February , 2018
Digital Disruption in Construction Equipment Space
14:21 pm

B.E. Bureau

In today’s world when emerging technologies such as robots, 3D printing and drones are changing or disrupting every industry, the construction and mining equipment sector is yet to witness any large scale product or process disruption. Historically the construction and mining industry has been known to be innately conservative with low margins thereby reducing the investment in research and in embracing ‘process innovation’ in the sector. The last few years have proved otherwise – the smartphone revolution, the accessibility of internet for all and the government’s push to digitisation has propelled this indispensable transition and opened up new possibilities for the industry participants. Despite the huge digitisation potential and opportunities in the construction and mining industry, players and technology giants have not been able to identify specific disruptions/transformations to improve their business profits or workplace flows.

The industry has been prone to cost overruns and schedule delays.According to a study conducted by McKinsey, almost 80% of the projects are over the budget and 20% take longer to finish. The major contributor to this trend has been the resistance from stakeholders to change and move away from the basics of process flow and project management. For example, performance management is inadequately measured and supply chain practices are still unsophisticated with bundles of paperwork and documents moving from one department/stakeholder to another. The other challenge has been to have one technological solution that could be rolled out over multiple sectors with a large geographic spread. Each project has its own complexity and the industry has been segregated between various disciplines, making it difficult to adapt a unified workflow. Therefore no one person or company wants to take the risk of being a guinea pig in testing out an expensive technology. But there are still smarter and simpler technologies that could achieve the same goal with less to no investment.

The changes in the laws with regard to new minimum wage or the RERA or the environmental norms relating to equipment and asset life have forced new ways of thinking. Keeping in mind the issues of the industry we need to address some of the basic process/business flows, which can show some immediate results to all stakeholders and result in a faster ROI. For instance, iQuippo was launched with the intent to have a marketplace to connect the contractors or construction companies with manufacturers or equipment suppliers at the click of a button, thereby improving the asset performance and utilisations through increased accessibility, transparency and reliability in the industry. Through iQuippo, the aim is to create industry specific solutions which have never been envisaged before, thereby kick-starting a transformational journey to deliver increased transparency, efficiency and reliability in the marketplace. The major issue with a number of project delays is related to productivity and unsynchronised working and collaboration between stakeholders. iQuippo will promote real time collaboration between stakeholders and provide them access to skilled manpower. For example, once a contractor or company gets a job or work then he/she can get all his/her needs fulfilled at iQuippo, a one stop shop, without worrying about following processes and detailed paperwork in making comparisons or having bids as the platform itself will generate it and provide them with competitive pricing as desired, along with options for financing. This makes the process seamless from searching the asset to its procurement, before commencing the project implementation plan.

With access to a variety of equipment, transparency and reliability of information on the portal, the stakeholders will be able to take informed decisions.It also reduces the issue of geographic spread of the projects as the technical or financial professionals can choose the desired product either from the luxury of their phone or computer, from anywhere. iQuippo also looks to address the issue of asset utilisation. Equipment owners can now have access to markets and opportunities which otherwise was not possible due to the geographic presence of the asset and/or the project. The platform also offers access to proper spares and maintenance options to have the asset run efficiently and being utilised throughout its life cycle.

With ambitious projects like the ‘Bharatmala’ and increased accessibility to the North East region of India, technology will be the key in delivering these projects on schedule and within the budgets. We believe that through iQuippo we will be able to enable this improvement in productivity and ensure projects are delivered on time, thereby making India ready for ‘Make in India’. iQuippo has developed proprietary tools for marketing and sales of equipment. The company’s market-connected dashboards and workflow tools allow manufacturers and sellers to centralise the sales activities, while improving their returns on investments and increasing the efficiency of their sales teams. As a marketplace, iQuippo is providing a wider reach to original equipment manufacturers and thereby helping them connect with buyers to sell their new equipment, parts and attachments. This surging online adoption, coupled with iQuippo’s seamless user experience is a big step forward in improving and expanding e-commerce for the equipment industry, matching up with a retail-like experience for the users.

Today one of the reasons for poor productivity is also the manual management of supply-chain orders, equipment logs, daily progress reports, and punch lists. Due to the lack of digitisation, information sharing is delayed and not available to all. Owners and contractors therefore often work with different versions of reality. The use of paper makes it difficult to capture and analyse data; that matters because in procurement and contracting, historical performance analytics can lead to better outcomes and risk management. Mismanaged paper trails also routinely spur disagreements between owners and contractors on construction progress, change orders, and claims management, therefore leading to more time and manpower consumed. Through a real time digital collaboration this issue can be substantially addressed and with real time data sharing workflows can be streamlined through a platform. The digital distribution method is also leading to creation of huge information highways that are helping equipment owners, service providers and others stakeholders identify issues and access geographies faster and address them in a quicker and more efficient manner. The internet of things is a reality in other industries with data analytics. Today, Facebook and Google can change your tastes and preferences but in the construction industry it has taken some time. But with data analytics and information sharing it can streamline project planning and implementation. This process optimisation in turn leads to changes and improvement in delivery of value-added services like financing, valuations, logistics, etc. in the most easy and transparent way.

As seen in today’s retail platforms the products that are selling in say western countries are now available at your door step. If Dubai can build mammoth structures on schedule, done mostly by Indian workers, or even before schedule and Japan can work with drone monitored construction sites and equipment, why cannot we do it here in India when we have the population and also the need?

The issue was the lack of transparency for suppliers and accessibility to MSME and SME contractors who carry out the majority of the work. Once you have them in a transparent marketplace with access to finance they will be able make it work.

Disruption and digital transformation arenow the buzzwords in almost all other spheres of work and life. Today, we are not only ready for these changes, but are also anticipating and preparing to embrace them. Therefore, the construction industry cannot be working with the traditional ways and will have to adopt new technologies, like building through 3D printing or constructing homes in a factory, laying roads with solar panels, streamlining process flows and becoming transparent with financing of real estate as in RERA. And partnering for innovative technology solutions will be the key for all stakeholders to deliver projects efficiently and cost effectively. Players who will embrace the technology change first will be the market leaders and emerge as the winners of tomorrow.

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