How coronavirus has changed the construction industry for the better


Pandemic has accelerated the adoption of technology, boosting efficiences in the construction sector, says expert.

The adoption of technology across the construction industry as a result of the global coronavirus pandemic has been hailed as a “breakthrough” moment by Sherief Elabd, director of industry strategy and innovation at US-headquartered Oracle Construction.

Elabd has previously called on construction companies to adopt artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, the internet of things (IoT), building information modelling, and drones to keep up with the “rapid change” under way to boost efficiencies in the global engineering industry.

And he admitted this has been accelerated by the outbreak of Covid-19, as building sites across the Middle East joined in nationwide lockdowns implemented earlier in the year to contain the spread of the virus, while also dealing with subsequent social distancing guidelines.

Elabd told Arabian Business: “It did dramatically. I’ve been describing this as a breakthrough.”

He said that while companies had intentions to move ahead with digital transformation plans, possibly in the next year or two, these have been brought to the forefront.

“Projects happen outdoors, projects happen at construction sites. Now you look at the very paradigm shift of each company focus, contractors, owners, even the consultants now, are asking what can you do for the social distancing? How can I remotely monitor my progress? How can I capture progress with the very minimum number of construction workers? How does that tie into my project updates? How does that streamline an automated payment management process?

“It’s moving from being a software and data-driven forms for people to use from their desktops to their mobile applications to their inclusion and contribution of technology such as AI and machine learning IoT into the industry itself which brings software and hardware into the picture.”

According to a study from Deloitte, in April 2019, new contracts in the GCC amounted to well over $6 billion in value. This year in April, the value had fallen 40 percent to just over $4 billion in the GCC, against the backdrop of a 42 percent dip for the broader Middle East North Africa region.

“On the very bright side, as we have seen these slowdowns in some of the projects, there are some other government initiatives spread across the Middle East, especially with the healthcare sector, of pushing to build hospitals, maintaining the current hospitals, a lot of refurbishment and innovation, etc,” said Elabd.

He added that further opportunities are shown to exist in terms of businesses realising the importance and security of the cloud.

“It kind of moved from being an option to being a priority or the first thing that we’re considering because what we saw at the beginning of the pandemic is a lot of companies they didn’t really manage the flow of the data,” said Elabd. “The collaboration between the different teams and the stakeholders in the projects, they were really impacted with what happened.”

Source: Arabian Business


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