|Mr. Praveen Tomy
Autodesk Construction Solutions
Autodesk is known to turn ideas into new realities that shape a thriving future. Their software and services harness emerging technologies—such as additive manufacturing (3D printing), artificial intelligence, generative design, and robotics give companies and individuals the power to work more quickly, effectively, and sustainably throughout the entire project lifecycle. Mr. Praveen Tomy, Regional Director, Autodesk Construction Solutions, Asia Pacific in conversation with CE&CR, shares his views on the digitalization of the construction industry.
Civil Engineering and Construction Review: What is Autodesk’s assessment and foresight on the prospects of transforming the construction industry into a more automated and digitalized one?
Praveen Tomy: The construction industry is going through a very big change at the moment and this isn’t only because of the global pandemic. According to McKinsey & Company, it is the largest industry in the world (representing 13 per cent of global GDP), but it is also one of the last to undergo digital transformation, just ahead of hunting and fishing!
If you look at banking or telcos, who went through that digitization process in the 1990s, we are now in 2020 and still talking about data and taking information into the cloud – some 20 years later than other industries.
So, now is the time to move from the old manual processes to more automated processes, revolutionizing the ecosystem and opening up new possibilities.
CE&CR: How does Autodesk Construction Cloud reflect this?
Praveen Tomy: Autodesk has a deep heritage and history of innovation within the AEC sector. We have been disrupting the design market since the 1980s – first transforming the architecture industry from paper to screen and then the cloud; and now we are transforming the construction industry – by connecting the whole construction workflow from the design stage through to pre-construction, construction and operations.
No other company is able to connect construction data and seamlessly flow data from design to construction to handover – whilst also providing a transparent and collaborative ‘always on’ system for all the parties involved.
Autodesk Construction Cloud combines next-generation technology, a robust network of professionals and companies, and powerful predictive analytics to help business thrive across all phases of construction.
CE&CR: Some companies are progressive and adopt new technologies and software out of their own preference. What do you prefer – taking a risk and using it in the initial stages or wait for other companies to try it first?
Praveen Tomy: Our recent global research, Digital Transformation: The Future of Connected Construction*, conducted in partnership with IDC, reported that as per 72% of construction companies worldwide, digital transformation is a priority to drive change, but they don’t have a plan or approach to do so.
Through digital transformation, construction companies can ensure operational excellence and improved customer engagement by effectively managing risk, completing projects on time and within budget, improving workforce safety, and overall supporting infrastructure growth across world economies.
Every company is at a different stage in its digital adoption and Autodesk Construction Cloud is flexible in its approach so you don’t have to implement it all at once. It is possible to implement moduleby-module – step-by-step and at your own pace, depending on current project requirements or stages.
CE&CR: To what extent does the government play a leading role in advancing technology uptake?
Praveen Tomy: I am no expert on policy; however, I don’t think it is the sole responsibility of the government to advance an industry by mandating technology and driving uptake. They play an important role in helping pave the way – but businesses also play a pivotal role – they want change and are looking for ways to facilitate this; such as looking for ways to improve workflows, collaboration, cost efficiencies and technology holds many of the answers.
Take a look at Singapore’s approach for example. Since mandating BIM in 2014, the Government has encouraged all players within the industry to adopt digital approaches to working with rebate schemes, improved collaboration strategies and productivity programs. This has paved the way for those within the industry to seek ways to implement technology and take advantage.
CE&CR: What is your view about the penetration of BIM in India in the context of its development somewhere else in the world? Is the solidification of specialty services like MEP, HVAC, fire safety, probable to fast-track this penetration?
Praveen Tomy: Adoption of BIM in India is good, according to the IDC report I just mentioned; but, as we can see from other countries where BIM is mandated, it can be even better! I applaud the government of India for mandating BIM for international clients and on some larger-scale projects such as Bangalore Airport and the Delhi Metro Rail, because it demonstrates first-hand the need for digitization within construction and its value, as a whole, once implemented.
With more spend aligned for infrastructure development post COVID, there is a need for specialty contractors to get on board this transformation journey. Otherwise, they will not be able to be sustainable in the long run. It is easier for specialty contractors to embrace technology and improve their turnaround times by way of higher productivity using BIM based workflows.
CE&CR: What are the new opportunities you see coming up post lockdown for the construction software market, as the economy gets back on track? Also, what will accepting the new normal mean for the sector?
Praveen Tomy: The industry is very labour intensive and is facing a shortage of skilled labour since the pandemic sent guest workers home or back to villages. With the prospect of rolling physicaldistancing measures and restrictions on the movement of labour, shortages will become even more acute.
The case for digital tools that are proven to increase productivity, such as 4D simulation, digital workflow management, real-time progress tracking and advanced schedule optimization, will become even stronger. We have already seen a significant increase in the demand for software to help transform digital systems and workflows since the pandemic emerged.
The government’s new health and safety measures are also making an impact on construction sites with the introduction of mobile solutions to address social distancing guidelines and reduce human-to-human contact with information and data transfer no longer needed via pen and paper. And contractors are looking to online channels for monitoring their employees’ well-being through apps, ordering construction materials, managing scarce resources more accurately and maintaining cash flow.
We also expect to see an increase in the pace of construction to deliver projects quickly and recognize revenue – this will require software tools for quicker collaboration and real time coordination between teams.
* Sponsored by Autodesk, the IDC Info Brief – a survey of 835 construction professionals from large construction companies in 12 countries across Europe, the Americas and Asia Pacific – assesses the construction industry’s digital transformation maturity and challenges.