A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away – ie in January, we boldly made predictions for the year ahead (OK I’ll stop the flagrant mixing of cinematic references).
On a serious note, back in January we considered issues that were predicted to shape the AEC industry in 2015. Now it’s time to review the veracity of those predictions.
In absolute and relative terms, the UK economy performed well in 2015, as did the Construction industry. The outlook for 2016 and beyond is positive, with Construction marked as a key source of growth. With the UK General Election over and a single-party government in place, the main area of risk to a strong UK performance in the next few years is further weakening within the Eurozone.
The Government’s November Spending Review was generally viewed positively, with the absence of nasty surprises and the cuts to tax credits which were anticipated being cancelled. Points of key interest to the AEC industry include:
- Even though departmental spending will fall, the decline will be half that of recent years, meaning budgets will be smaller, albeit larger than anticipated
- Help to Buy – The new scheme will lend qualified London buyers 40% of house value, up from 20%. Meanwhile purchasers of second and subsequent homes will pay an additional 3% stamp duty to subsidise the scheme
- NHS – New hospitals in Brighton, Sandwell and Cambridge
- Schools – £23billion investment in buildings
- Increased infrastructure investment for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland
- Apprenticeships Levy will create additional apprenticeships, including within Construction, where there is a significant, identified shortage
- Northern Powerhouse fund – For transport and other infrastructure
Uptake of BIM has accelerated
The uptake of BIM has accelerated in the UK and globally this year. In the UK, the prospect of the imminent Level 2 compliance deadline in April 2016 has assisted uptake. We have experienced an increasing demand for our Common Data Environment software, which facilitates Level 2 compliance, from UK contractors in a range of sectors.
A recent global survey of almost 1,400 AEC industry professionals conducted by CONJECT showed that 46% of UK respondents report being at Level 2 and above, the highest proportion in any country.
It is also interesting that Asia Pacific (predominantly in Singapore) report the highest overall proportion of BIM Level 2+ adoption (43%), with 10% of respondents from that region saying that they are Level 3, contrasting with Germany, where respondents rate their adoption of Level 2+ lowest of the countries surveyed, at 25%.
The number of mobile solutions in Construction is steadily increasing, and the first version of a mobile app for conjectPC was launched earlier this year. This early version is aimed at increasing the productivity of existing users, enabling them to check and approve documents and processes. The uptake and usage of this tool is encouraging, with version updates scheduled for the New Year.
Our other mobile solution, conjectMI, has also been in demand in 2015. Amongst other contractors and project managers, the defects and inspection management solution has been used by ISG to make substantial time and cost savings.
Leveraging Big Data
At CONJECT we see continually increasing volumes of data being processed within projects of all sizes, especially on projects using BIM. For instance, the number of IFC files uploaded to our CDE in Q2 of this year exceeded the combined total of 2013 and 2014. The collection, processing and utilisation of data remains a challenge for most Construction businesses.
Data-driven industries such as banking and ecommerce consider Big Data a challenge, our industry will take time to get to grips with how to turn the data it now collects as part of BIM and other modern construction methodologies into usable information to help the business. However, in 2015 we have seen increased demand for the advanced reporting and business intelligence functionalities of our CDE, widely considered unique in construction collaboration software.
Rising supply chain costs and skills shortage
The skills and labour shortage in Construction is an existing issue and is set to be exacerbated by growing demand in 2016. As the UK economy continues to grow and labour is in short supply, the cost of construction will rise further.
Overall, a mixed performance on some of the predictions we made at the start of this year. 2016 is shaping up to be another interesting time for the AEC Industry. As this is the last ‘proper’ article for this year, I would like to wish you all a very happy holidays.