Building the Future: How Digital Technology is Impacting Construction

Procurified and Smith Tait’s Rupert Tait says Covid-19 could prove to be a tipping point in the digitalisation of the construction sector

The effects of Covid-19 forced every industry to adapt to new ways of working and much of the past year’s stratospheric pace of adaptation has been enabled by digital innovation. It had to be – with the world working remotely, there was no other choice.

But while many digital solutions allowed work to continue as normal – such as remote video-conferencing – necessity was the mother of invention when it came to transforming established industry practices.

Construction, with its historic reliance on paper trails, has always been notoriously resistant to change, but Covid-19 proved to be a tipping point.

Even as recently as last year, my consultancy firm, Smith Tait was being asked for its electronic submissions on CD by construction companies. Most computers don’t even have CD drives any more.

Information was flowing slowly, which was impacting my business. I realised it was impacting every stakeholder in the process, an ‘a-ha’ moment. I knew I could build something to help my team, but I realized in order for it to make a game-changing impact it would need to help everybody.

Decision-making in the construction industry has always relied on face-to-face meetings, with procurement heavily rooted in paper-based submissions laboriously inputted and compared using traditional desktop spreadsheet software such as Excel.

Procurified, founded with my business partner Marc Lemmens in 2020, streamlines the entire procurement and estimation process, by connecting suppliers and manufacturers with contractors on a cloud-based user-friendly interface. Data such as costs, timelines and quantities are uploaded into a centralised system that can be instantly and automatically reviewed.

Every building has to be designed and requires products and materials to be purchased on time and on budget. How efficiently the procurement process is achieved has a huge impact on cost. With our effective procurement processes and tool, we allow our customers to save up to 80 percent of their time traditionally spent on this process, while enabling them to reach out to ten times the number of vendors.

Our customers such as ALEC FITOUT and BK Gulf, are saving 80% of their time when prepping and reviewing estimations. That’s the benefit. Procurified replaces the hugely time-consuming need to use dozens of separate spreadsheets and PDFs.

We have already achieved an impressive $17million of transactions to date and was awarded first prize of $10,000 by start-up accelerator company CSA7.

It’s an exciting time to be in construction, as I believe the industry is finally experiencing its own ‘Uber moment’.

For example, on-site surveys used to involve a group of people walking around a construction site, recording everything manually with a camera and spreadsheets.

Now, there is a platform attached to a camera that takes live 3D images of the site, which can be uploaded to the cloud, labeled and progress compared. Meanwhile, there is a company that has developed a way to measure how concrete is setting using specialised sensors.

We see changes at every level of the industry that are underpinned by advances in digitally based technology. To be positioned at the vanguard of change in the global construction industry is incredibly exciting.

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