On Monday 27th January we were pleased to be hosted by Northumbria University in their brilliant Sandyford building conference space for the second Dynamo Digital Construction Innovation Day.
The day, co-curated by Dynamo and our member companies Waterstons and Northumbria University, brought together experts from across the industry, academia and public sector – from organisations including Bowmer & Kirkland, Durham County Council, Newcastle City Council, Home Group, Future Homes Alliance, NHSBSA, Interserve, BIM Academy, XBIM, SP Data Services, Sir Robert McAlpine and NBS plus academics from Teesside University, Newcastle University and Northumbria University.
The aim of the day was to work through current challenges the sector faces in the areas of data, skills, cross-industry innovation and procurement.
The teams, led by industry experts, worked hard over more than five hours to identify and debate the issues and determine and design possible solutions to address these.
At the end of the event, the teams delivered their 4-minute pitches to an audience including VIPs from the sector. The audience decided the data team had the best idea of the day and they were selected as the winners, although all the ideas were very well received.
Summary of the team’s pitches:
What can Construction learn from other sectors?
The team worked to identify the challenges within three key areas – waste, quality, and the role of technology. They then created a problem statement for each area and discussed how tech could be used to improve traceability on construction sites and reduce waste.
Tangible ideas for how construction can adopt tech:
- An app to use on construction sites to house all the information and data about that build, improving the quality of documentation and record keeping. Features could include tracking visitors/contractors to the site, reporting faults, filling out surveys for inspections, reviewing documentation and filing evidence such as photos.
- An app to control material handling onsite with the aim of reducing waste by tagging and tracking items. The app could integrate with other systems to ensure the correct volume of materials was ordered for future projects. This could also help to reduce the possibility of theft or misuse of materials.
- ‘Click for Bricks’ – an eBay-style site for constructors. People can bid to buy leftover products from others. The aim would be to reduce waste and allow reuse of unwanted materials and items.
How can we enable organisations to build the right skills so that digital strategies can be effective and transformative?
The team felt that the key challenge is to determine what digital skills mean for organisations. There was consensus that this would be linked to productivity, efficiency and effectiveness.
The team also acknowledged that the skills that people need now are often different to when they entered their career.
To address this need, the team suggested the creation of a national independent body and a ‘Building Digital Skills’ toolkit offered alongside a service for assurance around digital skills.
Tier one would be access to an online toolkit so small companies can self-audit. Tier two would be access to an independent facilitator to check and audit the digital skills present in an organisation. It would help organisations assess current skills and identify skills needed for the future.
How might occupants and residents of buildings make better use of their building’s data to improve their environment and personal outcomes, while simplifying engagement with building managers / operators / landlords?
The team focused on the social housing sector. They considered how this sector currently collates, stores and uses data, and they identified current gaps in their systems; particularly an over-reliance on paper forms.
The team then looked at what other sectors are doing.
They agreed that managing data of an asset is essential, and they wanted to move away from coding and BIM platforms.
The team’s solution was an app called “My Property Passport”. When a property is handed over, it would give users/landlords/occupants an ability to self-serve and manage their own property in terms of maintenance etc.
There could be a community hub built around this. For instance, people could be digitally introduced to their neighbours and community perhaps leading to the creation of co-op hubs or sinking funds.
The app would become a homeowners’ portal, a digital logbook for the property that lives with the property and not who resides in it. The platform could be opened out to the supply chain to provide further opportunities.
Procuring for value
What is value? How do we genuinely look beyond cost and towards outcome?
This team started by looking at the frailties of the construction sector, a sector which they felt was often suffering from low margins, low productivity and low predictability.
The team wanted procurement models to move away from ‘cheapest is best’ and empower clients and the supply chain to broaden their mindset and focus on outcomes instead.
From this, the team created the idea for a Procurement for Values toolkit called “INVEST” – procuring through a ‘wheel of vision and values.’
This would be a client driven digital portal of knowledge allowing access to exemplar past projects and a dashboard of current projects, supported by a hub of ambassadors.
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