Intelligent Construction: Transforming the Industry in the Digital Age

By John S.
Share on LinkedInTweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+

Excerpted from the keynote address, “Strategic Business Transformation for the Building & Construction Industry,” delivered to the BIM-MEP AUS Construction Innovation 2016 Forum on August 4, 2016 in Sydney, Australia.

clicktotweetClick to Tweet: Intelligent Construction: Transforming
#AEC in the Digital Age | @bimmepaus @3DSAEC

John Stokoe CB CBE Head of Strategy EuroNorth, Dassault Systemes

John Stokoe, CB, CBE, Head of Strategy EuroNorth, Dassault Systèmes

The fourth industrial revolution – the Digital Age – is creating the drivers to transform the Construction Industry as it seeks to exploit the significant advantages to be derived from the effective and efficient use and management of data.

Industry-leading technology, developed for other sectors, is exponentially improving value and efficiency, and can be employed to propel Construction into the digital age.

This impacts not only the Construction Industry but also the logistic supply chains which support it, improving capability and skills, and contributing to the economies and construction potential of the countries involved.

The considerable amount of data which is created during the design, development, construction and utilization of the built asset, if properly configured and integrated, can be harnessed to drive value, cut costs and waste, and used to create a digital asset. This data-driven digital equivalent, when used by the end customer, can provide a dynamic platform on which to manage legacy, sustain the present and plan the future.

Effective configuration management will drive operations and ongoing maintenance, leading to an increase in the return on equity.

With Singapore as a reference, cities across the globe are getting smarter with data sources and multiple sensors connecting people, services and things, so they can engage with each other.

Bringing together infrastructure, social capital and technology fuels sustainable economic and social development, with the aim of providing better lives and urban environments for all. Cities are not just trying to be smarter, but are using technology to engineer their futures.

Cities are on an upward technology path. The construction industry, however, is not taking the same dynamic trajectory.

clicktotweetClick to Tweet: “#Cities are on upward technology path;
#AEC is not taking same dynamic trajectory” -@stokoe_john

Construction itself is often an outdated, dangerous, and low-productivity industry. The Industry must start driving value and keeping pace with the development of future cities.

But steering the Construction Industry in the right direction has challenged planners for decades. This is especially true in the UK, which lags behind many countries and much of Asia for modern building practice.

Process models for construction have remained largely the same for hundreds of years.

As a stark example, though materials were very different, the construction techniques employed to build the 72-story Shard tower in London were not that different from those employed to construct St Paul’s Cathedral nearly 400 years ago. (However, St Paul’s took 35 years to build, the Shard three, so some things have improved!)

Essential transformation is emerging.

  • Automated manufacture of building components is leading to lower construction costs, improved quality, and significantly reduced waste.
  • On-site work consists of assembly of quality-assured parts, each guaranteed to be fit for purpose.
  • 3D technology has made significant inroads into architectural design and fabrication to excellent effect.

But process modeling at the construction phase is virtually non-existent. When we get it right, we will see Building Information Modeling literally take on new dimensions, at the design stage, during construction, and ultimately in building management, enabling built assets to be managed economically and effectively using real-time sensor data fed onto the platform; this breathes life into the digital equivalent.

Using shared 3D experiences to simulate cities and developments reveals potential problems that may not be seen by any other means. Overlaying data reveals new views. And it is possible, with this technology, to predict events in transport systems and hubs, in public services, in utility provisioning, and in security.

Seamlessly linking the system to financial software allows cost planning and budgetary predictability. By this means, potential problems and their outcomes can be observed, costed and fixed before they occur.

A significant business opportunity appears as this scientific approach is extended into the supply chain.

When collaborative practices, which have powered other industries into innovation, are applied to building, they produce stunning results.

A construction supply chain, sharing closed data, can have a major positive impact on the time and cost to deliver a project, adding value to the overall process.

clicktotweetClick to Tweet: “Sharing closed data w/#AEC supply chain = major impact
on project time & cost” @stokoe_john @bimmepaus @3DSAEC

Many building projects overrun and outspend their budgets by more than 20% and end in expensive and wasteful litigation.

Between concept and delivery of a finished building lie the stages of design and engineering, contracts, bids and awards, fabrication and construction.

Each stage is fraught with risk, and stakeholders’ risk in a building project of any kind can be more than financial. Buildings define their locations and neighborhoods; people have emotional attachments to them.

Much of this risk can be reduced when clients, architects, contractors, communities and stakeholders work on the same current unified knowledge platform, where guesswork and misinterpretation are removed, and open yet secure collaborative integration is a given.

Litigation at, during, or after a construction project is commonly the result of poor communication between systems and people.

Errors with building components and services are expected, and usually occur, but are absolutely avoidable.

Simply unifying the change order system on a building project allows people to work collaboratively. They have access to the current status of the building and its information. This enables better informed strategic and tactical decision making at all stages and virtually eliminates errors caused by wrong or superseded instructions being acted upon.

In summary, technology can forever change the popular perception of the Construction Industry as one which is labor-intensive, wasteful, costly, and financially and physically risky.

A dynamic, effective, high-value Construction Industry will attract investment and become an economic driver.

clicktotweetClick to Tweet: “An effective Construction Industry can be
an economic driver” -@stokoe_john @3DSAEC #AEC

Effective configuration management will drive operations and ongoing services and maintenance, leading to an increase in return on equity, and the ability to compete more effectively in a demanding industrial and economic climate, leading in turn to national economic growth able to withstand global economic shocks, as well as expanding job opportunity and stimulating economic activity and increased GDP growth.

Integrated and configured data on a dynamic business experience platform gives the politician, the business leader, the developer, and the people who are forging global and national economies, a window into their world – a window into what might be as they shoulder the legacy of the past, manage the reality of the present, and shape the vision of the future.

MEMKO and Dassault Systèmes' Exhibit at the 2016 BIM-MEP AUS Construction Innovation Forum

MEMKO and Dassault Systèmes’ booth at the 2016 BIM-MEP AUS Construction Innovation Forum

clicktotweetClick to Tweet: Intelligent Construction: Transforming
#AEC in the Digital Age | @bimmepaus @3DSAEC

Related Resources

Collaborative, Industrialized Construction

Design for Fabrication Industry Solution Experience: Connect Your Design Data from Concept to Delivery

Optimized Construction Industry Solution Experience: Eliminate Waste and Increase Profits

Engineer-to-order Can’t Succeed Without  the Internet of Things

By Catherine
Share on LinkedInTweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+

By Catherine Bolgar

As usual, the Internet is busy disrupting industries: this time, it’s manufacturing. Since the industrial age began around 1760, manufacturing has strived for efficiency through standardization. The Internet—especially the Internet of Things—is taking that apart by allowing for greater personalization.

Making unique products doesn’t mean a return to the days of handmade artisanal goods. Instead, it means multipurpose manufacturing systems and flexible production, often executed by automation and robots that assist human workers.

“Machine tools are typically restricted in their functions and the types of material they can handle,” says Karl Hribernik, department manager at the Bremer Institute for Production and Logistics, or BIBA, in Bremen, Germany. “Production in the future will be more flexible. Cyber-physical, multipurpose production systems and manufacturing cells are the next generation of industrial machinery. In the Industry 4.0 paradigm [alluding to Germany’s initiative to integrate the Internet of Things (IoT) in industry to usher in rapid technological change in manufacturing], distributed resources will make use of local capabilities in flexible supply chains.”

Such flexible systems will rely on the IoT as well as on robots.

Robots can be reprogrammed to do different tasks. So engineer-to-order will make extensive use of robots. It can’t be restricted to single-purpose machines,” Mr. Hribernik says.

Industrial engineer

The communication among robots, machines and humans relies on the Internet of Things. Sensors are getting cheaper even as they are able to do more, with more precision.

The Industrial Internet Consortium, an international group setting the architectural framework and direction for the Industrial Internet, including operating two dozen test beds, launched a new test bed last year using the IoT to track everything on the floor of a factory—tools, parts, work in progress, people.

“There are two reasons,” explains Richard Soley, Massachussetts-based executive director of the Industrial Internet Consortium and CEO of Object Management Group, a technology standards consortium. “We can make more efficient use of the factory floor if we know where everything is. People on the floor spend half their time looking for the right tool. So if the system knows where the tool is, it can say, ‘Tool C is behind you, four meters on the left.’ We also know which parts of the factory floor are likely to be free soon, so we can move in the next part to be worked on. It increases human and machine efficiency. It’s reinventing factory-floor management and greatly enhancing factory-floor safety.”

The communication with workers increasingly is taking place via a worker’s personal smart phone, he adds. “It has sensors in it, it communicates on 25 different communication bands and it’s something you carry everywhere. That is going to be the most ubiquitous IoT communicator.”

The dream in the manufacturing space for decades has been to do what was called flexible manufacturing: changing with short or no notice, Dr. Soley adds. Retooling an automotive production line can take several weeks. So, for example, one motorcycle maker doesn’t retool at all, but builds each motorcycle separately.

“They know more about their customers because of the IOT—tracking customers and predicting what they need,” Dr. Soley says. “Because they meter the production line, they know what’s in production now and what they could be producing on the fly. Essentially they make every order differently. It means they can respond more rapidly to customer demand, offer more options and products and stay ahead of competitors.”

As this approach takes hold, he adds,

We’re looking at a future not far away in which everything you build is completely personalized.”

Indeed, an important aspect of the IoT isn’t just in the making of products but in monitoring  their entire life cycle.

The IoT provides “better information on how products are made and used,” Mr. Hribernik says. “It allows a more granular and precise monitoring of the quality of products being manufactured. If you feed that back into design, it allows engineers and designers to improve design for manufacturing and quality. In the middle of a product’s life, investigating product usage can help detect faults. If companies get that feedback via the Internet of Things, then they can iterate product design and manufacturing more quickly. It also can allow them to provide tailor-made services, like predictive maintenance, during the product’s life. And at the end of life, if you know how a product was used, what parts it was  made of and which parts were replaced, you can better achieve recycling, refurbishing or reuse.”

“It’s a revolution/evolution from mass-producing automated lines to more flexible production based on cyber-physical systems,” Mr. Hribernik says. No matter how refined robots are, they are still far from the flexibility and adaptability of humans. The best practices use robots and automation to augment human workers, by doing things that are too repetitive, strenuous or dangerous for people.

“We see a potential for collaboration with robots to help older workers and keep them in the workplace, maintaining their jobs and also their experience in the company,” he says.

Although awareness and acceptance of IoT and engineer-to-order processes is increasing, “manufacturers are still very, very careful about sharing data out of their production lines with machine-tool providers,” Mr. Hribernik says. “The B2B models need to evolve before widespread acceptance in industry will make an impact on manufacturing.”


Catherine Bolgar is a former managing editor of The Wall Street Journal Europe, now working as a freelance writer and editor with WSJ. Custom Studios in EMEA. For more from Catherine Bolgar, along with other industry experts, join the Future Realities discussion on LinkedIn.

Photos courtesy of iStock

How Zahner shows clients, “Your fantastic projects are buildable”

By Akio
Share on LinkedInTweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+

clicktotweetClick to Tweet: How @azahner shows clients
“Your Fantastic Projects are Buildable”

The following video features A. Zahner Company using the 3DEXPERIENCE platform to better communicate and collaborate with AEC project owners and team members:
zahner video 1

CEO William Zahner predicts future facades will increase in complexity, including more dynamic and kinetic aspects, and requiring an integrated platform. Such a solution will “open up opportunities for the design and fabrication community to do some really amazing things.”

The Zahner team found that developing precise 3D models gives reassures to clients that their risk is mitigated.

In addition, they are better able to communicate openly, transparently with clients, contractors, architects, subcontractors throughout the project.

Because of its complexity and the amount of coordination required, the Chrysalis Amphitheater was the flagship project where Zahner used the 3DEXPERIENCE platform.

The Chrysalis has no walls, so navigating around the model could have been a challenge. But with the cloud-based platform, they were able to point everyone to the same location for effective collaboration.

Watch the video to hear directly from Zahner’s CEO, COO, VDC Technical Specialist, Senior Project Engineer, and Advanced Manufacturing Engineer:

zahner video 2

clicktotweetClick to Tweet: How @azahner shows clients
“Your Fantastic Projects are Buildable”

Related Resources

The Chrysalis Amphitheater: Transforming AEC Through Collaboration

Facade Design for Fabrication Industry Process Experience

Page 10 of 287« First...89101112...203040...Last »