9 February 2017 | Jamie Harris
The construction industry needs to embrace the data revolution and intuitive technology to transform the whole life of a building, said KPMG's Richard Threlfall.
Threlfall, UK head of infrastructure and a partner at consultancy KPMG, called for construction to think "in terms of the timing of renewal or maintenance", and for a focus on the interplay between renewal and original build specification.
"Ask yourself: if I build it to a better standard, will it cost me less to maintain? What is its residual life? Its redundancy, its alternative use?"
Threlfall picked out a number of trends within construction, including the ability to track materials and personnel, the use of robotics and drones to conduct surveys, and the use of data in predictive maintenance models, that can benefit in the asset creation, asset management and customer experience phases of a building.
He said: "The challenge is to take the technologies that exist today and apply them to this industry."
But he lamented the conservative nature of some asset owners who default to a fixed specification on build, because they don't believe they can measure future trends.
"The good news, though, is that it is changing and it will change because of what's happening with data."
"Decisions on maintenance and renewal spend advice are normally taken from chief engineer. We see that changing rapidly with systems that give you real-time data on your network - the judgment on when to do maintenance is now effectively a risk and financial metrics-driven decision."
Threlfall also noted that an increased focus on whole life cost is causing a shift in how organisations think when constructing a new building.
"You probably wouldn't talk about an asset management industry 20 years ago; it's become professionalised, there are standards set up, and we're starting to see companies in the sector focus on outcomes and focus on whole life cost.
"Everything we build is fixed; it's static. But how do we build for future use and flexibility?
"The challenge isn't how do we optimise the system for the benefit of the system, but how do we deliver what individuals in society want?"