Engineering & Construction: Powering Connected Construction With No-Code

Emerge as an E&C leader in the next normal

Key takeaways

Start to leverage connected construction now

Accelerate digital transformation to improve safety and increase profitability

Utilize Citizen Developers to address the digital skills gap

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A resilient industry

The engineering and construction industry began 2020 by adding “ . . . more than $900 billion to the US economy in the first quarter of 2020—its highest level since the 2008 recession,” (Deloitte). And, although impacted by COVID-19, E&C is weathering the storm better than many other industries.

Having said that, the E&C industry still faces its fair share of challenges, resulting in pressure to increase digital transformation efforts. COVID aside, the industry faces ongoing low profitability and slim margins, decreasing natural resources, and dangerous working environments, among other challenges. The difference between E&C enterprises that are able to tackle these challenges and thrive, and those that aren’t, will rest greatly on the investment and focus companies dedicate to adopting innovative digital solutions and strategies.

“For E&C companies that have struggled to do more than experiment with tech solutions, the time to redouble their efforts is now.”

Professional Services Organization, McKinsey
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Risky business

It’s no secret that construction sites pose a certain level of risk. According to Safety & Health Magazine, "During a 45-year career, there is a 1 in 200 chance that a construction worker will die from a work-related incident." We don't mean to sound bleak, but the facts are important; they show where improvements are needed. And the Occupational Safety and Health Administration states that using innovative technological solutions to help eliminate the fatal four "would save 591 workers' lives in America every year."

Many engineering and construction companies are still using Excel- or paper-based processes to report safety issues. As well as being time-consuming, such processes are highly error-prone. This is an area in which tech-savvy organizations in the industry are using automation in order to reduce the number of errors and therefore reduce risk.

Let's look at some ways in which the E&C industry is using new technology to improve safety and collaboration during projects:
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Drones

Using drones to survey sites reduces the risk of harm to workers

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Virtual reality (VR)

Why learn about hazards in the field, when you can do it from the comfort and safety of VR?

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Wearables

Real-time data on movement, heat, gas, and locations of workers, can literally save lives

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Site sensors

By monitoring moisture, temperature, and toxins, site sensors help workers to avoid hazardous areas

Innovations in engineering

According to Industry Weekly, “Digitization is changing the playing field for engineers. It alters the culture by providing more real-time data on the performance of equipment in the field today, allowing engineers to consider improvements that can be achieved in months through data algorithms rather than years or decades.”

So, what does digitization in engineering look like?
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CAD in the cloud

Cloud-based solutions for computer-aided design (CAD) offer increased efficiency, security, and automatic updates across all applications. Moreover, engineers are increasingly leveraging the power of cloud-based systems to access data in the field.

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Automation

Software is being utilized across the industry to automate previously manual, Excel, and even paper-based processes. According to McKinsey, “... as of 2015, 478 billion of the 749 billion working hours (64 percent) spent on manufacturing-related activities globally were automatable with currently demonstrated technology.”

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Product Data Management systems

An increasing number of engineering firms are using Product Data Management systems (PDMs) for CAD data, models, parts information, manufacturing instructions, and requirements. This helps ensure data is easily accessible and that all regulations are adhered to.

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Connected Construction

One of the major challenges in the engineering and construction industry is that teams often don’t have an accurate overview of their processes and systems, leading to miscommunication, data loss, increased risk, and overspending. Connected construction is a solution to such problems, utilizing tools like asset tracking, AR/VR, automation, and predictive maintenance.

On a more strategic level, connected construction utilizes integration to provide a common data environment, which can lead to reduced risk, more accurate data, and better collaboration between teams. Connected construction can be applied throughout each phase of a project, from bidding and qualification to preconstruction and construction, to change management and cost.

Establishing the Safety in Construction Governance Code to standardize and automate safety instructions

As we’ve mentioned, Excel- and paper-based processes certainly don’t help matters when it comes to ensuring a safe working environment in the E&C sector. So to help improve safety across the board, leading E&C organizations and clients have joined forces with eX:plain. Together, they established the Safety in Construction Governance Code with a clear goal: to standardize safety instructions when entering construction sites.

In establishing the Safety in Construction Governance Code, eX:plain recognized that employees of subcontractors and suppliers were having to follow different safety instructions for different construction sites. As you can imagine, this lack of consistency can lead to confusion as to what the instructions actually are, which in turn can lead to dangerous situations. To solve this problem, eX:plain worked with Betty Blocks to develop the Generic Gateway Instruction (GPI) application.

Key features

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Scalability

The scalable design enables eX:plain to quickly connect existing and new customers to the innovative system

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Centralized platform

Easily follow instructions in 17 languages from 1 centralized place, anywhere you want

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Automated administration

Administration has been fully automated for affiliated organizations

See for yourself in the App Gallery
GPI application

eX:plain gains control with no-code

The new application increases safety awareness at every construction site in the Netherlands by standardizing gate instructions. eX:plain developed a system that allows users to easily follow multiple instructions in 17 different languages. Thanks to this digitization process, the affiliated organizations immediately save time and money on administrative processes.

Because the application is developed on the Betty Blocks platform, eX:plain is self-reliant and has control over the development and management of port instructions without the need to manually write code.
Read more about eX:plain

Citizen Development

In a time when accelerating digital transformation is critical to success in the E&C industry, companies need to find ways to address the ongoing skills gap in respect to digital skills, and one way in which industry leaders are doing this issue is through in-house training programs. This is where Citizen Development becomes an ideal strategy for companies wanting to take control of their own innovation.

Citizen Development is currently being implemented across various industries and has the potential to be a game-changer in the E&C industry. Essentially, it means giving tech-savvy employees the means and support to play an active role in the software development process, under the governance of IT.

Through the strategic use of Citizen Development, E&C companies are able to utilize technology like no-code application development to achieve connected construction, and indeed all the benefits that follow.
Getting Started with Citizen Development whitepaper