Digitalisation and infra construction productivity - how do these two go together?

Construction is one of the largest industries globally, but the industry’s productivity has trailed that of other sectors for decades. If that gap were to be closed, i.e. the productivity of the construction sector would be brought to an average level of other industries, it would mean an annual value add of EUR1.5 trillion globally. That corresponds to a boost of global GDP by 2 percent (according to McKinsey).

Big numbers. Why is that not fixed then?

The root causes for non-existent productivity are complex, but main issues are: regulation, fragmentation and locality of markets, contractual structures and misaligned incentives among parties, a non-integrated supply chain, and low-tech or no management tools at all.

On a level of a single company, productivity can be increased by improved transparency of daily operations, which would be enabled by better collection of data.

With data in a coherent format, work can be planned better to optimise capacity use. With good data from operations, performance could be objectively evaluated. Therefore, better planning and optimisation of material flow and resources would be enabled.

Bringing the latest technology into the very traditional paving and infrastructure construction business would not only lead to improved productivity, but would also help the society by diminishing the external disturbance and negative environmental impact of road construction works.

Paving works are carried out at many different sites, each having its individual characteristics. Every site is impacted by many external factors that are hard to estimate in advance: weather, traffic, accessibility and state of the site. Truth is that these uncertainties could be modeled, and statistics could be used for an adaptive self-optimising model. Connect that with machine and equipment data through latest sensor technology, transportation data and plant production data - and we could enhance performance throughout the whole supply chain.

The technology exists readily, but the application within our industry is still in its infancy. Taking a further step in envisioning the future would bring self-driving applications, as well as connectivity with the infrastructure itself into the picture. These are topics already spoken about, but so far the discussions are on a theoretical level. These discussions  do however clearly indicate the direction towards which our industry is moving.

We welcome you all to apply to our InfraHack innovation competition that will take place on May 19. - 21.  We hope to get some out-of-the-box ideas to increase productivity by improving information flow. We will select 8-10 teams to participate and winners will get a chance to do a pilot with us.

Let’s take this industry forward together!

 

Robert Blumberg

Robert Blumberg
Executive Vice President, Paving
Lemminkäinen