Page 24 - Deconstructing risk
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Digitalization and operational excellence
are top of the agenda in terms of developing
and safeguarding the business

                                                                      —Peter Wallin, CFO, Skanska

exponentially year on year. Advances in technology               stepping up automation across operations in an effort to cut
present companies, their clients and their customers             costs and streamline the design and execution of projects.
with unlimited opportunities for innovation, but they also
bring another dimension of risk.”                                   “We are seeing digitalization more and more,” says ACS
                                                                 Group’s García Altozano. “It is building up efficiency across
Enhanced productivity                                            all systems. Even our traditional systems are becoming
In an increasingly competitive market, construction              increasingly digital.” The struggle will be to harness the
companies must differentiate themselves. Those                   benefits of technology without jeopardizing productivity.
that emphasize innovation are in a stronger position,
and are more likely to attract top talent and increase              “Digitalization and operational excellence are top of the
operational efficiencies.                                        agenda in terms of developing and safeguarding the business,”
                                                                 says Skanska’s Wallin. “Of course it is a threat to some extent,
   “New technologies are transforming the way we do              but we mostly see it as an opportunity. It’s an opportunity to
business,” says Brett Phillips, CFO of US-based Structure        improve the businesses, but also to make use of the masses of
Tone. “They are changing the workflow across all work            data we have from all the construction projects we have across
streams and affecting all departments.” He adds that             the world.” This type of forward thinking represents a new
investment in research and development can be a great way        attitude in the industry, where companies increasingly blur the
to enhance productivity.                                         lines between risk and opportunity.

   Technology is assuming an ever-greater role in construction,  New technologies
improving safety, design and efficiency. According to the World  Construction players are now embracing digital innovation,
Economic Forum, 3D printing promises productivity gains of       and technology is shaping the future of the industry in a
up to 80 per cent in some applications, and can dramatically     number of previously unforeseen ways. The concept of smart
reduce build times. As the value added to construction           building is growing, and companies are getting ahead of
companies increases with digitalization, new channels of         the game by investing in advanced technology such as 3D
growth will open up for the industry.                            printing to generate parts for modular construction, and using
                                                                 drones to check construction sites and to monitor safety and
   “Everything from design to the driving of machinery is        progress. Virtual design capabilities are constantly developing,
much more like playing a game with a screen than it was          with applications such as BIM changing the landscape.
historically,” explains Costain’s Bowen. “It’s helping to
change the perception of the industry from one of difficult         BIM is a key enabler for many technologies used in the
working conditions to one of being in a hi-tech space.”          design, planning and modeling stages, providing a real-
                                                                 time digital representation throughout the project cycle.
   An improved image of construction is vital to changing        Applications vary significantly, however, and BIM is used far
attitudes of the industry. A key influencer is how companies     more in developed regions than in others. Says one of our
take steps to modernize their business. Some construction        interviewees: “We’ve got a focus on digital disruption and
companies are partnering with academic institutions to find      innovation. For example, BIM technology has come on in
ways to use innovation to drive efficiency.                      leaps and bounds in recent years, and we’ve got a strong
                                                                 BIM component to our business.”
   “We made an agreement with Massachusetts Institute
of Technology (MIT) three years ago, and every year we              Technological advances are now leading to bolder structures
spend an amount of money to see how technology and               that have been virtually designed and can be assessed at
digitalization could have a positive impact on construction      every stage of the build using data and analytics. Automated
work,” says Álvaro Echániz, CEO and corporate risk officer       equipment is seen across many more construction sites and
of Ferrovial FISA. “Even without MIT we are trying to do a       remote monitoring is much more widespread.
lot of new things with technology.”
                                                                    “We have heavily invested in virtual design construction
   Similarly, construction companies can use technology to       and we use BIM modeling,” confirms David LeMay, president
generate internal wins. “An innovative approach is becoming      and CEO at Canada’s Stuart Olson. “We are investing
really important for us because profit margins are under         heavily in it because we see the value. We feel ready for
pressure due to new competitors,” says Akkaya of STFA.           new technology. We have a team focused specifically on
This is true for many construction companies, which are

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