XYZ Reality will launch its most powerful Engineering-Grade augmented reality tool, the Atom, at Digital Construction Week (DCW) later this month.
Last autumn, the government set out its National Infrastructure and Construction Pipeline, projecting £650bn of private and public investment for UK infrastructure projects over the next decade. Many have welcomed the clarity it offers, setting out economic, social and environmental goals, while supporting strategic and informed decision-making.
A core goal is to deliver efficiency and quality, for which a key enabler will be the use of technology. Adoption promises not only productivity gains but also a host of new digitally led jobs in design and construction.
These enhanced roles will be critical to delivering the new hospitals, railways, roads, industrial facilities, power plants and data centres required over the coming decade.
The timing of the Roadmap to 2030 from the Infrastructure & Projects Authority (IPA) couldn’t be better, as the industry undergoes a tech revolution.
Productivity and skills benefits
Covid-19 has played a pivotal role in technology uptake, driving adoption across the board. Contractors are now acknowledging that cutting-edge solutions, and empowering their people to use them, can unlock efficiency and productivity gains and plug the skills gap.
The appetite is there, but to deliver the roadmap’s ambitious yet achievable targets we need to drive technology deeper into construction projects. Far more can (and is) being done digitally, to deliver infrastructure projects on time, on budget, and as sustainably as possible.
The pandemic effectively demonstrated how a hybrid working model can still deliver results, even with fewer personnel on site. It has uncovered how cloud-based collaboration and automation can be integrated to drive transparency, increase margins and shrink the build phase. This is providing a safer and smarter construction journey all around.
Equally important, and in line with the roadmap, each step from planning to handover is being assessed to identify incremental efficiencies.
Scan-and-rework is one such area, but this process only identifies mistakes. To truly enhance productivity, we must invest it technology that flags up errors before they happen, not after the costs of failure have been incurred.
The IPA is working closely with a number of key tech players in the industry to realise these aims, drawing on a host of digital disciplines to propel the roadmap forward, to deliver clean, efficient builds and retrofit projects.
Interoperability must be at the heart of this drive to greater digital adoption. Software, systems and devices work best in an ecosystem, to align the planning, design and construction journey.
Collaborative platforms combined with user-friendly mobile apps and augmented reality technology can create seamless interaction between back offices and construction sites. This reduces the margin for error, minimises delays, improves safety for site workers and delivers quality to the client.
The increased efficiency delivered by these systems also supports the drive towards net-zero carbon, another core objective of the roadmap. By delivering more precise construction that enables a right-first-time approach, we can eliminate waste and defects, lowering the overall emissions on projects.
Ditch the silos
The aims of the roadmap are achievable, but to be truly effective, it will require a blend of physical and digital collaboration. A siloed approach simply won’t work. To improve productivity overall, we do need to connect office-based workers with those on site, allowing them to seamlessly share data and interact in real time.
The Covid-induced growth of remote working and greater digital adoption has brought people closer together, regardless of distance, improving our ability to discuss the best ways to reach ambitious targets.
The roadmap’s underlying model supports this further, as it puts the societal outcomes and impact of projects under the spotlight.
With ground-breaking technology, it’s possible to move away from the reactive approach that has held our sector back for so long. Armed with a determined skills drive, an open mindset, and the latest digital tools, the construction industry will transform infrastructure performance today, for a better tomorrow.