“A few weeks ago I was a panellist at the FT Future of Construction Summit, where the topic of discussion was focussed on how the digital transformation of the construction industry is driving productivity, innovation and collaboration.
The event was attended by a diverse cross-industry group from within the UK, Europe and the United States, including clients, contractors and suppliers, all of whom were looking to understand how far the industry has progressed is in its adoption of digital processes including Level 2 Building Information Modelling (BIM) and what the Digital Built Britain strategy will mean for the future of the industry.
Historically the industry has been used to working in silos, however for BIM to be successful; we need to work collaboratively with others, which requires a change in approach, behavior and mindset.
When it comes to collaboration, whether in our own organisation or that of our customers and supply chain, we must lead by example, by providing support and engaging openly; in order that we can be effective, achieve an improved quality of output and deliver consistently well.
Ultimately, we are all only as good as the people we work with and therefore it is important that we take the time to understand the knowledge and capabilities that reside within our project teams so that we procure the right people with the right skills and can plug any knowledge gaps where we are able.
Moving forward, there are many exciting opportunities for industry to develop its capabilities, with digitally enabled working offering the sector the potential to diversify, innovate and develop new services based around the full asset lifecycle. To achieve this, construction companies will need to reassess their investment in Research and Development which runs well behind that of other industries, and work together with their supply chain and other sectors to develop service offerings which deliver effective solutions for our customers.
Projects are increasing in both complexity and scale, and demand is growing for industry to demonstrate their ability to deliver assets which reduce cost and enhance performance; both of which will require the sector to adopt new ways of thinking and working.
We need to assimilate more knowledge about how buildings are performing in order to improve. Buildings can generate vast amounts of data; however the majority of this information is often not utilized effectively. Through the use of smart monitoring, there is the opportunity to capture in-use performance information, which will enable us to create a feedback loop to improve the efficiency of the assets we design, deliver and manage.
What is absolutely certain is that the industry is only going in one direction and that is digital. Technological advancement is creating the opportunity for the construction sector to evolve, win new work and create business growth. The only question we should now be asking ourselves is not ‘why should we do this?’ but ‘why wouldn’t we do this?’ ”
(Lucy Abbott is BIM Director for Wates Construction Group)