Emerging technologies and rapid digitization are bringing about sweeping changes in most industries.
The first industrial revolution used water and steam power to mechanize productions. The second used electric power to facilitate mass production. The third used electronics and information technology to automate productions and the fourth revolution is building on the third by digitizing the world and creating path-breaking technologies.
The fourth revolution is evolving at an experiential rather than at a linear pace. It is disrupting almost all industries in every country. The breadth and depth of these changes herald transformations of entire systems in terms of productivity, management and governance.
Over the past decade, technology has transformed the construction industry and the Built Environment Sector. The technology and management have been better serving the consumer demands for robust construction, better living, transportations. Project management companies have redefined goals and set productivity, sustainability and skill set benchmarks.
To accelerate change and improvement, the World Economic Forum has delineated certain technologies that need to be further addressed in this context:
• Pre-fabrication and Modular Construction
• Augmented reality and Virtualization
• Big data and Predictive analysis
• Building Information Modelling (BIM)
Advances in above technologies including BIM, along with full-scale digitization can help the industry escape from age hold stagnations and generate up to 10-20% annual cost saving.
The companies in BES are starting to see this opportunity in addition to reduced wastage and duplication as well as comprehensive quality control regarding time and budget on projects. In this new era, construction is the sunrise sector and it stands to gain the most from revolution 4.0.
Advanced digitization will bring intelligent systems and robots to run the construction industry efficiently; prefabricated and modular setups will create cost-efficient structures; and in a world with increasing conflict over scarce resources and climate change, we can foresee rebuilding using environment–friendly construction methods using sustainable materials.
But how will this change come about to make Construction 4.0 a reality? The industry requires competent and skilled techno-managerial personnel, who would bring in time, quality and budgetary efficiencies in projects. Different organizations are at different levels of transformation maturity. Some are innovative, some are taking more cautious approach, and some are complex organizations that struggle with agility required to make such changes.
Are we yet there? The industry is certainly moving in the right direction. It is realizing the importance of opportunities technology brings from reduction in wastage and duplication to enhancement of control, quality and time and operating within budgetary parameters of projects.
As more and more digital skills are being demanded in engineering and construction, so are the job opportunities too increasing in the sector. The need of the hour is also to focus on education that will make a whole generation ready to address the challenges and opportunities.
The author is the Associate Dean & Director of School of Construction, RICS School of Built Environment, Noida