Construction is a $10 trillion global industry, but it’s plagued by paper based inefficient processes and low productivity. Large projects across asset classes typically take 20 percent longer to finish than scheduled and are up to 80 percent over budget.
Significant potential savings from productivity gains and widespread labor shortages have made construction environment ripe for automation.
However, there are key challenges to technology in the construction industry:
• Digitization requires initial investment for long-term benefits. The margins in construction business are very slim and contractors resist use of technology to keep costs down.
• Construction labor force continues its resistance to adopt and operate advanced technology in a harsh, rugged environment. Training sub-contractors on newer technology is also a challenge.
• Construction is mostly on green field sites and there are limited connectivity options available. This limits the usage of technology as the site has to rely on an inconsistent connectivity.
• Oil and Gas or Chemical construction sites require C1D1/C1D2 intrinsic safe devices. These devices are very expensive, not readily available in the market, and are often lagging with the latest technology updates.
• Using more IoT devices increases the risk of a cyber attack, which can be detrimental for mega projects especially within O&G industry.
Over the past years, evolution in technology has overcome several of the above challenges and has now enabled a vision for Smart Construction. The connectivity options using SD WAN, integration of systems, IoT devices to capture field data, rugged mobile devices, robust analytical tools and collaborative solutions like virtual reality have created a strong business case to justify investment in technology for immediate returns.
There are key areas where technology has assisted in playing a transformational role:
Engineering: 3D CAD drawings are slowly becoming obsolete and will be replaced with 4D/5D business information modeling (BIM) heavily integrated with scheduling and estimation software. This allows easy simulation of changes depicting real time impact on schedule and cost. The 3D/4D/5D models can now be fed into a Virtual Reality studio where one can see and navigate through the real scale model, giving an immersive experience to customers. This helps to visualize and experience the finished structure to identify design flaws and trigger changes at a very early stage thereby significantly reducing the cost of the project. It also allows one to inhabit designs in a natural and immersive way, creating improved collaboration and a better understanding of designs in real scale.