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Contractors must ‘digitise or die’

digital signalling

Britain’s leading construction software provider Viewpoint is warning engineering and construction contractors that they must digitise or face the death of their business.

Viewpoint EMEA vice president Steve Spark warned that with the rise of BIM adoption, companies which fail to digitise face being left behind.

Spark said that new government requirements should act as a wake-up call to firms not already digitised.

“You only need to look at the huge increase in BIM adoption over the past eight years and our Government’s legally binding commitment to BIM Level 2 to see the direction of travel: contactors must digitise project management or fail,” Spark said.

“Almost two-thirds of construction projects (59%) are not built on time and almost one-third of projects come in over budget (32%). However, many contractors operate on such wafer-thin margins that they need only suffer from a handful of problem projects to start experiencing financial difficulty.

“As BIM adoption becomes the norm, contractors who do not adopt digital construction will die a slow death.”

Recent research carried out as part of ICE vice president Ed McCann’s review of the skills required of today’s practicing civil engineers, found that technical skills have emerged as a higher priority than digital skills.

McCann’s research, which has taken into account the views of 20 business leaders, the findings of a survey of more than 2,000 ICE members and a review team with representation from major clients, consultants and contractors, suggests that the existing qualification process still identifies and initially qualifies the high level skills needed in today’s civil engineers.

The research suggests that while the development and adoption of digital technology is seen by ICE members as the biggest driver of change, with 49% of those surveyed singling it out, the need for technical competence was still rated far higher.

Mace director of innovation Matt Gough added: “It is absolutely essential that construction adopts a digital mind-set as quickly as possible – we’re now the least digitized of any sector in the UK. While other industries are radically redefining their customer experience with new products and services, in the construction industry we’re still lagging behind. We can’t build a sustainable and productive construction sector unless we work hard to catch up.

“At Mace, we recognise the huge opportunity on offer if we achieve genuine digital transformation. We’re pushing on a wide range of different technologies across the business, from AR and drones to the Internet of Things. We’re also investing in our own internal capacity, ensuring we’re able to build and develop digital platforms for our clients: essentially a client-facing IT department within a construction company.

“Finally, we’re also bolstering our technical and digital leadership, appointing both a CIO and a CTO in the last six months.”

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