Virtual - ConTech

25 August 2021
Virtual Summit

Innovation: The Key To Unlocking The Future of Smart Construction

Posted On July 15, 2021

Source: https://www.forbes.com/sites/sap/2021/07/14/why-small-and-mid-market-organisations-need-modern-erp/?sh=28c1a86c354a 

The construction industry is one of the least digitalized industries in the world. Traditional business methods still dominate the construction sector, even though construction projects are becoming more complex.

Multifaceted state-of-the-art projects can easily involve millions of components, requiring thousands of decisions, and hundreds of suppliers. Mega projects are driving multi-party joint ventures.

Leading-edge property developers and engineers strive to meet stringent environmental, health, and safety regulations as they design infrastructure and buildings that are sustainable, larger, and more technologically advanced than ever before.

So, how can construction companies keep up with the rapidly changing industry dynamics?

The answer lies in Innovation.

Innovation Drives Smart Construction Industry Growth

The construction industry is at a pivotal point where construction companies need to redesign and redevelop more efficient and sustainable business processes.

Companies must be agile enough to respond to events quicker and innovate faster than ever before to complete projects on time and on budget.

To do this, they need to improve efficiency, productivity, and quality control throughout their operations and supply chains.

Supply Chain Disruption

Robust and responsive supply chains are essential to react quickly to industry changes. Supply chains in multiple industries have been disrupted by the global pandemic, and the construction industry is no exception.

The price of some raw materials, such as lumber, have jumped dramatically in the past year, as sky-rocketing demand outstrips supply.

The recent pandemic-related disruptions to the supply chain, coupled with substantial growth and technology advancements such as smart equipment and automation, are leading to some significant changes and challenges in the industry.

Construction Industry Complexity

The complexity of the construction industry is so multi-dimensional that it can be challenging to grasp, and even more difficult to manage.

Consider the high-level factors involved in just one construction project:

  • Opportunity management: winning the bid            
  • Talent management: hiring the right people for the project
  • Supply chain management: getting the right materials, supplies, tools, and heavy equipment to the project site at the right time
  • Project execution: building the project through to completion
  • Operations and maintenance: ongoing support of the finished project

In a recent construction industry webinar, Matt Gramblicka, the vice president of IT and enterprise applications at Graham Construction, said projects have become much more complex and challenging to manage.

“We've seen a rise in the complexity of projects, just from the sheer size of them, to the requirements, right from the design process, through the execution phase, to the maintenance side of it. Owners are a little bit more sophisticated and demanding more and more of us. That, coupled with the volume of workers you're going to have on site, the equipment, and the volume of materials, there's a lot of complexity in managing and operating safely, executing, and delivering a high-quality product.”

Construction companies need to capture all of these elements in one place. Historically, this was done through paperwork. More recently, it was managed using monolithic software systems. Now, as construction projects become more complex, the systems needed to manage them must evolve as well.

Strategic Priorities to Help Manage Construction Complexity

A growing number of construction companies are embracing advanced technology to connect construction projects in ways that haven’t been seen before.

 Cloud-based, advanced technology solutions can connect all of the elements of a complex construction project in one place. Digitalization can also help construction companies meet the following strategic priorities:

  • Connected construction: Establishing modern construction sites with pre-fabrication capabilities and real-time communication and feedback on site.
  • Intercompany collaboration: Connecting the entire project team to collaborate on project details and costs.
  • Digital supply chain: Intelligent automation and predictive processes can improve efficiency, timelines, and project collaboration across planning, construction, and operations.
  • Digitalization of knowledge and expertise: Accessing information, best practices and highly skilled workers when needed using artificial intelligence (AI), visual work instructions, and other technologies to help improve safety and maintain high quality construction.
  • Resource visibility: Tracking and optimizing resources and equipment to manage owned and rental equipment status, reduce costs, and schedule repairs or returns in real time.
  • Improved cash flow: Digitizing and automating invoice and payment processes to reduce complexity and shorten payment cycles.
  • Efficient data transfer: Improving the transition from the construction phase to the operational phase with efficient transfer of data, and a digital twin to operate the facility going forward.

Taking the Complexity Out of Construction

As construction projects become more complex, construction companies must be capable enough to manage the complexity, and responsive enough to react faster than ever before.

By tapping into the benefits of advanced technology solutions, the construction industry can deliver new levels of flexibility, efficiency, and speed. Innovative cloud technology can help construction companies keep up with the fast-moving world of engineering, construction, and operations (EC&O).

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