Numerous experts have told Construction Week this year that the global construction sector lags behind other industries in terms of technology adoption.
For instance, Kareem Farah, the chief executive officer of UAE-headquartered contractor, ECC, warned that resistance to tech investments would “create a void between the industry leaders and lagging competition”.
In an opinion piece exclusive to Construction Week, published this September (Construction Week #668), Farah continued: “While it can be said that the engineering and construction sector globally tends to fall behind other industries when it comes to adopting and implementing new technology, we find ourselves currently standing at the forefront of many exciting new tech-driven developments. The question is, are we brave enough to innovate?”
Similarly, Herbert Fuchs, chief information officer at UAE-based contractor, ASGC, pointed out that the global construction sector would record savings of both time and cost through the adoption of technology.
“The international construction industry – worth approximately $8tn per year – remains remarkably inefficient,” Fuchs added, in a comment piece published this July (Construction Week #662).
These opinions point to the hurdles that the regional construction industry will have to overcome in the future, and the sector’s vehicles and equipment segments have begun to adopt key technologies that will drive both long-term and immediate operational efficiency and cost savings.
For instance, this May, Abu Dhabi General Services Company (Musanada) revealed that its implementation of global positioning system (GPS) devices in its construction equipment fleet had raised productivity by 30% and reduced material loss by 15%. The technology achieved savings worth $0.25 (AED0.93) per square-metre after the technology’s total cost of supply and installation was factored in.
The agency deployed an engineering system based on machine guidance – which uses GPS devices – to carry out grading works. Musanada said the system guaranteed accurate control, and improved the management of occupational safety at construction sites. Eng Suwaidan Rashed Al Dhaheri, acting CEO of Musanada, said the technology improved tasks such as excavation, levelling, and grading of road foundation layers.
He added: “Upgrading machines [for those activities] by deploying GPS control has helped increase productivity by 30%, which will help complete and deliver projects as per the defined schedule.”
The reduction of construction material loss was achieved by deviating from the traditional method of implementing the activities, which “relied on repeating the work in order to reach the required quality”.
Similar technologies to improve equipment fleets have previously been launched by global industry giants such as Caterpillar and Microsoft. However, the greatest advances in fleet technology are undoubtedly being driven by the global vehicles segment, with both manufacturers and specialist tech suppliers making considerable investments to support the uptake of systems such as telematics.
John Taylor, chief operating officer at Al Bahar Positioning Group (ABPG) – which includes SITECH Gulf, AllTerra Gulf, and Gulf Positioning Services – is optimistic about further growth in the regional telematics sector. SITECH Gulf delivers the full range of Trimble Civil Engineering and Construction products, including machine control services, surveying instruments, and vehicle tracking solutions, as well as safety equipment for cranes and the Spectra line of construction tools.
Speaking to Construction Week, Taylor says the UAE is “the leader” in terms of telematics adoption, adding that other regional countries “are not far behind”.