BUILDING & ENGINEERING | Staff Reporter, Singapore

Why Singapore's construction industry needs to keep pace with game-changing technologies

FINALCAD’s MD Pierre Vauthrin says the industry has an ‘innate conservatism’ towards tech.

A recent study released by accounting firm KPMG found that the construction industry is yet to fully embrace technology as about 60-70% of firms across the globe are struggling to make sense of increasing volumes of available data. FINALCAD managing director Pierre Vauthrin commented that the study suggests that the construction industry’s innate conservatism towards technology explains why the sector is widely considered a digital laggard. Most businesses, he said, tend to adopt a “wait and see” approach, and this especially rings true in Southeast Asia.

FINALCAD is a digital app designed for people with construction, architecture, and design backgrounds. FINALCAD has helped to deliver more than 15,000 projects in 35 countries and helps in advancing the digital transformation of the construction industry.

According to Vauthrin, the construction industry is facing productivity challenges, particularly in Singapore, where developers are faced with continuing restrictions on foreign labour, increasing manpower costs and limited local talent. He suggested that automation and technology like Building Information Modeling (BIM) can assist in the move towards more prefabrication by moving routine labour to a safer and more efficient factory environment.

Singapore Business Review sat with Vauthrin to know more about the latest technology that the construction industry can tap into to improve productivity and efficiency. He also discussed how FINALCAD, which has seen increasing business development in the Southeast Asian region since 2013, can help construction firms harness the potential of current technologies.

FINALCAD was involved in iconic projects in Singapore such as Changi General Hospital and Singapore Sports Hub.

SBR: Whatchallenge does the construction industry face?

Projects are getting more complex and larger in scale - which places extreme pressure on traditional construction methods. At the same time, the growing demand for environmentally sensitive construction means that traditional practices must change.

Technology makes information easy to access, allowing users to spend more time on site than in the office. It improves communication in terms of designing or site maintenance, and fosters the innovation and creativity to aid designers and engineers to develop and construct green buildings.

Recognising that there might be some hesitance to digitalisation, FINALCAD keeps our app simple and easy to use, so as to encourage more usage for people working on the field.

SBR: How does technology support in increasing productivity and efficiency?

With technology, real-time collection of data increases productivity by improving the flow of information between the various project stakeholders. Information normally shared once a week, on paper, is now done in real time. This also enables collaboration among staff in different departments, helps managers meet documentation and compliance requirements on time and accurately, reduces potential for penalties and saves time.

FINALCAD also provides predictive analytics by mining data to identify productivity trends, common factors in the best or worst performing projects, supply chain partner process performance metrics and more.

SBR: What makes FINALCAD stand out compare to any other digital construction apps?

Beyond the ease-of-use and functionality of the app, our customer-centric approach was a key decision driver. FINALCAD is accessible to all the stakeholders during the construction’s lifecycle regardless of project size, from the most modest to the most complex. What does not change, is our commitment to help construction companies solved their business challenges. Besides that, FINALCAD is a straightforward and easy-to-use solution that is compatible with different types of mobile devices such as tablets and smartphones.

SBR: What do you consider your biggest milestones so far? Please tell us a bit about your success story

We recently helped China Construction with the development of The Sturdee Residence condominium in Singapore. The project, with a size of about 200 000 sqf has 200 plus units in two towers of 19 floors that includes a running route, clubhouse, steam room, health spa deck, and gym space.

For this project, China Construction needed a platform for checking and recording defects in a seamless and systematic order. This to ensure that the defects are accurately captured, swiftly communicated to relevant parties while corrective actions are taken to rectify defects in minimum time. For quality control checks, China Construction also wanted to look for a straightforward and easy-to-use solution that is compatible with different types of mobile devices such as tablets and smartphones. This will drastically reduce the reliance on paper work as well shorten the time needed to prepare for inspection checks. Above all, China Construction is now empowered to self-generate customisable reports that are detailed, accurate and factual to higher management and building owners.

SBR: What are your plans for the next 3-5 years?

We have been expanding our geographic coverage through our Channel Partners network in China, Japan, Philippines, and South Korea. Our R&D roadmap includes smart data analytics, artificial intelligence for object recognition, augmented reality linked to Building Information Modelling (BIM) models, digitisation of lean construction processes, and open API interoperability.

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