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Winning…with Connected Construction

12 June 2021

A recent report by Deloitte on the development of the construction and engineering industry until 2050 identified the key trends set to shape the industry, the priorities and challenges that construction professionals should be aware of, and the technologies and solutions that are on hand to help us meet these challenges.

The report defines Connected Construction as an ecosystem – a connected network of capabilities such as collaboration, real-time project visibility, worker safety and data that promotes the most effective, efficient, productive and safe delivery of projects.

As a key equipment supplier to the sector, in both Ireland and the UK, KOREC believe that it is vital for our customers to be aware of these findings, and to present solutions for how we can tackle the challenges, head-on.

We’ve reviewed the report and pulled out what we believe to be the key findings, which we’ll present over 3 sections – the challenges, the key technologies involved, and finally, the opportunities.

 

The Opportunities

We’ve identified four broad areas of opportunity that focus around; processes, data, people and future-proofing. We believe there are huge gains to be made by forward-thinking firms that take the time now to investigate the technologies that are available to them.

 

Streamline your Processes

A digital record of project plans (literal 2D & 3D plans, as well as scheduling) brings a wealth of information to your fingertips. Construction software such as Trimble FieldLink create a fully-connected flow of information both from and to the office allows you to avoid guesswork, make informed decisions on site, and cut down on the risk of costly errors. Other tools such as Bluetooth beacons, managed WiFi and on-ground sensors can track equipment performance and maintenance – equipping you with the latest information you need in order to make informed decisions.

 

Leverage your data’s full potential

Office-designed BIM models contain a huge amount of valuable information and data about a project – why lose a huge chunk of that value when bringing the design onto site? With connected, digital and paperless solutions, you are ensuring that the data you are working to on site, is identical to the data prepared in the office. What’s more, with tools such as the XR10 it’s simple to mark-up changes on site – which can then immediately be updated on the BIM. A virtuous cycle of powerful information, between the office and the build site.

 

Upskill your Staff

Autonomous or semi-autonomous technologies, such as robotic total stations, drones, and even robots, can take the slack when it comes to hazardous, repetitive or unskilled tasks. For example, a robotic total station requires only one semi-skilled operator, not two – immediately reducing personnel on site – or freeing them up for other tasks. Looking further afield, robots (or co-bots as they’ve been termed) such as Spot the Dog can be programmed by their human colleague to undertake manual tasks – even working throughout the night and at weekends to drastically cut programme schedules.

 

Future-proof your Business

The construction and engineering sector is at somewhat of a crossroads – huge global demand, a wealth of interconnected technologies available, stubbornly-low profit margins, growing concerns around environmental sustainability, and a well-publicised skills shortage.

In order to attract a new generation of educated, informed and skilled workers to the profession, the sector must engage with currently-available connected technologies, which will in turn drive down costs, and drive demand for new solutions.

At a business level, those organisations (such as Nugent Manufacturing) that take a long-term, joined-up and open-minded approach are more likely to experience the gains in productivity, efficiency, safety and profit margins that those who operate in a business-as-usual manner. And it is those digital-ready organisations that are best placed to attract the top talent to ensure their future growth.

Key Technologies

The report identified 6 key technologies, some of which are already beginning to make major inroads into the efficiency and productivity of our industry;

1.Robotics

Dull, laborious and repetitive tasks are better performed by a robotic assistant (see Spot the dog from Trimble & Boston Dynamics!), freeing up their human colleagues for safer, higher-skilled tasks

2. Automation

The growth of AI could lead to the rise of intelligent buildings – structures that learn how to run and operate themselves – saving energy, money and resources

3. 3D-printing

Having accurate, digital design information (as provided by the Trimble X7 3D scanner) allows for complete 3D-printed assets (including the world’s first inhabited 3D printed house)

4. Autonomous Vehicles

High-accuracy data of construction sites paves the way for robotic ‘workers’ to work around the clock – leading to huge reductions in project delivery timescales

5. Unmanned Aerial Vehicles

Rapidly becoming a fixture of construction sites across the country, UAVs enable the rapid and contact-free survey of large and difficult to access areas – ideal for regular project progression updates and site inspection.

6. Virtual, Augmented and Mixed Reality

Visualise completed projects before ground has even been broken – augmented reality solutions such as SiteVision allow for unbuilt, underground or unseen features to be viewed in-situ, whilst wearable mixed-reality such as the XR10 allow contractors (as well as clients) to undertake walkthroughs of complex sites.

 

There is a link to download the full 16-page report at the bottom of the page.

 

The Challenges facing our industry

  • Only ¼ of the global infrastructure we’ll need by 2050 exists today. Every single day, over 200,000 people move into the world’s urban centres.
  • The Construction industry is only looking 2.5 years ahead when it comes to digital strategy – ranking bottom out of 17 industries for forward-thinking and planning.
  • Profitability and margins are stubbornly low – earnings averaging just 5% of sales. Not only does this affect the bottom line, it also deters higher-skilled graduates from entering the profession
  • Engineering and construction firms experience an average of 82-days outstanding sales (i.e. unpaid invoices) – longer than all other industries. Again, this affects cash-flow and stunts the ability of the business to invest.

Find Out More…

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