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“Like they did with cars, they would start by hiring process engineers, aviation experts and other professionals without knowledge from the industry and totally rethink how houses are built,“ predicted Javier Glatt, CEO of Canada-based CadMakers Virtual Construction.

Patrick Mays, Vice President Strategy at Dassault Systèmes, said business models would be changed, and constructions may be provided, for instance, as a service.

The hypothetical question was raised at a seminar on digitalization and lean construction hosted by TECHNIA, in an initiative aimed at helping accelerate digital disruption and smarter production in a sector criticized for being conservative.

Jonas Gejer CEO at TECHNIA, in an opening address, said that during his 30 years in the IT business he had seen one industry after the other, starting with aerospace and defence, embracing PLM and other digital methods and processes.

“We now see a growing interest from the construction industry,” Gejer said.

About time, say many. Analysts point to lack of standardization, lack of digitalized processes, lack of production design and miscommunication as roots of widespread inefficiencies.

Expensive cars

McKinsey said in a report that large construction projects typically take 20 percent longer to finish than scheduled and are up to 80 percent over budget. At the seminar, Helena Dahlberg of Sweden’s Building Center (Svensk Byggtjänst) said poor communication — including misunderstandings, unclear instructions and non-existent specifications — was increasing costs of larger construction projects in the country by about 13 percent.

Another speaker, Lars Albinsson, CEO at Maestro Management and a specialist in digital innovation cited a study made by a construction company calculating what a car priced at 300,000-500,000 SEK would cost if current construction industry processes were used to make it. “It would cost about 6,000,000 SEK.”

Participants at the seminar, held in Radisson Blu SkyCity Hotel at Stockholm’s international airport Arlanda, were taken by the gloomy picture and speakers were anxious to show how digitalization and new inventions can help.

Tiina Koppinen, Senior Vice President Business Development at Skanska in Finland, said they were using ENOVIA as a tool for project management and project information includes cost estimates, cash flow etc.

“In the field we work with iPads and everything is documented and available when people need it.”

Another focus

Jan-Olof Edgar, Senior Advisor BIM/PLM at Swedish company Projektengagemang, said a new classification system from Byggtjänst, CoClass, due to be launched in October, not only breaks down constructions to their smallest components and names them, it also details the life cycle stages and is made to work internationally.

Kajsa Simu, lean manager and researcher at Luleå University, Sweden, said stakeholders in the highly fragmentized construction sector need to find ways to focus on end consumer satisfaction, “rather than working in silos and sub optimizing.”

“Focus, from architect to maintenance, should be on how to make every project better in delivering the right thing to the customer at the right time and in the right amount.”

Albinsson, who has helped companies like Volvo and IKEA with digital innovation, said technology and digitalization are moving fast forward.

“If we spend more time on the production design process and look at the lean production process, we can do wonderful things at lower costs.”

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