THE INDUSTRY NEEDS TO CHANGE; DIGITAL IS THE ANSWER.
Is there any sector that resists changing more than the construction industry? Although the construction industry continually suffers from labor shortages, cost and time overruns, and outright project failures, it has been painstakingly slow to realize a digital future, despite proven profitability and performance results.
In the past, the industry has tended to lean towards gradual, incremental advances in digital construction. This approach will no longer suffice. Each year, projects are only becoming more extensive and increasingly complex. Traditional construction processes must adapt to meet the growing demand for a greener future. Additionally, the shortage of trained workers and supervisory personnel will only worsen in the coming years. These are immediate concerns that demand new approaches to planning and delivering construction projects.
PRIORITIES HAVE SHIFTED IN CONSTRUCTION
Since the dawn of the global pandemic, successful business leaders have recognized how the coronavirus caused a rapid digital transformation across every industry. In response, they have adjusted and refocused in order to survive.
“DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION CAN RESULT IN PRODUCTIVITY GAINS OF 14 TO 15 PERCENT AND COST REDUCTIONS OF 4 TO 6 PERCENT.”
Priorities have shifted in the construction industry. Remote technology, which was once considered an extravagance, is now essential for day-to-day operations. As a result, the popularity of building information modeling (BIM) and digital construction has skyrocketed.
So, if the industry is being forced into a new era, why isn’t a digital-first construction industry the reality of what we’re looking at today?
WHAT’S PREVENTING THE FUTURE OF DIGITAL CONSTRUCTION
Construction technology adoption faces a variety of challenges. In the face of shrinking margins fueled by competition, converting legacy paper systems to digital platforms will involve bold action.
- “But we’ve always done it this way.”
“We’ve always done it this way” is a common issue faced in construction today. When it comes to digitization, firms may feel daunted by the risk involved in adjusting their long-proven processes and systems. As a result, influential individuals are typically hesitant to try something new, specifically when substantial human and financial resources are required.
- Resistance to Invest
Too often, the long-term investment required for digital transformation is stifled by a failure to see the big picture. While many companies have committed resources to the siloed adoption of digital technologies, full integration continues to be a challenge for the majority. Companies that focus solely on short-term cost-benefit evaluations rather than looking farther down the road will progressively fall behind as competitors embrace new digital formats holistically – and profit from integrated insights that aren’t always evident.
- Stakeholder Demands
Change is frequently driven from the top down, as with most innovations. More governmental and commercial project owners expect digital construction capabilities from project design to execution as projects grow in size and complexity. Over time, without a firm commitment to a digital future, the construction industry falls farther and farther behind project performance expectations.
- Increasingly Complex Projects
Data gathering and distribution must become faster and more precise as projects increase complexity. As managers are asked to improve project and company performance, the sheer volume of data to track may be a major delay towards shaping construction’s digital future.
- Labor Problems
With the current workforce rapidly aging, firms are challenged to replace the skill and experience of the older generation. Even in companies with a large pool of younger employees, the system of older workers passing on their expertise and experience may fail, creating significant capabilities gaps and lowering competitiveness.
The stigma associated with the sector among younger generations often worsens the problem. This results in recent graduations passing on opportunities to take on construction technology occupations, however well-qualified for them they may be.
Will realizing the future of digital construction result in a shift in perception and aid in recruiting these digital natives? Those who respond will be rewarded with numerous opportunities. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, open construction manager positions are predicted to grow by 10% between 2018 and 2028, which is twice the average pace for other jobs.
HOW CAN THE CONSTRUCTION INDUSTRY EMBRACE A DIGITAL FUTURE?
Consider the following potentially unforeseen elements.
- High-Definition Geolocation – Are you using digital mapping and estimating to monitor and survey ongoing progress?
- 5-D BIM Technology – Have you integrated design and construction efforts to map the project accurately and coordinate between trades?
- Digital Collaboration – Is your team consistently assessing the accuracy of real-time data and dashboards to promote efficient and coordinated communication?
- Digital Twin Adoption – Are your preconstruction and design teams enabled to prevent costly rework and potential errors?
- Future Proof Design & Construction – Do you visually plan and execute work safely through early prefabricated processes and sustainable materials?
FUTURE PROOF DESIGN & CONSTRUCTION – MODULAR BUILDING
As a key counterpart to BIM Technology, modular building is a potentially helpful approach for a project whose main objective is a tight schedule or speed to market. Suppose the modular construction method doesn’t happen to be the right fit for a particular project. In that case, there are still other lean aspects an experienced project manager can suggest to create value. Modular construction is characteristically a more complex and comprehensive form of prefabrication. So, rather than constructing an entire room off-site, a team could prefabricate a component of the complicated building elements off-site, resulting in the same benefits of speed and quality. For example, building all the overhead electrical, vents, mechanical, and plumbing work into “racks” to be delivered and installed as one piece. To ensure your project is delivered with the latest methods and technology appropriate for your project, it is crucial to engage an experienced project management team and engage them as early as possible.
READY TO DRIVE YOUR DIGITAL CONSTRUCTION STRATEGY FORWARD?
It’s time for a decisive shift in mindset. Sometimes owners feel that their responsibilities end when they award contracts, forgetting that they are responsible for the financial implications of delays. When it comes to contractors, project quality can sometimes be delivered at a minimum standard to meet contractual terms, which leaves substantial value on the table. In order to drive a digital construction strategy forward, we must embrace four key principles:
- Transparency and risk sharing in contracts.
Contracts must be viewed as tools that help both parties succeed by allowing for a fair distribution of risks and rewards. This will happen if contracts between project owners and contractors explicitly define roles and allow both parties to share the benefits of technological and process advancements.
- A return-on-investment orientation.
The most effective strategy to develop a convincing case for adoption is to measure and communicate how new technology will improve construction—for example, through beneficial effects on cost, schedule, and risk optimization.
- Simplicity and intuitiveness in the design of new solutions.
In order to encourage utilization, user interfaces on the front end must be “foreman and field-friendly.” Compatibility with existing enterprise solutions on the back end reduces the need to spend more money on platform upgrades.
- Change management.
Organizations require a clear direction to break away from traditional construction methods. Top management must explain why these changes are necessary and what they represent for organizational structure, capabilities, and resourcing. Organizations that do not invest in change management are more likely to experience resistance and ultimately suffer from a lack of objective decision-making. Abbott’s business and commercial strategy maximizes opportunities and ensures that development strategies are consistent with the companies goals and directions.
- Documentation Management
Thorough, accurate, and secure documentation will play a fundamental role in successfully implementing a digital construction strategy. Abbott’s team consistently assesses the accuracy and timeliness of information in order to promote efficient and coordinated communication. Abbott also analyzes project data to detect potential risks, such as shifts in cost and schedule – enabling owners to make the most informed and calculated decisions as possible.
By boosting predictability, transparency, and accountability, digital construction technologies assist organizations in overcoming project obstacles. Solutions provide more precise work and prevent rework by delivering visual insights into every component of a project and real-time monitoring capabilities, assisting cost reductions, on-time delivery, and profitability.
Firms that do not digitize their operations will see their market share dwindle as the construction landscape changes. For organizations that want to prosper, weighing the advantages of digital construction should be a top priority.
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