Opentree is supporting two Constructing Excellence events in October 2018, promoting BIM and the need for industry change.
It is interesting to contrast and compare the experiences of delivering ICT solutions in the mechanical engineering sector and in architecture, engineering and construction (AEC). Opentree has history with both sectors, but AEC has tended to lag in its digital transformation.
This is hardly surprising. Construction is conservative and risk-averse, and also highly cost-conscious. Moreover, many of the senior personnel in many AEC firms learned their professional skills when paper-based deliverables were very much the norm.
However, the last 15 years have seen the pace of digitisation gradually accelerate. As the relative costs of ICT hardware and software have dropped, sophisticated tools have become more affordable in a cost-conscious industry which previously under-invested in ICT. Cloud computing reduced reliance on in-house data centres and ICT expertise. Consumer-grade mobile devices have became ubiquitous, while the social media explosion has changed how we create, distribute and consume content.
Not just BIM and technology
In the built environment sector, the government’s push of building information modelling (BIM) has also helped promote digital transformation since 2009. But it would be wrong to think the industry simply needs to invest in new technologies.
The government and other forward-looking client businesses are demanding wider changes to how the AEC industry works. Short-term adversarial business models are being rejected in favour of longer-term business relationships founded on collaborative processes and behaviours; government is shifting from lowest price tendering to demanding best whole life value; and, rather than seeking bespoke project solutions, industry clients are looking at greater standardisation and increased use of offsite manufacturing techniques.
One AEC organisation that is trying to facilitate such changes is Constructing Excellence. Founded in 2003, CE has long championed collaborative working and the adoption of common systems and processes to support integrated teams. As a pan-industry organisation, its members include clients, contractors, consultants, manufacturers and materials suppliers, and CE has welcomed government initiatives that seek to reform the industry’s culture as a necessary step in lowering project costs, shortening project delivery programmes, improving carbon performance, and enhancing the competitiveness of the UK construction industry.
For example, CE has applauded the recently-published Construction Sector Deal. This warns “the current business model of the construction sector is not sustainable,” and stresses three strategic areas for change (one of them highlighting the data opportunity):
- Digital techniques to deliver better, more certain results during the construction and operation of buildings, including optimal performance during the life of the building.
- Offsite manufacturing to minimise wastage, inefficiencies and delays, speeding up construction and reducing disruption.
- Whole life asset performance to shift focus from the costs of construction to the costs of a building across its life cycle, particularly its use of energy.
Opentree is pleased to be supporting two forthcoming conferences organised by Constructing Excellence in north-east England. First, we will be exhibiting at the CENE Construction Summit 2018 entitled “Driving the Need for Change” at Newcastle’s Marriott Gosforth Park Hotel on 3 October (more details here). Just over a week later, CE is collaborating with the Chartered Institute of Building to hold a conference in central Newcastle about BIM, entitled “BIM: from confused to comfortable” on 11 October (more details here – coincidentally, one of the speakers will be BIM Strategy’s John Adams who we recently welcomed to Opentree’s Teesside office to learn about Cabinet; see our previous blog post).