The new company, which delivered its first houses in 2019, has recruited a chief technology officer from Airbus. He is promising to 'spin a digital thread'.
Matthew Evans, vice president of digital transformation at Airbus for the past five years, will take charge of TopHat’s digital strategy, integrating new technology into the company’s manufacturing process.
Before Airbus, Mr Evans worked for Lockheed Martin and Siemens Energy. He also has a doctorate in theoretical physics from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
At Airbus, he helped create the Skywise data platform, that is used by 40% of the world’s commercial aircraft. It combines data that was previously fragmented across multiple companies, such as airlines, airports, baggage companies, and manufacturers. Skywise applications use machine learning and AI to predict when an aircraft’s parts will need to be replaced or repaired, before they fail and cause a delay to the aircraft’s schedule. The platform is also used to model the impact of events such storms and reroute aircraft to minimise delays and missed passenger connections.
Mr Evans aims to bring this data-led approach to UK housebuilding.
Tophat is currently supply housing kits to the Kitchener Barracks development in Chatham, Kent. It is majority owned by Goldman Sachs, which invested £75m into it in 2019.
Jordan Rosenhaus, chief executive and founder of TopHat, and also an MIT graduate, said: “House-building is an industry that needs to embrace technology to improve its energy efficiency, productivity and build quality.
“This is also a fantastic opportunity to support the wider growth of the British high-tech manufacturing sector. The construction industry faces a skills crisis, with many workers set to retire in the next decade and a shortage of young talent coming through the ranks. A new model of house building will help to solve this skills shortage by bringing people into the industry who wouldn’t otherwise take onsite construction roles.”
Matthew Evans, the company’s new chief technology officer, said: “By spinning a ‘digital thread’ that links every stage of the manufacturing process from design to assembly, we can make the process more repeatable and certain, create a higher-quality product, and minimise waste through the learning and efficiency that this will generate.
“Starting with a blank piece of paper, it makes much more sense to build homes in a factory-controlled setting. You wouldn’t build a plane in a field, and the same should be true of new homes.”