Digitalisation should be high precedence for development corporations

The development sector is catching up with regards to digitalisation, however not all companies are on board.

What’s digital development?

A lately printed EU working doc states: “Digitalisation is a method, an enabler to attain a greater constructed surroundings for the planet and other people”. On this article, we concentrate on how digitalisation can gasoline contractors to enhance the constructing course of. (Applied sciences that give buildings further person choices – sensible buildings – are out of scope.) To elucidate what digital development precisely is and the way it may help development corporations to be extra environment friendly, we distinguish three phases:

Three phases of digital development


Souce: ING Analysis

*Once we use the phrase “digitalisation” usually type on this article, we imply all these three phases collectively.

1 Digitisation: From ‘paper’ to laptop

Digitisation converts data right into a digital type. For instance, development drawings are digitised (often known as BIM: Constructing Info Modeling), photographs of constructing points are saved digitally, and the usage of sensors makes data digital. Digitised data is exchanged by way of WhatsApp, e mail, SharePoints and (video) calling, however utilizing computer systems would not result in new purposes throughout this part (see field under). The effectivity positive aspects are due to this fact nonetheless restricted. Development drawings, for instance, are digital however not everybody has the most recent model mechanically at their disposal (SSOT: Single Supply of Fact). On this part, employees have every kind of digital data, however should study the information themselves.

2 Digitalisation: Optimising enterprise processes with digital data

Within the subsequent part of digitalisation, digitised data is used to make enterprise processes extra environment friendly. Digital data (from sensors, drones, photographs and development drawings) is transformed into information. This (massive) information could be processed digitally by, for instance, synthetic intelligence. Employees do not have to examine all the knowledge anymore as a result of it is going to be finished mechanically, and it will probably create a single platform with SSOT, so all of the individuals have the identical up-to-date data, together with development drawings.

New environment friendly purposes by digitalisation

Digitalisation offers every kind of latest purposes for extra environment friendly design and constructing processes, corresponding to:

  • Parametric design: A number of designs and numerous choices will probably be mechanically produced within the design mannequin. A parametric mannequin instantly calculates the implications if you happen to change one variable (eg. the dimensions of the constructing).

  • Configure to order: With out the intervention of an architect or designer, a shopper can immediately digitally design and compose a constructing that meets their particular wants.

  • Digital twin and predictive upkeep: Sensors can present required details about a constructing, which makes upkeep far more predictable (predictive upkeep) and through the use of a digital twin (a digital mannequin of the construction) there are not any extra surprises throughout upkeep and renovation.

3 Digital transformation: A brand new enterprise mannequin

Digital transformation goes a step additional than digitalisation. It is about new enterprise fashions and the right way to enhance the shopper expertise. Take into consideration marketplaces (e.g. 12Build, HomeAdvisor and Instapro) or software program suppliers corresponding to Autodesk and Trimble. Additionally, front-running development corporations in digitalisation may begin to provide their digital platform or different ICT providers to different corporations. On this case, they’ll change their enterprise mannequin from “contractor” to ICT-service supplier. Digital transformation is an choice for development companies if they’ve any excellent IT options, nevertheless, that is undoubtedly not a step each contractor has to make to achieve success in digitalisation.

Benefits of digital development


Supply: ING Analysis

Benefits of digitalisation

Digital development provides a whole lot of benefits in comparison with non-digital constructing:

Will increase the effectivity: The principle objective for development corporations for digitalisation is to extend effectivity. The knowledge offered throughout the constructing course of could be improved enormously. Managing essentially the most up-to-date data stream to colleagues, subcontractors, and suppliers goes mechanically. So, all concerned events are immediately knowledgeable of the most recent changes. This makes it doable to stop errors. Lastly, there’ll solely be one digital supply of data (SSOT) conserving everybody knowledgeable of the most recent changes to the digital (3D) design and completely different steps within the constructing course of. On this approach, all concerned events are conscious of the real-time scenario of the development course of

Step one in the direction of industrialisation: Digitalisation can be a prelude to effectivity positive aspects by industrialisation through which machines, 3D printers and robots are managed by the digital development course of. See our article: industrialisation in development

Enterprise selections primarily based on extra refined information as an alternative of intestine feeling: Digitalisation not solely improves development processes. Firms also can enhance their strategic selections to base them on details from the information that turns into out there by digitalisation. Moreover, the gross sales division also can profit. The place are the largest gross sales alternatives and what choices are chosen in supplied gross sales packages by purchasers? With digital actuality, conventional drawings of latest development buildings may also be made extra “tangible” and interesting to potential patrons

Hurdles of digital development


Supply: ING Analysis

Hurdles for digitalisation

Nonetheless, digitalisation doesn’t simply occur. There are additionally obstacles for constructing corporations, corresponding to:

Not all contractors see digitalisation as a necessity: Issues are presently going nicely for a lot of European development corporations (regardless of the Covid-19 disaster). Order books are full and a (modest) revenue is made. So, why spend some huge cash on digitalisation? In addition they want to not make a dangerous funding in digitalisation. Digital developments are additionally transferring quick. Should you make investments now, there’s a good probability that inside a couple of years you may be caught with outdated digital expertise. Ready till any teething troubles have been resolved may repay. Our opinion, nevertheless, is that there’s a massive probability that these corporations may lag behind on digitalisation and finally it is going to be unimaginable for them to make up for it

Shortages of expert employees: Expert employees shortages are hampering development corporations to digitalise (additional). The pool of staff with a mix of adequate ICT information and expertise within the development sector is small

Knowledge silos: Many development corporations which have embraced digitalisation have used a lot of completely different methods through the years. This makes it troublesome to attach these and combine them into one IT platform (on account of so-called legacy methods). In numerous components of the constructing course of, completely different software program from completely different suppliers is used. Which means information can’t be correctly distributed inside and outdoors the corporate. The following step is to hyperlink these IT methods collectively and unlock the information. On this approach, information silos could be prevented the place giant quantities of information are usually not totally used. Nonetheless, pairing completely different IT methods is usually a troublesome step.

The present standing of digital development

The development sector lags behind with regards to digitalisation 

In comparison with different sectors, the development sector lags behind in digitalisation. An EU development worker has roughly €1,300 of software program at his disposal. But, different EU employees have software program on the worth of €3,800, and manufacturing employees have €5,200. This restricted quantity of software program within the development sector reduces productiveness. An rising quantity can enhance productiveness.

Development employee has little software program at his disposal

Common worth of software program per employee in a number of EU nations, 2019.


Supply: Eurostat, ING Analysis

Digital development is catching up on account of cell web

Regardless of digitalisation within the development sector lagging behind different sectors, the expansion charge has been increased within the final 25 years. The worth of software program has greater than quadrupled throughout this era. In all sectors, the digitalisation tempo was decrease and “solely” tripled in that very same timeframe. The principle motive for this catch-up impact is that the web turned cell throughout this time. All types of hand gadgets (tablets and cell phones) together with wi-fi networks (2G, 3G, 4G and the beginning of 5G) have made it doable for digital data to be accessed from the development web site. That is key for development corporations; a pc on the workplace doesn’t have a whole lot of worth for contractors as many of the constructing course of is exterior and at a distinct place for each single venture.

Excessive improve software program worth in constructoin sector

Improvement software program per worker in a number of EU nations (index 1995=100).


Supply: Eurostat, ING Analysis

Examples of digital development

For the Belgian Development Firm Besix, BIM is the cornerstone between the bodily and digital points of the corporate and the ICT firm. LetsBuild specialises in software program for the development sector and likewise has Belgian roots, whereas Porr Austria’s second-largest development agency along with Doka have based a three way partnership to determine a mutual development logistics platform to digitalise and optimise processes associated to ordering, supply and invoicing processes. The purpose is to undertake pioneering work for your complete European market.

Dutch constructing companies are frontrunners

The Dutch development sector is a frontrunner in digitalisation. Within the Netherlands, virtually 75% of development staff are utilizing a tool with web entry, whereas in Belgium, Austria, Spain and France this determine is just under 50%. In Turkey, slightly greater than 10% of the development workforce has a piece system with web. (It is a pity, because it signifies that virtually 9 out of 10 Turkish development staff aren’t in a position to learn this fabulous article about digital development.) Probably the most ERP-systems (Enterprise Useful resource Planning is the built-in administration of predominant enterprise processes by software program) are being utilized in Belgium and The Netherlands.


Dutch constructing companies are frontrunners in digitalisation

ICT entry and utilization of development corporations in %, cumulative (2019 or 2020 survey information).


Supply: OECD, ING Analysis

Use of 3D-printing (nonetheless) low

3D printing in development remains to be in its infancy. Solely 2-3% of contractors are utilizing this expertise. In Belgium, 6% of the companies point out that they use or experiment with 3D printers. The low share could be defined by the truth that this expertise is comparatively new and never but quick sufficient. 3D printing can be unimaginable if different processes aren’t digitalised. Digital (3D) drawings and software program must be out there to let a 3D printer work.

3D printing can be utilized indoors to pre-fabricate constructing supplies, however outside manufacturing on the development can be an choice. 3D printing could be particularly helpful for mass customisation. It isn’t the case that entire constructions must be 3D-printed. For instance, joints could be 3D printed as they’re typically all completely different, however extra customary components of a construction can nonetheless be mass-produced by machines.

Trade specialists are much less optimistic about 3D printing than a couple of years in the past. They don’t assume it is going to be quick sufficient to make standardised merchandise economically viable (see additionally: 3D printing set for post-pandemic rebound). The identical may very well be mentioned for the development sector. For instance, Dutch development companies had been frontrunners in 3D printing in 2018. Nonetheless after that, the variety of Dutch companies utilizing 3D printers remained kind of flat, from 3.1% of contractors utilizing 3D printing in 2018 to 2.9% in 2020.

Deceleration of digitalisation tempo looms

The Dutch development sector is main in digital development, however its tempo of additional digitalisation is declining. Different digitalising companies from different nations must be cautious that the identical would not occur to them. Dutch corporations have invested in software program as the worth per Dutch development worker elevated enormously within the interval between 2010-15. On this approach, they’ve picked the low hanging fruit of the primary part of digitalisation. Because of this, development drawings are sometimes digitised (BIM) and data is usually being exchanged by way of digital networks, because the excessive share of staff with a tool with web entry signifies. Many constructing corporations in different nations nonetheless must make this transition.

Dutch digitalisation tempo of contractors decelerates

Improvement whole worth of software program per development employee.


Supply: Eurostat, ING Analysis

The event of the worth of software program per German development worker is outstanding. It has greater than doubled within the final 25 years however nonetheless lags far behind different nations. Different information additionally reveals that German development companies are falling behind, however this comparatively gradual progress is also on account of a barely completely different statistical technique that’s utilized in Germany.

Second part of digitalisation is harder

The second part of digitalisation is harder. Completely different software program methods must be linked to create a Single Supply of Fact and make different purposes doable. This might hinder the tempo of development companies to additional digitalisation. Nonetheless, that is essential to totally revenue from digital development and purposes corresponding to parametric design, configure to order, digital twins and predictive upkeep. The present booming Dutch development market is also a motive that the pace of digitalisation is decrease in the mean time. There may be greater than sufficient work for each contractor and the need to excel by digitalisation is due to this fact decrease. This additionally counts for a lot of different development markets in Europe. Nonetheless, many contractors in these markets are nonetheless in a position to take giant steps within the first part of digitalisation (digitising) however needs to be cautious that after that, the following part is harder.

Digitalisation could make the distinction

Digitalisation must be a high precedence for development corporations. It makes the constructing course of more cost effective, it helps to take steps to industrialisation and it delivers every kind of information. With this information, the constructing course of could be optimised and strategic selections could be made. Nonetheless, digitalisation remains to be not the highest precedence for each constructing firm. In the mean time they don’t at all times see the need as a result of order books are sometimes nicely crammed. But, it is very important keep cost-competitive in the long term and digitalisation may help to attain that. Digitalisation also can assist to cut back demand for labour and due to this fact lower employees shortages. Investing in digitalisation is, due to this fact, a should for each constructing firm.

Learn the unique evaluation: Digitalisation should be high precedence for development corporations 

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