Embracing digital solutions

August 29, 2018

By Stephan Degenhart, managing partner at Drees & Sommer Middle East

undefinedOne of the main causes of poor efficiency in the construction industry is a majority of industry players still depend upon paper documentation to keep track of processes and deliverables.

Due to the vast amount of information that is processed throughout the duration of a project and the time it takes for a document to change hands, papertrails are notorious for slowing down and hindering the efficiency of processes. This leads to disagreements between clients, developers and contractors, highlighting an impending need for digitised project-management and solutions to aid collaboration and mobility.

A recent study by consulting firm Roland Berger found that construction workers only devote 30% of time to their principal activity. The remaining 70% is consumed by other errands such as looking for materials, transporting materials to complete a job and cleaning up on-site.

Introducing digital tools can help streamline these processes and mitigate the loss of both time and financial resources onsite and throughout the construction process. Materials and equipment can be tracked at the click of a button and manpower allocated where and when they are needed.

To support digitisation as a growing trend in modern construction, certain technology has already been developed to help locate products and materials. This enables construction workers to devote more time to their principle activity rather than engaging in time-wasting activities that can cause delays to the entire project.

Recent research by McKinsey & Company found that construction is currently one of the Middle East’s least digitised industries. The sector stands to achieve significant benefits by adopting technologies that increase productivity as digital collaboration tools, which could raise productivity by as much as 15% and reduce project costs by up to 45%.

The study also found 75% of those companies adopting Building Information Modelling (BIM) reported a positive return on their investment. The same report found companies that had adopted BIM reported shorter project life cycles and savings on paperwork and material costs. Given these benefits, a number of governments, including those in Britain, Finland and Singapore mandate the use of BIM for public infrastructure projects.

The construction industry is evolving and projects can be executed smarter and more efficiently than ever before. By implementing digital methods in project management, construction companies will be able to gain an edge, boosting productivity and efficiency. Conversely, companies that prefer to stick to older more traditional methods are likely to be overtaken by their competition.

In order for the Middle East’s construction industry to keep pace with international markets, digitisation needs to start from the inside, processes need to be revolutionised step-by-step, people need to be trained and there needs to be a shift in thinking towards a more digitised future. This will pave the way for a more productive, cost-efficient, profitable and technologically driven regional construction industry.

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