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Construction: Challenges For A Digital And Sustainable Industry

From employing more renewable and recyclable materials to innovation in sound testing techniques for finished structures, innovation in the construction sector is constant. 

But it is not without its challenges – so here we try to answer some key questions about the main challenges of the sector and possible solutions to them.

1. What are the main challenges facing construction today?

The main challenges are related to profound changes in the way a project is commissioned and built. Collaborative contracts and management systems are needed that integrate stakeholders from the early stages. For this, it is necessary to develop pilot projects that generate data and experience. 

That is where the outlook is still in the short term and the potential of strategies that have demonstrated impact is somewhat limited in reality. On this last point, Lean, BPM, Virtual Reality, Technologies, and Industrialization lose their opportunity to generate real and sustainable changes in the sector that contribute to an increase in the productivity of construction projects. 

Also, there is a challenge in terms of selecting skills and training your product turnover people to a great extent. 

In environmental terms, waste management and the development of new construction systems with a lower carbon footprint also turn out to be relevant challenges for the sector.

2. Are there benefits in profitability when a company incorporates construction innovation into its strategy?

It should be understood that whatever the benefit is, it is in the medium term and that benefit must be understood beyond profitability if we want to generate substantive changes in the sector. 

In that sense, “benefits” can be quantifiable in monetary terms due to the reduction in the construction deadlines, the industrialization of the process (not of the components of a building), the flow of information, shorter construction deadlines, and the use of new technologies and so on.

3. When it comes to innovation in construction. How can a company begin to improve its production processes?

It is critical to start by understanding that any attempt to improve requires involvement and leverage of resources. There must be support for investment in R&D and innovation for the industry.

Many times, construction companies try only to resolve the immediacy of their current situation. One possible way would be to develop management models that integrate the main stakeholders from the early stages, redesign their production chains based on an industrialized system, develop new flexible construction systems for production lines and development of new technologies. The latter applies to things as essential as information management.

4. What types of projects are leading the way? What benefits can be seen? 

Many authorities have promoted the development of a more productive and sustainable construction industry. Along these lines, supported by industry and the government, some projects have developed eco-sustainable neighbourhoods and other iconic projects. 

The benefits are related to the performance of new constructions in terms of habitability and satisfaction of end-users, the speed of construction in the case of modularized projects, and the integration of design and construction processes.

Something that is also considered a great benefit is the development of advanced human capital in terms of architecture and engineering.