In a recent report, Imagining construction’s digital future, McKinsey & Company suggests that the construction industry is ripe for disruption and two of the technologies that it believes will be key in that anticipated transformation are goespatial and BIM. The McKinsey report presents data that shows that large construction projects typically take 20 percent longer to finish than scheduled and are up to 80 percent over budget. Construction productivity has actually declined in some markets since the 1990s and financial returns for contractors are relatively low and volatile. The report finds that construction has been slow to adopt process and technological innovations. R&D spending in construction lags other industries. Construction R&D is less than 1% of total industry revenue compared to 3.5-4.5 % in the auto and aerospace sectors. And construction spending on IT is low compared to other industries.
The McKinsey Global Institute estimates that the world will need to spend $57 trillion on infrastructure through 2030 to keep up with global GDP growth. This is a massive incentive for the construction industry to transform productivity and project delivery through new technologies and improved practices.
McKinsey has identified five technologies that it believes will be transformative in the construction industry. Th first two are geospatial technologies and BIM.
About 4 million excavations are carried out on the UK road network each year to install or repair buried utility pipes and cables. Not knowing the location of buried assets causes practical problems that increase costs and delay projects, but more importantly, it increases the risk of injury for utility owners, contractors and road users. The problems associated with inaccurate location of buried pipes and cables are serious and are rapidly worsening due to the increasing density of underground infrastructure in major urban areas. In the U.S. it is estimated that an underground utility is hit every minute. Underground utility conflicts and relocations are the number one cause of project delays during road construction.
These type of unforeseen problems are a major reason that projects are delayed and go over budget. Discrepancies between ground conditions and early survey estimates can require costly last-minute changes to project scope and design. New techniques that integrate high-definition photography, 3-D laser scanning, ground penetrating radar in conjunction with other technologies and geographic information systems make it possible to reduce the risk of hitting underground utilities. Reality modeling using phodar and LiDAR technologies provides high-quality 3-D images and point clouds that can be integrated with building information modeling (BIM). Used in conjunction with ground-penetrating radar, magnetometers, and other equipment, LiDAR can generate above-ground and underground 3-D images of project sites.