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Perspectives

Digital disruption in engineering and construction

How digital construction can increase productivity and profits

Engineering and construction (E&C) is expected to grow three percent annually through 2021, but profitability and margins remain persistently slim. Fortunately, digital technologies hold untapped promise to help the E&C industry address this challenge. Connected construction can help teams imagine, create, and build the spaces, structures, and cities of tomorrow—at higher volumes and higher profit.

Digital transformation in the E&C industry

With demand on the rise and profitability a constant challenge, the E&C industry is poised—perhaps even overdue—for digital transformation to change how construction and infrastructure projects are delivered, driving down costs and improving overall project execution and timeliness.

Using digital construction tools such as active and passive asset tracking, connected time-clocks, computer vision, AR/VR (augmented reality/virtual reality), real-time data analytics, predictive maintenance, and automation, E&C companies can operate in smart, connected job sites that enable them to link assets, suppliers, and contractors; automate processes; and synchronize equipment, labor, and supply chains. Through connected construction, builders have the potential to:

  • Reduce downtime through proactive asset monitoring
  • Optimize asset utilization and efficiency
  • Gain visibility and predictive actionable insights
  • Trigger automated business processes

Connected construction can help keep projects on time and on budget, protect assets, and improve overall quality by enabling people to work smarter, communicate more easily, and track projects more effectively.

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How digital construction will shape the world we live in

Connected job sites, machines, and teams

A core component of digital transformation for E&C is IoT (internet of things) in construction: Equipping job sites, machines, and teams with sensors and tags that enable builders to create visibility from the field, interact with machines and job sites, collaborate with other work packages, create dashboards and reports to monitor progress and maintenance, and perform analytics on process, resource performance, and environmental conditions, including worker safety.

Connected construction is a dynamic, “always-on” network providing a continuous flow of information and analytics with compelling capabilities and benefits for the E&C industry:

Connected assets: Assess soil conditions, temperature, humidity, and water levels at the construction site to help prevent damage.

Dynamic work planning: Track material and resources effectively to help execute the work according to plan.

Worker safety: Reduce work hazards through real-time visuals to help plan work, identify potential risks, and comply with safety requirements.

Real-time project visibility: Generate building profiles and parts in real time, connect virtually, and view digital dashboards for real-time updates to help track construction progress.

Collaboration: Make information about almost every aspect of a construction operation available to relevant parties, on-site or elsewhere, to help improve collaboration.

Data analytics: Provide accurate, readily available data, information by geolocation, remote site monitoring, personnel location tracking, live markups and the seamless transfer of as-built information to help improve project execution.

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How digital construction will transform the E&C industry

By delivering a true 360-degree view of projects, digital construction can help the E&C industry:

  • Improve operational processes by optimizing time and resources
  • Enhance construction project performance with near real-time visibility into progress
  • Manage construction assets including equipment health and maintenance more effectively
  • Streamline the design change process with more efficient procurement and faster access to resources

With connected construction, project teams have the visibility and control they need to manage all aspects of the construction project more effectively, making it easier to deliver on time and on budget. At the same time, the as-built information from the construction phase is seamlessly transitioned to the operations modules, significantly accelerating commissioning times.

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Digital and long-term success of the E&C industry

Connected construction has the potential to improve project planning and execution, by extension increasing productivity and margins. By harnessing data from IoT in construction, our homes, offices, and cities can all be operated in a smarter, more efficient, and effective way. Data can also be used to assess trends and to inform the design of future buildings, infrastructure projects, and even large-scale city-wide master-plans.

Digital disruption in the E&C industry is quickly gaining momentum, and firms should already be exploring the benefits and competitive edge digital technologies could deliver. Connected construction is likely to become the norm quickly, as innovative solutions demonstrate the potential to increase productivity, reduce costs, and improve safety for the E&C industry of the not-so-distant future.

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