Construction Predictions 2022 has been saved
Construction Predictions 2022
Further digitising the construction lifecycle: Embracing digital ledgers and realities
The productivity challenges in the construction sector are well known. Construction productivity growth lags many sectors and is well below the national average in developed countries like the UK1
Many issues are behind the slow growth, such as skills shortages, fragmentation across the supply chain, competitiveness, high-risk projects and slim profit margins2. For an industry that contributes 9% to the EU’s GDP3, leveraging the latest technological advancements is critical in order to mitigate risk and improve productivity.
Traditionally, digital solution adoption has been a challenge for the industry where a ‘build once’ approach does not support investment in non-traditional, high-cost solutions. However, with Industry 4.0 solutions such as blockchain, digital twin, and virtual and augmented reality (VR/AR) becoming more accessible, affordable, and widespread throughout the supply chain, and more agile practices becoming more common place, it is no longer a question of ‘if’, but ‘when’ and ‘how’ firms invest and implement digital ways of working.
These digital solutions have the potential to help the construction sector move beyond the capabilities of Building Information Modelling (BIM). Organisations will now be able to trial the asset before it is built, test construction sequencing, model thousands of what-if scenarios, automate processes and democratise information and, consequently, transform the industry.
A democratised and secured environment
Trust is based on all parties having access to the same information at the same time. This trust is further reinforced if the information has been validated by all parties following the same rules.
It is expected that blockchain can be used as that cornerstone in the construction industry to democratise project data, remove confidence barriers that certain centralised processes can entail and unlock a variety of use cases.
A relevant example of blockchain technology is Smart Contracts. These execute preconfigured instructions (in the form of code) which are validated by a blockchain ledger. As the quality of the data is trusted by all parties, automating certain processes can yield interesting benefits for our industry, as already experienced in Finance and Real Estate4.
This level of automation can accelerate the administration of contracts and significantly reduce end-to-end processing times, particularly where certain contractual conditions are well defined.
This technology also adds an additional layer of security. Once the information has been stored in the appropriate block of the ledger and is visible to all parties, any tampering is averted. For an industry in which claims and disputes cause major delays, significant settlement fees and widespread frustration, blockchain technology could help significantly reduce the quantity of them.
Your digital twin
Supported by improvements in cloud and edge computing, mobile hardware and apps, and onsite highspeed internet access (5G/ mobile wireless networks) and adoption of digital models has increased and is evolving rapidly across many aspects of the construction lifecycle. In structured phases, from the very early stages of 3D modelling to the more current collaborative ways of working backed by governments5, certain aspects of the project lifecycle have changed tangibly
Current graphical rendering capabilities now provide higher fidelity images than ever before. In addition, cloud technologies and increasing data volumes6 now supplement the models with historic and, often, live information. Organisations are now adopting more advanced ways to offer clients, and the wider society the ability to “visit” a physical asset, to visualise the features they require and request data about its components in order to make their decisions from the comfort of their desks, thus contributing to reducing our carbon footprint and site-related health and safety risks.
Digital twin technology is no longer limited to viewing and navigating a model, and organisations will now be able to replicate a range of processes related to executing the project lifecycle. Clients will also be able to track materials and plant movements more accurately, model resources and monitor progress using a digital representation of the workflow7 . This increased end-to-end visibility will be coupled with automation and AI analytics to start, for example, automated orders when certain levels have been reached and act on any bottlenecks identified.
Choose your reality
Digital Twins and blockchain used together can transform the industry’s operations. A trusted digital representation of the physical asset and relevant construction processes can enable a more agile and interactive approach to the way we embark on construction projects. This is accelerated further by Virtual and Augmented Reality technology becoming more accessible.
Most smartphones are equipped with some augmented reality functionalities, enabling consumers to shop in smarter ways such as checking whether a sofa fits into your living room before making the purchase8. Powerful yet affordable virtual reality headsets are driving a whole new area of the entertainment industry with users seeking immersive experiences from their own homes in virtual worlds including gaming and attending events9 .
The same technologies driving consumer trends are also making an appearance on the construction site. Mobile phones with LiDAR scanning technology coupled with smart apps allow accurate, rapid model update without hiring specialist services10. We have seen hard hats with integrated AR screens and integrated computers that allow technicians to navigate and update 3D models in the field, in real time11.
These technologies are also supporting virtual and remote ways of working, and improving the safety and efficiency of workers; robots coupled with AI provide continuous site surveying for model development and construction progress updates12, UAV drones provide visualisation data across vast areas and extreme heights at low cost13 and even fully wireless sacrificial sensors which provide live feedback on concrete maturation to enable real time quality assurance14.
As digital solutions become more accessible to broader sections of the construction industry, there are increasing opportunities to invest strategically in digital strategies which create the foundation for efficient and agile ways of working throughout the value chain and across multiple projects. The digital way of working is no longer a vision of the future for the construction industry, but the next step in its evolution that is ready to be embraced.
1UK Office for National Statistics, October 2021: Productivity in the construction industry, UK - Office for National Statistics
2“Digitalisation in the Construction Sector”, European Construction Sector Observatory, April 2021 (https://ec.europa.eu/docsroom/documents/45547/attachments/1/ translations/en/renditions/native accessed 23 February 2022)
3European Commission, Construction Sector Construction (europa.eu).
4Data and Analytics Leaders Need to Focus on Blockchain Smart Contracts Now. Gartner, 2020 (https://www.gartner.com/document/3933973?ref=solrAll&refval=238643016 accessed 23 February 2022).
5Government Construction Strategy, Cabinet Office, 2011 Government Construction Strategy - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
6IDC Global Datasphere, March 2021 (https://www.idc.com/getdoc.jsp?containerId=prUS47560321 accessed 23 February 2022).
7“Bridging the physical and the digital”, Deloitte, January 2020 (https://www2.deloitte.com/us/en/insights/focus/ tech-trends/2020/digital-twin-applications-bridging-the-physical-and-digital.html accessed 23 February 2022)
87 examples of retailers making use of augmented reality, Retail Next, Oct 2018. (https://retailnext.net/blog/7- examples-of-retailers-making-use-of-augmented-reality accessed 23 February 2022).
9“The New Reality for Concerts in COVID: Virtual Reality?”, Rolling Stone, July 2020 (https://www.rollingstone.com/ pro/features/virtual-reality-livestreams-covid-1021683/ accessed 23 February 2022)
10“OpenSpace 3D Scans to use iPhone/iPad LiDAR sensors” AEC Magazine, November 2021 (https://aecmag.com/ technology/openspace-3d-scans-to-use-iphone-ipad-lidar-sensors/ accessed 23 February 2022).
11“Engineering-Grade Augmented Reality”, XYZ, January 2022 (https://www.xyzreality.com/ accessed 23 February 2022)
12Leica RTC360 with Boston Dynamics Spot, Leica, Leica RTC360 with Boston Dynamics Spot | Leica Geosystems (leica-geosystems.com)
13DRONES FOR SURVEYING digitise your job site, Heliguy, January 2022 (https://www.heliguy.com/pages/dronesfor-surveying accessed 23 February 2022)
14Concrete Sensors: Working and Types - The Constructor (https://theconstructor.org/concrete/concrete-sensorsworking-and-types/561638/ accessed 23 February 2022)
Five key dimensions to deploy to enable digital capability within your organisation