Welcome to the ICONSMAT podcast

Where you find the latest about the construction industry

Episode #20: Last episode of this season

In summary of this season in 2021, we have recorded and edited 19 episodes and tried to discuss some of the modern issues of the construction industry today. Not only issues, but more importantly, we have introduced some of the novel emerging technologies and incentives such as sorting machines, blockchain, and many more.

We hope to catch you on again next year!

 


Release date: 18/09/2021

Episode #19: Circular economy and emptiness

The idea is to circulate money in a given economy at any size. Some wealthy people have a bigger circle that contains a larger population and on the other side, the less wealthy individuals have a smaller circle under their arms. It all depends on how YOU are satisfied with your life as an entrepreneur or business owner. If you are operating a business, you definitely have some employees working for you. Small businesses, typically don’t have control over the amount of salary they pay and the way that the salary is spent by the employee. However, the economist needs to know how the salary paid is spent because he thrives to run an economy. Control over money in other words is essential to his duty. He wants to know how much people spend on goods and services. And that is what drives the context of economic growth in an industry.

 

Release date: 08/08/2021

Episode #18: Corporate social responsibility

Corporations, because of their huge impact over many aspects of the economy in which they are operating, are bound with some set of morale to minimize the risk in case something or someone in the system goes wrong. This very term that is the word “wrong” is actually something that the corporation must decide and draw the red line around such behaviours that trigger the definition of being wrong. Companies and big corporations, often outline priorities of value. Some may go safety, wellbeing, and technology; the other one may go technology, science, and media, meanwhile, another company may outline profitability as its most appreciated value. However, the greed for money had always been proved to be the turning point of companies that were one day on top of the chart. Enron scandal is one of the most famous examples of accounting fraud in history. Enron used off-balance-sheet entities to hide the company’s debts from investors and creditors. By the end of 2001, Enron declared bankruptcy. And it is also interesting to know that before declaring bankruptcy, Enron’s share value was priced at $90, and at the time of collapse, it was priced only 26 cents per share. In the year 2000 it had recorded a revenue of more than 100 billion dollars. So, in affirmation to what was said before, it is always good to follow a set of ethical principles. A well-established ethical guideline must be in a direction to ensure the maximum return to the society. It is the only way to keep operating a healthy and prosperous company.

 

Release date: 19/06/2021

Episode #17: Code is the new law

The truth is we are living in the blockchain world today. It is a world that computers run us humans rather than being vice versa. I don’t know if you can imagine living in a world without a display screen in a normal day of your life. So, this world of blockchain network is somehow indicating us to change the way we are operating in business. If you look at the top three wealthiest companies in the world, they are Apple, Microsoft, and amazon following by Google and Facebook. All being tech companies. I’ve used my calculator to add up the total accumulative market cap that these five companies hold and the sum was above 8 Trillion dollars. Now if you want to compare this amount with countries GDP, you can buy the whole of Japan and Germany together with 8 trillion dollars. And the funny fact is these two countries are the third and the fourth biggest economies in the world. The first and second being the US and China. So you’ve got the scale.

 

Release date: 31/05/2021

Episode #16: Post-COVID education system

It was a truly weird year in 2020 for the global education system during the COVID pandemic. Students disappeared from the campuses, the whole system had shifted to the online delivery mode, universities had fallen massively short with millions of dollars in deficit, and thousands of university staff had lost their jobs as a consequence. Yet, when you talked to students they were not unhappy as staff and the top managers in the uni. Most of them were actually happy that they no longer need to commute the long distances from home to the uni for a 2-hour class, for example. However, if you take a deeper look at the quality of education pre and post COVID, it is simply easy to spot some of the obvious downfalls in the online delivery mode. In construction courses particularly, there are many units that have practical laboratory sessions regulated in their module. Indeed, it is known that the most effective way of learning is based upon experiencing the theories. Soil mechanic labs, concrete testing lessons, materials labs, and many more had shifted to online delivery mode by watching videos in the COVID pandemic. Students can’t simply learn the way, for example, soil interacts under different moisture contents just by watching a video. Videos won’t make professional engineers. So let’s run a comprehensive SWOT analysis on this. That is our position in terms of Strength, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats that we are exposed to as a consequence of online education delivery.

Release date: 15/05/2021

Episode #15: 4th International Webinar on Construction Materials

This episode is solely dedicated to the upcoming 4th international webinar on construction materials. As you might already know this year following our tradition from the past 4 years, we are hosting presentation sessions for 7 of the well-known research scholars in the corresponding discipline which is construction materials indeed. But let’s go one step back, why should you, as an academic or engineering enthusiast, attend in such webinars at all? Basically speaking, our humanoid brain degrades in its ability to remain up to date with the latest technologies and trends. That is why education was created in history. But, undertaking a degree for busy hard-working individuals is almost impossible considering the time constraints in a day. So academics and industry practitioners, from thousands of years ago had decided to gather on a regular basis to share their research outcomes and achievements in a summit, conference, or just recently via presenting in webinars. In general, that is all with the purpose of keeping ourselves fresh and up to date which is a necessity in your professional success. Apart from that, annual webinars like this are a form of motivation for scholars to continue their research studies as they see more people are interacting with their research outcomes during the webinars.

 


Release date: 02/05/2021

Episode #14: Green building codes in effect

For many years, particularly after the 2015 Paris climate change agreement, governments had pushed their agenda on implementing environmental practices across the industries. This includes reducing the amount of waste generation, reusing the waste materials, and recycling the renewable waste streams which altogether leads to the reduction in the global greenhouse gas emission. Construction being one of those industries that is always criticized for being one of the most impactful industries with a high human intervention in natural ecosystems. We as the workers in this industry extract natural resources, change the landscapes, build giant structures such as dams, highways, canals, etc. These changes on the surface of the earth indeed come at a cost if aren’t studied thoroughly. So, that is why in the recent years, universities established environmental studies in construction-related courses. Because we don’t want our cities to be flooded or prone to earthquakes, landslides, which are some of the causes of not considering the nature’s response to our human activities.

 


Release date: 12/04/2021

Episode #13: Blockchain in construction

Definitely, you have heard of the blockchain technology and particularly Bitcoin as it hit the news every now and then. But it’s like cement and concrete, they are not the same yet often being confused as to be the same thing. In fact, Bitcoin is just a branch (let’s call it) of the blockchain technology. A blockchain is a network of computers that are connected and operating on the same issue. Bitcoin for example is a financial instrument that is based on the blockchain without the need for a single giant central computer. The idea of decentralization is in fact derived from the same concept as the network is not reliant on one computer only. Which is good. It redefines democracy in the digital world. But what does it have to do with the construction industry? Today we will talk about some of the basic terms of the blockchain technology and expand on some of the existing examples. we will then be able to have a more clear picture of the potentials.

 

Release date: 03/04/2021

Episode #12: Image processing in construction

Today’s topic is about the applications of image processing, particularly in the construction industry. As we all know construction industry had always been amongst the last to embrace new digital technologies. We are working in a highly labour intensive industry that with a high risk to health and safety of the workers due to the nature of the work. And bringing digital technologies to the place is one of the ways to make literally everything better. With that being said, image processing refers to the use of cameras that are integrated with computer program for the purpose of object detection. You basically let the computer make some decisions on behalf of you. Two of its practical applications that we developed and used are one in the concrete production and the other in the precast steel frame manufacturing.

Release date: 20/03/2021

Episode #11: Inflationary housing prices

You have seen throughout your life that the housing prices had never fallen down, rather, it has always been on a growing slope specially in large cities. So, today we want to talk about the reasons and the ways to solve this issue and to avoid the inflationary prices. The idea is that economists are hesitant against inflation as it is an indication of a weak economic performance and a low value of money. The inconsistency that we see in the supply of housing and the rising housing prices is nonetheless relevant to the banking strategies. Throughout the history banks had tried to ease the purchase of houses for people by lending money. In the conventional format, as it’s called property investment portfolio, the bank charges interest rate on the money lent; currently about 3%. This means that if you decide to buy a house at a market price of let’s say 500,000 in Sydney metro, by the end of the mortgage terms you have to pay back $515,000. Now according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the wages growth rate was about 1.8% in June 2020 which is a downward trend since 1998 from about 3% to now 1.8%. What it means is that a typical employee of the government cannot simply afford to pay back the mortgage by a margin of 1.2%.

 

Release date: 15/03/2021

Episode #10: Construction finance – Eliminating the middle-man in the new decentralized financial system

Today, we expand an alternative which has a better social implication in a variety of ways. Cryptocurrency and the underlying blockchain technology are computer algorithms that prevent manipulation and fraudulent financing which are based on personal biases and preferences. Instead, by using the blockchain technology, companies and industry unions can ensure transparent financing because now it is an algorithm which acts as the middle man, well actually as a group of middle mans better to say. This also is referred to as the decentralized financing which in fact ensures a better wealth distribution across the whole society.

 


Release date: 07/03/2021

Episode #9: Economics of recycled aggregate

Today’s talk is about recycled aggregate and its economical advantages particularly for its use in concrete. Since long a time ago, about a couple of decades now, the problem with the construction and demolition waste management had become a serious concern to both construction practitioners and environmental scientists. Conventionally, after a building is being demolished, the waste generated is ought to be landfilled. Which itself does not harm the environment as the construction materials are originally excavated from the ground, specially if you only consider concrete in this context. It is made out of sand, aggregate, cement, and water. But, the point is that by landfilling this waste stream and not recycling this actually valuable waste stream, we are going to motivate higher exploitation of natural resources which in fact is a harmful environmental activity.

 

Release date: 27/02/2021

Episode #8: Off-site manufacturing

Offsite manufacturing is the topic that we want to talk about today. A lot of benefits that come with this method of construction, mentioning a few, fast project completion, high quality and safety standards, and the given ability to build in regional areas. Now, you might ask yourself that how offsite manufacturing is advantageous in regional construction. Well, it returns to the fact that fast project delivery allows construction workers to temporarily reside in regional areas until the project is completed. The point here is that whenever the regional government decides to build new houses to accommodate the growing population, or just to increase the supply of housing and thus reduce the housing prices, then offsite manufacturing is going to be the solution. Construction workers can be outsourced from other regions depending on the availability of the required skills. There are some regions with a comparatively lower number of skilled construction workers. And that is why being able to deliver the housing projects based on offsite manufacturing becomes advantageous.

 

 

Release date: 22/02/2021

Episode #7: Ethereum ecosystem and corporate social responsibility

So today we want to talk about raising capital, Initial Public Offering, and corporate social responsibility. While there are construction small businesses seeking to grow and expand their operation, many struggle to do so mainly because the current financial structure is highly regulated. In today’s capitalist world, especially after the COVID hit, the economic disparities are exacerbated in a way that more than 90% of the total wealth on the planet is held by less than 3% of the population according to the Credit Suisse Global Wealth Report. It has two meanings for us: that either the majority of the population on earth doesn’t have an understanding of what wealth even means which if true indicates that the financial dictionary is written for the minority. Or, the economic disparity can also mean that the system is actually dishonest. But today, we want to only focus on the move from private to public by the small construction entity. Conventionally it has been done by the so-called Initial Public Offering where the business entity introduces shares and asks investors to buy the companies share. The valuation process is pretty complicated and requires a rigorous assessment process.

Ethereum ecosystem as the modern alternative addresses the problems with the conventional financial structure.

Release date: 15/02/2021

Episode #6: Graphene in Construction

Today’s episode is about graphene and its use, particularly, in the construction industry. These nanoparticles of carbon are made in laboratories with two distinctive quality grades. The grade that is made through the so-called chemical vapor deposition yields the highest quality for applications in the electronic industry often and the process is pretty expensive especially when you consider the production rate and the energy consumption. Noteworthy, when we are talking about the quality of graphene, we are actually referring to the size of platelets and the number of carbon layers. Higher quality essentially means larger platelets and thinner layers. Whereas, the other cheaper method which yields a lower quality of graphene is called electrochemical exfoliation where graphite sticks or chunks, depending on your supply are gone under acid attack with a specified concentration and input voltage. As we are dealing with huge volumes of concrete in the construction industry, and cost-effectiveness is always key to successful project delivery, this method of graphene production is being considered as the more suitable way.

 

Release date: 08/02/2021

Episode #5: Virtual Reality in Construction

With all its positive implications, there are of course some downturns to this technology too. The psychological and social threats that VR imposes on its users is one of the negative aspects of this technology. If this technology gains wide attraction, humans will no longer need to take long commutes to the job site which is good by itself but it has a serious negative consequence that is the loss in the necessity of daily physical activity. You no longer need to move your body, do the hard labour, and burn calories which are good for your health. Healthy use of VR must be limited to a certain number of hours in a day to avoid such mental health issues. It is a highly addictive technology and the users must become aware of the consequences of long working hours with VR.

Dr. Roggiero Lovreglio from Massey University, New Zealand, had done some tremendous research on this topic. He has some of the brightest minds in his team and they are open to the so-called “industry partnership”. So, I do highly recommend you to contact him if you are thinking of creating a VR application for your construction business.

Release date: 02/02/2021

Episode #4: Largest chemical producers

In this episode, we talk about one of the largest chemical producers in the construction industry, Sika, that is also operating privately in Australia as well. This private operation of Sika in Australia simply means that they have not listed their business in the Australian Stock Exchange (ASX). Sika is a swiss multinational company that has over 25,000 employees, subsidiaries in more than 100 countries, and an annual sales turnover of AUD 11.7 billion.

 

Release date: 25/01/2021

Episode #3: AECOM and share prices

In this episode, we talk about one of the other multinational construction companies that are operating in Australia although on a relatively smaller scale than compared to Lendlease. You might want to ask yourself that why is it even important to know these firms? Well, the answer is that these construction firms with their billion-dollar worth of capital circulating within the construction industry are setting the future direction for you by their corporate power. Small businesses to survive must trigger the direction of cash flow and these highly capitalized public firms are showing their future path in their annual reports so that we will be able to point to the right direction.

Release date: 18/01/2021

Episode #2: The largest material manufacturer in Australia

James Hardie is a global building materials company and the largest global manufacturer of fiber cement products. Headquartered in Ireland, it is listed in two of the major stock exchanges in Australia and the US with a 17.17B dollar market cap. It was first established in Australia in 1888. In the beginning years, It had become famous for manufacturing and distributing building products containing asbestos. Around 1980 as it’s been proved that asbestos caused severe human diseases, James Hardie had adopted a new asbestos-free fiber cement that contains wood fibers instead.

Release date: 11/01/2021

Episode #1: Lendlease 2020 Summary

Lendlease is a multinational construction, property, and infrastructure company with their headquarter being located in Barangaroo, Sydney. It was first established in 1958. in 1970, 12 years after their establishment, Lendlease expanded its operation into America. Community and employee wellbeing are centered in their value proposition.

There is a huge public-private partnership which we hope you cease by the end of this episode.

 

Release date: 04/01/2021