IFS hosts meet­ing to em­brace dig­i­tal trans­for­ma­tion in con­struc­tion in­dus­try

Daily Mirror (Sri Lanka) - - REAL ESTATE/CONSTRUCTION - By Tilini Ra­japaksa

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

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