Construction Industry Must Adopt Technology or State Will Not Resolve Housing or Infrastructure Issues
Leaders of Irish construction will hear how new technologies in what’s been termed ‘Construction 4.0’ will fundamentally challenge the industry’s business model today at the CIF’s inaugural ‘Digital Construction Summit’ in Croke Park.
Demand for construction activity continues to increase, particularly with the announcement of the Government’s 10-year National Development Plan. However, the industry’s rate of adoption of new technologies is still low, and this could undermine its ability to deliver the housing and infrastructure Ireland’s economy, and society requires.
Inaugural Digital Construction Summit
CIF Director, Sean Downey stated: “A wave of disruption is about to crash into the Irish construction industry and we’re prepared. Construction 4.0 technologies are transforming the construction industry. Increasing the uptake and adaption of these technologies will radically improve productivity in the industry while delivering the housing, infrastructure and specialist buildings that embed FDI here in Ireland.
The Government recently announced that it would make BIM a pre-requisite for awarding public sector contracts by 2021. Measures such as these are to be welcome as they help widespread adaption of existing technologies that will improve the industry’s capacity to deliver. This is a challenging target for industry, but there are real rewards for companies and the exchequer as construction is delivered more cost-effectively with fewer disputes and overruns.”
Digital technology is transforming the way construction and infrastructure projects are designed, delivered, and operated. On 7th December, the National BIM Council published the first digital strategy for Ireland’s construction industry, titled a ‘Roadmap to Digital Transition’. Under this strategy, the construction industry will aim to achieve 20% reductions in cost, 20% reductions in programme and 20% increases in construction exports to 2021.
“Digital transformation is both a threat and opportunity for the industry,” said Sean Downey. “99% of the industry are SMEs and will require support in their digital transition. Many of these companies will struggle with the required investment to overcome high adoption costs even as their workload increases. In addition, these new technologies require new skills sets amongst employees at a time when the industry facing a skills shortage as numbers entering the industry have been depressed nearly a decade.”
Benefits of Digital Construction
The benefits of digital construction include reducing the cost, time, and disputes by facilitating collaboration between members of the supply chain offsite while making manual and repetitive processes quicker, automated, and more accurate on-site.
Recently, the UK Government announced that BIM had contributed to saving it STG£1.7bn last year on major projects, noting that secondary school buildings in the UK now cost 40% less through better contracting and innovation.
Guest speaker at the Digital Construction Summit Danielle Dy Buncio, co-founder and CEO of VIATechnik, stated: “The industry is at an inflection point right now. The main disruption I see truly having a meaningful impact on the industry today, is pre-fabrication. Bringing a manufacturing mindset to the construction process is improving productivity at a rate our industry hasn’t seen in the past. The largest barrier I see is the understanding that successful technology implementation requires the integration of people, process, and technology.
“Technology is the easy part – with enough resources you can buy the right hardware and software. But the people and the process side are more nuanced. Who are the key players on your team that will champion or oppose technology changes? How do you create a culture of innovation? What are your current workflows and how do they need to evolve?
The big changes over the next five years will be around the topics of industrialized construction and Artificial Intelligence. I’m fascinated by examining evolution and innovation in other industries – design and construction can learn so much. We’re already starting to see the manufacturing mindset (ex-prefabrication and robotics) evolving our construction sites. AI is in its infancy in our industry, but there are some interesting advancements in AI project scheduling or automated scan to BIM workflows.”
Speakers at the Digital Construction Summit 2018
- Patrick O’Donovan, Minister of State (Dept of Finance)
- Tom Parlon, Director General, Construction Industry Federation (CIF)
- Dominic Doheny, President, Construction Industry Federation
- Caroline Spillane, Director General, Engineers Ireland
- Ian Kehoe, Editor, The Sunday Business Post
- Danielle Dy Buncio, Co-Founder and President, VIATechnik, Chicago, USA
- Tom Kelly, Head of Division – Industrial, Lifesciences & Consumer, Enterprise Ireland
- John Foster, European Business Development Manager for BIM, Topcon Europe
- Dr Alan Hore, Founder CiTA
- Sean Downey, Director, Specialist Contracting, Construction Industry Federation
- Eoin Vaughan, CEO, Mercury Engineering
- Elizabeth Kavanagh, Head of Innovation and Research, Stride Treglown, UK
- Dr Claire Penny, World Wide Solutions Leader, IBM
- Joseph Mady, Managing Director, Digital Construction Technologies Group
- Cillian Kelly, BIM Leader Ireland, Sisk Ireland
- Maria Mahon, Chairperson, Initiafy