose impact on society in recent decades has been massive, mainly because of its universality. The first computers were key to deciphering coded messages in the Second World War or to carrying out the calculations that allowed man to land on the moon. Since the creation of the first commercial computer in 1981 with the IBM 5150 model, these machines have evolved exponentially, totally changing the way we work, search for and share knowledge, allowing the digitalisation of countless processes in all sectors, advances in medicine that were unthinkable until a few years ago, changing the way we relate to each other and socialise… practically everything. In the future, the ultimate computer is expected to arrive, the quantum computer, and bionics will perhaps achieve a certain fusion between mind and machine, the wiring of the brain“.

“The Internet may be the invention that has changed us the most in the shortest time. In the future, the ultimate computer is expected to arrive, the quantum computer, and bionics will perhaps achieve a certain fusion between mind and machine, connecting the brain”

Miguel Urquía: “I believe that Artificial Intelligence is going to be a turning point in the way we think about the world. So far, robotisation is allowing us to stop doing repetitive tasks that do not add value to the human being. However, with AI, we are helping decision making, we will move towards accurate prediction and later on we will be able to prevent many of the catastrophes that surround us today. The most interesting thing is its speed of development, thanks to the increasingly connected neural network of certain systems, which, together with Big Data, will compose a perfect and self-sufficient machine. The “hyper-automation” of processes is also closely linked to this aforementioned concept. However, let’s not forget that data and data management is the basis on which any subsequent intelligent model is based. The rapid technological development of the last decade defines an uncertain landscape, where the state of the art of any technology is decentralised. Therefore, understanding the innovation ecosystems formed by companies, startups, innovation hubs, universities, technology parks, investors and living labs, and above all, the relationships that exist between them, will be key in the coming years if we want to maintain the competitive advantage of any sector.

Jesús Egido: “The great invention of the contemporary era has been the automated assembly line, as it has improved the world’s production capacity so much, facilitating access to products to people who previously could not reach them, and helping humans to stop performing repetitive tasks”.

How do you see the future of construction?

Laura Tordera: “We will exploit new construction methods that optimise and technify works on construction sites, increasing our productivity and margins. We will have new, more optimal and adapted infrastructure designs, with sustainable materials. The advancement of the different technologies we know today (Artificial Intelligence, 3D Printing, Big Data, sensors…) will continue to grow exponentially and the construction industry will finally embrace technology to bring out its full potential. In addition, innovation will help to avoid accidents on construction sites, prioritising the Health and Safety of people and delegating risky tasks to machines. All of this will require new personnel with different qualifications, capable of organising and being the “brains” of the works, with new profiles oriented towards efficient management or digitalisation. Undoubtedly, the future of construction is fascinating, and innovation has a key role to play in building a better world”

Tobias Hanel: “Although our industry is a little late in its digital revolution, mindsets are now changing, and on a technological level, everything is ready for the construction site of the future to be based on many semi-automated processes, relying on robots with 5G connectivity and other technologies.

And if I may dream a little: in an ideal world, energy will be affordable for all, and at a reasonable price, for example, thanks to nuclear fusion, which we are trying to control with the ITER project. This cheap and clean energy for all will help to pacify international relations and reduce the destructive footprint that humans leave on the planet”

Jesús Egido: “Construction will not be fully automated as there will be a need for human intervention in development or planning. There will be a tandem in which machines will carry out a large part of the most dangerous, repetitive tasks or those that people do not want to carry out, with the rest of the tasks being carried out by people”.

Luis Amorim: “I can see a lot more automation, and offsite manufacture. Sites becoming more and more, places where we assemble instead of building. High skilled jobs that have the potential to attract again the new generations to the sector. Because the more efficient the automated systems become, the more crucial the human contribution of the operators. Humans will be less involved, but their involvement becomes more critical. This is called the paradox of automation. “

“The advancement of the different technologies we know today (Artificial Intelligence, 3D Printing, Big Data, sensors…) will continue to grow exponentially and the construction industry will finally embrace technology to bring out its full potential, everything is ready for the construction site of the future to be based on many semi-automated processes, relying on robots with 5G connectivity and other technologies.”

Raquel Marco: “Whatever the construction of the future looks like, I am confident that it will be based on sustainability. I think there will be a boom in the automation of processes, and this will be positive because there are many tasks that can undoubtedly be carried out by machines. If so, humans will be able to focus on something that only we can do: taking care of this world we inhabit. I believe that the world of construction will take a leap towards a commitment to the planet, and we will take advantage of the rise of autonomous machines to be able to optimise all processes taking into account sustainability, and that there is only one planet. I know this may seem contradictory, but in the future: the world of construction will also take care of our planet Earth”.

Sara Cuerva:I see the construction of the future looking after the planet. It will be 100% sustainable and will have the challenge of taking into account all the “R’s” of the circular economy: redesign, reduce, reuse, repair, renovate, recover, recycle… For example, the construction of the future will use local materials, take the environment into account in its designs, optimise energy and material consumption, give a new life to all waste, etc. Because it is key that, in meeting our needs, we do not compromise the ability of future generations to meet theirs”.

Isabel Gonzalo:Construction will be digital, even the smallest building or site, industrialised, safe and sustainable, fully in harmony with the environment”.

Inés Azpeitia: “In recent decades, new emerging technologies have affected traditional construction. But associated with these advances have come a series of uncertainties about how the global application of these technologies can affect society and the environment in which we live. One thing that I believe should always be kept in mind is that the construction of the future must be ethical and sustainable. New technologies should on the one hand help to protect the environment, making better use of available resources, reducing waste and affecting the environment as little as possible; they should help workers to have greater safety and wellbeing on construction sites, avoiding accidents and improving working conditions without altering their right to privacy and data protection; and finally, they should be used for the benefit of all citizens so that transport infrastructures favour equality of conditions for all communities, that housing and public facilities respond to the needs of the future, better mobility and that large infrastructures are adequately sized and located taking into account real needs”.

“I see the construction of the future looking after the planet. It will be 100% sustainable  the world of construction will also take care of our planet”

Irene Pajares: “I believe that the construction of the Future has a huge challenge in shaping, defining and designing the cities of the future. I think, for example, of renovating historic European cities to make them accessible, sustainable, efficient and connected. I also think of building with a necessary and urgent adaptation to climate change in mind, integrating infrastructures with nature, designing more energy efficient or self-sufficient housing, or looking for better or more efficient materials. I am also thinking about infrastructures that connect travel and transport more quickly. Technology will undoubtedly play a key role in facilitating building processes and automating tasks, and people should focus on shaping how we make the world a better place with what we build.”

Miguel Urquia: “I imagine an intelligent construction, which takes into account different aspects than those considered 50 years ago. We live in a different society, which demands different products and a different lifestyle. Sustainability, efficiency, green spaces, energy savings, shared services, collaborative networks and new mobility concepts will mark the buildings of the future. This new mobility is the first “lever” of change. Mobility is booming, where efficiency takes precedence over speed. Mobility is no longer a product but a service, and this means a paradigm shift for traditional companies, administrations and users. A world that is gradually converging towards the circular economy, the repair and reuse of assets in anticipation of the scarcity of materials.”