Catching the train of digitalisation in the construction sector – A potential development for Precast concrete

Precast concrete production is a highly automated industry and it perfectly fits into demand such as BIM, RFID chips and smart on- site management.

The potential of digitalisation hides a lot of opportunities for the construction sector as a whole and for the building material industry. It enables a faster and more precise construction and production phase while reducing mistakes to minimum. Data availability in a long term and fast access to information are other benefits of this new trend.

Indeed, digitalisation offers the possibility to increase their productivity: 50% less mistakes, up to 4h saving per day and up to 25% less costs are the advantages of data availability. [1] Namely the production phase can gain the most from the automatization (that increases not only productivity but it creates safer work places).[2] Robots can be monitored with the aid of sensors while a higher efficiency is guaranteed by energy-optimized production control.

Furthermore, electronic tendering is slowly becoming a standard in public procurement, digital platforms saves time and money and reduce the administrative burden on companies.

Building Information Modelling is already broadly used in the construction sector, moreover a 2014 EU directive recommends the use of BIM use as one of the criteria for the award of public contracts. These solutions offer the possibility to minimize planning errors, permits fast calculations, quantifies extra costs, material waste is minimised; while increasing cross sectoral collaboration.

Digitalisation however have another role as well: enable a circular construction industry. The European Commission finance the so-called BAMB project (Building Materials as Material Banks). The project develops electronic material passports which contains sets of data describing defined characteristics of materials in products that give them value for recovery and reuse (reversible design).

This project also working on data management (including BIM). In order to support resource effective decision making in the building process a decision-making model, Building Level Integrated Decision-Making Model will be developed.

Another potential is smart on-site management. Supply software can help to make building products to be delivered on-site precisely when they are needed (minimizes storage).  Digital services can help to reduce construction workers journey and less coordination work. Oher digital planning tools (integrated RFID chips – radio-frequency identification, 3D laser) further help to reduce complexity and time pressures.

[1] FINALCAD – Better faster stronger (Roland Berger)