A “Perfect Storm” for AEC Industry Transformation

By Akio


Click to TweetClick to Tweet: A “Perfect Storm”
for #AEC Industry Transformation

It’s no secret that the AEC industry is suffering from a surplus of waste: wasted materials, wasted time spent on rework and change orders, waste from highly fragmented processes.

However, what the industry is beginning to realize is that it’s not the first group to think, There must be a better way.

The aerospace industry is one recent example; in the 1990s, companies such as Boeing began to look at technologies and processes used in other industries to tighten their supply chain and manufacturing processes. A switch to all-digital modeling made this possible.

Also necessary was a switch in mindset. Aerospace professionals had to switch their thinking from “project” to “product,” and adopt product lifecycle management tools that would deliver increased value to the end-user.

With these 2 steps, AEC professionals can likewise optimize their processes:

Step 1. Adopting Revised Business Models

According to Hector Lorenzo Camps, founder of PHI Cubed Inc., the industry is looking for ways to improve, but to truly move forward will first have to revise its compensation and business models.

Click to TweetClick to Tweet: “To move forward, #AEC industry
1st must revise its comp & business models” @HectorCamps

Although design-build contracts are increasingly popular, there remains too little true partnership among all parties involved in the design, construction and operations processes.

Today’s typical contracts emphasize distinct roles for all players in order to help control liability.

“Many relationships in the industry are strained because of the adversarial nature of the industry standard contracts that pin professionals against each other to divide risk,” Camps says.

New collaborative forms of agreement—namely, Integrated Project Delivery—remain slow to take off as AEC professionals explore new liability rules and shift from a “best for me” to a “best for project” mentality.

Click to TweetClick to Tweet: #AEC is shifting (slowly) from
“best for me” to “best for project” mentality.

Tied to this need to collaborate is another necessary step for AEC professionals: the need to shake their reliance on a 2D, paper-based management process.

Step 2. Adopting Tools for Better Integration

Until all industry players make the switch to 3D processes, there will be a problem with what Camps calls “two versions of the truth with documentation, one in 2D and the other in 3D.”

Many firms are working with a mix of 2D CAD and 3D BIM to accommodate all parties’ preferences.

“Contractually, firms go with the 2D documents, which often are obsolete and predate the model. Builders under pressure, wanting to build from the best available data, are asking to build from the model and produce 2D documents after,” Camps says. “The coordinated model needs to drive the dimensional and informational control of the project and the field implementation documents. The contractual language needs to reflect this.”

Camps believes owners—who ultimately stand to gain the most from collaborative projects—will drive this evolution to 3D.

“All they need to do is write into their contracts the information management strategy. As long as the roles, responsibilities and use case for information are defined, and intellectual property is dealt with, they should have no problem getting professionals to deliver digital documents,” he says.

Why Now Is The Time For Change

The good news? The AEC industry is already beginning to adopt the tools and processes that will make transformation possible.

“We have the perfect storm for real industry transformation as significant as the industrial revolution,” Camps predicts.

Click to TweetClick to Tweet: .@HectorCamps predicts a “perfect storm
for #AEC transformation as significant as #IndustrialRevolution”

First, AEC professionals are beginning to borrow concepts from manufacturing. To further reduce waste and improve quality, the industry is looking to close the gap between design and fabrication. Lean construction is one such effort, as the industry attacks waste by taking lessons learned from Lean Manufacturing and Just in Time delivery models.

Second, Camps points to a number of technology solutions becoming available that may further speed improvement.

For example, the advent of cloud computing is making it easier than ever for all players to work together in a more tightly connected process.

As Camps points out, AEC companies generally have far fewer employees than manufacturing industries, making it potentially more difficult to invest in an expensive data management system. Cloud computing can allow even small firms to participate in building lifecycle management without having to invest in prohibitively expensive data management systems.

Click to TweetClick to Tweet: Cloud computing allows small firms to
participate in #BLM without investing in expensive systems

By putting data on the cloud, it’s also typically easier for various parties to share data and resources related to a project.

“This ad hoc approach to PLM makes it very easy for the AEC industry to adopt the benefits of integration and collaboration without all the forward structuring that would happen if they had to form a unique corporation in order to integrate their processes,” Camps says.

In addition, the Internet of Things is making it easier to move digital models from the drawing table to the field, giving contractors and designers rapid insight into potential problems. And Camps even points to rapid manufacturing, such as 3D printing, as a potentially promising technology for optimization, as these tools could someday make it possible to produce one off building components while maintaining the economies of scale of standard offsite production facilities.

Beyond technology, however, today’s growing engagement from public owners looking to spend more wisely is invigorating further innovation in connectedness.

The most carefully watched case in point is the UK’s Level 2 BIM requirement for federal buildings, set to become effective in 2016.

“It’s expected that by 2019, BIM Level 3 will be required. Level 3 in essence is ‘full collaboration between all disciplines by means of using a single, shared project model which is held in a centralized repository,’” Camps says.

He adds, “By that definition, they just described the 3DEXPERIENCE Platform.”

Related Resources

Collaborative, Industrialized Construction Solutions from Dassault Systèmes

Spotlight on PHI Cubed: Guiding the AEC Industry Toward Greater Levels of Integration

Spotlight on MEMKO: Pushing Collaboration Across the Project Life Cycle to Revolutionize Design and Construction

Spotlight on Impararia: Reducing the Gap Between Aerospace Optimization and AEC Inefficiency

Virtual Technology finds a “Sweet Spot” on Retail Shelves

By David

Adapting to Change with a Digital Platform

When it comes to delivering a consumer shopping experience, retailers have been slacking big time – and they may not even know it.

According to the Retail Indicator Branch of the US Census Bureau, between 2000 and 2012, e-commerce sales across all retail channels grew by 19.1% annually, while overall sales only grew by 3.2%.

The shift towards technology-influenced shopping has bred a new species of consumer with higher expectations of service and perceived quality. This poses a huge challenge to retailers who rely on shopper engagement to drive sales. With consumer loyalty at an all-time low and the effectiveness of traditional marketing tactics on a steady decline, brand manufacturers like Ferrero UK need stronger solutions to recapture consumer attention, restore buying confidence and drive real business value.

How Virtual Collaboration Fosters Growth

Ferrero UK is prepared to revamp the consumer shopping experience…and it starts with collaboration!

Creating the optimum shelf experience is retail priority number one. With more consumers doing their big basket shopping at convenience stores, retailers need solutions to capitalize on those trends and drive increases in average basket size per shopper. To help them, Ferrero UK is harnessing the power of Perfect Shelf industry solution experience to collaborate with retailers. By realistically simulating how store shelf designs are deployed, they can create consumer-responsive merchandising and assortment strategies that lift both category sales and margins.


This collaboration between Ferrero UK and its retail allies accelerates the effort towards finding the best solutions for cost-effective design, merchandising compliance, and brand experience enhancement. A shared virtual environment to define merchandising strategies and enterprise objectives is the very platform brand manufacturers and retailers need to fortify a strong partnership to create opportunity.

How can brand manufacturers position themselves above competition?

It starts with enhancing brand experience. The Convince phase from the Perfect Shelf 3DEXPERIENCE allows CPG brand manufacturers like Ferrero UK to fully utilize the consumer insights and business metrics needed to design the optimal category strategy with its retail partners. Features like virtual reality sessions enable category managers to continuously share and adapt 3DEXPERIENCEs for internal executive reviews or team on-boarding, avoiding ineffective 2D planograms or the expense of physical mock ups.

Whether it’s preparing to optimize a new product launch, design a promotional plan or even deliver a comprehensive range review, these digital solutions serve as a game-changing asset for brand manufacturers like Ferrero UK seeking a competitive advantage.

The Benefits of Enhanced Shelf Design

The advantages of shelf design technology don’t stop there. As Ferrero UK looks to ensure these newly developed shelf strategies align with compliance metrics and merchandising rules, they turn to the Design value component of the Perfect Shelf 3DEXPERIENCE for answers. With an intuitive and systematic design, “Drag & Drop capabilities” provide smart positioning and advanced product assortment filtering and searching – the ingredients needed for accelerating inventory management.

Category managers can efficiently design shelf space recommendations by virtually creating 3D shelves, fixtures and merchandising elements meeting retailer standards and brand equity goals. Brand manufacturers are then able to:

  • Cultivate a stronger sense of operational management
  • Develop a better understanding of their product categories
  • Make precise decisions in merchandising design

Using the Dassault Systèmes Perfect Shelf industry solution experience, Ferrero UK can combine strong brands, visible point-of-sale materials, and a highly professional sales force to win category leadership while boosting sales for its retail partners. Learn how Perfect Shelf can help you create better merchandising plans and improve your retailer relationships.

Don’t believe us? Let the industry’s winning players tell you themselves. See how Ferrero UK became a leading brand manufacturer by virtually redefining its infrastructure. Watch the story of their success and discover what simulation has the potential to do for your retail business.

By realistically simulating retail settings inside immersive, lifelike 3-D environments, Retailers and Consumer Packaged Goods companies can better imagine, validate and deploy optimum shopping experiences, increase product appeal, drive brand and category profitability and differentiate themselves from the competition.

Taking the high road

By Catherine

Written by Catherine Bolgar


Roads are not just a way to get from A to B. They change how the land is used, especially in rural areas, and can transform lives and livelihoods. But “more” is not always “better.”

Roads allow people to reach health centers, schools and markets, which produces healthier, more skilled citizens, and in turn generates trade, jobs and economic growth. Roads can also lower food and other prices, and cut waste. Indeed, a paved road can halve the chances of spoilage, by getting fresh food to market quicker. According to the Copenhagen Consensus Center, a $239 billion investment in roads (as well as rail and electricity networks) in developing markets over the next 15 years could eliminate $3.1 trillion in food waste.

Yet about 1.2 billion people worldwide still lack access to an all-weather road, according to the World Bank. That is changing rapidly. Roads are being built at an unprecedented pace: 25 million kilometers of paved thoroughfares are expected to be built by 2050—enough to circle the Earth 600 times, says William Laurance, research professor at James Cook University in Cairns, Australia, and director of its Center for Tropical Environmental and Sustainability Science.

But are these roads being built where they are most needed?

We need to focus on roads within a few hours of cities, where most land is settled, agriculture is inefficient and there’s a lot of wastage getting crops to urban markets,” Dr. Laurance says.

“The place NOT to build roads is in the last wilderness areas,” he adds. “The first cut is the deepest. Deforestation is like cancer, and a road is the first tumor.”

iStock_000071608141_SmallThe United Nations estimates that 13 million hectares of forest are destroyed annually, producing 12% to 20% of greenhouse gas emissions—and roads make things worse. A study of Brazil’s Amazon basin found that for every kilometer of legal road, there are three kilometers of illegal roads, and that 95% of deforestation occurs within 5.5 kilometers of roads.

Even with positive initiatives such as the U.N.’s Millennium Development Goals, good intentions in one area can backfire in another. Consider, for example, efforts to bring electricity to the 1.3 billion people without power. This can improve health by keeping food and medicine fresh, and reduce poverty by boosting economic development. Moreover, electricity from hydroelectric dams doesn’t directly emit greenhouse gases. Currently, 3,700 hydroelectric dams bigger than one megawatt are under construction globally, mostly in developing countries.

However, besides flooding large areas of land, remote dams also require new road networks for passing power lines and for maintenance, Dr. Laurance says. And once roads are built into forests, logging, land speculation, illegal mining, poaching, farming and other activities tend to follow.

“It isn’t the project itself. It’s the secondary impacts of all the road building that causes the biggest damage,” he says.

iStock_000063980733_SmallIn March 2015, Foundation Earth, a Washington-based nonprofit think tank, wrote to the Group of 20 (G-20) major nations urging their leaders to avoid the kind of large infrastructure projects that lock in emissions and environmental damage seen in past developments.

“We need full cost accounting, to disclose externalities—the pollution—and that’s not done now,” says Randy Hayes, Foundation Earth’s executive director.

He proposes three categories for land development: “no go” zones, which should exclude development on biodiversity and other environmental grounds; “go” zones, developed areas that would benefit from more roads; and “careful” zones that include biodiversity and economic activity, where selective infrastructure development might be beneficial.

For example, Costa Rica integrated its national parks via corridors for animal (rather than human) migration. The country’s “biodiversity and restoration go hand in hand with economic development,” he says.

Dr. Laurance and his colleagues believe similar can be achieved if nine steps for navigating conflicts between ecological and economic interests are followed:

  1. Avoid the “first cut” in forests and wilderness areas.
  2. Recognize how paving existing roads will change their character and speed.
  3. Consider indirect costs, especially in energy and mining projects.
  4. Treat projects in the wilderness as “offshore,” and rely on river or helicopter access.
  5. Engage all parties early in the planning process, when changes are easier to make.
  6. Improve project evaluation tools.
  7. Include environmental and social experts alongside the financial teams.
  8. Reject arguments that harmful projects will be done regardless and without supervision.
  9. Involve non-governmental organizations and the public.

Catherine Bolgar is a former managing editor of The Wall Street Journal Europe. For more from Catherine Bolgar, contributors from the Economist Intelligence Unit along with industry experts, join the Future Realities discussion.

Photos courtesy of iStock

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