IFS hosts meeting to embrace digital transformation in construction industry
Multinational enterprise software company IFS hosted an industry breakfast meeting recently at Cinnamon Grand in Colombo for 75 construction industry leaders and business executives to raise awareness of technological advancements in the industry.
The event was themed ‘Digital Transformation and Construction, What’s Next?’ and featured presentations from IFS Global Industry Construction, Engineering and Infrastructure Director Kenny Ingram and guest speaker Sanken Overseas Special Projects Director Mevan Gunatillake.
In his keynote speech, Ingram emphasised the importance of embracing digital developments in the industry to create more streamlined business practices and the value in moving towards a more global model of construction practices.
Since the end of the civil conflict in Sri Lanka in 2009, Sri Lanka has seen a boom in its construction industry. Ingram stressed that embracing the construction digital revolution would be the next step for Sri Lanka’s construction industry to develop further.
Building Information Modelling (BIM) software was also stressed in the presentation as a development that ought to be embraced. BIM software uses 3D-modelling to consolidate and streamline various aspects of a construction project from procurement to subcontracting into one application and merges this information with the project timeline. It also provides an information-sharing platform for the various organisations and individuals involved in a project. BIM software applications are used internationally, and BIM accreditation is a requirement in countries such as the United Kingdom for companies wishing to undertake governmentfunded projects. The use of BIM software is still relatively uncommon in Sri Lanka.
“BIM is not just a design tool. The driver behind BIM is efficiency. If you don’t have good, accurate accounting and financial information about what you’re spending and projecting to spend, you’re not in control of your business. BIM is where we’re heading. Your business will be disrupted,” Ingram told the audience.
Changing construction industry practices is an ambitious task, however, and a tendency to stick to traditional methods exists. In boosting the use of new technology such as BIM in the Sri Lankan construction industry, Ingram described a top-down approach as essential.
“The first step is to get senior executives to buy into the need. They need to be the ones with the drive and vision to embrace this technology,” Ingram told Mirror Business after the event.
Ingram also stated the need for Sri Lanka to embrace a more global mindset to become competitive in the international construction industry.
“The global landscape is changing and foreign competition is going to affect industries everywhere in the world.” Guest speaker at the event, Mevan Gunatillake, also raised the need for Sri Lankan companies to embrace digital developments in the industry.
“We must embrace technology so we can think beyond Sri Lanka, while not wasting time and resources. As Sri Lankan companies, we should be able to go global,” he told the audience.
He also highlighted the difficulties in creating software solutions for the construction industry specifically and the need to choose an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) service provider that could be flexible.
“Construction is different to every other industry. Service providers often have tunnel vision. You should select an ERP service provider that can be flexible and adapt to the way business is done, not the other way around,” Gunatillake said.
Speaking to Mirror Business, Secretary General of the Chamber of Construction Industry (CCI) Nissanka Wijeratne said BIM had the potential to transform the construction industry.
“Adopting a system like BIM, even just for government procurement, could cut down on corruption,” he said.
“Sri Lanka is behind in adopting BIM, partly because installation costs are high and industry workers are not trained in it, and therefore less likely to embrace it. We need to train engineers, and introduce it at the university level to familiarise young engineers.”
IFS Construction, Engineering Infrastructure Global Industry Director Kenny Ingram
Sanken Overseas Special Projects Director Mevan Gunatillake