What is the growth outlook for the industry in 2021? What is the scope of digitalization in the coming year?
2021 brings new hopes and expectations for the Indian construction industry. As per industry projections, the industry is expected to grow at 11.6% in 2021, which is a heartening contrast from the decline it witnessed in 2020. The pandemic has forced the engineering and construction industry to hasten the embrace of technology, like most other industries.
Most industry players have realized that end-to-end digitalization of construction workflows through deployment of technologies and processes like Constructible BIM, Connected Construction, IoT, mixed reality and robotics can not only enable them to continue their projects with negligible disruptions, but also allow them to experience rapid gains in productivity and efficiency, while ensuring high safety standards.
Trimble believes that this momentum will gather more pace this year. In 2021, the adoption of full-scale digitalization in construction, or connected construction, will grow more mainstream, with a substantial number industry player in the country embracing it. These modern technology solutions will also attract larger investments in digital technology for multiple benefits in the near term and the longer run.
What are some of the construction technology trends we can look forward to? How do they address the expected challenges?
As real estate developers push for cost rationalization, construction firms will in turn explore new methods and improved practices. As an example, there’s a significant focus on modular designs and prefabricated structures, which makes construction industry follow the manufacturing industry best practices, more like a factory assembly line than an artisanal workshop. For developers or owners, the benefits are obvious: factory-like construction that will mean a tighter supervision and control over deviations, resulting in superior and standardized quality of construction, at a lower price. And with material prices in flux and a labor market that continues to be restrained, the transition towards off-site, factory-style fabrication and construction will be a lucrative way for the developers and contractors to cut costs, improve productivity and shorten their project timelines.
Going forward, one of the most important steps for the industry would be make use of BIM mandatory in all infrastructure construction projects. In fact, a crucial step towards this direction has already been taken last year by the Government of India with Niti Aayog advising the concerned ministries to look at implementing BIM in their projects. This was after the Niti Aayog concluded that BIM can potentially save around 20% of infrastructure project costs by trimming the construction time, reducing rework and cutting down on wastage. We remain optimistic now that the government will make BIM mandatory for all public infrastructure projects and make India join the League of Nations that have already done so, and are now reaping the benefits of faster and more efficient infrastructure construction.
Safety and regulation in the construction industry will also be very much in focus in 2021. Technology advancements in items like wearables and work boots available for the construction workers today connect to Wi-Fi and send GPS coordinates to supervisors, alerting them if workers have not taken mandatory breaks or are too tired. While these technologies will take time to become more common in countries like India, other advancements such as moisture-wicking fabric and cooling vests are now widely available in India that help keep construction workers safe and comfortable.
How has Trimble fared over the past year and what is the Roadmap for the year 2021?
As I mentioned earlier, the pandemic led to an unprecedented rate of digitalization across the AEC value chain. Trimble saw a 40-50% increase in the adoption of our digital modelling solutions since the outbreak of COVID-19, which is a sharp rise from previous years. Trimble also demonstrated its commitment to the Indian construction sector by taking multiple steps to help individual companies digitalize their workflows, collaborate virtually and sustain their operations during the nationwide lockdown.
To illustrate, we widened the scope and availability of the free trial of our structural BIM collaboration tool - Tekla Model Sharing. Tekla users could access it for full 90 days (roughly three months) for their business without incurring any fee. The number of trial licenses on offer was also increased from five to ten. Further, we also expanded the capabilities of Trimble Connect, our cloud-based collaboration solution for a limited period. The enhanced capabilities would allow a user to create up to 10 projects instead of a limit of one project earlier, invite unlimited number of project members as against a limit of 5 members earlier, and access unlimited storage as against a limit of 10GB earlier.
As global leaders in construction technology, we continue to offer cutting-edge digital tools and solutions to the Indian construction industry, which help the industry players increase their productivity, reduce materials wastage, and optimize their schedules, budgets and real estate portfolios. This year, we look forward to further support the Indian construction industry’s ongoing journey towards complete digitalization through connected, content-enabled and constructible solutions.