Construction NEEDS to Invest in Technology

George Smithies

George Smithies

Civil Engineer

Every industry has changed because of technology.
Mark Andreessen of Andreessen Horowitz famously said that “software is eating the world”.

We believe that technology is going to profoundly change the construction industry.

The Covid-19 crisis has highlighted our reliance on technology in so many aspects of our daily lives. The virus and its consequences are reinforcing the notion that the rate of change is only going to accelerate and become more profound.

The construction industry is incredibly important:

  • According to the UK Office for National Statistics, it is a major contributor the UK economy accounting for £117bn of spend (7% of GDP) and employs 2.6m people (6% of the total).
  • According to the McKinsey Global Institute construction accounts for 13% of global GDP.
  • According to a report I recently read the construction industry is one of the least digitised industries in the world. And is one of the least productive with only marginal gains over the last 20 years.

There is significant scope for change throughout the construction industry and the impact is going to be enormous. As we have seen in other industries change can be both positive and negative depending on a variety of factors.

The construction industry can find a lot of inspiration from history about change brought about by new technologies. Think about the innovators who developed the first railways and the impact on the economy and society. This was only possible because people and companies invested time, effort, and cash to make it happen.

As construction companies  tighten their belts because of Coronavirus and the inevitable economic downturn; let’s choose to invest and innovate together.

Our goal is to improve our industry for ourselves, our customers, and the communities in which our projects are delivered.
The starting point is through collaboration between all stakeholders, then the adoption of digital tools and new methods of construction project delivery. Our guiding principles for the adoption of technology are simple:

a) Improve health, safety, well-being, and quality

b) Reduce cost, programme, and carbon emissions.

Companies and organisations that invest in digital solutions will not only survive this crisis but will emerge stronger and better prepared for the future.

There are many different aspects to the built environment. Construction is just one part of the system. Our mission at innDex is to digitise the construction process for everyone.
My co-founder and I are both Civil Engineers. We have both experienced first-hand the joys of the industry such as building a new railway station that transforms a local community, but we have also experienced the frustrations due to the under investment in digitisation.

We decided to start innDex two years ago when I was working on a major rail project in London and Aaron was working on a new addition to the London Skyline. We were both frustrated with the amount of time and cost that was wasted filling in paper forms and manually entering data into spreadsheets. Personally, 20% of my time was taken up with paperwork that could have easily been automated or eliminated. This frustration was the inspiration for innDex.

inndex real-time dashboard on macbookpro

There are endless aspects of the construction process that can be improved through digitisation. We decided to keep it simplestart small and focus on the induction process for construction projects.
There were three reasons for this:

  1. Every construction project has an induction process.
  2. Filling in forms and ticking boxes is not an effective use of people’s time.
  3. It’s a source of frustration for everyone.

Our goal was to automate form filling and shorten the amount of time it takes to induct someone on a site. We have now created a data driven CV for the construction industry. So people no longer spend a half day waiting around and filling in forms. Its all done automatically. Inductions can now start to be more impactful and effective at ensuring everyone gets to work in an environment that is safe and productive.

Over the next few weeks and months my co-founder and I are going to write about our journey digitising the construction industry. We are going to try shine a light on the opportunities and the challenges for the industry.

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