Digital transformation is a wave that has not only catalyzed business growth—it has helped companies remain buoyant during the COVID-19 pandemic. Unfortunately, as great a wave as digital transformation has been, its ripples have yet to wash upon the shores of the construction industry. According to the latest study by McKinsey Global Institute, construction remains one of the least digitized industries in the world, ranking just above the likes of agriculture.
The good news is that the construction industry has not been sitting idle. In fact, many industry players are facilitating collaboration between value chain partners to shore up their digital readiness. One such collaboration is between Autodesk and the Real Estate Developers’ Association of Singapore (REDAS), which entails a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to foster closer strategic ties and bolster digital transformation efforts across Singapore’s real estate supply chain. Singapore already has one of the most digitally mature construction sectors in Asia Pacific and Japan, and such collaborations will only bring them closer to fully reaping the benefits of digitalization.
Few people beyond the industry understand just how complex a typical construction project can be. Project complexity can be driven by a range of factors, including project type, size, location, stringent regulatory requirements, and not to mention the number of stakeholders involved. A simple apartment block alone consists of raw materials and prefabricated components from a dozen different suppliers, contractors, and subcontractors. These components also have to be produced, delivered, and assembled in very specific orders for the project to be completed on time—which, according to a study by McKinsey, seldom happens.
Furthermore, the industry is weighed down by its heavy reliance on paper documents. Not having up-to-date information is one challenge, but the reliance on paper documents means that there is an unequal distribution of information across the entire value chain. This is a huge problem, considering project success is often dependent on different stakeholders having access to the same, timely, and accurate information.
This is where collaborations among value chain partners within the industry can make an impact. For instance, as part of the aforementioned MOU, Autodesk will support the enhancement to REDAS’ Developer-Centric Integrated Digital Delivery (IDD) Dashboard, a tool that tracks key data and activities across the entire project via a single dashboard. REDAS’ members, which consist of around 120 real estate developers in Singapore, can use the dashboard as a single bird’s eye view to monitor and manage their IDD projects, from design and fabrication to construction and operations. Through the relevant Application Programming Interfaces, developers will be able to visualize relevant project data and documents from various platforms, especially those residing in the Autodesk Construction Cloud, within the existing dashboard.
The cloud platform also encourages closer collaboration among project stakeholders, which will prove especially useful as we continue to ride on the pandemic. Border restrictions have caused the foreign construction workforce to shrink by 52,800 to around 288,700 in 2020. With dozens of stakeholders distributed across multiple geographies, the connected construction capabilities in the Autodesk Construction Cloud will improve collaboration and increase productivity, enabling project teams across Singapore and the globe to do more with less.
From cross-pollinating expertise, talent, and technology, strategic collaborations among value chain partners make sense because each party brings something unique to the table, allowing them to mutually benefit. One of its greatest advantages, however, is that it creates value not just for the immediate parties involved, but the wider industry too.
Take the example of the MOU between REDAS and Autodesk. Aside from the Autodesk Construction Cloud integration, both REDAS and Autodesk are working together to explore developing specific learning programs to help REDAS members achieve various industry certifications. The goal is to strengthen the digital competency of Singapore’s built environment sector, and support the ISO 19650, an international standard for managing information over the whole lifecycle of a built asset using building information modelling (BIM). These initiatives will ultimately prepare developers and builders to succeed in the future of work.
Aside from developing skills, knowledge, and experience, a well-executed project could lead to long-term collaborations that last for decades. This ultimately creates a win-win situation for all.
Singapore’s construction sector accounted for 2.7% of Singapore’s nominal gross domestic product in 2020. While the sector was hit hard by the pandemic, the Building and Construction Authority of Singapore believes that the total construction demand will grow in 2021 and beyond. Singapore-based developers, then, would do well to take this opportunity and build up their digital capabilities.
“REDAS is constantly looking for ways to help our members upgrade their digital capabilities to bolster the sector’s resilience and sustainability. Having an industry leader like Autodesk on board means we can tap on their deep expertise and experience to enhance our overall Integrated Digital Delivery processes,” said Mr. Wong Heang Fine, Chairman of REDAS Productivity Committee and Group CEO of Surbana Jurong.
Sidharth Haksar, Senior Director, Head of Construction Strategy at Autodesk Construction Solutions, added, “At Autodesk, we understand that safety, predictability and sustainability are of the utmost importance in the construction industry. Our work with REDAS will not only drive the long-term success for the Association’s community—it will also help Singapore’s construction industry to overcome current technology and efficiency hurdles.”