The Fourth Industrial Revolution, or Industry 4.0, is here. A new phase of construction fueled by digital innovation, Industry 4.0 represents a long-awaited shift as more players in the sector embrace technology. Notably, early adopters have already seen the benefits, including access to real-time data, improved productivity, and more predictability in terms of staffing, budget, and timelines.
Beyond the construction industry, other sectors that have undergone a digital transformation are seeing similarly positive results. In fact, the manufacturing industry has seen an increase of almost 100% in efficiency, productivity and sustainability over the past 30 years due to technology.
Construction is known for lagging when it comes to adopting new processes or technology, but it’s time that the sector at-large prioritizes the value of digital innovation to drive improvements. By applying some of the principles and lessons learned from manufacturing to construction, teams can improve productivity and drive results.
Here are Five Of The Key Benefits we’ve seen at Manufacton for those companies that take cues from manufacturing for driving innovation:
1. Improved Visibility – Visibility is something we all expect today – from tracking our food order to real-time updates on our Amazon packages, so why should we not want the same from construction? Visibility allows for optimization at every scale, which increases efficiency.
Visibility in manufacturing, as well as construction, means providing real-time updates on the progress of a project from end to end. As companies begin to integrate visibility into their factories, they can identify areas of improvement for customer service, manufacturing or supply chains and adopt the necessary processes to improve productivity. With increased visibility, teams can rectify snags in the process and open them up to different technologies which can fill productivity gaps.
2. Digitization – Manufacturing has mastered digitization by enabling typically manual processes to be completed via innovative technologies, which means time can be spent on more strategic tasks instead of clerical ones. By embracing digital transformation and its benefits, teams are provided more profound insight into the progress of their projects, which can then be relayed to the customer, in this case, the project owner, to share results and improve confidence and trust in your team.
3. VDC & BIM – Virtual Design and Construction (VDC) is a process, aided by technology, that allows teams to simulate projects before breaking ground. Teams can create and model the project digitally to identify any potential challenges and identify how they will address them via processes, schedule, budget, etc. While BIM is often used inter-changeably with VDC, there are differences. VDC is the project’s strategy, and BIM incorporates that strategy into a construction software platform.
VDC & BIM are an excellent duo for any project as they can be used to ensure projects are planned effectively, meaning they will be completed on time and within budget. They also help ensure collaboration between the project team working in the manufacturing facility and those on site, as they can communicate progress related to components that have already been built and how they will fit into the project.
4. Predictability & Safe Conditions – One of the more apparent benefits of moving construction offsite is that working conditions are more predictable in the factory setting. Within the controlled environment, teams have more certainty in terms of schedules and costs because they are not hindered by external factors like inclement weather. This allows for better quality assurance and process efficiency. Not only does a factory setting prevent teams from facing unforeseen external factors, but it also minimizes the risk of injury. In fact, a Boston Consulting Group report found that workplace injuries are cut in half with prefab.
5. Waste Reduction & Sustainability – Sustainable construction means using less energy, reusing materials, and reducing waste on a project. With the construction industry accounting for 40% of global greenhouse emissions, these goals must be prioritized on all projects. Due to its controlled setting, off-site construction has proven to be a great solution to help teams reduce their carbon footprint – teams can track the number of materials needed and are empowered to recycle in this setting.
While the construction industry still has a lot to learn from manufacturing, it’s clear that initial steps are being taken toward a digital-first approach in the sector. We are now seeing well-known and innovative companies, including Factory_OS, Timberlab & Clark Pacific, embrace new cloud-based technologies to drive productivity. It’s time for the industry at-large to join a similar journey to improve operations by moving construction offsite.
Read our whitepaper with tips from these innovative companies and insights on the industrialization of construction from
- Raghi Iyengar, CEO at Manufacton by ViZZ Technologies
- Paul Teicholz, Professor of Civil & Environmental Engineering at Stanford University
- Sanjay Sarma, Professor of Mechanical Engineering at MIT
- Andrew Deschenes, Project Manager/Site Representative at LeftField