How is the construction industry keeping up with technology trends and embracing the digital construction movement? Deltek’s Nick Nieder reflects on a new report.
Unsustainable profit margins coupled with technology-driven disruption, means the contractor landscape is set for fundamental transformation. And one major driver, digital construction, has set the industry on course for irreversible change. But, what does digital construction actually mean?
The B1M is the world’s most subscribed-to video channel for construction, who define this as; “The use and application of digital tools to improve the process of delivering and operating the built environment”. The true definition will actually depend on the organisation and the role played within construction projects but in its simplest form, digital construction makes the delivery, operations and renewal of the build environment safer, more efficient and collaborative.
Embracing digital construction not only benefits the organisation but it can also optimise projects. Challenges previously experienced when managing complex data or working from a single data source are removed, and opportunity to leverage new tools such a virtual reality and simulator technology, suddenly becomes possible.
An industry falling behind?
In an era when it is the norm for all manner of personal tasks to be digitised – from shopping to managing domestic appliances and even dating – it seems obvious that the construction industry can benefit too.
Indeed, certain sectors are making giant leaps using technology. A 2016 paper from consultant McKinsey & Company lists recent advances including robots performing complex tasks in manufacturing; remote temperature monitoring that optimises process efficiency in paper production; and sensors reducing unplanned downtime in the high stakes oil and gas industry. Yet construction lags.
Research carried out by JBKnowledge last year suggested that two-thirds of firms in the sector were spending 1% or less of their budget on IT. It seems that, despite the growing awareness of technological advancements, most companies are failing to react to the massive opportunities that digital transformation promises. That’s not to say all companies are missing out. A still substantial minority are waking up to the digital era – a change that has been hailed as having a potentially greater impact than the industrial revolution.
From 3D design and clash detection using building information modelling, to hourly update footage of site works from drone cameras, contractors are taking advantage of 21st century tools to overhaul the way they build
The movement goes across all areas of the industry and beyond the headline-grabbing innovations such as virtual reality and simulator technology. There are plentiful examples of less glamorous uses of technology making a radical difference to the way construction businesses operate. For many companies, this is where the revolution is really taking place.
Evolution or Extinction
We interviewed Deltek customers, ITC Concepts, Morris & Spottiswood and Baxall Construction, to explore how they have embraced the digital construction movement and radically improved their business operations, profitability and compliance, and why they feel construction businesses really can no longer ignore digital transformation.
Nick Nieder is director for product management at Deltek.