Digital is the key building block to help solve our resource challenges

OpEd – Scott Smith (Managing Director – Transportation – Australia, Aurecon)

There is currently unprecedented spending in infrastructure in Australia creating intense pressure on the industry’s ability to meet the resourcing demands. Infrastructure Partnerships Australia is forecasting expenditure, already at record highs, to increase by 90% between now and 2024 with labour demands seeing comparable increases.

With similar infrastructure investments occurring worldwide, resource gaps won’t be filled through migration and therefore as an industry we need to find ways to deliver outcomes more efficiently. At the same time, the construction industry’s productivity in Australia has consistently fallen for the past seven years, meaning we are becoming less and less efficient with the more we try to deliver.

Something must change, and I believe digital innovation is the key building block for end-to-end project delivery that can have huge impacts on improving productivity.

Unfortunately, whilst there are numerous case studies demonstrating the value digital tools bring to design, assembly and construction,
a lack of capability and capacity is preventing us employing the latest digital tools and techniques onto many of our projects, large or small.

Governments have a key role in enabling this change through both contract structures and procurement processes. In Singapore, demonstration of productivity in construction is now a key assessment criteria with contractors rewarded for minimising site labour by maximising pre-fabrication through pre-casting and other forms of Design for Manufacture and Assembly.

There also needs to be incentives for investing, training and upskilling to enable digital delivery across the full project lifecycle. Digital delivery will also enable asset owners and operators to better use their data to optimise and enhance asset operations and renewals.

by Scott Smith

Managing Director – Transportation – Australia

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