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How to get started with connected construction?


In a recent conference hosted by MetekLive, exclusively attended by senior construction industry executives, the overarching message was that besides adopting the latest technology, the construction industry requires newer ways of thinking and embracing new opportunities.

The BIM Middle East 2021 Conference and Expo, which was endorsed by Dubai Municipality and BuildingSmart U.A.E. chapter, is one of the region’s leading events on Building Information Technology as it brings together all stakeholders in construction including government, municipalities, contractors; infrastructure operators, developers, consultants and technology providers.

Trimble Inc. (NASDAQ: TRMB) a leading technology provider to the construction industry globally, explored ‘Connected Construction’ in this year’s BIM Middle East Conference.

We know that even though technology is a great enabler for new processes, it alone is not enough to make current procedures and business structures more efficient.

Productivity has not improved significantly in construction with over 80% of projects over budget and productivity fell to about 40% according to BCG observations; a move from single-digit improvements to double-digit improvements in the construction industry is required through new means and methods.

Trimble Connected Construction ideology entails that to meet the best possible outcomes, and provide all stakeholders with the confidence they need to get their job done right – on time and under budget, human and process changes are required along with the adoption of technology.

In his presentation at the conference, Paul Wallett, Regional Director Trimble Middle East, and India stated:

“I often get asked how to get started with connected construction, to which my response is, with three simple steps: identifying your objectives, readying the organization, and capitalizing on the data.”

IDENTIFYING YOUR OBJECTIVES and having clarity on where you are going, and why, is key to ensure your business can meet the desired outcome. 50% increase in field productivity, 80% reduction in rework, 10% compression of schedules, are just a few examples of key objectives; and then we can look at digitization and how technology can enable us to reach our desired goals.

“It is GOOD to implement technology to automate an existing process; even BETTER to improve processes in general, but it’s BEST if you are implementing technology to meet a strategic business driver. When we ask our customers what their critical business initiatives are, I sometimes get answers like ‘we want to eliminate data silos.’ That is great!" Paul Wallett continues, "However, let’s say you did that AND you were successful; now it is 3 years later and you are communicating your success to the board? Was eliminating data silos really what made the difference? Or was it an improved process that helped grow margin, overcome labor shortages or expand market share? This is why having absolute clarity on where you are going is so important.”

The second step towards Connected Construction is to READY THE ORGANIZATION.

Our Connected Construction initiatives need more than a budget for technology; it needs top-down support and endorsement. Are we prepared for digital transformation? The transition won’t happen overnight, so it is vital to establish whether the initiative is strategically important, financially and organizationally supported, and finally, whether or not this change is adoptable?

For processes to change, a company needs to help teams see the value of the new processes, and provide ongoing support through frequent communication and skills development – this is NOT technology alone! How willing are we to invest in our people, advancing their skills sets, and providing support?

The third and final step towards Connected Construction is CAPITALIZING ON DATA, by having a purposeful data strategy to help us measure and benchmark our objectives.

How can we better analyze our historic data to make more informed future decisions? What KPI standards can we use, and what’s the source of the data? Can we ensure its quality? What questions do we want this information to answer?

Contractors who have clarity on what business problems they want to resolve, reported that improved data gathering and analysis saw benefits around, better budget compliance, improved productivity, improved profitability, and improved safety; this is just the tip of the iceberg!
Paul concluded by showing a diagram of an elephant divided into 6 parts: sustainability, safety, quality, efficiency, profitability, and productivity.

“Change is admittedly easier said than done, and there is a saying that the right way to eat an elephant (if you must), is to eat it one bite at a time. Driving a ‘Connected Construction’ process within your organization is no different. Applying existing technology with a better insight into your human and process change has the potential to open untapped frontiers for your organization.”

Paul Wallett, Regional Director Trimble Middle East, and India

Eat an elephant one bite at a time