Webinar Overview: Technology-Driven Innovation in Manufacturing and Construction
As industries that create the environments we live in and the products we use every day, the manufacturing and building sectors must constantly think about the users of tomorrow. Innovation is essential not only to survive in these industries, but also to thrive, so how do companies embrace change internally to produce positive results externally?
In our last webinar, Innovation in industry: real approaches to change and transformation, David Adams sat down with three industry experts to discuss how the manufacturing and construction industries approach and implement innovation. Here are their main takeaways.
Meeting the major challenges of the industry head-on
In recent months, the construction industry has regularly made headlines due to supply chain issues and, particularly here in Australia, the collapse of several construction companies. It’s a sector facing a host of problems with no foreseeable respite, but that’s why the ability to innovate and be nimble is so critical right now.
“It’s a very difficult time in construction right now, and the most relevant issue is certainly the supply chain,” says Sally McPherson, CEO of Constructiv Technologies. “I was born into construction and mining, oil and gas, so I know it’s always up and down. But right now we are dealing with a truly unique confluence of situations. The supply chain is the biggest concern for everyone, and it’s a global issue. There are many reasons why this is so, but it is already causing massive repercussions in the supply chain, and now what we are going to see is the collapse of subcontractors.
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Although McPherson sees this as a “medium-term issue” that will eventually spread through the system, she says it’s a major concern for most operators. “We’re all trying to come together to find solutions, to keep businesses running and to make them run faster,” she says.
“The biggest problem we face – and we have been dealing with it now for over 11 years – is the slow pace of digitization of construction. COVID definitely gave it a boost, and now I think the supply chain issues are giving it another boost as well. But digitizing an industry as integrated as construction is a big job – and it’s very, very complex.
Lateral thinking provides solutions to modern problems
If the pandemic has brought about a positive change, it is the realization that digitalization in all industries needs to happen now. Those who fail to adapt will find themselves adrift, while those who embrace technological innovations will benefit from the unparalleled freedoms of hyper-connectivity. Leaders in manufacturing and construction are already using these tools to overcome past issues, such as finding top talent.
“Thanks to digitization, we are no longer limited by geographic locations when looking for people,” says Jessica Lee, director at Fender Katsalidis. “There’s a good thing that’s come out of this whole pandemic: our national resourcing capabilities.”
With practices in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane, the architecture firm is now able to streamline projects across states with the power of the cloud.
“I don’t have to work within those limits anymore,” says Lee. “I’m based in Melbourne, so let’s say I have 80 architects here in Melbourne but I need 10 more for a project that suddenly arises. Now I can call Sydney to help me because we all work in the cloud. That’s the great thing about technology: we’re all able to work together even if we’re in different places because our business is set up to run on a unified platform. And now that we’re no longer limited by location, we’re more willing to hire the best people for the job at hand. »
Bring together in-house technology experts for more innovation
Innovation and change never stand still, which means companies cannot afford to remain static in an ever-changing industry. For Gary Smith, CEO of BioPak, he constantly leverages the most efficient technologies to improve processes, shorten production lifecycles and innovate across the business.
“Technology has been a differentiator for many years,” says Smith. “We implemented cloud-based systems in 2011 and operated a remote workforce for many years. So COVID hasn’t been a huge culture shock for our business. But look at how the adoption of technology and innovation has affected production and supply chain processes. Whenever people come to me for different issues in our business, [the first thought is to] throw people at it – but it’s a huge cost and you can’t always find the right number of people.
“Instead, we always challenge them to find a technological solution. We had to integrate everything into our business, because innovation and technology are closely linked. It is very difficult to outsource, because each time you hire an external consultant, you have to re-explain the whole life cycle of the solution you are trying to provide. We have found it easier to implement in-house systems and solutions, which means we have many developers in our company. This is critical to business success, and also critical to finding error-free solutions. »
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