Getting Digitally Ready for the Next Normal in Construction

COVID-19 is accelerating digital transformation in the AEC industry

For many decades, the construction industry has underperformed compared to other industries due to its high fragmentation, long and complex value chain, aversion to risk, and low adoption of digital technologies.

The COVID-19 pandemic has been significantly impacting the construction industry: construction site have shut down, the supply chains were disrupted, and construction staff have to work from home… the challenges are from all angles. It has forced the AEC companies to rethink the way they work and seek for emergent technologies that help them steer out of the crisis and maintain a competitive position onward.

In these trying times, the industry has seen many innovations and use cases of digital technologies onsite and offsite. Collaboration platforms have been widely used among project teams for instant communication and data sharing no matter where they are. IoT and sensors technologies have been adopted in the jobsite to monitor workflow and ensure social distancing. BIM-based collaboration, digital workflow management, real-time progress tracking, onsite mobile apps, and more have been brought into the construction processes to keep the business running. Technologies that the industry is slow to accept and use, have been become an integrated part of the industry. Increasing numbers of companies are recognizing the importance of digitization and how it can transform the industry for the better.

How digital tech can help construction companies emerge stronger

During the pandemic, we have seen use cases of digital technologies that help construction companies keep running. In the post-pandemic world, digital tech will play a more important role in helping the industry recover and thrive. Here we look at how using digital tech can help the industry emerge stronger:

  • Taking advantage of integrated cloud platform

COVID-19 has highlighted the importance of using digital tools to support the remote way of working. Cloud-based teamwork applications have been widely used in all works of life to keep teams stay connected. But for the construction industry, where lots of stakeholders and roles are involved along complicated construction processes to have projects completed and delivered, enhancing collaboration means more than just connecting people, but processes and data.

An integrated cloud platform, like MTWO Complete Construction Cloud can help construction companies connect all people, processes, and data in one place, facilitating real-time collaboration, streamlining workflow, and increasing productivity. With a centralized database and functionalities covering project lifecycle on the cloud, such a platform can help construction companies manage enterprise-wide projects from project planning to construction and operations while connecting every role and stakeholder on one single cloud platform.

  • Extending the use of BIM to 5D BIM

BIM technologies has been used in construction for many years. But most companies remain in the early stages of the adoption of BIM. The pandemic has pushed the utilization of 5D BIM technologies. According to a McKinney report, designers and engineers are relying more heavily on BIM, and using 4D and 5D simulation to replan projects and reoptimize schedules. The use of this technology has been proved to increase productivity and will become even stronger post COVID-19.

Using 5D BIM technology – adding schedule and cost data to a three-dimensional model, can intergrade the design phase with the rest of the value chain, get stakeholders’ early involvement in the early stage to make decisions, and optimize project planning and execution, as a result, materially mitigating risk, improving coordination and improving efficiency.

5D BIM technology offers a new way for the integral management of projects through planning, bidding, construction, and operation & maintenance. In the planning phase, 5D simulation helps to simulate and compare different scenarios to choose the optimal plan for construction. In the construction phase, actual project progress, procurement schedule, and quality information are real-time updated from the field and connected to BIM models for visualized and efficient project monitoring. All data complemented to the BIM models from the planning and building phase can be easily transferred to the operation phase, forming the basis for permanently and securely properties, buildings, and facilities management.

  • Making the best use of data

Data and analytics are the key to digital transformation. In the rising digital economy accelerated by the coronavirus outbreak, data is becoming a more important source for construction companies to gain a competitive edge and improve productivity.

Deploying a cloud-based integrated platform with business intelligence capability enterprise-wide, the construction company will have a centralized data hub collecting all the structured data along the project lifecycle, allowing the project team to access the latest project data in real-time, share data seamlessly and collaborate under one single source of truth. The cumulative data of historical projects can be intuitively utilized to establish better processes for future projects as well.

With control tower empowered by business intelligence technology, executives can work with deep levels of data instantly without having to be data scientists. The interactive dashboards give team members the necessary real-time, structured information to know overall or detailed project performance in scope, costs, schedule, safety, and more. Teams can gain real-time transparency over the projects and operations and take proactive actions.

  • Artificial Intelligence and automation

There’s no denying the fact that automation is crucial to boosting productivity in any industry, and construction is no exception. Post COVID-19, construction companies are under high pressure to maximize construction productivity to offset the time lost, artificial intelligence will be an invaluable tool to automate processes and boost onsite productivity.

Artificial intelligence boasts a multitude of applications. From the ability of machine learning algorithm to provide predictions, forecasts, and recommendations on project workflows, to enabling users to access the information they need in seconds, do hands-free quality and safety inspection, and conduct instance progress checking and report with Voice Assistance and Chatbot. Construction professionals can also utilize Mixed Reality solution to visualize project content on the jobsite. By aligning visualized BIM models with the physical construction environment, project managers can quickly understand the actual project progress and update the real-time schedule information with ease.

The changing environment has made digital technology no longer a “nice to have” for AEC companies. It is a “must-have” to tackle the challenges and maintain a competitive edge in the rising digital economy. Contact our expert today to explore how RIB’s digital solutions can help your construction business.

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