11th consecutive quarter of growth for UK construction products
The Construction Product Association’s latest State of Trade Survey reports a slowdown in growth in sales of construction products in the fourth quarter of 2015, owing to domestic weakness and a fall in export sales. Sales nonetheless achieved their 11th consecutive quarter of growth and were still significantly higher on an annual basis.
Rebecca Larkin, CPA Senior Economist, said: “This marked the eleventh straight quarter of rising sales of construction products. For manufacturers on the heavy side, however, this was the lowest quarterly balance in three years, which echoes weakness in overall construction output data for the closing months of last year. Compared to Q3, only 5 percent of heavy side firms reported a rise in sales in Q4. This was the lowest balance since 2013 Q1 and reflects lower domestic activity, as well as a decrease in export sales as Sterling appreciated against the Euro in late 2015. On the light side, where products are typically used towards the end of the construction process, 38 percent of firms reported a rise in Q4 quarterly sales, indicating continued demand from strong building activity earlier in 2015.
“A positive effect of the Q4 appreciation in the Sterling was its downward impact on manufacturers’ import costs. The decline in global oil prices also filtered through into lower fuel and energy costs, meaning that a balance of only 14 percent of heavy side manufacturers and 8 percent of light side firms reported an increase in costs in Q4. Wages and salaries remained the standout inflationary pressure, however, as shortages of skilled labour pushed up wage bills.
“Encouragingly, both heavy side and light side product manufacturers displayed optimism over the outlook for the year ahead. A balance of 43 percent of heavy side firms and 42 percent of those on the light side anticipated that product sales will increase during 2016, driven by renewed growth in international sales and domestic activity, led by the private housing, offices and infrastructure sectors in particular. We forecast output growth of 5.0, 7.0 and 7.9 percent, respectively in these sectors in 2016.”
XYZ Reality receives £20m to develop Assisted Reality
Founded in 2017, XYZ Reality aims to "revolutionise" the construction sector with its Engineering-Grade Augmented Reality (AR) solution, Holosite.
Designed to enable an on time and on budget delivery of construction projects, by eliminating building errors, HoloSite has been available to select customers through an early access programme and has already been used on projects totalling a value of over £1.5bn in the last year.
With approximately 98% of construction megaprojects facing cost overruns or delays and 7-11% of project costs being spent on correcting errors, XYZ Reality’s purpose-built integrated AR solution directly addresses these issues.
With its safety certified AR hardhat, cloud platform and in-built proprietary software, Holosite accurately positions high fidelity 3D design models on construction sites, enabling teams to build it right, first time. The technology system has been used on complex construction projects including data centres, pharmaceutical facilities and airports.
This funding will be used to accelerate the company’s ambition of transforming projects by preparing for HoloSite’s commercial launch in the USA and continuing investment in strengthening research and development. The company is also growing its London team to include key hires across technology, manufacturing, sales and marketing.
David Mitchell, Founder and CEO of XYZ Reality, said developing its engineering-Grade AR solution helping construction teams identify errors in real-time is just the start.
"The next phase is Assisted Reality, where our spatial computing technology will have the intelligence to automatically detect and report issues in the field. And ultimately, the goal is builders building from holograms. Our vision of developing world changing products aligns with Octopus Ventures’ mission of investing in companies that are powering the next industrial revolution. We look forward to building history.”
The latest round of funding is led by Octopus Ventures, one of the largest and most active venture investors in Europe, known for its commitment of investing in companies and founders that are changing the world. Octopus Ventures has a strong track record, spanning investment in health, fintech, consumer, B2B software, and deep tech. This includes WaveOptics, one of Octopus Ventures’ early investments in Augmented Reality, which was recently acquired by Snap Inc.
Rebecca Hunt, early-stage investor at Octopus Ventures, said: "We’ve always invested in entrepreneurs leading industry change and XYZ is doing just that. It's solving a massive problem that costs the construction industry billions every year, using its Engineering-Grade Augmented Reality solution to spearhead a shift in the sector’s approach. The founding team of David, Umar and Murray have deep domain and technical expertise, which we believe makes XYZ uniquely placed to drive this transformation.”
XYZ Reality also announces a new partnership with Mace, for the construction of a hyper-scale data centre in Europe. With speed to market being particularly essential for mission critical builds, HoloSite’s AR technology will have a significant role in supporting an accurate and time effective build for Mace, which last week appointed Jon McElroy its new Managing Director for International Technology.
Mace Technical Director, Stephen Henley, said: “Mace has built a reputation of redefining the boundaries of ambition, always bringing efficiency, innovation and responsibility to our projects. With the implementation of XYZ’s groundbreaking AR system, we continue to be committed to delivering projects faster, safer and better than ever before.”
Five years ago, Heather Bellini of Goldman Sachs Research expected virtual and augmented reality to become an $80 billion market by 2025.
But according to new research by global tech market advisory firm ABI Research, nearly 28 million augmented and mixed reality smart glasses will ship in 2026, while the total global AR/MR market will surpass $175 billion in the same year.
"Major tech players across hardware, software, and services look familiar in the consumer space, contributing to strong and consistent overall growth," says Eric Abbruzzese, Research Director for ABI Research. "Those big tech names, with active investment and product ranging from already available, to announced, to all-but-announced, are creating a consumer AR market that will be dynamic and welcoming rather than struggling and immature."