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Asite has launched a new research report examining how the construction industry can optimize its approach to digital engineering.

The report entitled ‘Digital Engineering: Optimizing Construction’s Digital Future,’ provides recommendations for how the industry can overcome its fragmentation to ensure future prosperity. The report also recommends the steps the industry needs to take to set the foundations for the global advancement of digital engineering.

Nathan Doughty, Asite CEO, said, “For years, Asite has been at the forefront of digital integration across the AEC industry; we recognize the importance of digital adoption and believe the future of our industry lies in digital engineering.  To help enhance digital adoption and ensure the future prosperity of our industry, this report provides recommendations for how we can optimize our use of digital engineering processes and create a more integrated and collaborative industry. As our industry continues to recover and rebuild in the wake of COVID-19, now is the right time to take the opportunity to build a digital ecosystem that works for everyone.”

The report examines digital engineering from a number of different standpoints, including the benefits of digital engineering across the project lifecycle, innovative projects that are leading the way, the technologies set to be the most transformative, and global government initiatives to push the adoption of digital engineering techniques.

Finally, it arrives at a recommendation for how the construction industry can unlock greater value.

Holistic lifecycle approach

The report analyses the impact of digital engineering across the project lifecycle – from planning and design, to construction and operation. At each lifecycle phase, it sheds light on the challenges faced at that stage, how digital engineering can solve these challenges, and the barriers that need to be overcome for successful adoption.

The report also identifies the different technologies and techniques facilitating digital transformation at different stages. Accompanying these insights are accounts of different global projects utilizing digital engineering technologies to build better.

Ultimately, the report recognizes the need for a holistic approach to digital engineering across the asset lifecycle, allowing stakeholders to make informed decisions that streamline practices, ensure project fulfillment, and increase overall value.

Global push for digital engineering

The push for the adoption of digital engineering is a global one. The report notes the global government initiatives that are driving the adoption of these technologies and processes.

The United Kingdom, the European Union, India, Hong Kong, Australia, and the United States are mentioned as leaders in the push for adoption.

This showcases a cross-regional desire for a more uniform and integrated approach to the adoption of digital engineering.

A Digital Framework is the Answer

The report concludes that the fragmentation of the industry needs to be addressed before it can move forward. To create fertile ground for digital engineering and innovation, we must first address the fragmented nature of the industry, which has led to a lack of knowledge-sharing, low incentives to adopt technologies, and poorly utilized data.

It proposes data and knowledge-sharing, combined with the development of an easily interpretable integrated global platform, as a means of safeguarding the industry’s digital future. For digital engineering to truly transform the AEC sector and produce the desired outcomes, technologies need to be deployed in an environment where they can thrive, and a global digital framework could facilitate this.

A digital framework can harness the benefits of sharing better quality information; how data is used, maintained, and planned will allow for a better understanding of the interdependencies between sectors and help break down silos. 

Middle East

The Middle East’s use of digital engineering techniques, specifically during the operation and maintenance stage of the project lifecycle, was discussed in the report. Most notably, the ‘Dubai Here’ initiative.

In June 2020, the Dubai Municipality's Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Centre launched ‘Dubai Here’ – an electronic system that provides access to geospatial data and maps of the region. The ‘Dubai Here’ project is working to create the base map from which Dubai’s digital twin will grow, eventually incorporating different technologies to improve asset maintenance and operation.

The process of retrospectively creating a digital twin of the city of Dubai is part of the effort to speed up cooperation between government departments and realize the Smart Dubai 2021 strategy.

India

Significant demand for housing and infrastructure fueled by rapid urbanization and population and income growth has seen the country’s government pledge to invest in smart cities and modern methods of construction.

Government Initiatives

The Digital India program is the Indian Government's flagship program to transform India into a digitally empowered society and knowledge economy.  The initiative, which was launched in 2015 with the aim of doubling the size of the country’s digital economy, is currently undergoing a 'refresh.'  In the building of the nation's digital infrastructure, technologies, such as AI, Big Data, and the Internet of Things (IoT), will play a prominent role in galvanizing sectors and overcoming the country’s infrastructure deficit.

Meeting demand with Modern Methods of Construction (MMC)

In India, where they have an urban housing shortage of 18.8 million, developers are embracing the advanced modular technology to build the 30 million homes needed to meet the government’s ‘Housing for All by 2022’, ‘Affordable Housing’ and ‘Smart Cities’ initiatives.  This quality assured, quick, and cost-effective method of construction is estimated to revolutionize the housing industry.

Realizing Smart Cities

A digital twin takes the information of an asset one step further, working as an exact digital replica of a physical object. The physical entity can be monitored in real-time, providing insights to support better outcomes at each stage of the asset lifecycle.  One such project utilizing this process is the Indian city of Amaravati, which will be built with a digital twin from the very beginning, joining Singapore, Glasgow, Boston, and Jaipur in having virtual counterparts.

APAC

Digital transformation remains a priority in the Asia-Pacific region, with notable project underway in Australia:

Australian government transforming transport

Digital engineering is driving innovation for Australia’s transport future. Transport for New South Wales (TfNSW) is currently implementing a long-term strategy to create a framework that will provide a consistent approach to digital engineering across the transport cluster. They aim to create a single source of truth throughout the entire lifecycle of the asset, essentially building the asset twice, first virtually and then in the physical world.

South Flank: Setting Standard for the Resource Industry

Located in BHP’s Mining Area C, the deposit is expected to supply BHP’s Western Australia Iron Ore division with roughly 80 million metric tons per year over its 25 years of estimated project life. It is replacing production from the Yandi mine, which is reaching the end of its economic life. The production of first ore is expected in 2021.

Billed as “setting the new standards for the future of the resources industry”, BPH’s US$3.6 billion South Flank iron ore project is set to be one of the world’s largest iron ore production hubs, integrating the latest advances in autonomous-ready fleets, digital connectivity and modular design.

To support the project, Japanese construction equipment manufacturer, Komatsu, has deployed an unprecedented 41 new model Komatsu 930E-5 ultra-class haul trucks, which have been made autonomous-ready