Bentley Systems and Topcon Positioning Group’s new joint venture, Digital Construction Works (DCW), aims to help firms find and optimize their workflows. By providing end-to-end digital automation of workflows and processes, technology integration services, and digital twin creation, Digital Construction Works hopes to close the construction industry’s efficiency gap.
Announced at their 2019 Year in Infrastructure event in October, Digital Construction Works is a new company that has taken some of the key minds from both companies and put them together towards a single end – to get the construction industry to go digital.
Collaboration born out of a common challenge
By now you’ve likely heard about the report by McKinsey on the inefficiencies in construction, and its lack of improvement over time. Contributing 13% of the world’s global GDP and a nearly $13 trillion market by 2022, construction is the largest industry in the world. Despite being the largest, it is far from the most efficient. Rework, cost over-runs, and inefficient workflows waste valuable time and funding.
Going digital has been floated as one of the key ways in which these inefficiencies can be eliminated – but there’s a catch.
A company looking to work digitally needs to create workflows that make sense through every part of the process and with all types of data being collected. Digitization can enhance many processes by enhancing ready access to data, helping to make more accurate forecasts that might affect future work, asses and improve safety, and reduce risk and liability, but it will only be helpful if the data involved flows easily from one step to the next. While many companies aim to fix a small piece of the long, time-leaking pipeline one drip at a time, Digital Construction Works is hoping to address the entire system.
The World Economic Forum estimates that within 10 years, full-scale digitalization of the construction industry could save up to $1.2 trillion in design, construction and engineering. While Digital Construction Works CEO, Ted Lamboo (formerly of Bentley Systems) agrees, he also stresses that while crucial, there’s more to digitization that simply adding more digital tools.
“The marketplace struggles with adoption. We think what it takes to go the next stage is that the marketplace needs to be serviced in order to take the steps that need to put into practice in projects. So we’ve set out to create a joint services organization, putting brains from both investors in there, and help the marketplace bridge that gap.”
At the Year in Infrastructure conference, Topcon Executive Vice President of M&A and Partnerships, Ewout Korpershoek, expanded upon the origins of the strategic endeavor.
“We’ve had many roundtables with customers over the years that all basically confirmed the issues they are having. And we [Bentley and Topcon] were looking at each other saying, ‘Well, who’s going to solve it first?’ And that’s when we realized that was an opportunity for us.”
Digital Construction Works intends to provide a pathway for end-to-end services to automate and optimize operations. Ultimately, the client will be able to create a digital twin of their assets so that they can be assessed and utilized not just for one turnover, but throughout the asset’s full life cycle. By using a digital twin, constructors can manage progress on a build just as easily as asset owners can check on their status or forecast where maintenance will be required.
As Korpershoek explains, the lack of digitization is not due to a lack of technology necessarily, but the lack of know-how in how to connect together siloed and disconnected sources of data.
“We have the customer who might get the latest and greatest in technology that will make his life much, much better, but if the customer has to figure out by himself how he effectively implements it, that’s a challenge.”
Digital Construction Works will work with firms or at the project level to get a better picture of existing workflows, then work with the companies to find the best solutions for them. The goal is to create a customized workflow that works around what is already in place, and doing so in a way that will make adoption more likely. Throughout their intervention, Digital Construction Works will get feedback and help companies to deploy the solutions, and making sure that they are able to be effectively implemented.