Why Digitalization in the Construction Industry Must Happen Now!

There is no doubt that COVID-19 has had an enormous effect on the world’s economy. But as countries start to open up, experts across the globe are hoping for a construction-led recovery.

In fact, the World Economic Forum has called on governments to invest in infrastructure projects that are “sustainable, technologically advanced and resilient.” It reports that low- and middle-income countries could see a $4 return for every $1 spent on such civil engineering projects.

To realize these returns, the construction industry worldwide needs to focus on reducing its reputation for cost blowouts and overrun schedules. For example, Denver’s new international airport went 167% over budget; and the Scottish Parliament building went over budget a whopping 4040%.

Beat the Low Productivity Trap
One of the main reasons for this is the lack of an integrated data system. Many in the industry still rely on paper documentation to manage processes and deliverables. For some, this is made even worse with changes and approvals to the project being communicated via messaging apps!

The fact that information has not been digitized can create a disconnect between the expected and actual time and scope of any project. People on the project waste time manually linking information such as blueprints, design drawings, procurement and supply-chain orders, equipment logs, daily progress reports and punch lists. We all know that keeping a robust paper trail takes time.

This leads to even more risk as information sharing is siloed and may not be universal. Projects are delayed as confusion and disagreement take the place of organization and collaboration between the office and the field.

Digitizing your information, however, allows for improved collaboration. A Common Data Environment (CDE) such as HxGN SDx will give you a single, centralized source of truth for everyone, no matter their job title or where they are based. By digitalizing your work process, you ensure that the people that need to can access project information while offsite or working remotely without having to rely on document gatekeepers.

Predict Cost and Schedule Overruns
We’ve all been in cost reporting meetings where project managers mask true performance to make it look like the project is under control. This may include limiting the activities reported on in the Forecast Variance column or moving budget from an overperforming area to an underperforming one.

The result of this smoke and mirrors is often cost and schedule overrun as the project nears completion.

If you want a predictability metric that takes the guesswork out of project performance, look no further than our Enterprise Project Performance solution. This starts by measuring the timeliness of forecast adjustments and the magnitude of the variations. It gives you oversight as to the project teams, divisions or regions that are delivering the most predictable projects.

You could then use this as a reward system for the teams that achieve the highest measure of predictability within your organization.

Increase Safety and Enable Remote Work
Safety has always been a keen concern in the construction industry. And it will get more challenging as the industry is obliged to comply to various government’s social distancing rules. Companies will need to revise labor schedules and maintain strict control over their workforce. The good news is that there are digital solutions that take the guesswork out of this.

Hexagon’s Xalt native apps for iOS, Android and browser offers real-time access and workability of remote operations from the field to a mobile landscape. It digitally transforms tasks like ordering materials for various locations, time planning of workers and budgets, asset management and tracking, audits and inspection checklists.

This gives you access to every part of the business from the office to remote job sites. Your foreman, superintendents, project managers and finance team can see reports in real time. Meanwhile, 3D scans mean you can virtually “visit” your assets and have important data regarding a particular process unit or piece of equipment at your fingertips.

Competition in the industry is cutthroat. And with the economic times the way they are, no one can afford cost overruns and serious hits to their bottom lines. Perhaps if there’s anything we can learn from other industries that have embraced digitalization and thrived because of it, it is this: Resisting change is no longer an option.

Get in touch or watch my webinar now, Digital Construction – Reshaping the Industry’s Business Continuity for more information on how digitalization in the construction industry will help the industry build resilience.

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Jonathan Ng
Jonathan is the Asia Pacific Sales Director of Alternate Markets, AEC & Infrastructure for Hexagon’s PPM division. He helps companies with their digital construction journey, focusing on the enhancement of integrated design delivery, building information modelling and virtual design and construction. With experience as a project manager and certified Project Manager Professional (PMP), Jonathan understands the challenges faced by operations and project teams.

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