Five innovations for buildings' revolution: Powering the digital change

Jenny Nyström Jenny Nyström Jul 18, 2023

A wave of change is happening in the building industry. As we've witnessed in the last couple of years, the sector once referred to as "brick and mortar" is bracing itself for a digital revolution. Traditionally slow to embrace new technologies, resulting in decades-long productivity stagnation, digitalization of the $7.5 trillion building construction market is long overdue.

In the 2022 McKinsey global survey of over 500 executives in the building products sector, an overwhelming 70% expected to increase their investment in innovation and R&D. So much so that survey respondents ranked digital design tools such as building information modeling (BIM), software solutions and automation ahead of sustainability.

Investing in innovation and R&D is expected to be the key market differentiator in the next three to five years - rippling across the entire value chain and driven in part by climate change and productivity.

Digitalization of the construction and building sector

Productivity has long been a major issue in the construction sector, with the average capital project running 20 months behind schedule and a staggering 80% over budget. The industry is increasingly applying digital tools across the entire spectrum, from design and construction to operations, but at varying levels depending on the construction phase.

Improving productivity necessitates closing the gap between product and document management systems to simplify and increase technician productivity.

Even as gains have been made, there is vast potential to further improve productivity through increased usage of digital technologies in all phases of the processes—design, construction, and operations.

With increasing government regulation for the industry to decarbonize, digitalization is a crucial enabler in reducing the environmental impact of construction projects globally.

Electrification of buildings

As the electrification of buildings grows and expands in the years to come, ensuring efficient implementation of cabling solutions is essential to safety and productivity gains. Narrowing the gap between productivity management tools and document management systems is one key to easing the work of electricians. As skilled labor shortages continue, further enhancements in information access and traceability are vital.

The digital connection between the physical product and its accompanying documentation is lacking in the industry. This is often the case with electrical products, where installers seldom have easy access to up-to-date documentation. The lack of traceability means details such as who installed the product are often lost once the initial work is completed.

As buildings move from fossil fuels to renewable energy, the demand for skilled electricians will increase, along with the need for tech-related professionals to manage the influx of digital systems and tools required to meet this industry shift.

Foundation of the digital revolution

As the building sector moves forward in its digital transformation, Building Information Modeling (BIM) will increasingly become the standard and foundation of construction projects. This bridging of physical building elements with their accompanying digital format (referred to as BIM content) facilitates the working processes throughout a building project's value cycle from planning and design to construction and operations.

BIM content provides architects, designers, and builders easy access to essential product information such as installation instructions, energy consumption, eco-labels, operation costs, and product lifecycle. Nexans is working with BIM providers to integrate its offerings so as to facilitate electrical cable installation, maintenance, and safety.

As newer technologies such as drones, robotics, and 3D printing become more commonplace on construction sites, ensuring that BIM is the foundation of the construction industry's digital strategy is critical. According to McKinsey, the move to 5D BIM, combining 3D physical models of buildings with cost, design, and scheduling data, could result in a 10% savings in contract value by detecting clashes, reducing project life span, and potentially reducing material costs by 20%.

Navigating analog to digital

The shift from analog to digital documentation and traceability is key to moving the building products market forward. And thus, reversing the industry's fragmentation to ensure better productivity, cost efficiency, and safety. This is especially important in the electrification of buildings to provide safe installation and operations.

Thanks to its cloud-based app, Evermark™, Nexans provides its clients easy access to information about the physical product installed, such as follow-up of maintenance, electrical drawings and product data. Thanks to NFC tags, Evemark™ provides a digital connection between the physical product and the necessary documentation, and ensure full traceability of the electrical installation throughout the product's lifecycle—from implementation phases to maintenance and replacement. It provides immediate access to pertinent information on- and off-site, reducing cost and time while increasing productivity.

With new technologies come new possibilities. The key is ensuring that future digital tools integrate seamlessly for a heightened level of customer satisfaction.

Five innovations for buildings' revolution

We foresee five innovations that will revolutionize the building and construction industry.

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About the author

Jenny Nyström

Jenny Nyström

Jenny Nÿstrom is Nordics Design Lab & Innovation within Nexans. She has been working in the cable industry since nearly 20 years, being involved in the domain of product marketing and product management, mainly for Building, Telecom and Utility sectors.

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