The construction industry is one of the least digitised. Although adoption of new innovative technologies has been fairly slow in the past decades, COVID-19 has definitely sped things up. More and more players are embracing new technologies because they recognize the huge potential to increase efficiency, reduce errors and create a better connection with partners and clients. What about you? Do you want to stay at the forefront of your industry? Here are five examples of how digitalization can help you grow your business in construction.
1. Automate your administration
1.1. Make data easily accessible for all
Today, a lot of businesses in construction still work with Excel. These files are scattered over different laptops, tablets, file shares. But laptops crash, working simultaneously on a file causes data to get lost. In the end, Excel is a spreadsheet, not a secure data management system. By storing data in the cloud, all parties have access to it always and everywhere. It can easily be shared across different devices improving multi-stakeholder communication and ensuring one single source of truth.
1.2. Automate calculations, configurations and quotes
Installers often spend a lot of time performing calculations and drafting quotes. By helping them reduce the time they spend on these tasks, they will be inclined to select your products over your competitors. That is exactly what we did for Wienerberger with the All4Roof platform. Roofers used to spend 1,5 hours to draft a quote: calculating the structure of the roof, the quantities of the materials, the prices. With All4Roof it only takes about 15 min. You can imagine a roofer’s choice is easily made.
2. Error-free designing
If you can heavily reduce the number of errors made during the design phase, you reduce the number of complaints, calls, visits, replacements… In short, you reduce the hassle and improve efficiency. But there are two big challenges to design error-free. First, the installer has to know all the available products to make the best choice. Second, installers need to be sure which combinations are feasible.
We tackled these two problems with one platform for Remeha, a key player in manufacturing heating systems. A fail and fool proof tool that guides the installer towards the best possible heating system. This platform is also linked to a reseller’s online shop so installers can immediately place their items in the shop’s basket.
Another example is the Access Control configurator which we built for Reynaers. It is linked to Reynaers’ internal PIM, or Product Information System holding all information on products in access control systems (think badge access). Now, installers can easily navigate this very complex catalogue of products. They just have to select a few parameters and voilà, the best configuration rolls out with all the details to build the correct access control system. We’re talking about all the article codes, detailed schemes and installation instructions.
3. Gather client insights
Maybe you still use handwritten notes (packaging list, bills of lading, customs forms,…) These paper documents can be digitised and uploaded in the cloud using cognitive data capture. This technology converts writing into typed text and can automatically process documents. For example, if an invoice comes in, it will automatically recognize the vendor’s name, the products, discounts, etc. By linking it to your PIM system, you can measure the impact of a marketing campaign on sales, discover usage patterns and perform predictive analysis for future sales.
4. Manage and trace materials
4.1. Reduce your material cost and ecological footprint
Today, buildings are constructed without thinking about what will happen to the materials afterwards. This situation is hard to sustain in a world where raw materials are becoming ever more scarce. The circular economy advises to repair, reuse, refurbish and recycle. But how can you implement that in the construction industry? First of all, this concept of circular building needs to be present from the start. The design itself has to allow easy disassembly and reuse. Second, the materials themselves need to be reusable and/or recyclable. Third, we need to digitally inventorise all used building materials to be able to trace their full lifecycle. Now you can start recovering all those precious materials.
4.2. Test new ideas in the virtual realm
What if you could test new ideas or improvements in buildings without intervening in the real world? Yes, we’re talking about a digital twin. It is a virtual representation of a physical object. In this case, a building. It stores all the information about this building throughout its entire lifecycle. That means it needs to be updated continuously. That’s how you get a building passport. A great example is Madaster, used in the Netherlands, Scandinavia and also Belgium. It is a cloud platform allowing you to manage digital twins of buildings.