Over the last two years, the engineering and construction industry has experienced a new wave of innovation and digitisation. With the federal government injecting $124.1 million to lift the nation’s AI capability organisations within the sector are waking up to the possibility of utilising new technologies to solve traditional problems, reduce errors and risk, save time, connect with the right suppliers, and work effectively remotely.
With the NSW Government finding it will take ten years for the industry to reach ‘digital maturity’ and amid from the ongoing border closures, shifting project types and a retiring labour force, there has never been more pressure for the industry to continue these digitisation efforts. These challenges have the industry rethinking every aspect of project delivery and the role technology can play to improve outcomes while driving down risk and costs. In fact, the ANZ construction sector is starting to embrace digital innovation, with nearly 40 per cent of companies planning to establish a digital transformation roadmap in the next year.
Here are the technologies we think will lead the pack:
Data will reach a new level of meaning
C&E executives and operators are realising that they must standardise, digitalise, and automate their processes to differentiate themselves in the market. Organisations will begin to take an approach where they will analyse everything meaningful that can be measured.
After determining the data or metrics they need to capture and monitor, organisations will be able to standardise, digitalise, and automate their processes to capture and analyse this data in real-time. The results may be surprising on what really holds the keys to success. For example, one overlooked setback could be the lynchpin factor that routinely can throw off an entire construction project.
With standardised business processes, constantly pulling and analysing data, firms will be able to drive productivity and efficiencies to better compete, differentiate themselves, and stay ahead. This quick data intelligence can also help identity and resolve data security issues faster. This alone will become a growing competitive advantage in the coming years as customers will want reassurance that their data will be kept safe.
Intelligent construction platforms will transform the industry
Data holds a wealth of potential value for the construction industry and will play a starring role in the digital transformation of the Australian sector. With hundreds of decisions all happening at once on a project, organisations will look to improve how data is managed – and how it is used to inform decision-making.
Powered by an AI and ML (machine learning) “data backbone,” organisations are moving towards a new breed of intelligent technology platforms to digitise workflows. These platforms will help organisations liberate their data and convert it into the intelligence needed to accelerate performance. They will also provide highly secure information management, reporting, and workflow automation to drive efficiency, visibility, and control across project processes. These cloud-based intelligent construction platforms will give organisations a competitive edge in an increasingly crowded market.
Predictive AI will help organisation look ahead
To date, business intelligence technologies have generally provided only a backward-looking view into project data, i.e., what has happened on projects. While these insights are valuable, organisations will look to construction technology platforms that utilise AI that can predict what is likely to happen throughout the construction process, improving chances of delivering a project on time and on budget.
New developments in AI have unlocked another level of project intelligence, enabling predictive insights to drive better decision-making to improve project outcomes. This can yields a dynamic view into such variables as:
- The factors which might delay a project
- The probability of delay on a project
- Amount of predicted delay
- Likelihood (and severity) of a cost overrun
- Hidden risks around safety, design, rework, and litigation
AI will help organisations succeed in the present, by learning from the past, to improve the future. It will yield predictive insights that add value to nearly every aspect of construction project management, including critical areas such as schedule, cost/budget, quality, safety, risk, and collaboration.
5G will power the truly connected worksite
Greater mobility and the advancements in connectivity brought about by 5G will further accentuate the industry’s ability to utilise insights provided through common data environments (CDE), the sensorisation of jobsites and materials, augmented reality (AR), AI, and ML. These technologies will provide greater connectivity, capacity, and democratisation of technology.
Eventually, work sites will be able to sensorise virtually anything on a job site, allowing companies to collect data from tools and materials. For example, workers could put sensors in concrete to assess drying time. Capturing such information from IoT sensors will make 5G a critical component of a job site.
Additionally, 5G will further heighten the focus on visualisation and enable experts to provide real-time guidance to new technicians connected via headsets, glasses, or other visualisation technologies. As 5G becomes more accessible, it will open up new capabilities for oilrigs, pipeline monitoring, laser scanning, BIM modelling, and more.
Written by Mark Webster, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Oracle Construction and Engineering