The construction industry is struggling to employ the full benefits of technologies like advanced data and analytics, mobile telephony, automation and robotics. That’s according to findings from KPMG International’s report called Building a technology advantage – Global Construction Survey 2016.
In a survey of 200-plus senior construction executives, just 8 per cent of their companies rank as “cutting edge technology visionaries,” while 64 per cent of contractors and 73 per cent of project owners rank as “industry followers” or “behind the curve”, when it comes to technology.
“The survey responses reflect the industry’s innate conservatism towards technologies, with most businesses content to follow, rather than lead,” said Richard Threlfall, UK head of infrastructure, building and construction at KPMG. “Many lack a clear technology strategy, and either adopt it in a piecemeal fashion, or not at all.”
Two-thirds of survey respondents believe project risks are increasing, yet less than 20% of respondents say they are aggressively disrupting their business models. “Projects around the world are becoming bigger, bolder and more complex, and with complexity comes risk. Innovations like remote monitoring, automation and visualisation have enormous potential to speed up project delivery, reduce costs and improve safety,” added Threlfall.
Lagging use of data, mobility and integrated project management technologies
According to the survey, engineering and construction firms, and project owners, are not taking full advantage of the volumes of data at their fingertips. Almost two-thirds of those surveyed don’t use advanced data analytics for project-related estimation and performance monitoring. Moreover, only a quarter of respondents say they’re able to ‘push one button’ to get all their project information. Even fewer claim to have a single, integrated project management information system across the enterprise.
“Integrated, real-time project reporting is still a myth, rather than a reality for most. That’s largely because firms tend to use multiple software platforms that are manually monitored and disconnected, which severely compromises their effectiveness,” said Threlfall.
Mobile telephony is another technology with huge potential to analyse and track performance for large construction projects. A significant majority of respondents employ remote monitoring for projects sites, yet less than 30% say they make use of mobile devices routinely on all their projects, while a similar proportion don’t use mobile platforms at all.
Similarly, only a third say they’re employing robotics and automation. “Harnessing the true potential of technology requires construction companies and project owners to get clearer about their technology vision and strategy. The rapidly evolving infrastructure challenges of the next decade demands both owners and engineering and construction firms embrace technology more strategically and at a far more rapid pace than in the past,” concluded Threlfall.
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