Digital transformation in the construction industry is essentially the use of digital technology to solve problems. It is a challenging, ongoing process that has vast potential to improve productivity and efficiency. It involves the combination of digital technology with cultural and organisational change. This will change processes into something considerably safer, more efficient and more collaborative. It will also counter continually present resistance.
“A UK industry that leads the world in research and innovation, transformed by digital design, advanced materials and new technologies, fully embracing the transition to a digital economy and the rise of smart construction”(Construction 2025 Vision)
As we move into a new decade, in an industry already behind the curve being amongst the least digitised to date, the pressure to achieve the vision of Construction 2025 is ever increasing. Furthermore, as the population expands, urbanisation follows suit, resulting in an upturn in global demand for construction output. This rise in demand drives the importance of digital transformation in the construction industry.
Some of the core issues that plague the construction industry could be improved by moving away from analogue processes. Disjointed communication where people and companies work in silos, make it difficult to achieve the same goal efficiently. Furthermore, differing objectives and standards with several stakeholders, complicate and restrain projects from performing effectively.
Despite the barriers that the construction industry faces in digitalization, the possibility for this is great. Digital transformation in the construction industry will:
- facilitate an improvement in productivity and profitability
- improve collaboration
- create better safety and predictability on construction sites and enhance clarity
We can already see where digital transformation in the construction industry is starting to show great benefits to both client and contractor organisations with the advancement of BIM technology and 4D planning. The 2019 Global Project Controls Survey found organisations using 4D planning on a regular basis achieved 3x more success on projects. To find out more about what 4D planning is, you can read about it in our blog here.
Manchester Town Hall Building project showcased the benefits of digital engineering through 3D virtual tours, allowing for a decrease in temporary works, educating key stakeholders and providing English Heritage with assurances, all resulting in a decreased total cost and an overall saving of nine months on the programme. (Construction 2025, 2013)
Another example is Mace’s Clonee Data Centre. Mace implemented the use of cloud-based construction management tools resulting in employees and managers being 21% and 35% more productive respectively (BIM+, 2019).
‘We orchestrated the whole project in BIM 360 with schedules linked to models. During construction, we validated activities as they happened. Delays, defects and surprises are less likely when you align what’s happening in the field, as it happens, to what’s in the plan.’Paddy Ryan, Programme BIM Leader for MACE
Overall, digitisation may be in its infancy in the construction industry with many roadblocks and disruptions present. However, there is an overwhelming possibility of benefits from joining the digital revolution. We can start to see these already emerging with growth in BIM technology, however, there is still a way to go until there is a full digital transformation across the industry. Furthermore, the construction industry needs to look at how best to embrace digitisation of their processes to ensure the construction 2025 vision can become a reality.
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