麦肯锡:建筑业瓦解时机已经成熟

建筑业瓦解的时机已经成熟,各种大型项目超进度20%以上,超投资更是达到80%以上(见附后原文图1所示),自20世纪九十年代以来建筑业生产效率实际在下降(见附后原文图2所示),承包商的利润率一直相对较低并且不稳定。

麦肯锡:建筑业瓦解时机已经成熟-BIMBANK

然而,建筑行业在应用技术和管理创新上一直行动迟缓。例如,项目策划过程中现场和办公室工作协同程度不够,常常纸上谈兵。承包商没有被激励进行风险分担和创新,绩效管理不合适,供应链实践也不精细。行业从来不拥抱新的数字化技术,即使是长期回报显著也不进行前期投入(见附后原文图3)。研发费用投入大大低于其他行业,仅仅投入不足收入的1%,而汽车和航空领域则为3.5%到4.5%,信息技术的投入同样如此。

随着项目的复杂性和规模日益提高,这一问题更富挑战性。环境敏感性需求的提高意味着传统实践必须变革,富有经验的劳动力和管理人员的短缺会变得越来越严重,这就要求必须采用新的思维方式和工作方式。传统的观点认为,建筑业必须采用渐进式改进,一部分原因是因为很多人认为项目具有一次性,不可能大规模采用新理念,拥抱新技术不切实际。

麦肯锡全球研究院估计到2030年将有57万亿的基础设施投入,这会大规模刺激一些公司投入新的技术和改进实践方法来提高生产效率和项目交付方式。在该报告中,我们认为在接下来的5年中,有5种方式可以改变建筑业。

瓦解建筑业:五大理念

这五大理念并非遥不可及,而是实实在在的实践创新,并且这五大创新需要共同发挥作用才能取得更大影响,具体见附后原文图4。

之一,高清晰度测量和定位技术

不可预知的地质问题是项目延期和超预算的关键原因。项目实际条件和早期勘查预计的差异,要求项目需要花费较多时间以变更项目范围和设计。新技术可以继集成高分辨率图像技术、3D扫描技术、地理信息系统(GIS)技术和无人机技术等,来显著提高精确度和速度。例如,激光雷达探测和测距技术比传统技术、3D图像技术、BIM技术和项目计划工具集成效果更好,如附后原文图5所示。借助探地雷达、磁力仪以及其他设备,激光雷达能产生项目基地地面以上和地面下的3D图景,这能大大减少环境敏感性项目或者历史文化项目的不确定性干扰。

这些先进的勘查技术能通过GIS技术补充,使地图、图像、测距和GPS定位等综合应用。这些信息可以上载到其他分析和可视化软件以用于项目计划或者施工中。

由于成本显著下降,现代信息技术越来越容易获取。激光雷达和实时动态GPS现在大约1万美元;高分辨率摄像机越来越小,也越来越轻;相比传统直升机,工业无人机越来越快,也越来越便宜。目前也有专业公司协助进行无人机拍摄、数据获取和信息可视化,一些政府机构和非政府组织也开始提供免费激光雷达测距地图。

之二,下一代5D建筑信息模型(BIM)

上世纪70年代,大型航空公司开始使用3D计算机模型,这帮助航空业生产效率提高了10倍。然而,建筑业还没有采用覆盖项目计划、设计、施工和运维全过程的集成平台。相反,建筑业仍然依赖定制的软件工具,项目业主和承包商经常使用不同的平台,相互之间并不同步。结果,就没有了单独的数据源以提供项目设计、成本和时间管理的集成、实时的信息。

下一代5DBIM能为任何一个项目提供实体和功能特征的5维信息,即除了标准的3D空间设计参数以外,还包括项目的成本和进度。同时也包括一些细节,例如几何结构、规格、美学、热能和声学特性。一个5DBIM平台能为业主和承包商提供项目成本和进度变更影响的识别、分析和记录,如附后原文图6所示,也能帮助承包商更好开展早期风险识别和决策。

一项研究发现,有75%采用BIM的企业认为,BIM技术给他们带来了积极回报,包括更短的项目周期、纸质文档和材料成本的节省等。如果进一步和AR(放大现实)及可穿戴装备结合,5DBIM技术的价值会更大。为了更好的获得BIM技术的丰富价值,项目业主和承包商从设计阶段就需要将用户嵌入进来,所有的利益相关者都采用和BIM兼容的标准化的设计和报告格式。此外,业主和承包商需要投入资源和资金来应用BIM。

之三,数字化协同和移动技术

管理数字化意味着需要从现有的纸质方式迁移到在线、实时信息共享方式,以确保透明化、协同、及时跟踪和风险评估、质量控制以及最终更好的、更可靠的产出。

行业表现较为糟糕的一个原因是目前仍然依赖纸质文件来管理项目,包括蓝图、设计图纸、采购和供应链订单、设备日志、日进度报告以及竣工审核。由于缺乏数字化,信息共享延迟司空见惯,业主和承包商使用不同版本的文件经常发生,这导致了变更和索赔。

业主和承包商开始应用数字化协同和现场移动解决方案,见附后原文图7。一个大的国际施工企业最近宣布,和软件公司联合开发一款基于云的、移动使能的现场监控平台,以开展大型工程项目计划、设计、现场控制、预算和文档管理。几个大的项目开发商已经成功进行项目管理工作流的数字化。

数字化工作流具有显著的好处。在美国一个隧道项目中,有600家供应商,承包商开发了一个简单的平台用于招投标和合同管理,就每周节省了20个小时的管理工时,消减了制作报告75%的时间,文件传递速度加快了90%。在另一个案例中,50亿的铁路项目节省了超过1.1亿成本,并且通过工作自动化大幅度提高了审查和批准的工作效率。

员工移动解决方案对效率提升产生了同样的效果。长期以来,现场人员和办公室人员实时沟通是一个大问题。但同时,以下因素限制了移动解决方案的应用,包括:不同移动解决方案的兼容性问题、可靠度、高速宽带和非直观设计及用户界面不友好等。低成本的移动连接费用已经导入了新一代“移动优先”的基于云端的APP使用方式,即使在遥远的施工现场,也能实时更新。目前,有60%的资金投入到了数字化协同和移动解决方案,如在平板和智能手机上使用APP,将施工蓝图和计划的变化实时告知现场人员,现场图片也能超级链接到项目计划中。也有一些公司提供移动时间记录、实时成本编码、工人定位和问题日志及追踪。还可以实现变更管理、时间和材料追踪,调度,生产效率测度和事故报告。

之四:物联网和高级分析技术

人、设备和大量工作在现场开展,使项目现场会变得越来越密集,他们产生了大量数据,很多数据没有被收集,更不用说测度和处理了。很多领域已经开始实际应用物联网了,传感和无线技术使设备连接起来并越来越“智能”。在工地现场,物联网能使建筑机械、设备、材料、结构甚至模板能和中央平台“会话”以获得关键性能参数。传感、近场通讯(NFC)设备,以及其他设备能帮助监控工人和设备的生产效率,包括:设备监控和维修、存货管理和订购、质量评估、能量效率管理和安全管理等。

最常用的近场通讯技术是RFID,其广泛应用于物流、零售和制造业,以收集精细化的产品、地点、时间和交易数据。目前,近场通讯技术也在演化,标签tags将很快能包括很多信息,例如规格、日期、缺陷、供应商、设备厂商、维修记录、运行参数等。RFID设备,包括扫描器、接收器、标签的成本都在不断降低,一些新的设备也在涌现。

除了物联网外,高级分析技术也至关重要。伦敦大型基础设施项目采用这些方法大大了节省了时间和资金,项目领导和数据分析公司一起构建了一个基于网络的适配仪器和监控系统,这一系统吸收现场传感数据、施工进度数据、工人和设备移动数据。基于这些信息,通过统计分析帮助项目团队识别异常和潜在风险,这对于人口稠密和历史文化敏感性的伦敦至关重要。类似的例子比比皆是。启发于高级分析技术,一些石油天然气巨头采用匹配正确的团队,指派合适的项目领导,以及修改工作流以最小化浪费和改进效率,这提高了20%到25%的效率。另一个例子,一个大的中东施工企业和软件公司一起开发了预测分析引擎,以防止设备现场故障发生,这节省了大量故障停机时间、燃油成本和维修开支。事件模拟和优化算法也已经帮助造船企业优化了施工计划。

之四:不过时的设计和施工技术

新的建筑材料,例如自修复混凝土、气凝胶和纳米材料,以及创新的施工方法,如3D打印和模块化拼装,都能降低成本、加快进度同时能提高质量和安全。全球建筑业有1万亿材料市场,材料价格会占掉建筑成本的一半以上。传统的材料如混凝土、水泥和沥青是主要构成,但新的和更好的工程材料具有更大的需求,这源于以下几个趋势:绿色施工、成本效率、敏捷供应链、耐久性和强度改进、非现场施工等。这些新材料包括自修复混凝土、混凝土帆布、高渗透混合物、气凝胶、纳米材料等。

大约80%的施工工作依然依赖于现场,但很多项目开发商和承包商开始探索新的非现场方法,以帮助改进可预测性、一致性和可重复性。建筑业需要超越预制和拼装结构,进入下一代技术。潜在几个技术包括:预装配、3D打印和机器人安装等。

行动建议

考虑到建筑业创新和应用新技术、新工具和新方法方面的糟糕记录,业主和承包商需要有新的心态。当业主把任务发包出去,他们往往认为责任就结束了,殊不知他们仍然需要为工期延误买单。从承包商角度看,他们往往只想满足项目合同的最低要求,实际价值也就说说而已。因此,为了使建筑业做的更好,需要采用以下几个原则:

(1)透明化和合同风险分担。伦敦希思罗机场五号航站楼就采用了此种方式,机场建设方购买了综合保险,承担了所有的风险,并将不同参与方视为团队成员,一起来解决复杂问题,寻找最佳解决方案,而不是传统的业主承包商合同关系。

(2)投资回报导向。测度和沟通新技术如何改进施工,例如积极的成本、进度和风险优化效果,构建一个好的案例样板,以供采用。

(3)新技术的设计简单而直接。用户界面要友好以鼓励使用。

(4)变革管理。组织需要一个清晰的变革故事,高层领导需要沟通为什么这些变革式重要的,以及对组织结构、能力和资源意味着什么。如果组织不在变革方面投入,还会遇到之前技术应用同样的失败问题。

项目建设单位和业主而言,他们需要授权和采取措施,即在合同阶段就需要委托数字技术的应用,并设置一定的预算。为了管理风险,业主应该与承包商共同投资技术示范应用并共享一定比例的回报。我们的经验显示,大型项目经常不是重大技术应用的首选项目,恰恰相反,应该选择小型或者中等规模的项目开展新技术示范以建立信心。

承包商而言,关键是再憧憬和再布局。为此,他们需要开发信息化路径图,以确定显然的行动、风险和冒险。组织资源需要再分配,例如指定首席信息官、首席创新官等来领导信息化过程。公司应该考虑和形成信息技术公司伙伴。当然,需要确保项目具有相应预算来实施新技术示范项目。

行业机构和政策制订者而言,应该投资和创建激励措施。他们应该起到帮助者角色,例如,和承包商、业主和信息技术公司一起制订新的技术的标准,建立示范项目,以及宣传成功故事。他们应该建立基金,奖励,或者补贴业主或承包商以使用数字化解决方案,帮助进行新员工培训或者教育。他们应该鼓励应用新技术,例如在公共项目中采用5DBIM技术,使用预制化构件等。在投资方面,一些行业机构建立风险资本基金来帮助初创企业对接开发商和承包商。

其他行业的经验告诉我们,首先采取行动的企业会建立持续的竞争优势,在建筑业同样如此。在下一个世纪,这些明天的赢者会成为技术创新和数字化的领先者。抵抗变革不再是未来的一个选项。(同济大学复杂工程管理研究院李永奎编译)

 

以下为英文原文:

The industry needs to change; here’s how to manage it.

The construction industry?is ripe for disruption. Large projects across asset classes typically take 20 percent longer to finish than scheduled and are up to 80 percent over budget (Exhibit 1). Construction productivity has actually declined in some markets since the 1990s (Exhibit 2); financial returns for contractors are often relatively low—and volatile.

Exhibit 1
麦肯锡:建筑业瓦解时机已经成熟-BIMBANK
Exhibit 2
麦肯锡:建筑业瓦解时机已经成熟-BIMBANK

While the construction sector has been slow to adopt process and technology innovations, there is also a continuing challenge when it comes to fixing the basics. Project planning, for example, remains uncoordinated between the office and the field and is often done on paper. Contracts do not include incentives for risk sharing and innovation; performance management is inadequate, and supply-chain practices are still unsophisticated. The industry has not yet embraced new digital technologies that need up-front investment, even if the long-term benefits are significant (Exhibit 3). R&D spending in construction runs well behind that of other industries: less than 1 percent of revenues, versus 3.5 to 4.5 percent for the auto and aerospace sectors. This is also true for spending on information technology, which accounts for less than 1 percent of revenues for construction, even though a number of new software solutions have been developed for the industry.

Exhibit 3
麦肯锡:建筑业瓦解时机已经成熟-BIMBANK

Technical challenges specific to the construction sector have a role in the slow pace of digitization. Rolling out solutions across construction sites for multiple sectors that are geographically dispersed—compare an oil pipeline, say, with an airport—is no easy task. And given the varying sophistication levels of smaller construction firms that often function as subcontractors, building new capabilities at scale is another challenge.

However, none of this is going to get easier. Projects are ever more complex and larger in scale. The growing demand for environmentally sensitive construction means traditional practices must change. And the shortage of skilled labor and supervisory staff will only get worse. These are deep issues that require new ways of thinking and working. Traditionally, the sector has tended to focus on making incremental improvements, in part because many believe that each project is unique, that it is not possible to scale up new ideas, and that embracing new technologies is impractical.

The McKinsey Global Institute estimates that the world will need to spend $57 trillion on infrastructure by 2030 to keep up with global GDP growth.1This is a massive incentive for players in the construction industry to identify solutions to transform productivity and project delivery through new technologies and improved practices.

In this report, we consider five ways the industry can transform itself over the next five years.

Disrupting construction: Five big ideas

None of these five ideas is futuristic or even implausible. All are grounded in innovations that are applicable to the construction sector and that are either being deployed or prototyped. In short, they are practical and relevant. Moreover, they are designed to work together to deliver greater impact (Exhibit 4).

Exhibit 4
麦肯锡:建筑业瓦解时机已经成熟-BIMBANK

Higher-definition surveying and geolocation

Geological surprises are a major reason that projects are delayed and go over budget. Discrepancies between ground conditions and early survey estimates can require costly last-minute changes to project scope and design. New techniques that integrate high-definition photography, 3-D laser scanning, and geographic information systems, enabled by recent improvements in drone and unmanned-aerial-vehicle (UAV) technology, can dramatically improve accuracy and speed.

Photogrammetry, for example, provides high-quality, high-definition images of survey areas but takes time to be converted into a usable format. Light-detection-and-ranging (lidar) technology is much faster than conventional technologies and provides high-quality 3-D images that can be integrated with project-planning tools, such as building information modeling (BIM), as Exhibit 5 shows.

Exhibit 5
麦肯锡:建筑业瓦解时机已经成熟-BIMBANK

Used in conjunction with ground-penetrating radar, magnetometers, and other equipment, lidar can generate above-ground and underground 3-D images of project sites. This is particularly important in dense, environmentally sensitive, or historical project sites, where disturbance needs to be minimized.

These advanced survey techniques are complemented by geographic information systems that allow maps, images, distance measurements, and GPS positions to be overlaid. This information can then be uploaded to other analytical and visualization systems for use in project planning and construction.

Two or more survey techniques are often used together to save time and money. For example, for a survey of river sites for minihydropower plants in Southeast Asia, surveyors used lidar maps for general terrain information and drone-mounted high-definition cameras to focus on specific areas.

Infographic

View and download?our infographic on how the construction industry is ripe for disruption.

麦肯锡:建筑业瓦解时机已经成熟-BIMBANK

Modern survey technology is more accessible than ever because costs have come down substantially. Lidar and real-time kinematic GPS are now available for about $10,000. High-resolution cameras are small and light enough to be mounted on standard industrial drones; this is faster and cheaper than using helicopter-mounted cameras for aerial surveys. Specialized technology providers offer cost-efficient survey packages, including drone and UAV equipment, data uploading, and processing services, as well as software to manage drone flights, data capture, and dashboards to visualize information. Some government agencies and nongovernmental organizations have started providing free lidar maps.

Next-generation 5-D building information modeling

In the 1970s, major aerospace companies pioneered computer-aided 3-D modeling. This transformed the way aircraft were designed and built and helped to improve sector productivity by up to ten times.

The construction industry, however, has yet to adopt an integrated platform that spans project planning, design, construction, operations, and maintenance. Instead, the industry still relies on bespoke software tools. In addition, project owners and contractors often use different platforms that do not sync with one another. As a result, there is no single source that provides an integrated, real-time view of project design, cost, and schedule.

Next-generation 5-D BIM is a five-dimensional representation of the physical and functional characteristics of any project. It considers a project’s cost and schedule in addition to the standard spatial design parameters in 3-D. It also includes such details such as geometry, specifications, aesthetics, thermal, and acoustic properties. A 5-D BIM platform allows owners and contractors to identify, analyze, and record the impact of changes on project costs and scheduling (Exhibit 6). The visual and intuitive nature of 5-D BIM gives contractors a better chance to identify risks earlier and thus to make better decisions. For example, project planners can visualize and estimate the impact of a proposed change in design on project costs and schedule.

Exhibit 6
麦肯锡:建筑业瓦解时机已经成熟-BIMBANK

One study found that 75 percent of those that adopted BIM reported a positive return on their investment. They also reported shorter project life cycles and savings on paperwork and material costs. Given these benefits, a number of governments, including those in Britain, Finland, and Singapore, mandate the use of BIM for public infrastructure projects.

The use of 5-D BIM technology will be further enhanced through augmented-reality technology via wearable devices. For example, a wearable, self-contained device with a see-through, holographic display and advanced sensors can map the physical environment. Companies are developing BIM-like design and construction solutions for these platforms. In this “mixed reality” environment, users can pin holograms to physical objects and interact with data using gesture, gaze, and voice commands.

Combining 5-D BIM and augmented-reality devices will transform construction, maintenance, and operations. To get the full benefit of BIM technology, project owners and contractors need to incorporate its use right from the design stage, and all stakeholders need to adopt standardized design and data-reporting formats compatible with BIM. In addition, owners and contractors need to dedicate resources for BIM implementation and invest in capability building.

Digital collaboration and mobility

Process digitization means moving away from paper and toward online, real-time sharing of information to ensure transparency and collaboration, timely progress and risk assessment, quality control, and, eventually, better and more reliable outcomes.

One reason for the industry’s poor productivity record is that it still relies mainly on paper to manage its processes and deliverables such as blueprints, design drawings, procurement and supply-chain orders, equipment logs, daily progress reports, and punch lists. Due to the lack of digitization, information sharing is delayed and may not be universal. Owners and contractors therefore often work from different versions of reality. The use of paper makes it difficult to capture and analyze data; that matters because in procurement and contracting, historical performance analytics can lead to better outcomes and risk management. Mismanaged paper trails also routinely spur disagreements between owners and contractors on such matters as construction progress, change orders, and claims management. Finally, paper trails simply take more time.

Owners and contractors are beginning to deploy digital-collaboration and field-mobility solutions (Exhibit 7). A large global construction firm recently announced a joint development agreement with a software provider to develop a cloud-based, mobile-enabled field-supervision platform that integrates project planning, engineering, physical control, budgeting, and document management for large projects. Several large project developers have already successfully digitized their project-management work flows.

Exhibit 7
麦肯锡:建筑业瓦解时机已经成熟-BIMBANK

Digitizing work flows has substantial benefits. In an American tunnel project that involved almost 600 vendors, the contractor developed a single platform solution for bidding, tendering, and contract management. This saved the team more than 20 hours of staff time per week, cut down the time to generate reports by 75 percent, and sped up document transmittals by 90 percent. In another case, a $5 billion rail project saved more than $110 million and boosted productivity by using automated work flows for reviews and approvals.

Crew-mobility solutions will have a similar catalytic effect on productivity (Exhibit 8). It’s long been difficult for central-planning teams and on-site construction teams to connect and share information about progress in real time. Several problems have limited the adoption of such tools by field crews: compatibility issues between mobility solutions and central-planning solutions, a lack of reliable and high-speed broadband connectivity, and nonintuitive designs and user interfaces.

Exhibit 8
麦肯锡:建筑业瓦解时机已经成熟-BIMBANK

The availability of low-cost mobile connectivity, including via tablets and handheld devices, has ushered in a new generation of “mobile first” cloud-based crew-mobility apps that can be deployed, even on remote construction sites, with real-time updates. These are commercially viable for contractors and project owners of all sizes.

In fact, the digital-collaboration and mobility-solutions segment has attracted close to 60 percent of all venture funding in the construction-technology sector. One start-up has developed apps for tablets and smartphones that allow changes in construction blueprints and plans to be relayed in real time to on-site crews; site photos can be hyperlinked to construction plans. This solution maintains a master set of documents with automatic version control and cloud-based access. Other companies offer mobile timekeeping, real-time cost coding, geolocation of workers, and issue logging and tracking.

As frontline users such as project managers, tradespeople, and operators adopt real-time crew-mobility apps, they could change the way the industry does everything from work- and change-order management, time and material tracking, dispatching, scheduling, productivity measurement, and incident reporting.

The Internet of Things and advanced analytics

By measures such as the number of people, the profusion of construction equipment, and the amount of work going on at the same time, project sites are getting denser. They now generate vast amounts of data, a majority of which is not even captured, let alone measured and processed.

The Internet of Things is a reality in many other sectors; sensors and wireless technologies enable equipment and assets to become “intelligent” by connecting them with one another. On a construction site, the Internet of Things would allow construction machinery, equipment, materials, structures, and even formwork to “talk” to a central data platform to capture critical performance parameters. Sensors, near-field-communication (NFC) devices, and other technologies can help monitor productivity and reliability of both staff and assets. There are several potential uses:

  • Equipment monitoring and repair.?Advanced sensors can enable machinery to detect and communicate maintenance requirements, send automated alerts for preventive maintenance, and compile usage and maintenance data.
  • Inventory management and ordering.?Connected systems can forecast and alert site managers when stocks are running short and when orders need to be made. NFC tagging and tracking of materials can also pinpoint their location and movement and help reconcile physical and electronic inventory.
  • Quality assessment.?“Smart structures” that use vibration sensors to test the strength and reliability of a structure during the construction stage can detect deficiencies and then correct them early.
  • Energy efficiency.?Sensors that monitor ambient conditions and fuel consumption for assets and equipment can foster on-site energy efficiency.
  • Safety.?Wearable bands can send alerts if drivers and operators are falling asleep or if a vehicle or asset is stationary or nonoperational for a given window of time during shift hours.

One popular form of NFC technology is radio-frequency identification (RFID). This is used extensively in logistics, retail, and manufacturing environments to collect precise information about a product, place, time, and transaction. Since the 1990s, construction has begun to use RFID for applications such as tracking materials and equipment and developing automated time sheets.

And NFC technology is evolving. Soon, tags will be able to include information on specifications, dates, defects, vendors and original-equipment manufacturers, maintenance records, operating parameters, and other applications. Costs of RFID equipment, including scanners, receivers, and tags, are falling, and new applications are emerging. A British construction company, for example, is using RFID to monitor truck inspection, track tool usage, and train workers at construction sites.

In addition to the opportunities from the Internet of Things, the greater use of digitization in the construction-planning process and on the construction site itself is enabling firms to capture data that paper could not. The insights gained through the adoption of advanced analytics in construction projects can help to improve efficiency, timelines, and risk management.

Advanced analytics helped a major London infrastructure project save time and money when project leaders worked with a data-analytics company to produce a web-based adaptive-instrumentation-and-monitoring system. The system absorbed field-sensor data, construction-progress data, and workforce and vehicle movements. Statistical analysis based on this information helped project teams detect anomalies and identify potential risks—critical information for a dense and historically sensitive city like London.

Other examples abound. For instance, insights from advanced analytics helped an oil and gas giant improve the productivity of its engineering function by 20 to 25 percent by pairing the right teams, appointing appropriate team leads, and modifying their work flows to minimize waste and improve efficiency. In another case, a large Middle Eastern construction firm worked with a software company to build a predictive analytics engine to prevent equipment breakdowns on-site for its fleet of construction vehicles. This saved millions of dollars in downtime, fuel costs, and maintenance expenses. And event simulations, coupled with optimization algorithms, have also helped ship builders optimize construction planning.

Future-proof design and construction

New building materials, such as self-healing concrete, aerogels, and nanomaterials, as well as innovative construction approaches, such as 3-D printing and preassembled modules, can lower costs and speed up construction while improving quality and safety.

Building materials represent a $1 trillion global industry; materials usually account for more than half the total cost of projects. Traditional materials such as concrete, cement, and asphalt make up most of this demand. But new and better construction materials are also required due to several trends:

  • Green construction.?There is an immense push to adopt materials and technologies with lower carbon footprints.
  • Cost efficiency.?Given substantial cost pressures, there is a need for structural change in the choice of materials, in addition to incremental lean efforts.
  • Supply-chain agility.?Transporting heavy materials and equipment has massive implications on supply-chain costs and time, especially because many new projects are located in remote or dense areas.
  • Improved durability and strength.?With capital costs rising and land growing scarce in many markets, owners are insisting that projects have longer commercial lives.
  • Off-site construction.?Assembling lighter, easier-to-handle materials off-site can improve project efficiency, address on-site space constraints, and create the conditions for crews to improve their skills.

There has been a wave of innovation in construction materials over the past few decades, developed with specific uses in mind. There are dozens; here are a few that are particularly interesting:

  • Self-healing concrete.?This uses bacteria as a healing agent to close cracks on concrete; it is currently at the proof-of-concept stage.
  • Concrete canvas.?Take a layer of “concrete?cloth,” then add water and allow to set. This?innovation typically is used for drains,?channels, and passages, and it is now?available commercially.
  • Topmix permeable.?This is a cement?alternative that can absorb 4,000 liters of?water a minute. It is in the early-adoption stage.
  • Aerogel.?This supertransparent, super-insulating?material is 99.98 percent air;?it is available commercially.
  • Nanomaterials.?These superstrong,?ultralightweight materials may eventually?be a substitute for steel reinforcement in?structures and foundations, though they are?still in the research stage.

Some of these “materials of the future” could redefine how projects are conceptualized, designed, and executed. However, adoption has been slow due to a lack of awareness and familiarity within the design and engineering community, a limited supply chain and a lack of availability at scale, and risk aversion among project owners and contractors.

Despite being available for more than 30 years, for example, ethylene tetrafluoroethylene (ETFE) only gained widespread adoption after it was used to build part of the aquatic building for the Beijing Olympics in 2008. ETFE weighed less than 1 percent of an equivalent glass panel and costs 24 to 70 percent less to install.

About 80 percent of all construction work is still done on-site, but many project developers and contractors are deploying new off-site approaches that help them improve predictability, consistency, and repeatability. This is especially critical given the realities of shrinking work space, labor shortages, and more exacting safety and environmental standards. The industry needs to move beyond precasting and prefabricating structures to the next generation of techniques. Several techniques show potential:

  • Preassembly.?Relatively simple structures, such as factories and covered yards, can use in-factory or in-yard assembly for a complete building envelope. This technique can also be adapted for modular buildings, such as hotels and budget condominiums. Complete submodules of a larger building are put together in a factory or nearby yard before final assembly at the construction site.Techniques such as prefabricated, prefinished volumetric construction (PPVC) integrate off-site capabilities to transform the construction site into a manufacturing system. The result: greater efficiency, less waste, and improved safety. In addition, materials such as cross-laminated timber (CLT) are emerging in response to the need for greener construction options. In the United Kingdom, an 80-story timber skyscraper recently received preliminary approval.Companies are responding. A Singaporean property developer is using PPVC for several new residential-building projects, after the government conducted successful pilots (Exhibit 9). And given the success of a CLT-based residential project, an Australian property developer recently announced plans to open a factory in Sydney dedicated to manufacturing prefabricated building components for future developments.
  • 3-D printing.?Printing submodules or complete concrete structures before assembly and internal work could transform the industry with respect to design, cost, and time. However, 3-D printing is still in the early stages of its development and cannot yet be deployed at the scale and speed required for large projects.
  • Robot-assembled construction.?Construction projects are inherently unstructured and often unpredictable; they can also be sited in difficult terrains and environments. For these reasons, the use of robots has been limited so far. However, robots are now being selectively used for repetitive and predictable activities, such as tiling, bricklaying, welding and spool fabrication, demolition, and concrete recycling.

Companies that have successfully implemented these approaches have had to dramatically change their internal planning, design, procurement, and construction processes. They will also need to invest in automation and an effective supply-chain backbone to ensure smooth and on-time transportation of materials from factory to site to use. Finally, companies that decide to vertically integrate their supply chains will need to plan for manufacturing-related investments.

Exhibit 9
麦肯锡:建筑业瓦解时机已经成熟-BIMBANK

Recommendations for action

Given the construction industry’s poor track record on innovation and the adoption of new technologies, tools, and approaches, project owners and contractors need to adopt a new mindset. Owners often believe that their responsibility ends when they award contracts, forgetting that they pay the economic costs of delay. For their part, contractors often do only the minimum required to meet contractual terms, leaving substantial value on the table. For the industry to do better, it needs to embrace four principles:

  • Transparency and risk sharing in contracts.?Habits are tough to change, and one habit is to see contracts as adversarial opportunities to hand off risks. Instead, contracts need to be seen as tools that allow fair sharing of risks and rewards and that help both sides succeed. This will happen if contracts clearly outline responsibilities and allow owners and contractors to share equitably the benefits that arise from the adoption of technological and process innovations.During the construction of Terminal 5, for example, Heathrow Airport held all the risks as the project developer, protected by a comprehensive insurance policy. Instead of a traditional client–contractor relationship, Heathrow treated the different partners like team members. It invited them to work together to solve complex issues and to find the technical solutions that worked best for the whole project. This allowed all parties to focus on keeping the project on track.
  • Return-on-investment orientation.?Measuring and communicating how new technology will improve construction—for example, through the positive effects on cost, schedule, and risk optimization—is the surest way to build a compelling case for adoption. One oil and gas major measures, documents, and communicates productivity-related savings as a result of the deployment of an advanced-analytics and visualization solution for its deepwater platforms. This proves the positive financial impact and generates “pull” from other projects.
  • Simplicity and intuitiveness in the design of new solutions.?At the front end, user interfaces need to be “foreman friendly” to encourage usage. At the back end, building in compatibility with existing enterprise solutions mitigates the need to spend more on upgrading existing platforms.
  • Change management.?To move away from business as usual, organizations need a clear change story; top management needs to communicate why these changes are important and what that means for organizational structure, capabilities, and resourcing. Organizations that do not invest in change management will face the same resistance encountered during previous waves of technology deployment and are more likely to fail.

All major stakeholders share the responsibility for the transition to digital technology and innovation. The imperatives for each are different.

Project owners and developers?need to mandate and measure. That starts with mandating adoption of digital technologies in contracts and perhaps capitalizing the cost of digitization and technology when setting project budgets. To manage risks, owners should coinvest in technology pilots with contractors and share rewards proportionately. Our experience indicates that megaprojects are often not the best candidates for big technology deployments; instead, starting small and developing capabilities with midsize projects can build confidence. In addition, owners should measure and reward technology adoption across their projects.

It is essential for?engineering and construction contractors?to reimagine and rewire. To do so, they need to develop digital road maps that identify obvious no-regret moves as well as riskier, bigger bets. Organizational resources need to be reallocated by appointing a chief technology officer or chief innovation officer whose mandate is to think boldly about the digital agenda and to lead the simplification and digitization of internal processes. Companies should also consider acquiring or partnering with technology firms. Of course, it’s important to ensure that project teams have the budgets and authority they need to pilot new technologies. And it’s essential to build the capabilities of project managers so that they become digitally adept.

Industry bodies and regulators?should invest and create incentives. They can play a helpful role, for example, by working with contractors, owners, and technology players to define new standards for emerging technologies, develop pilot projects, and showcase success stories. They can create grants, bonuses, or subsidies to nudge owners and contractors toward using digital solutions and help them educate and train the next generation. They can also encourage the adoption of digital technologies, such as 5-D BIM, in public projects, as well as set productivity norms, such as the use of prefabricated components. On the investment side, some industry bodies have established venture-capital funds to help the best start-ups scale up and to connect them to developers and contractors.


Other industries have shown that first movers can build a sustainable competitive advantage. In the construction sector, this is also likely to be the case. Over the next decade, these winners of tomorrow will take the lead in technology innovation and digitization. Resisting change is no longer an option.

About the author(s)

Rajat Agarwal?is an associate principal in McKinsey’s Singapore office, where?Mukund Sridhar?is a partner;?Shankar Chandrasekaran?is an associate principal in the Mumbai office.

This work was made possible by the insights that experts from the industry and governments around the world generously shared. The authors also wish to thank their McKinsey colleagues—Ivan Jelic, Olivier Legrand, Azam Mohammad, Frank von Willert, and Simon Williams, and McKinsey alumna Farida Heyder—for their contributions.

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2 条评论
  • 椅子 adskjk 

    话题唬人,但是道理中肯。 人类的工作逐渐往信息化、数字化的脑力方向转移 。BIM是一个 基本入口。

  • 沙发 fin 

    建筑行业痛点把握精分

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