- François Bastard, Senior Associate, The Boston Consulting Group (BCG)
- Yohann Sberro, Sales Manager, Bouygues Bâtiment HRE
- Édouard Bidault, Europe Business Development Manager, Fieldwire
- David Vauthrin, Co-Founder & Chief Marketing Officer, FINALCAD
The meetup started off with a presentation from François Bastard of the BCG. He introduced the French construction landscape, and shared some key insights into some of the challenges this industry is facing. Amongst others, he pointed out that the industry's productivity had decreased over the past 50 years, mostly due to a low adoption of new technologies. There's also a lack of innovation culture. Indeed, even though there is a real entrepreneurial spirit in the industry, it is lacking long-term vision. In order to drive change and succeed, one needs a good scalable business model.
Technology In The Construction Industry
Even though it's still being implemented quite slowly, there are now tons of new technologies out there: BIM, predictive analytics, autonomous construction, 3D printing & augmented reality just to name a few.
The statement aforementioned came as a bit of a surprise to some people in the room, because out of all the technologies listed, BIM is probably one of the oldest and won't necessarily be the most impactful in the future. In the United States, it's already very common for people to work with BIM. In France, we're still seeing lower adoption rates, but we're moving in the right direction.
Q&A With Guest Speakers
François Bastard's keynote was then followed by an open discussion with guest speakers and ended with questions and comments from attendees who all brought their own touch to the conversation based on their personal background. There were definitely some key emerging topics in this conversation.
There is a real challenge around adoption. As it was mentioned during the talk, the technology exists, it's available, but people aren't necessarily using it. How to make sure they start taking advantage of it? We're seeing real efforts from governments all around the world to adopt new legislations.
So what is the most efficient for the digital adoption? Top-down or bottom-up? Actually it’s a combination of both working as a loop 🤓 #BWEuroTrip— FINALCAD 🏗️👷♀️👷 (@FINAL_CAD) 27 June 2018
A big part of the discussion was about the emergence of Lean Manufacturing in Japan during the 1990s with the automotive industry. Guest speakers were confident that construction companies should learn from Lean techniques and find a way to apply them to their own industry to ensure they have sustainable business strategy.
A common trend in the US and France is to get inspiration from the world of manufacturing with lean, modular etc #BWEuroTrip— FINALCAD 🏗️👷♀️👷 (@FINAL_CAD) 27 June 2018
“Years ago, the European automotive industry went to Japan to get inspiration about lean manufacturing as they saw European motorbikes dying because of Japanese competition. And they managed to transform themselves.” @HorsSite #bweurotrip— FINALCAD 🏗️👷♀️👷 (@FINAL_CAD) 27 June 2018
“Today, automotive suppliers are large and collaborate with OEMs. In the construction industry, subcontractors are under cost pressure and can’t invest to innovate. This must change” @HorsSite #bweurotrip— FINALCAD 🏗️👷♀️👷 (@FINAL_CAD) 27 June 2018
Clearly there are some cultural differences in the way business is done in the US versus in Europe. One of the guest speakers had some very interesting anecdotes about what happened to him when he was working in the field. The bottomline was that wanting to test something out in the field would require approval from 3 different hierarchical levels in France. Whereas in the US, with a similar situation, he got the go-ahead right away and his manager said: "Why did you ask? Just test it, see if it works."
In France, there's also this tendency to take each construction building as a separate project, a unique one, which isn't that close to reality - lots of buildings are very similar to one another.
Beyond technology, what else needs to be changed? Changing the mindset of considering construction projects as new projects from scratch #BWEuroTrip— FINALCAD 🏗️👷♀️👷 (@FINAL_CAD) 27 June 2018
Collaborative work was also a key part of the discussion. New collaborative digital tools help change this mindset, it helps communicate, keep track of the right information, in real time.
But let's not forget:
Data brings undeniable advantages. Giants such as Google and Facebook were able to gather so much of it that now, they're considered as main competitors to major construction players. That might have sounded weird a few years back because their area of expertise was originally nothing near the construction industry, but they were able to gather so much precious information that now they can compete with companies from almost any industry - just take a look at the Google car for example.
In the construction industry, data helps with a multitude of things. For instance, you can learn about major recurrent construction issues happening on your construction sites, how they were resolved, what are some good practices, best suppliers, amount of waste, and so on and so forth.
“Basically there are four steps with #data : collect, store, structure and visualize. The wrong approach is to try to structure too much at the place where you collect data. Start by collecting and storing.” @bcg #bweurotrip— FINALCAD 🏗️👷♀️👷 (@FINAL_CAD) 27 June 2018
There will be new entrants like Katerra of course, but also Google, through the autonomous cars, might enforce specification of roads in the future #bweurotrip— FINALCAD 🏗️👷♀️👷 (@FINAL_CAD) 27 June 2018
BuiltWorlds will be hosting an event in Chicago about a phase that is often left out when we think of a building's life cycle: usage. Indeed, each building's main purpose is typically to have people living / working in it, and there is a lot to discuss about. Stay tuned for the Building 2.0 Conference.
“Let’s not forget that 75% of the costs of a building are occurring at the usage stage of the lifecycle.” @builtworlds: of course, we have a conference on that topic coming up in Chicago 🤓 #bweurotrip— FINALCAD 🏗️👷♀️👷 (@FINAL_CAD) 27 June 2018