Big data challenge for construction sector
Datuk Seri Fadillah Yusof

Rapid speed of technology is forcing construction players to rethink, relook and reconsider traditional business intelligence solutions

By HABHAJAN SINGH

Building information modelling (BIM) and three-dimensional (3D) printing are merely two of the developments bringing about rapid changes in the construction industry. Many more are coming.

Is the sector prepared for the future, especially when dealing with the advance of big data?

One thing is certain. The construction sector in Malaysia is performing poorly on the productivity front. The numbers tell a stark story.

In 2016, the construction industry experienced the lowest productivity level when compared to other industries. The Malaysian Productivity Report 2016/17 showed the sector achieving a productivity level of RM40,018 per worker compared to the agriculture (RM55,485), services (RM68,166) and manufacturing sector (RM106,647).

“Certainly, more can be done to close this gap,” Works Minister Datuk Seri Fadillah Yusof (picture) told a recent gathering of construction industry executives.

In his keynote address at the Statistics, Indices in Construction and Automation (SICA) 2017, he noted that in this digital age, the adoption of technology is no longer an option, but a necessity to be at par with other developed economies.

“The rapid speed that technology has evolved in recent years has made it a necessity for us in the construction sector to rethink, relook and reconsider traditional business intelligence solutions in our decisions and strategies.

“Recent technological developments covering the Internet of Things, big data analytics, advanced algorithms and artificial intelligence, to name a few, have provided the construction sector with a wealth of opportunities to disrupt and enhance its product portfolio with digital functionalities and introduce innovative, data-based services,” he told the one-day forum, which carried the theme of “Capitalising Big Data, Optimising Productivity”.

Fadillah noted how the construction industry is impacted by technologies like 3D printing, BIM and the integration of design and off-site component-based assembly such as the industrialised building system.

“At the same time, new innovations offer future integration and productivity opportunities, as well as increased ability to monitor assets over the life cycle rather than just the construction phase,” he said.

SICA 2017, organised by the Construction Industry Development Board Malaysia (CIDB), was run for the third year in a row.

The forum aimed at fostering collaboration among institutions on supplying quality big data to the construction industry, and share experiences in big data analysis which are currently being adopted in the construction industry.

The forum also intended to allow all parties involved to gain deeper insights and be able to make better construction management decisions through proper analysis of credible data. The third aim of the forum was to promote the importance of credible and reliable data to establish a benchmark that will contribute towards evidence-based policy and business planning.

“With credible and reliable data, industry players will be able to become more efficient and effective when implementing their business decisions, deciding their cost estimations and above all, improve productivity and profitability across the entire value chain,” said CIDB CEO Datuk Ahmad Asri Abdul Hamid.

The colaboration of the various parties involved in the industry is a good start.

The forum, for example, had gathered agencies like the Public-Private Partnership Unit in the Prime Minister’s Department, Department of Statistics Malaysia, National Property Information Centre, Malaysia Productivity Corp, Royal Institution of Surveyors Malaysia, Master Builders Association Malaysia and Institute of Value Management Malaysia.