Technology Changes

The latest technology driving change in the engineering and construction industry


Mark Webster, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Oracle Construction and Engineering 

How technology can further drive down risk and costs in the engineering and construction industry

LIKE many industries, engineering and construction has experienced a new wave of digitalisation since the pandemic began. Digital tools were adopted to allow workers to stay safe on the job site, while back-of-fice cloud solutions enabled office workers to continue their roles remotely.

COVID-19 restrictions may have lifted, but the industry faces challenges on various fronts – namely increased competition, shifting project types, and a retiring labour force. It is imperative that companies persist down this digitisation path and continue to utilise technology to deliver solutions to problems affecting the industry – both old and new. These challenges mean the industry must re-examine how technology can further drive down risk and costs. Among the innovative new solutions being introduced, here are the four that are driving this change the most.

Data will unlock new doors to success

To stand out in an increasingly competitive market, standardising, digitalising, and automating processes is a must for construction and engineering executives. Organisations will begin to take an approach where they will analyse everything meaningful that can be measured.

After determining the data or metrics they need to capture and monitor, organisations will be able to standardise, digitalise and automate their processes to capture and analyse this data in realtime. The results may be surprising on what really holds the keys to success. For example, one overlooked setback could be the lynchpin factor that routinely can throw off an entire construction project.

With standardised business processes constantly pulling and analysing data, firms will be able to drive productivity and efficiencies to better compete, differentiate themselves and stay ahead. This quick data intelligence can also help identity and resolve data security issues faster. This alone will become a growing competitive advantage in the coming years as customers will want reassurance that their data is being kept safe.

Next-gen intelligent construction platforms

How data is managed, and how it is used to inform decisionmaking, is a key focus area for construction and engineering organisations. With hundreds of decisions all happening at once on a project, organisations will increasingly utilise construction technology platforms to better keep everyone synchronised, and provide the project team with the visibility, tracking, and reporting they need to keep on track.

As organisations move more and more towards more digital workflows, a new breed of intelligent technology platforms, powered by an artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) ‘data backbone’, will emerge. These platforms will help organisations liberate their data and convert it into the intelligence needed to accelerate performance. They will also provide highly secure information management, reporting, and workflow automation to drive efficiency, visibility, and control across project processes. These cloud-based intelligent construction platforms will support a new era of construction performance needed to compete in an increasingly competitive market.

Making projects more intelligent

Until now, business intelligence technologies have generally provided only a backward-looking view into project data, i.e. what has happened on projects. While these insights are valuable, organisations will look to construction technology platforms that utilise AI that can predict what is likely to happen throughout the construction process, improving chances of delivering a project on time and on budget.

New developments in AI have unlocked another level of project intelligence, enabling predictive insights to drive better decision-making to improve project outcomes. This can yield a dynamic view into such variables as:

AI will help organisations succeed in the present, by learning from the past, to improve the future. It will yield predictive insights that add value to nearly every aspect of construction project management, including critical areas such as schedule, cost/ budget, quality, safety, risk, and collaboration.

5G to connect and transform

5G is bringing about significant advancements in connectivity and greater mobility. This will further accentuate the industry’s ability to utilise insights provided through AI, ML, common data environments (CDE), the sensorisation of jobsites and materials, augmented reality (AR). These technologies will provide greater connectivity, capacity, and democratisation of technology.

The ultimate goal is for companies to be able to collect data from tools and materials and sensorise virtually anything on a job site – for instance, sensors may be used to assess drying time for concrete. Internet of Things (IoT) sensors used to capture this information means 5G will become a crucial component of any job site.

As 5G becomes more accessible, the possibilities for the industry will grow dramatically. For example, it will enable experts to provide real-time guidance to new technicians connected via headsets, glasses, or other visualisation technologies. This technology will bring about new capabilities for oilrigs, pipeline monitoring, laser scanning, BIM modelling and more – transforming the way the entire industry operates. 

Mark Webster, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Oracle Construction and Engineering