Construction’s digital future
Control Engineering Asia interviews Pierre Vauthrin, managing director, Southeast Asia, FINALCAD on the adoption of digitalization and challenges faced by the construction industry.
June 13, 2017
By Lim Guan Yu
Can you give us a brief background of your work at FINALCAD?
I’m currently the managing director of FINALCAD Southeast Asia and have been working with FINALCAD since August 2014. From our base in Singapore, I developed our corporate presence, sales strategy along with my team and indirect sales through FINALCAD Partnership Program, enabling FINALCAD to thrive in Southeast Asia. Most importantly, I help customers around Southeast Asia to change the way they build with mobile apps and predictive analytics. This enpowers contractors, architects and developers anticipate and fix issues found during a building’s lifecycle.
The construction industry is known to be slower in terms of going digital, why is this so?
KPMG’s Global Construction Survey 2016 suggests that the construction industry’s innate conservatism towards technology explains why the sector is widely considered a digital laggard. Most businesses tend to adopt a “wait and see” approach and this especially rings true in Southeast Asia.
However, projects are getting more complex and larger in scale – which places extreme pressure on traditional construction methods. At the same time, the growing demand for environmentally sensitive construction means that traditional practices must change.
The McKinsey Global Institute estimates that the world will need to spend $57 trillion on infrastructure by 2030 to keep up with global GDP growth. This is a massive incentive for players in the construction industry to identify solutions to transform productivity and project delivery through new technologies and improved practices.
What challenges does the construction industry face?
The construction industry is facing productivity challenges, particularly in Singapore, where developers are faced with continuing restrictions on foreign labour, increasing manpower costs and limited local talent. Automation and technology like BIM can assist in the move towards more prefabrication by moving routine labour to a safer and more efficient factory environment.
For contractors real-time collection of data increases productivity by improving the flow of information between the various project stakeholders. Information normally shared once a week, on paper, is now done in real time. This also enables collaboration among staff in different departments, helps end users like project managers, site engineers and QA/QC engineers meet documentation and compliance requirements on time and accurately, thus reduces potential for penalties and saves time.
FINALCAD also provides predictive analytics by mining data to identify productivity trends, common factors in the best or worst performing projects, supply chain partner process performance metrics and more.
We recently helped China Construction with the development of The Sturdee Residence condominium in Singapore. The project, with a size of about 200 000 sqf has 200 plus units in two towers of 19 floors, including a running route, clubhouse, steam room, health spa deck, and gym space.
For this project, China Construction needed a platform for checking and recording defects in a seamless and systematic order. This to ensure that the defects are accurately captured, swiftly communicated to relevant parties while corrective actions are taken to rectify defects in minimum time. For quality control checks, China Construction also wanted to look for a straightforward and easy-to-use solution that is compatible with different types of mobile devices such as tablets and smartphones. This will drastically reduce the reliance on paper work as well shorten the time needed to prepare for inspection checks. One big reason why China Construction selected us is because of the ease of use. FINALCAD app is simple, straightforward and yet fastidious to use. Above all, China Construction is now empowered to self-generate customisable reports that are detailed, accurate and factual to higher management and building owners.
What do you foresee in the construction industry for the future?
This fourth industrial revolution – the digital age – will change forever the popular perception of the construction industry as being labour intensive, wasteful, costly and highly risky, both financially and physically. In contrast, digital innovation will create a dynamic, effective, high value industry that will attract investment and become an economic driver.
It will give industry players the ability to compete more effectively in a demanding industrial and economic climate. Also, from a strategic infrastructure point of view, with housing shortages around the world and huge increases in the population being predicted, technology will play a vital role in finding and implementing new ways to approach the construction of housing.
What is the company’s global strategy going forward?
We recently concluded a second round of funding. As the construction sector in Asia develops rapidly, this investment has helped us grow our Asian business, expand into new sectors and regions and move ahead with advanced research and development.
Indeed, we recently expanded into infrastructure and energy sectors, for which the demand is huge in countries like Indonesia or China. We’ve been also expanding our geographic coverage through our Channel Partners network in China, Japan, Philippines, and South Korea.
Our R&D roadmap includes smart data analytics, artificial intelligence for object recognition, augmented reality linked to BIM models, digitisation of lean construction processes, and open API interoperability.