Are Gulf construction firms ready to embrace disruptive tech?

Businesses know investing in 3D printing, VR, and artificial intelligence can yield long-term financial gains, but they must now be bold and adopt these disruptive tools

Oscar Rousseau is the deputy editor of Construction Week.
Oscar Rousseau is the deputy editor of Construction Week.

Technological advancement can be linked to a theory called Moore’s Law, which predicted that the number of transistors on a computer circuit would double every two years.

This observation by Intel co-founder, Gordon Moore, has held true, and we have seen smaller and faster computers positively impact society by improving the fields of transport, education, healthcare, and energy, not to mention, the construction sector.

While it has been said that contractors in the Middle East are slow to embrace innovation, the benefits of disruptive technology have by no means gone unnoticed in the industry.

Naji Atallah, from US-based software company Autodesk, says Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 strategy “cannot be achieved” if companies do not adopt technologies such as 3D printing, artificial intelligence, or even virtual reality (VR).

With the construction technology of today already delivering significant operational benefits, there is no harm in embracing further innovation, providing it does not drain resources.

Schindler UAE has invested heavily in the market to embrace digital technology and establish itself in the country’s people-flow industry.

The manufacturer of elevators, escalators, and urban mobility systems is racing ahead to equip its vertical transport equipment with the latest technology in order to make life easier, faster, and better. The company’s elevators can analyse a building’s population data to work more efficiently and reduce energy consumption.

The team at Schindler has even developed an app that interacts with a personal transit management system, calling a lift to pick up the user as soon as they walk through a barrier in the foyer of a building. The system is also able to switch on the lights, unlock the office door, or turn off the air conditioning.

However, sophisticated software helps to improve more than just building management, as the right tech tools can help to streamline many aspects of a project. Construction-related enterprise resource planning software has been on the market for more than 20 years and has helped contractors stay ahead of the game.

Ian Hauptfleisch, general manager of Construction Computer Software (CCS) Gulf, says investment in the right software package is vital. And while it can seem an expensive acquisition up front, the return on investment can be significant.

Being brave enough to embrace technology is something Rapid Access knows a thing or two about. The firm has introduced a VR simulator kit to train the operators of cranes and boom lifts. The Serious Labs-developed technology could improve on-site safety by mitigating the risk of accidents and fatalities.

As the risk of accident is lowered, projects may become more efficient. The likelihood of downtime is minimised, helping to keep a project on track and on budget.

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Construction Week - Issue 767
Sep 01, 2020