Industry Digest November 2021

Some of the stories that caught our eye this month include supply chain struggles in the Belgian joinery sector, a new virtual reality headset for on-site safety checks, Volvo is testing electric haulers in a Swiss limestone mine and the world’s first vertical forest is growing in the centre of Milan.

Carpenters held back by labour shortage and supply chain disruptions

These are busy times for carpenters and interior designers in Flanders. They have plenty of work on the table, even more than before the corona crisis. But it’s not all good news. A recent sector study by Bouwunie, the Flemish union organisation for small and medium-sized enterprises in the construction sector, has revealed that frustrations among carpenters are growing.

The reason for the carpenters’ disappointment is twofold: there is a problematic shortage of workforces to help them carry out their work and supply chain issues are causing limited stocks, longer delivery times, increasing prices and delays. Read the full story.


Virtual on-site safety checks made easy by assisted reality headsets 

Construction site safety, health and security have never been more important. But at the same time, covid-related travel restrictions have made on-site inspections extra challenging. A collaboration between geotechnical engineering specialist Soletanche Bachy and extended reality platform SimplyVideo is here to offer a solution: RealWear Assisted Reality headsets.

The headsets will make it easier for inspectors to visit sites - not in real-life, but in a realistic virtual environment. Each device has a microphone, display and speakers for total hands-free working. Find out more here.


Volvo is testing autonomous electric haulers in Swiss stone mine

Electric vehicles in stone mines? A Swedish-Swiss partnership is looking to make it happen. Volvo Autonomous Solutions and building materials supplier Holcim Switzerland have teamed up to test and develop autonomous electric haulers. A Holcim limestone quarry in Siggenthal, Switzerland was chosen to test the battery-electric haulers, which are quieter, more sustainable and safer than conventional haulers.

 “This project show-cases a sustainable transport solution that is commercially viable and combines the technology shifts of connectivity, automation and electrification,” said Volvo Autonomous Solutions CEO Nils Jaeger. His Swiss colleague Simon Kronenberg was equally delighted with the project, stating it represents the next step towards reaching Holcim’s sustainability objectives. Read the full story here.


The world’s first vertical forest is growing in Milan

Bosco Verticale is the name of two extraordinary residential towers in the heart of Milan’s Porta Nuova district. The towers are home to over 21,000 trees, shrubs and plants, making them the world’s first vertical forest. The trees convert an estimated 44,000 pounds of carbon per year and form a natural barricade against the noise pollution from the busy traffic below. The two towers are entirely self-sufficient: solar panels provide renewable energy and filtered wastewater is used to sustain the plants. When asked what inspired him for this project, architect Stefano Boeri takes a trip down memory lane and refers to an Italian novel he read when he was a kid. The story is about a boy who leaves his family to go live in a forest. Decades later, Boeri turned the story into a reality. Read the full story here.