APAC businesses can have potential savings of 20% on project spending just by managing data more effectively.
The future of Asia-Pacific’s (APAC) construction sector lies in data, with APAC businesses reporting an average potential savings of 20 percent on project spending just managing data more effectively, a report from tech solutions provider Procore said.
In its “How We Build Now” benchmark report, Procore further said the construction sector can “leverage the massive amounts of data generated through using technology to make more data-driven decisions across every phase of the construction life cycle.”
Bruce Wells, VP of Asia, Procore, further added that examples of “big data solutions” that APAC countries must start introducing will include AI, machine learning, and business intelligence tools.
“Leveraging advanced technologies like artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning and business intelligence tools can help construction professionals get to the root cause of problems, forecast financials more effectively, track and manage productivity, and manage internal change processes,” Wells said.
Technology can also help APAC’s construction sector to address ongoing issues including labor shortages, safety concerns, etc., Wells added.
“We’re seeing many exciting applications of advanced technologies in the construction industry today. Drones and augmented reality (AR) are helping contractors inspect worksites and monitor hard-to-reach spaces without requiring additional manpower. Internet of Things (IoT) sensors monitor the performance and health of site equipment, so that preventive maintenance can be done before breakdowns happen. These technologies are significant in managing labor shortages and reducing safety incidents,” Wells said.
The executive added that beyond these frontier technologies, “we also need to take a step back and solve construction’s fundamental challenge: getting the right people with the right skills and equipment, to do the right job at the right time. This challenge stems from ineffective communication between stakeholders on and off the construction site.”
Singapore: A positive outlook
Singapore projects between S$22 billion and S$32 billion are poured annually into its construction industry from 2022 to 2026.
Wells further said much like Singapore, many other markets have expressed positive outlooks in the industry, seeing an increased demand in construction projects across the region.
According to Procore’s How We Build Now benchmark report, around 6 in 10 construction businesses in the APAC region expect an increase in the number and value of projects over the next year.
“That’s 93% of construction leaders in Singapore, 98% in the Philippines and 89% in Malaysia who are confident about the industry outlook for the next 12 months ahead,” Wells said, adding that “at the same time, construction leaders remain cognisant of the persistent challenges plaguing the industry, such as rework and labor shortages. Macroeconomic trends such as the uncertain economic environment and global inflation add further pressure to businesses. Construction businesses must therefore look towards adopting technology to improve their processes and protect their profit margins while minimizing financial risks.”
Asked what reasons (such as costs, for instance) would construction players have for declining to utilize technology, Wells said “digital transformation and the adoption of technology require a concerted effort from all stakeholders – governments, vendors, businesses and the workforce.”
“According to the How We Build Now benchmark report, the key barriers to digital transformation faced by construction businesses are mainly a lack of government and vendor support, as well as changing established practices and behaviors,” Well said.
He added “governments play an essential role in supporting businesses with the adoption of construction technology, whether through education initiatives or grants. In Singapore, the Building and Construction Authority (BCA) has made tremendous efforts to educate businesses on the benefits of construction technology with the launch of the Construction Industry Transformation Map (ITM). Similarly, Malaysia’s Construction Strategy Plan 4.0 (2021–2025) aims to achieve its aspiration of building a more competitive and productive construction industry. Though subsidies and grants are helpful in broadening the use of construction technology, these are short-term incentives that serve as the initial push for technological adoption. More importantly, businesses must recognize the need to leverage technology to innovate and evolve.”
Speaking of challenges, Wells further said “changing established practices and behaviors is another major barrier faced, and this is usually due to a lack of education and training. Educating all stakeholders on the benefits of leveraging digital solutions and providing training will reduce the friction of adopting new technologies. With a professional services team focused on customer service and success, we provide unlimited support, training and online content to ensure companies and users of our platform receive the necessary support.”
Tech solutions for the construction sector
Wells further said the construction industry has many technological solutions at its disposal.
“Though, many of these are not specifically developed for the construction industry and do not necessarily address the challenges specific to what construction companies face today. At Procore, we are built for construction, by construction professionals. We have a deep understanding of the challenges faced by construction businesses, and our focus is to build solutions and innovate our platform to address these,” Wells said.
“This is where an integrated construction platform like Procore comes in. With Procore, all information across project teams is stored in one shared platform, creating a single source of truth. Stakeholders can access information in real time, and receive push notifications to keep everyone on task and on time. This facilitates effective collaboration and helps users make smarter, better-informed decisions. Procore also allows bid managers to compare bids and material cost quotes across respondents to find the most competitive choice. Financial management tools integrated within the platform also help businesses make more accurate project cost tracking and financial forecasts. Ultimately, Procore enables all aspects of the construction lifecycle to be managed under one platform,” the executive said.