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Mideast building firms 'must develop digitisation strategy'

DUBAI, August 7, 2018

Construction companies in the Middle East region must adopt new technologies to survive in a digital world, said leading experts ahead of a major industry event in Dubai, UAE.

The Construction Technology Forum 2018, which will run from September 24 to 25 at the Address Hotel Dubai Marina, is designed to provide insights on how adopting technology can reduce operational costs, boost productivity and enhance overall quality across all elements of the industry supply-chain.

The global construction industry is gearing for massive changes and challenges, compelling Middle East companies to adopt new technologies or fall behind, said a top official.

"There is no stopping the megatrend toward digitisation," remarked Mibu John, a partner and managing director for Ventures Middle East, a leading management consulting and research company in the Middle East.

"Companies who move early to develop and implement their own digitisation strategy will be the winners as the construction industry goes digital. Otherwise, lack of expertise in new technologies could become a serious competitive drawback," noted John.

Modern construction companies, he stated, are under increasing pressure to ensure timely delivery amongst costly challenges like delays, overspending and shortages of skilled labour.

With new technologies like artificial intelligence (AI), 3D printing, building information modelling (BIM), IOT (Internet of things), and cloud-based solutions to manage the surge of Big Data in construction, the challenges now plaguing the construction industry could soon become less relevant.

"Undoubtedly, adopting these new technologies in construction will improve predictability, speed of delivery, environmental sustainability, design freedom and reduce manpower cost," remarked John.

"However, these new technologies need to be supported by compatible tools that connect systems at every link in the value chain, and conditions need to be established that enable the technological revolution in construction at scale," he added.

According to experts, producers who don’t provide tech-compatible products and information will fall behind.

Construction companies must be prepared to manage Big Data as buried under piles of data can be invaluable information that can lead to new business models or services, they added.

Commenting on the future trends, Sassan Hatam, partner at Roland Berger, a global strategy consulting firm, said: "Construction firms of the future will use digital tools to have materials supplied just in time, thereby cutting the cost of storage and transportation and increasing efficiency. They will source materials with electronic portals and, in so doing, optimize not only their prices but also their collaboration with suppliers."

"In production, building suppliers will deploy smart machinery and applications that forge networks in which all production processes are planned in advance and operated with optimal efficiency," added Hatam.

In the Middle East, the UAE is aiming for 25 per cent of new buildings to be printed by 2030; and Saudi Arabia seems intent on using 3D printing to reduce its housing deficit.

The UAE has also launched the UAE Strategy for the Fourth Industrial Revolution and the UAE Artificial Intelligence Strategy of 2031 both aiming to position the country as a global leader for leveraging cutting-edge technologies to drive innovation and boost the economy.

Just by implementing its AI strategy, the UAE estimates a growth rate of 26 per cent, and economic savings of Dh335 billion ($91 billion).

According to experts, new technologies are already impacting the way the sector develops and builds in the UAE.

Dubai’s Future Foundation’s ‘Office of the Future’ (designed and master-planned by UAE-based architecture firm Killa Design) is the world’s first fully functional and permanently occupied ‘3D printed building'.

The entire structure was printed in concrete using an additive manufacturing technique, said Ben Piper, partner and design principal at Killa Design in Dubai.

"The project highlights what is possible with new building technologies and is a prime example of how the built environment will be developed in the future," he added.-TradeArabia News Service

Tags: Construction | Middle East | digitisation strategy |

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