The Digital Transformation is Coming to the Construction Industry

The construction sector generates more than 5% of GDP and employs more than one million workers, despite the impact of the 2008 financial crisis. However, its major role in the economy contrasts with its low level of digitalization and innovation, severely limiting its productivity and growth. Currently, only agriculture lags behind in terms of technology implementation. 
In order to reverse this situation, Minsait has been working for years on different lines of action, both in this country and in Europe, to promote the digitalization of companies and institutions in the sector. This commitment has driven the company to join a number of initiatives such as the Spanish Construction Technological Platform (PTEC) and the European Construction Technological Platform (ECTP). It also participates in various European projects such as DigiPLACE, which aims to define a framework for future digital platforms in the sector and, more recently, Metabuilding.

With Metabuilding, we finally leave theory behind, and we are talking about an Innovation Action project, i.e. one that produces real products or services. It defines itself as an innovation ecosystem and is funded by the European Union through the H2020 Research and Innovation Program. Its main objective is to promote innovation in the construction sector through the financing of innovative projects proposed by European SMEs. 
To this end, the construction of a cross-disciplinary digital platform for the construction sector is proposed, which will be used to manage the funds and, additionally, provide a suite of tools to companies (fund search engine, Matchmaking, Marketplace...) to execute the financed plans. For Metabuilding, this platform is the digital backbone of the project. The suite of digital tools and services will help both SMEs and other stakeholders to participate in this project. Here they will find services and information that will allow them to find existing innovative technologies ready for implementation and partners who want to join their programs. 

This project, which initially involves 6 European countries (Austria, France, Hungary, Italy, Portugal and Spain), is the starting point for the digital transformation of the construction sector. Currently, Minsait has made available to the Onesait Platform project, the open IoT (Internet of Things) platform with Big Data capabilities that makes it possible to easily integrate and share information from different systems, applications and devices. The Crossover Digital Platform will be built on it. Initially it will be simple, but it will allow the inclusion of complex functionalities proposed in the next phase: Metabuilding Labs. In this second stage, a "laboratory" module will be built that will be able to test possible assets and will work with both IoT themes for data capture and Digital Twins for exploitation.

The construction sector must be able to meet sustainable challenges

The Crossover Digital Platform will be a crucial piece in overcoming the barriers to digitalization and facing future challenges such as climate change or demographic growth. 
The evolution towards sustainable and efficient construction is fundamental, as this sector is currently one of the sectors that produces the most waste and recycles the least materials. In addition, most of the existing building work is outdated and not very efficient from an energy standpoint, which translates into high consumption. The platform aims to help to accelerate the digitalization of environments and infrastructures or moving towards achieving a circular economy, which would be key to sustainable construction.

Demographic growth brings with it the challenge of access to housing and places the construction sector at the center of the problem. The solution is to increase productivity at a lower cost and to ensure that the generation of all the necessary infrastructure in the future is sustainable.
In the face of these challenges, digital transformation is an essential requirement for their solution thanks to the potential offered by new technologies and their synergies with the Building Intelligent Model (BIM) methodology, the new guiding thread of the sector's value chain where all the elements will be connected. In particular, digitalizing the sector will enable us: 
•    The IoT makes it possible to detect logistical problems and enables real-time monitoring for infrastructure maintenance.
•    By means of the virtual replica offered by the digital twin in a building, real-time information on its energy efficiency is available, errors are detected, simulations are carried out and even the level of wear and tear of the main walls or beams can be analyzed.
•    Artificial Intelligence applied to construction can discover hidden patterns, detect problems before they appear, optimize construction processes and so on.
•    The BIM methodology will promote collaboration and centralize all activity around a digital model, encompassing the characteristics and elements of a building throughout its life cycle, and representing them in a digital model, using data-driven 3D viewing techniques, replacing traditional plans. In addition, it allows the integration of systems and the incorporation of state-of-the-art technologies such as those described above.

The application of all these technologies will greatly boost the efficiency of the sector, improving both its productivity to do more with less, to address the growing need for access to housing and infrastructure, as well as its sustainability, facilitating the reduction of energy expenditure, a greater reuse of materials and minimizing waste. In fact, it is estimated that by 2025, large-scale digitalization will lead to annual cost savings of 13% to 21% in the design, engineering and construction phases and 10% to 17% in the operations phase.

Add new comment