To coincide with the launch of the FIS Digital Spine, a simple new tool to help you follow and understand the technologies that are shaping the present and future of fit-out, SpecFinish looks at digital transformation in the sector.
We may well be familiar with the terms ‘Industry 4.0’ and ‘the Fourth Industrial Revolution’ (the ongoing automation of traditional manufacturing and industrial practices, using smart technology), but construction as a whole remains one of the least digitised industries.
This has to change, but FIS is concerned that information overload is leaving business leaders confused and this could become a barrier to progress. The Construction Playbook sets out a best practice framework that the Government expects (and will contract for) from industry and suppliers will need to review their standards, behaviours and ways of working. It is focused on getting projects and programmes right from the start and its principles and policies will transform how we assess, procure and manage public works projects and programmes.
The Playbook will be updated annually in response to feedback. In the context of digital change; it identifi es the need to ‘develop new solutions including improved digital capabilities’, encourages a connected supply chain and structured management of data.
The Construction Playbook, co-developed and endorsed by the Construction Leadership Council and wider industry was published in December last year, and builds on the recently published National Infrastructure Strategy. It supports the Government’s ambition to transform our infrastructure networks over the next decade and beyond so we can build back better, faster and greener, and it brings together expertise and best practice to reform the industry and transform how public works projects and programmes are assessed, procured and managed.
Any digital solution is part of wider reform
But how will all this impact on us individually and our sector as a whole and where do we start? First of all, we need to get the practice straight in our minds and work out how it will benefi t our businesses, improve ollaboration and outcomes.
‘Solutions’ come at us from all angles and although we can see that amazing reform is happening all around us – for many, it is baffling, often in a language that we don’t understand, so it may seem easier just to slide everything into the ‘too difficult drawer’.
Key learnings taken from a roundtable that FIS hosted in 2019 focused on some of the early mistakes of BIM. BIM went quickly from being the “next big thing” to becoming a disappointment for many. Every ‘BIM expert’ bombarded you with the science while giving assurance that it was the answer to all our prayers – many of us invested in technology that was not fi t-for-purpose and the scepticism that this created, hampered BIM progress.
With the passage of time, we now understand that like any digital solution, BIM is part of wider reform – and considered logically and correctly it can help support change, but as a catalyst, not a cure all.
A lesson learned from the discussion was to focus on the problem while not getting too caught up in the technology. Start by identifying the key challenges in your businesses then link any technological reform to solving productivity, quality, safety, or sustainability issues. As a sector, we should think ‘micro’ to solve our problems fi rst and by linking these up we will collectively solve the macro supply chain issues.
Concerns over interoperability (the ability of computer systems or software to exchange and make use of information) and a lack of standardisation means that contractors are often left reinventing solutions to fit in with different digital visions and strategies adopted by clients, architects or main contractors. This clearly demonstrates the need for an informed supply chain to support effective and genuine collaboration.