Rebuilt Cathedral of Notre-Dame will be a monument to advances in construction technology

Andrew Skudder, CEO, CCS on how technology will help contractors streamline the restoration of the historic building

The world watched in horror in April as flames consumed the Cathedral of Notre-Dame in Paris, gutting an 850-year old building considered to be one of the most beautiful and historically significant examples of the gothic architectural style. Thanks to the brave actions of the firefighters, most of the building was saved. Now, it’s over to the craftsmen, builders and architects to restore it to its former glory.

With billions of euros available for rebuilding Notre-Dame, it promises to be as ambitious and impressive an undertaking as the restoration of Windsor Castle in the 1990s. Much has been written about the cutting-edge technologies that might be used in the reconstruction effort, but the importance of less glamorous technologies such as estimating and enterprise management software should not be overlooked.

In a project of such complexity, the key to success for construction companies lies in tight financial or cost control and project control, starting from the submission of the tender document through to the handover of completed projects. Enterprise solutions will give the companies insight into budgets and costs they need to succeed in the reconstruction effort.

Such software will enable a company bidding for Notre-Dame work to accurately estimate costs before submitting a tender, standardising and streamlining the estimating process. With high-level pricing or First Principle Resource-Based Estimating, the software enables project resources and costs to be depicted accurately from feasibility through project execution, to project completion.

The overall success of any capital-intensive project is dependent on delivery on time and within budget while maintaining the project’s profit margin. With the right enterprise solution in place, project managers will have visibility into real spending, subcontractor performance, potential problem areas and other key information, enabling them to take timely corrective action where necessary.  Real-time information will enable them to make informed decisions and ensure better results.

Construction companies that have specialist software targeting the contractor’s requirements – from quantity take-off, pricing and planning a project, controlling at site level, through to the final certificate – will have the edge.

Futuristic technologies

Aside from that, Norte-Dame promises to be a fascinating showcase for the latest technologies and techniques available to the modern construction industry. Some examples of the technologies already proposed to aid in reconstruction include 3D laser-scanning, building information modelling (BIM), 3D printing, drones and robots.

Drones supported firefighters as they fought the blaze, helping them to position their hoses to best douse the flames, while a robotic fire extinguisher was also put to work. Robots and drones could also play an important role in the reconstruction project. Drones with sensors and cameras are likely to be used to document fire damage in parts of the building that are difficult or dangerous for humans to access.

It took nearly a century to complete construction of the cathedral, with many modifications added over the years. By contrast, France’s President, Emmanuel Macron, has set a goal of rebuilding the UNESCO World Heritage Site in time for the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris. When the work is completed, it will not only preserve the cathedral’s priceless historical legacy, but also become a monument to today’s digital technology and the role it plays in our lives.


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