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article imageWhy many construction companies have not transitioned to digital

By Tim Sandle     Mar 11, 2018 in Business
Moving to a digital model is essential for future survival of construction companies. This is necessary to meet changes arising from connected homes, smart factories and offices, according to a new report.
The new report comes from Accenture, and it is titled "Building Construction: Growth with bricks and mortar." The Digital Journal article "Digital technologies could unlock billions for construction" looked at the broad themes; this follow-on article looks at the specific trends.
Accenture's report notes how the global $10 trillion construction industry being disrupted by new digital entrants. This poses a major threat to established firms, especially since many construction companies have not transitioned to digital as the mainstay of their business. The analysis and its conclusion recommends that moving to a digital model is essential for the future survival of construction forms. This reflects the changing landscape of connected homes, smart factories and offices. In addition, there has also been a shift in terms of consumers expectations, with consumers seeking sustainable construction at a reasonable cost.
Examples of disruptive digital technologies include a robotic system developed by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology that can build the basic structure of a building in less than 14 hours; and Switzerland’s ETH Zurich University who are building the DFAB House, said to be the first house in the world to be designed, planned and built using primarily digital processes.
In terms of what construction firms need to do, the report organizes a strategy according to themes: connection, connected factories, and new business models.
With connected cars, homes and electronics are becoming commonplace, the report notes that customers are expecting the same approach to newer buildings. Here 51 percent of consumers polled said they back a future of smart-home technology. Consumers also want buildings that looks after their safety and which provide real-time information, guidance and entertainment.
Connected factories
The report gives many examples of what a connected factory could contain. For example, connected machines to allow the office to monitor maintenance schedules, fuel consumption, and asphalt temperature at roll-out. Furthermore, crews and construction management can become connected in real time. This would allow for crews to communicate any difficulties in executing plans and management to communicate back any changes to plans as a result of those difficulties. An additional example is with the use of connected fleets to allow site managers to control who can access equipment, as well as when and where it can be used.
New business models
The report acknowledged the challenges from start-ups and states that since no single company can nowadays contain all of the digital expertise necessary to meet market expectations, major construction companies need a new model where they work with new entrant firms, drawing upon the expertise offered by the ecosystem of niche players who specialize in digital products and services. These products include wearables, drones, augmented reality, sensors and automation.
In related news, Accenture further recommends that construction companies adopt a model called Industry X.0, which is a process of continuous improvement going beyond simply achieving Industry 4.0. This is set-out in the Digital Journal article "Accenture models Industry X.0 for businesses."
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